Effective Classroom Management Tips and Tricks

Effective classroom management strategies can ensure a pleasant teaching environment for the entire year. Conversely, poor classroom management may lead to a difficult class and a year that drags on. These tips will get you well on your way to creating a positive environment in your classroom.

Post class rules

Students need to know what is expected of them from the very beginning. It is also useful to have visuals of the rules so that you can redirect small misbehavior problems by pointing at the appropriate rule poster. Since I have very little artistic talent I had my students create the posters for me. We went over the rules the first day of class and I had students each create a poster for two rules. We displayed all the posters for the first week. I later had the students vote on a single poster for each rule to leave up.

Post consequences

Students may occasionally break a rule. It is important that you have established a procedure for dealing with infractions. The consequences must be appropriate and clear so the student knows what to expect. Go over all consequences at the beginning of the school year and review if necessary.

Model appropriate behavior.

Since one of my rules is to respect everyone in the classroom, I make sure to be respectful to my students. Remember that you as the teacher must set the example. It will be difficult to get the students to follow your rules if you make exceptions for other students or yourself. If you also follow the rules it shows that they are important and will allow your classroom to feel like a community. Also be sure to thank your students when appropriate; we all like to be appreciated.

Develop a routine for beginning your class

Students often misbehave when they are bored or frustrated. You can prevent some of this boredom by beginning class immediately and in a predictable fashion. Students like to know what to expect. I prefer to begin immediately after the bell rings so students know that our class time is valuable. Try to avoid beginning with verbally taking roll as students will become distracted and talk amongst themselves during this time. Since my school requires roll to be taken within the first five minutes of class I take roll silently while the students work on a warm-up opening activity.

Write a daily schedule on the board so students can see what is coming next. Having a visual guide to the class time will help the students make transitions between activities. A visual schedule will also prevent some questions about what time is break and “how long do we have to do this?”

Activities

Plan more activities than you think you’ll have time for and always have a back-up plan. Most behavior problems occur when students get bored. Be sure you have engaging lessons to prevent this for most students. Also keep in mind that overhead-bulbs die and other technical issues happen so be sure that the lesson can go on even if something goes wrong.

Prepare engaging enrichment activities for the students that finish early. No matter how much you plan, sometimes students will still finish early. You will want to be sure that activities that these students will enjoy are available. When I plan units, I include extra activities that could be used for these situations. Silent reading is also a good option as reading is always valuable. This could be a book of the student’s choice or a book you provide.

Reward good behavior

Many students are eager to please and will appreciate their good efforts. Small rewards also work wonders. I use “Thank You Tickets” to thank the students for good behavior and appropriate class participation. These tickets can be traded for small prizes such as candy, pencils, or homework passes.

Be fair

Since your rules and the consequences are clearly posted it will be easy to enforce them the same for everyone. It will also be very obvious if you make exceptions for any one student. This will cause you to lose respect from all of the students and will make it difficult to manage your class. Be sure the rules are the same for everyone in the classroom. Also be sure to avoid confrontations with any students. Singling out one student will make that student confrontational and will likely distract your entire class. It is best to deal with behavior problems privately.

Use a seating chart

At the beginning of the year, you will definitely want a seating chart while learning the students’ names. Seating charts also help a substitute or classroom visitor as students respond better when the teacher knows and uses their names. At the beginning of the year I create a random seating chart by numbering desks and creating a set of index cards with matching numbers. I give students a card as they walk in and that is the assigned seating chart for the first week. It is also important to change this chart once you know the students as some students will need to be moved or separated. I find it helpful to change the seating several times a year to keep things interesting. Depending on your class, you could also offer to let them choose their own seats if they behave well for a set amount of time.

Living With Autism and Other Special Needs: Back to School Tips

Most parents look forward to the end of August because it is back to school time.

Back to school time for parents with children who have special needs can be a mixed blessing. Transitions and change are difficult for all children, but particularly children with autism.

