Rearranging Your Classroom – 3 Tips For Teachers at the Beginning of the School Year

Unless you are the most meticulous of teachers and have contacted past teachers, former landlords, parents, friends, and old librarians, chances are that you don’t really know your students on the first day of class. Sure, there are a few stalkers out there that already have the perfect seating chart in place, but most of us need at least a few days to gauge personalities, observe academic skills, and suffer through bad pairings. In addition, you might notice that that box or cabinet that you thought was in a prime location is really more of a nuisance than a help.

After some time period, even the best teacher will often need to make a few adjustments within his or her classroom. Here then are three tips to teachers in the first few weeks of school for making your classroom a better learning environment.

1) Mix up your seating chart

Decide whether you want kids in rows and columns, in 4 or 5 desk “tables”, or in some other formation. Should this kid be sitting next to (or even within spitting distance of) that kid? Can these two kids help each other if they are next to each other? Will these kids get high sniffing the Elmer’s glue sticks if they sit next to each other?

Typically, some combination of behavior and academics will determine seating arrangements, especially if you have the kids paired in any way. It’s OK to change your seating chart a few times, just don’t do it every day. Give a new combination at least a couple of days to make sure it’s not working before switching it again.

2) Moving furniture can free up space

If your teacher’s desk or a nondescript table is taking up space that would be better served somehow else, move it! Perhaps it could be behind a shelf or an overhead screen where a student desk could not go.

While it is usually better to get big-item furniture arrangement settled BEFORE school starts, there is no law in place saying it can’t be moved around midyear. Remember, the easier it is for you to move around the room, the easier it will be to help students and to keep them focused.

3) Keep those paths clear!

This follows directly from point number 2. Don’t paint yourself into a corner, or even into the center of the room, by arranging desks or furniture with no gaps or openings. You want to be able to walk around the room (from potential trouble spot to trouble spot) quickly and unhindered. If you use a “horseshoe” pattern, be sure to leave some spaces to get inside and outside the shoe easily. Otherwise, that horseshoe will NOT bring you any luck!

Remember that you might find yourself rearranging your classroom more than once this year. It’s OK to take stock every few months and think about how the setup is working for you.

No matter how often you move things around though, these three tips will always keep you on the right course.

14 Classroom Management Tips for Substitute Teachers

Classroom management was the biggest challenge I faced as a substitute teacher. Walking into a class for the first time, I was clueless about the absent teacher’s classroom procedures and expectations for students. Some students would use my ignorance as a weapon to their advantage. They would find ways to test my patience and manipulate the classroom environment for their personal gain. Others had antisocial personalities. They saw my presence as an opportunity to express their disrespect for authority.

In this negative environment, power struggles and other disruptions would inevitably arise. At that point, it became extremely difficult to get the class back under control.

Over time, I picked up some classroom management tips to help minimize student disruptions and make lesson plans run more smoothly. If you are a substitute teacher, here are several tips you can use immediately to create a more positive classroom environment:

Tip 1: Start each day by making sure that the students enter the classroom quietly, and begin the class on time. This will help establish the structure you’re working to build and maintain.

Tip 2: From the very beginning, establish your expectations of the students. Make sure each student understands the importance of following both the classroom rules and the teacher’s lesson plan. When you make your expectations understood, you’ll help set the class on the right tone.

Tip 3: After they’ve found their assigned seats, introduce yourself as Mr./Mrs./Ms.___________. Write your name on the board. Unless the school says otherwise, students should never call you by your first name. They won’t treat you with respect if you let them treat you as a peer.

Tip 4: Take attendance and (if applicable) the lunch count. Say the students’ first and last names, and ask them to raise their hands so you can see where they’re sitting. Tell the students to inform you if they prefer to be called by another name. Attendance reporting is one of your most important jobs. Pay careful attention to the required procedure and the accuracy of the marks you’re making. To minimize errors, I used a ruler when I went down the list. If you don’t know what to do, ask another teacher or someone from the office for help.

Tip 5: Announce the names of the absent students to make sure that you didn’t give an absent mark to a student who should be marked present (or vice versa). There may be two attendance rosters to complete: the office roster and the teacher’s classroom roster. If so, make sure that you complete both, and carefully compare them for accuracy.

Tip 6: Make sure that students remain in their assigned seats for the entire day. The teacher should have left you with a seating chart. If you can’t find it, ask a student for help. While taking attendance, you can draw up your own simple seating chart if one isn’t available.

