Classroom Management can be a tricky area. Classroom dynamics can change things so much. Have you ever had that day when 4 kids were absent and the day just went smoother? Or “that kid” was absent and it was a whole new class? Unfortunately, some classroom dynamics we can’t change, but there are some that we can.
I had a very difficult class a few years ago. The boys fed off of each other, I had numerous students interrupting while I was teaching, lots of shouting out, the kids fought, weren’t nice to each other, etc. It was time to make some serious changes to our class.
I am only going to address one area today, but there were multiple reasons this was going on and multiple things I did to make some serious changes in our class.
How Listening Lessons started
Today I am going to talk about “Listening Lessons”. I have a love/hate relationship with Listening Lessons. One day, my usual group of boys was acting out. They were being silly, I had asked for them to settle down. They didn’t. They were out of their seats during independent work time. I had to ask them a few times to go back to their seats. Don’t get me started on carpet time, all the poking and noises. I was fed up!
So at lunch that day, I called out about 6 names and asked them to meet me outside. They did. I had them line up on the line outside my door and just simply asked, “Why do you think you are out here?” A few were able to answer, the others caught on after hearing the answers to their buddies. There is just something about having to verbally tell your teacher what you did that disappointed them.
Making Personal Connections
I then asked each one of them individually how they would be when they got back to class. I didn’t accept the answer “better”, which is what I got. I wanted the “How”, “How are you going to act better? What will I see?” I was putting the ownership on them to fix it.
I had no plan on exactly what I was doing. I was “flying by the seat of my pants”. Next, I decided to have them practice listening to me since they were not doing that inside the class. I told them we were going to practice listening. These are “Listening Lessons”.
Working out the brain and the body
One at a time, I asked them to do little exercises. For example, “Skip to the bench. Then walk heel toe back to me.” I chose various left brain/right brain exercises. I watch them and make sure that they listened and did EXACTLY as I asked. When they don’t, they do it again. I had each of the boys do various listening exercises, changing it slightly per kid, and then said they could go back inside.
Was I onto something?
Remember this was not a planned classroom management moment. But I walked back in, feeling like I was on to something. The other students were curious what had happened. The boys played it off like it was no big deal, but you could tell in their hearts they didn’t love it.
I continued to monitor the students the rest of the day. A few students were off task multiple times and needed several reminders. So round 2 for that day. This time it was after school which meant they might be late for someone picking them up (don’t worry I didn’t keep them that long). It was long enough that they stressed a bit. But we did it anyway. I had at least 2 repeat offenders.
After the students had gone home for the day, I got a class roster out and decided to use it to keep track of who needed “Listening Lessons” for the next day. I had now coined the phrase in the class. I put it on my clip board with my lesson plans and added a pen.
Laying down the ground rules
I told the students that if they were not following our class rules that I would be taking behavior points away. If they lost 3 or more before recess, they would be meeting me for Listening Lessons. The idea of Listening Lessons still was somewhat of a novelty. It seemed kind of fun, and most were curious what it was all about.
Here we are again
Sure enough by recess, I had a handful of students who were deserving of Listening Lessons. I was on duty that day, so I led the class out to the playground area and kept the 6 or so aside that needed practice. I went through my questioning and then proceeded to have them do various listening exercises. When I felt they were doing well and taking it seriously, they were released to recess.
No More Listening Lessons?
We continued this process every day at recess, lunch, and after school for a few weeks. Each day I had less students, and each week I was holding less and less Listening Lessons. It got to the point where I would go an entire week without any. Then a holiday would come and it threw a few off for behavior. But, all in all Listening Lessons phased out.
The students didn’t like Listening Lessons and frankly, neither did I. They missed out on fun with friends and I missed out on getting my entire break. But, because of their success, I was willing to sacrifice my break time, because that meant my class behaved better, I was less stressed and a whole lot more learning happened in our class.
Oh, but we bring them back
After each school break, the need of Listening Lessons seems to resurface again. But they don’t need several weeks before they die off. Usually after a break we have about a week or a few days of Listening Lessons and then they get into their groove again.
I challenge you whether you have “that class” or just a few off task daily, to try Listening Lessons. They are easy to implement and you don’t need any resources to pull them off.
I guarantee they will work for you. Listening Lessons is one of many that I use.