Here are some tips for parents to help make back to school time more pleasant for you and your child with autism.

  1. Begin getting into the school routine early. Make a picture schedule of the morning routine and start following it. Start getting up a little bit earlier each day and going to bed earlier at night. This will make thing easier instead of waiting until the night before school starts and saying, “School is tomorrow. You need to go to bed at 8:00” when your child has been staying up until 10:00.
  2. Think twice before purchasing new school clothes. In my experience children with autism do not generally like the feeling of new clothes. To send a child to school with all new scratchy clothes might be a bit of sensory overload. Instead, consider buying used clothes or washing them several times before school starts. Encourage your child to wear his new clothes and shoes at home.
  3. Consider getting a haircut early. Some children with autism don’t like getting haircuts and if they start to associate haircuts with school it will add to their anxiety.
  4. Glasses If your child wears glasses, and he doesn’t wear them during the summer (which I don’t recommend), have him wear them at least a week prior to school starting.
  5. Read books and watch t.v. shows about going back to school.
  6. Make a social story featuring your child and read it to him every day. Social stories are helpful for children with autism because it helps them prepare for things that are going to be different. You can include photos if you wish. Here is an example:
  7. Summertime is almost over.
    Kevin is getting ready to go back to school.
    On August 24 th Kevin will ride Bus 456 to “Canyon Elementary School.”
    “Kevin’s” teachers this year are Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Jones.
    Kevin’s Dad bought him new shoes for school.
    Kevin’s Mom bought him new clothes for school.
    Kevin is getting ready to go back to school.

  8. Use a calendar to mark down the days until school starts. Put a picture of a school bus on the date of the first day of school.
  9. Make plans to meet the teacher ahead of time. For tips on meeting the teacher, read my article Meeting the New Teacher.

8 Tips To Navigating The Private School Admissions Process

The Private school admissions process starts the day after Labor Day. To get a head start, you need to begin preparing for your child’s admission much before this date. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the process.

1. Have an open and honest talk with your partner

Both partners need to be fully involved in the admission process of their child. Sometimes, one of them might be fully excited about getting their child admitted in a private school, while the other may not be as enthusiastic or well-informed about the process. In such families, the whole admission process can be a stressful experience since there is no agreement between the partners in the first place. So you first need to ensure that you and your partner both have the same level of commitment, expectations and enthusiasm towards securing an admission for your child in a private school. Sit together and honestly share your goals and aspirations as well as your apprehensions and fears until both of you agree on the route that you wish to take.

2. Make a Commitment of your Time

You would have to commit your time towards achieving the goal that you have set for your child’s education. Be prepared to spend a lot of time writing personal essays and completing the application forms of schools that you wish to apply to. Once the admission process begins, you would have to attend open houses, parent interviews, child interviews and school tours. You need to allocate time for all these activities. Learn more about each school through their website and other literature to have a better understanding about the admission process. Knowing about the school’s philosophy and their values will help you decide which school will be the most appropriate institution for your child’s academic and personal growth.

3. Make a Financial Commitment

Money is a factor when applying to private schools. You need to properly plan your finances to accommodate this expense. There is a standardized testing procedure that the independent schools require for admissions. This assessment is administered by the educational records bureau. There is a fee associated with this assessment. Some schools may reduce or waive the application fee and you may also apply for a fee reduction for the child assessment if the cost poses a financial burden on the family. Financial documentation will be required for this procedure. If your family is applying for financial aid, you may be required to pay a fee to process your child’s financial aid application.

4. Get Your Documents in Order

If you are requesting financial aid for your child’s education, then both partners need to provide at least three years of tax forms and W2 that shows your income. If you are divorced, separated or another partner is actively involved in raising your child or financially contributing to your child, then their tax information is also required. Schools want to be able to assess the total contribution that a family can make towards their child’s education. So having all the relevant documentation readily available will make it easier for you to provide this information when it is requested of you.

