New Teacher Advocate Fall 2010 : Page 3

“Children, that was very good!” the teacher beamed. “Now let’s return to our seats and try it once again. This time, let’s see if we can line up just a little bit more quickly.” “Ring, ring, ring!” The mock alarm sounded and again the boys lined up as they were directed. So did the girls. This time the children managed to line up in single file without a hitch. On the way out of the classroom, Kathy checked the windows and Johnny, again the last to leave, turned off the lights and closed the door behind him. In the hall, the teacher congratulated the children on their performance. As they reentered the classroom and resumed their seats, the teacher directed, “Just to be sure we have this right, let’s try one last time.” They were happy to oblige (a wonderful attribute of first graders). Minutes after the third practice, the real fire alarm sounded. Upon hearing the alarm, the boys lined up, single file. So too did the girls—just as they had practiced. Kathy and Johnny performed their roles admirably. The class exited the building and walked decorously to a spot on the playground next to the teeter-totter—just as their teacher had directed. It was a wonder to behold. Meanwhile, on that same playground, other exiting students appeared a bit helter-skelter. Teach-ers who had no warning about the drill attempted to reign in their children who had no practice exiting their classroom or building. Disorder reigned. After the all-clear and return to the classroom, a very proud first-grade teacher could not say enough good things about her boys and girls. To hear her tell it, this class may well be the best first grade in the dis-trict! She was proud of them, and so they were proud of themselves. Then a knock on the door interrupted the praise. The principal entered. “You behaved very well. I’m very proud of you,” he said. “You showed the rest of the school just how a proper fire drill is to be conduct-ed. Congratulations boys and girls!” That day’s success foreshadowed a year of suc-cesses. Isn’t that the way it works? Nothing succeeds like success! Preparing was well worth the time. This story represents a strategy recommended for first-year teachers to adopt to effectively manage a classroom. I call this three-step process ARR . Anticipate classroom management challenges likely to be encountered. Will children need to use the restroom, sharpen a pencil, or line up for recess? Will they be asked to distribute materials and clean up after certain projects? At the end of one activity, how will they move to another? Having identified primary challenges to an effectively managed classroom, teach children a Routine for han-dling those proceedings. The routine should accomplish the task without precipitating more noise or movement than is necessary or desirable. Finally, Rehearse each routine until all of the chil-dren understand the procedure and have performed it frequently enough to achieve near automaticity. Each rehearsal should be accompanied by much positive reinforcement to help children feel pride in their perfor-mance and ownership over the process. Learning to manage a classroom effectively is impor-tant to a community of students who are receptive to learning. With this story in mind and applying the ARR approach, you can enter your classroom equipped with a useful tool in your general strategy for establishing a well-managed classroom. New Teacher Advocate • Fall 2010 • 3

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