Tip 7: When covering elementary school classes especially, take frequent head counts of the students. It’s a good idea to do this when they first enter the classroom, when they line up on the playground, after recess and lunch, and after you’ve escorted them to and from another campus location. And when working with younger students, remember to talk at their level–both orally and physically.

Tip 8: Do your best to stick to the teacher’s lesson plan. Explain instructions clearly and write them on the board. Let students know that you’re there to help them with their work.

Tip 9: Remind students of homework assignments and any other items the teacher mentioned in the lesson plan. To make sure they understand, you might want to have the students orally paraphrase the important points. If they are required to keep a homework journal, remind them to note their assignments in it.

Tip 10: Recognize the importance of flexibility in the classroom. No sub has followed every lesson plan to the letter. In some classes, even the best-designed lesson plans may not work as the teacher intended. By redirecting the students to a related assignment or activity (and leaving a note to the teacher explaining what you did), they are more likely to remain on task (and out of trouble!).

Tip 11: Get the students involved! Ask them to answer questions or explain concepts that their peers have raised. If students finish early, have them help other students who are still working, or tell them to sit quietly and read. If the students are cooperative and well-behaved, you can allow time for a game or other class activity at the end of the day.

Tip 12: If you know nothing about the subject that you’re there to “teach,” have the students work in small groups. I once covered a high school French class, but I know almost no French. I had the students work together in groups of about three. I assigned the more capable students to help those who were struggling.

Tip 13: If you have teacher’s aides or volunteer parents in your class, take advantage of all the services they can provide! They among other things work with students individually or in small groups. They can also help you understand the classroom routine and the special needs of individual students.

Tip 14: As difficult as it may seem, avoid forming friendships with the students. Children who are abused, neglected, or ignored seek attention from adults in ways that would go beyond the scope of this article to describe. They need stability and won’t get it from a teacher who is at school one day and gone the next.

Selective Mutism – Tips for Helping Teachers Deal with this Anxiety Disorder in the Classroom

Dealing with selective mutism in the classroom can be very difficult and frustrating for teachers. After all, sometimes it seems that a child with selective mutism is merely acting up by not speaking or participating; and, also, it can be hard to judge how much the child has learned when he or she will not read aloud, etc.

Selective mutism is usually a symptom of an anxiety disorder, and the full impact of this disorder is usually not manifested until the child starts school. It is most often in the classroom where the effects of selective mutism are most seriously experienced. Therefore, it is most often the teacher who must deal with, learn to cope with, and fight against this disorder.

Fortunately, there are things that teachers can do to help deal with selective mutism in the classroom. Here are some tips:

The teacher is quite often center of the most intense symptoms of the child. Be patient. Understand that there is a whole other child that you can get to know beneath the shell of selective mutism.

Realize that as a teacher, you are a most integral part of helping students combat their selective mutism. Be understanding. Realize that the symptoms of selective mutism are not intentional, and you therefore should not get frustrated or angry.

If you suspect selective mutism, refer both the child and the parents to a health practitioner or a psychologist. Together, they can help come up with a behaviorally based treatment plan. This is the most effective approach to treating selective mutism.

Work alongside with a speech-language pathologist (SLP). In fact, you (the teacher), the parents, the child, the psychotherapist, and the SLP are all important parts of the treatment team. Coordinate your actions and work together.

Do not try to force the child to speak. Of course, it is alright to gently encourage the child to speak.

Reward and praise the child for speaking and for participating in the classroom. Rewarding the child will make him or her feel like a part of the classroom, but more independent at the same time. It can help slowly crack the shell of anxiety.

A child with selective mutism is best suited to routine and structure.

· Keep a predictable structure and make sure that you clearly explain classroom activities. Doing these things will help reduce the unknown and give the child a feeling of structure.

Try to a avoid sudden schedule changes. If you are planning a change in schedule or a new activity, give the children a preview of the expected change.

Although a child with selective mutism may not jump right into an activity, he or she might after a little while. It is easier for him or to join once he or she has observed the other children and knows what to do. Help the child get engaged in the activity, and then slowly fade away as he or she becomes more confident.

Assessment of the development and skills of a child with selective mutism can be very difficult for the teacher. After all, it is hard to judge how well a child can read if the child will not read out loud.

Realize that just because you have seen no signs of the child's ability, it does not mean that he or she is does not understand.

· Talk with an SLP to learn about different methods of assessment of a child's reading abilities.

Some children will point to letters or engage in other nonverbal assessment.

· See if the child will allow his or her parents to videotape his or her reading performance at home.