5. Communicate with Your Child’s current Pre-school

During the admission process, a private school might need to communicate with your child’s current Pre-school to get clarifications on your child’s application. If they are not aware that you are currently seeking admission in private schools, it could be awkward for you and for them if they are hearing about this for the first time. So it is good to inform the Director of your child’s current preschool that you are seeking admission in other private schools.

6. Provide Correct and Complete Contact Information

Make sure that you provide correct and complete contact information on each application form. Your home phone number, as well as work place and cell phone numbers should be specified accurately. Clear all previous messages from your answering machine so that schools can leave a message for you when you are not at home. Create a new and separate email address exclusively for school admissions so that important emails from each school do not get mixed or lost among personal and casual mails. Enter the email address correctly in the application forms and check your email regularly. If you are on social networks, enable your privacy settings to hide your profile. You don’t want your admissions Director looking through or reviewing your profile.

7. Promptly call the day after Labor Day

Thousands of parents will be calling in on the day after Labor Day to get applications from schools. Many schools start taking in calls as early as 8 am. Phones line can become quite busy on that day. Be persistent and keep trying until you get through. You would have to repeat this process for each school and therefore be mentally prepared for this. Have a pen, notepad, a few sheets of paper and a calendar handy. Having these at your disposal can make your conversations effective, short and to the point. You can also note down all the important information during your calls.

Provide the right information to each school during your calls. To avoid confusion, write down your full name, your spouse’s full name, your complete address, your regular phone number and an alternate number. Also write down your child’s full name, your child’s gender, date of birth, and the name, address and phone number of your child’s current school. These are some of the particulars that you would have to provide during each call. Having these particulars written down will help you provide the correct information every time.

8. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Many schools are going green and offer you the option of filling your applications online. They also provide parents with inquiry forms which they can use to request information from the school. Staying in touch with the school online, well before the admission process starts can give you an advantage over other parents who rely only on traditional methods for contacting the school. Most private schools have a comprehensive website that provides detailed information about their admission processes. Go through each school’s website and gather as much information as possible.

Following these powerful steps can help you get organized and approach the admission process in a more methodical and systematic manner. This will go a long way in giving your child a head start in the admission process.

Special Education Lesson Plans

Special education lesson plans are specially designed teaching methods or educational techniques for students of all age groups, with mild to profound disabilities. The lesson plans would vary depending upon the child’s nature, age, and the extremeness and type of disability. These lesson plans are mainly meant to promote student engagements, to prepare students to function independently and to master skills, to build and support social competence, and to help children and their families lead a problem free life. Special education lesson plans include math, science, music, language and art lessons, computers and the Internet, social studies, physical education and health, and other multi-disciplinary lessons.

Special educators should design presentations to cater to different levels of individual disability. Music, dance, and other art forms are great aids to enhance learning in students with disabilities. Reading, writing, and public speaking can be encouraged by special educators. Well thought out lesson plans will enhance the child’s reasoning ability and reading skills, feelings and response, create a sense of personal fulfillment, encourage language development, promote communication, help to achieve motor control and physical wellness, and cultivate positive attitudes towards the school.

The response of disabled students towards the curriculum depends on the nature of the disability, i.e., physical, emotional or cognitive. A good teacher can encourage each student to participate in the learning experience not only with the assistance of well-adapted materials, but also with proper instructional methods which would be practicable in a disabled individual.

One can find sample lesson plans for special education students in books, articles, and on the Internet; however, these lesson plans are to be modified to suit individuals. A special education teacher can design individual activity sheets for each child in consultation with physical therapists, counselors, doctors, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and social workers.

Writing Tips: Modern Missions

Richard Hannula authored, Trial and Triumph – Stories from Church History initially for his own children, but many others of all ages find it very helpful. Additionally, I see value in these mini-biographies as great writing prompts.

