5 Powerful Take-aways from the No-Nonsense Nurturer Classroom Management Course
We all want phenomenal classroom management, but some of us find ourselves struggling with one of two approaches. Either we enable our students by being too lenient and by not following through with consequences, or we crush their spirits by being overbearing and controlling. The former causes students to lose respect and begin to ignore the teacher, and the latter breeds resentment, fear, and rebellion.
Where then is the middle ground? What does it take to have the well managed classes of our dreams?
According to CT3 (The Center for Transformative Teacher Training), it takes a "No-Nonsense Nurturer".
Several months ago all of the teachers at the school that I work at were informed that we would be required to take a training course. After some moans, groans, and perhaps a few excited expressions for getting a day off, we all ended up at the training location. What ensued was a training that would change the way I looked at teaching.
The No-Nonsense Nurturer training program was broken into four main categories:
Incentives System/Discipline Hierarchy
Plan to Build Relationships with Scholars and their Families
Take-away #1: Precise Directions
The first stop on our journey to become a No-Nonsense Nurturer was learning to craft precise directions. The first thing I learned was, "the less words the better". I used to think that the more I elaborately explained a task, and the more detailed I was, the better my students would understand me. The truth was, I would end up repeating myself or using a lot of filler words. Although some things require more explanation, with most tasks, the more to-the-point the directions are, the better chance a student has of meeting the task objectives successfully. Also, the directions must be specific and include enough information for the students to be successful instead of being vague sweeping statements.
Here's an example.
Imprecise: Alright guys, get your things out and start working on your journals.
Precise: Class, take out your journals and write a one paragraph reflection on what you learned about meter in today's lesson.
Seems obvious right? Try this one.
Imprecise: Okay, put your instruments away and line up at the door.
Precise: Class, when I say "begin", place your instruments away neatly, in the bin one at a time in your line order. After you place your instrument in the bin, you may walk silently to the door and stand in your line order. ..."begin"
The first set of directions is likely to spur chaos as each student rushes to be first in line because they were not instructed how or in what order to complete the task.
The second set of directions addresses their movement, "walking", their voice level "silently", and how they should participate in the procedure, "neatly, one at a time". This set of directions is nearly guaranteed to get an orderly effective response.
In conclusion, precise directions ensure order and effectiveness of procedures in class and they include information on movement, voice level, and how each student should participate.
Take-away #2: Positive Narration
Ever hear of "positive reenforcement"? Well Positive Narration is like a simpler more effective version of that.
Positive Narration keeps the focus on what is going right not what's going wrong
Positive Narration states what is happening instead of thanking students for doing what they should already be doing (following your directions is not the same thing as doing you a favor)
Positive Narration lets other students know what they should be doing by pointing out what on-task students are doing
The difference between Positive Narration and positive reenforcement is subtle but important.
Positive reenforcement rewards, praises, or thanks students for behavior that should be expected and as soon as the reward is gone so is the positive behavior.
Positive Narration draws attention to what is going right, what is expected, and what was asked of the students. It changes the culture of you classroom from "please do this for me" to "this is what is expected of you and this is how things are".
Here are some examples:
Positive reenforcement: "Billy, thank you for standing so nicely in the line."
Positive Narration: "Billy is standing in line silently with his hands by his side"
PR: "Sarah and Nancy followed my directions so they get a piece of candy"
PN: "Sarah is using walking feet in the hallway. Nancy stopped playing her instrument right when I gave the cut-off"
*Bonus Tip: Make sure to put emphasis on the student's name for a more effective result.