Today I am very excited to be joining MrsMiracleMusicRoom.com linky party on Dazzling Discipline!
Before I delve into my ideas, I thought I should share a little bit about my teaching situationas I think the situation significantly impacts the approaches:
- I teach at Indian Trail Elementary in Canal Winchester, OH (about 20 minutes southeast of Columbus) in a K-2 building of approximately 850 students (yes - that is about 12 classes per grade!):
- I have been at this school for 16 years, 21 years in my career;
- I am very fortunate to have the respect of my administrators and fellow teachers. The related arts classes are not considered 'baby-sitting' for the kids and because of this respect, there is high expectations of the students no matter where they are in the building;
- Our school has developed a building wide language that all teachers use to mean the same thing no matter where there are in the building. For example, traveling position means you are ready to move around the building with your hands at your sides, your eyes forward and your voices quiet; or listening position is where the students are sitting criss cross applesauce with their hands in the laps and their eyes on the teacher.
- Along with this common language, we also have a "Behavior Matrix" for each grade level that lists both positive and negative age appropriate consequences for the students actions. They are color coded and some teachers flip cards, move magnets on a cookie sheet or track on charts at students desks.
With all of this in mind, I guess I do have some advantages in place before the students even enter my classroom. However, I do build upon these ideas and make them work in the music classroom and I thought I would share the top 5 strategies that I think really make a difference.
Meet and Greet ~ My classroom is located on the main drag of the school building. I have all kinds of traffic (both good and bad) past my door as everyone moves about the building. I often times joke with my principal that it is like we are in a cage at the zoo and everyone stops to look in as they go past!
Because of the location, it is often very congested in the hallways at related arts switch times. I have worked it out with all of my teachers as where the best place to wait in the hallway is in case they are early or I am running late. I make it a point to greet the teachers and class and invite them into the music room. This is often a time where the teacher tells me what kind of day they are having, rewards they are close to geting, or if there are important things I need to know relating to the students (like Sarah has her book bag because she is leaving at 10:30 for a doctors appointment, etc).
Having dialog BEFORE the students even enter the music room helps me know where the class is that day both behaviorally and socially but also reminds the students even though it is subconscious, that the teacher and I talk and have the full support of each other in regards to consequences and rewards.
Set Up Expectations From Day 1 ~ While the first weeks of school are exciting they are equally exhausting for me. It is during this time that I do the most "talking" about classroom behavior and expectations, especially with the kindergarteners. I liken these days to the month of March - I come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.
It is during these first lessons that I am constantly reminding the students of what is expected of them, classroom procedures and routines and the consequences or rewards that come with their choices. As the year goes on, I wouldn't say that I lighten up my expectations, but I find that I spend less and less time talking about them because the students know what is expected and what happens when they do or do not meet those expectations.
Positive Recognition ~ I hope you have noticed that I have mentioned the negative consequences as well as the positive ones in my writing thus far. I believe with my whole heart that kids do like to please their teachers and do things that make themselves feel good. There are many ways that this has evolved at our school. The school wide language and behavior matrix have definitely helped but I have also learned that if I can find out what the class is working for in their homerooms, I can use that as incentive in the music room too. This includes using class dojo where the teachers bring their class ipad to the classroom and I can give and take points throughout the class period; earning points or money or puzzle pieces that work towards a class or individual student reward; or helping students earn cotton balls, scoops, marbles, etc to fill up their reward jar. The students, even at the young age of 5, really do get that their behavior follows them throughout the entire school from the classroom to the playground to the cafeteria to the related arts classrooms to the bus.
I also do rewards for students or the class in the music room - this could be as simple as having 3 extra minutes at the end of class to play their favorite game, to allow them to choose that game, to letting the students "be the teacher" at the smartboard during interactive activities. My most favorite routine that I have implemented is the "Star Student". This is done at the end of class each and every music time. I choose one student who has done a great job - maybe it was a very hard skill that the mastered or they used their singing voice for the first time or their behavior was amazing that day. Each student is chosen once before a 2nd awarding is done. When they are chosen, the student gets to come up to the smartboard and place their name inside the star of our star student file and then pop a balloon on the following page. They also receive a "Star Student" sticker!
If you are interested, you can click on over to TeachersPayTeachers to purchase the smartboard file I've created. It is currently at the 50% off "Dazzling Discipline" price for a limited time!
Yes, There Must Be Negative Consequences ~ I wish I could say that all of my students are angels and I never have any discipline problems, but that would be a lie! Kids will be kids and they will make bad choices. I think the key to dealing with any issues that occur is constancy. I use a 3 strikes and you are out approach. Students get 2 warnings and on the 3rd time, they are done. Now this could be "done" with that game, "done" with the instrument, "done" with the music class - it really does depend on the specific situation. I do use time outs in the class and this, again is a school wide policy. We spent a good deal of time learning about the time out process and what does and does not work for this age of students.
Here are the steps we use:
- remove student from the activity - depending on age and activity this can be in or out of the classroom
- the student is only out of the activity for 3-5 minutes
- before returning to the classroom, ask the student why they were removed and discuss the choices that led to the time out
- invite the student to join the class again and finish the activity they were doing when they were asked to leave - this is tricky because I move pretty quick in my lessons and often times we are on to something else in the 3-5 minutes the student was out of the building. But if it is possible, the student returns to what they were doing before being removed, this time doing it correctly.
- move on - if the student is making good choices, there is no need to discuss the issue further. If bad choices occur, there are further consequences that follow our behavior matrix
Treat Students Like They are You Own Children ~ I didn't really get this until I became a parent - I believe that I always treat my students respectfully but when you have kids of your own it is just different......that being said, I am very conscious of the tone that I use when dealing with discipline issues, always treat the students with respect, remind the students that it was their choice, not mine, that got them into this situation, and ask the student if they understand why they received the consequences they did. I always have in the back of my mind - if this were my child and they had made a bad choice (and really what kid doesn't at some point in time to varying degrees), how would I want and expect them to be treated by their teacher.....try to think about that next time you are in the heat of the moment.