Students learning to write need to remember to:

  1. Use transition words: transition is like a bridge between two sentences or two paragraphs.

Examples: first, next, finally, obviously, certainly, in addition, while, third, first, finally, last, to begin with, to conclude, unfortunately, notwithstanding, equally important, between, similarly, first of all, on the other hand, consequently, soon, again, farther, hence, equally, therefore, although, further, underneath, thus, as though, however, though, accordingly, moreover, instead of, besides, yet, so that, as a result, otherwise

  1. Avoid contractions, abbreviations and overworked words.

All contractions – such as: she’ll, he’d, it’s (Easy solution: she will, he would, it is)

Abbreviations – such as: Sept. o.k. (Easy solution: write the full form)

Dead words such as: get, got, very, nice, you, your, good, just, lots, a lot, well, fine, so, fun, great, every, the end, (Easy solution: substitute with more descriptive language)

Slang: awesome, cool, fine, totally, rad, raspy (Easy solution: substitute with more descriptive language)

Many writing handbooks have lists of words that replace “dead” words with more descriptive words. I found mine in a book that I have had for many years. My internet search did not find Mitzi Merrill in From the Paragraph to Essay, 1988. Every student should have such a book for reference.

William Carey – Father of Modern Missions – 1761-1834

William Carey, a poor cobbler, sat in his workroom making, not shoes, but a leather globe of the world. With his huge hand drawn world map on the wall and the globe, he prayed for the heathen around the world. He made enough shoes to pay his expenses, but much of the time he preached to people who lived nearby. In spite of this opportunity and the many who believed in Christ, he longed for those around the world to be saved. He lived in a time where many of the churches believed that if God wanted them to be saved, He would do it without Carey’s help or anyone else’s. Later, Carey began attending a minister’s meeting. At the first one, he encouraged the churches to send missionaries. They scoffed at his idea and did nothing. Then in 1791, Carey presented an 87 page paper, An Inquiry Into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. Again at the next meeting, he preached with great passion, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Even with the deep moving message, the pastors again held back in fear. William took Andrew Fuller by the arm and pleaded, “Is there nothing again going to be done, sir?” Moved, Fuller spoke passionately to the men who reconsidered and began the progress. One year later, John Thomas and William Carey set sail to India where they began ministering to the Hindi. Six years later two English missionaries, Joshua Marshman and William Ward joined the team in India. God used these men to bring countless people from India to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As a result, other churches formed missionary societies and began to send out missionaries. On his deathbed at the age of 72, Carey feebly said, “… when I am gone, say nothing about William Carey. Speak about William Carey’s Savior.”

John Paton – Witness to the Cannibals – 1824-1907

After three years of preaching on Tanna of the New Hebrides, John Paton left because of the danger. These people were cannibals. His wife and firstborn had died in childbirth and even then he had persevered. Then it was time to leave, but after a year, he came back having recruited coworkers. This time he went to the people of Aniwa. They thought he was crazy, especially after a long time of preaching and finally, John dug a well. These unbelieving people had never seen “rain” come from the ground, but when fresh water bubbled up from that well, the Chief asked to preach the next Sunday. Many people of Aniwa heard the Chief testify to his belief in Jehovah God, the God of Missi, as John Paton was called. Nearly all of these people came to Christ. Later, other missionaries went to the South Pacific Islands to preach and many believed. Generations of John Paton’s family now serve in South Pacific Islands as missionaries.

Amy Carmichael – Mother to Outcast Children- 1867-1951

As a young child, Amy learned much from her parents regarding her God. She learned to pray; her heart’s desire was to have blue eyes instead of brown. God did not give her blue eyes. Later in life she realized why God had given her brown eyes. In his sovereignty, God sent her to work with women in South India. In that country Hinduism and its caste system makes it difficult to live as we do. Amy’s brown eyes helped her as she worked with these people who all had brown eyes. Those “breaking caste” by becoming Christians or even working in another field than their family, were in grave danger. Carmichael raised children and testified of God’s grace for fifty years. Many books telling of her children remain long after her death at the age of 83. God used Amy Carmichael mightily!