Book Review: Hacking Classroom Management

My name is Kelsey and I am six years into my teaching career and clearly am no veteran to the art of teaching. I’ve taught a variety of grade levels

I recently read Mike Roberts’ Hacking Classroom Management.

I felt like Roberts did a nice job using the format he did to present the management information. It made trading his work easy and enjoyable. He had great ideas that I felt were tricks that come along with the trade, so yes he is truly sharing hacks with new teachers.

As I was reading his book I found myself either agreeing with the philosophies he presented in that classroom management deals a lot with building and maintaining positive relationships with one’s students.

I feel like I do many of the techniques he mentions, and I didn’t feel like many of his ideas were completely brand new, though I did walk away from the text with a few ideas that I hadn’t thought of before.

I do believe that this book would invaluable to a firat year or new teacher. Do I think it’s a must read for a teacher who has gotten their feet wet in the field? Not necessarily. I would recommend this book to a teacher who I thought was struggling with their classroom management. Or someone who I noticed wasn’t meshing well with their students.

Overall, I thought this book was worth the read. Would I recommend it to everyone? No, but for myself it was a nice confirmation that what I am doing in my own classroom is right on track with what other’s believe are impactful and effective ways to manage one’s classroom.

If you haven’t checked out my previous post at The Fridge, please do. This idea has really added to the community of my classroom, and it has played a role in my classroom management.

The Fridge.

How do you show your students that they matter? In today’s world it can be easy for students to get lost and forgotten in all of the chaos that is life; from out of school activities, to holding a job, to fit time in for family, friends, and homework. Life can be a challenge, even for most adults.

My first classroom will always be ingrained in my memory. Why? Because I was afraid of it. No, it didn’t have cobwebs, monsters, or anything of that sort. I was afraid of it because at the time I had no idea what to do with it.

My desk sat across the room from a HUMONGOUS blank artificial wall that I shared with another teacher. For the first week or so I would often find myself staring at it, unsure of what to do. It wasn’t until I assigned my first project that I figured out what I would do with this blank space. That was when The Fridge was born.

The Fridge has been a staple in my classroom for all 5 years of my teaching career. It has changed a few times, but the concept and love that go into it still remains the same.

After my students had completed their first projects the teacher guilt began to sink in. What was I going to do with their art work from their mythological star constellations? I hung them on the fridge.

For the first two years of my career, I’ll be honest, The Fridge was a hot mess, but my students loved it. I would see my 8th graders look in awe at the projects they too might be doing in 5 years, and it was fun to watch my seniors look at the 8th grade art and reminisce about stories they had read.

During it’s third and fourth year of life, The Fridge was a place that acknowledged less art work and more accomplishments outside of the classroom. I had switched schools and paper projects were a thing of the past. I hung up the newspaper articles and theatre programs, and anything else that seemed fitting, up on The Fridge for my 9th and 12th graders to look at. It was fun watching them congratulate one another on a new school record, or receiving an award at their recital performance.

At my current school I find that yet again The Fridge has changed slightly. Instead of paper projects or newspaper clippings and programs I acknowledge my students art work. I currently teach 7th grade English and I find that the group of students I find myself teaching are more aristic than those I’ve had before.

No matter what concept The Fridge grasps onto the result always seems to be the same. Students enjoy being acknowledged, not only by myself but their peers as well.

As I enter my 6th year of teaching I laugh at my first year teacher self because at the time I was just looking to fill space, but now I’ve filled the hearts of my students by showing them and others that I care.

If you’d like to download my freebie of The Fridge click here.

Thanks for reading my blog, and rememeber, be you, be confident, be amazing.

Kelsey

The First Day of School

I know what you’re probably thinking. “I’m still on summer vacation!”, and you’re right, but if you’re anything like me, the first day of school can give you nightmares.

Now, if you don’t already know, I’ve taught a wide variety of students at different grade levels and ages. I’ve taught most grades between 6-12 at one point or another throught my 6 years of teaching.

I know that I’m definitely not a veteran teacher by any means, but I’ve learned a few things during my time in the classroom.

My piece of advice about the first day of school: DON’T READ THE SYLLABUS!

I did this my first few years of teaching and reflecting back I feel so sorry for my students. At the time I was just doing what I thought was normal, and you know what? I was right. The students would come in, (There would always be a little bit of chaos as they tried to find their assigned seat) from there I would hand out my syllabus, and I would read it to them AND if I was feeling super innovative I would ask students to read it to the class.

This would ways leave me with so much time left at the end of class that I wouldn’t know what to do with my students. (During ny first few years of teaching I struggled to figure out my pacing, but it’s all good now.)

This was my norm for the first two years and I was just dying (not literally), but it definitely set the tone for my students. They would always expect class to be mundane, and every day the same, and I felt like a lot of them would set their mind on autopilot.

After searching high and low one year for an idea, and idea, of what to do on the first day of school it finally came to me — group work!

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that I hate icebreaker activities where you have to go around and say something that you like that has the same letter as your name, or come up with two truths and a lie, or anything else you could think of. I figured that I was scared and felt like I was in survival mode so maybe my students felt the same way.

I came up with a survival game for the first day, and it’s what I’ve been using ever since it was born via PowerPoint.

I break my students up into groups, I hand each student a list of supplies (all students have the same list) and they, in their group, have to decide what is the most important to surviving in the Sonoran Desert.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous the first time I did this, I mean, this could have gone either way in my eyes, but to my surprise it worked! The students are loved it!

This type of activity gave my students the opportunity to engage with each other after a long summer break, and it also showed me who my leaders and strong personalities were, and who my more quiet voices were. This worked, because it wasn’t a threatening environment, it was fun, and they truly enjoyed working together.

After the students were done organizing their list of 18 items we discussed what they “used” and “didn’t use” while being stuck in the desert. This was a great ice breaker because after each group had shared their picks our classroom discussion drifted into a deep thoughtful talk about perspectives. It was really cool to see students reach that level of discussion on THE FIRST DAY!

For this upcoming school year I’ve been mulling over what to do. I thought about switching from this activity to something else, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Will I switch eventually? Most likely. As for right now, I’m not going to fix what isn’t broken.

Thanks for checking out my blog. To see what activity I’m talking about click here.

Have a great day and rememeber, be you, be confident, be amazing!

Thanks again,

Kelsey