Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Interviewing for an Art Position: Part 2 (Text heavy post!)

In part 2 of my Interviewing for an Art Position post, I am going to share tips for classroom management, both from my three years of teaching experience so far and from my Classroom Management Survival Guide that was compiled from my student teaching experience.  Chances are, you can be guaranteed that you will be asked at least one or two questions in an interview about your classroom management style.  I was asked what my classroom rules would be and I was given two scenarios and asked how I would deal with each one (one included contacting a parent). This compilation was included in my professional visual arts teaching portfolio and it was something that I referenced during my interview for my current position.

(You can read  Part 1 about having a portfolio here!)

This survival guide was created during my semester of student teaching for my Classroom Management course.  This was the final product that needed to be turned in.  It included the following:

1. Notes from class discussion
2. Personal observations & ideas to enhance classroom management
3. Materials from course texts
4. Discipline strategies
5.  Classroom Rules & Procedures
6. Seating Charts
7. Letter to Parents/Guardians
8. Ideal classroom design and the explanation behind it.
9. Example of a syllabus
10. Journal entries from observations relating to classroom management.
11.Bibliography of texts

Since this post is mostly about classroom management techniques, I'm going to share some tips...some of which are techniques I use today and some of which are suggestions from my survival guide.  

Time Management
1. Don't leave school until you are ready for the next day!  
My first year of teaching, I never left school right when we were allowed...I was usually at school for at least 30 minutes past that time, getting materials organized for the next day.  Since that first year, the time I stay after school has decreased now that I've learned what organization skills work for my classroom, but there are often days where I still don't leave until 30-60 minutes past our allowed time!  On the plus side, it means I can get up a little later the next day! ;)

2.  Over prepare for the day!  Be sure to have more prepared for each lesson in case students finish early, or have appropriate centers/art games/art room jobs available for those early finishers.
My first year, I had a paper organizer that had coloring sheets available to students.  I had one coloring sheet that was equivalent to what each class was learning about...Ancient Egypt, still life, landscape, etc.  This was a huge waste of paper so the second year, I started over planning my lessons more.  This third year, I made a checklist for students to reference after finishing a project and this has worked the best so far for early finishers.

3.  Use your time wisely.  Stagger assignments when working a full load.  Don't assign each grade level/class a research project at the same time (that will take lots of your time to grade).  Don't start and end projects at multiple grade levels/classes at the same time...stagger them so it's easier to grade projects in a timely manner.
Similarly, think about space.  I find that it's easier to do multiple ceramic projects at the same time so I have a full kiln that can be fired right after projects are finished.  I hate having projects sit in a a half-full kiln for weeks until another class does a clay project...half the time students forget what they were learning about by the time you get around to glazing or painting the pieces.  On the other hand, I have to stagger sculpture projects because I have limited space to store large sculptural projects.


INVOLVE PARENTS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!  Don't just call home about negative discipline when a student has done something very well or out of the ordinary.
Trust me, as a first year teacher it can be very nerve racking to call home for a discipline issue!  I admit that I never called home once during my 1st year of teaching, and I was sort of embarrassed by this!  Trust me when I say it gets easier and easier with each phone call made, especially if you have a good way to document incidences and you aren't just calling home about negative behavior!  During this last year of teaching, I finally found a system that really works for me.  I use the Making SmART Choices worksheet to document discipline issues.  It is a note that is filled out in class and sent home to be signed by the parent.  This is a way to keep documentation should you have to call home for a more serious offense later in the school year, and it also opens the doors of communication to parents easier than starting with a phone call.


Classroom Management
1.  Most classroom management situations happen int he first three minutes of class.
Thinking back on my three years, I can say that this is very true!  If you don't have their attention at the beginning, so many things can go wrong!  I've had a hard time trying to incorporate some sort of bell ringer at the elementary level, but since my 7th grade and high school students will all have sketchbooks that they will be required to bring to class every day, they will definitely have bell ringer activities to complete at the beginning of class each day in their sketchbook.

2.  Use a syllabus for class description but also as a way to communicate your rules, expectations, and consequences.  Have students (and parents!) sign a copy to hand back to you as a sort of contract.
All of my classes in high school had a syllabus like this, and I plan on implementing this at the high school level as well.  As soon as I have finalized my syllabus, I will definitely share!

3.  Use a seating chart.
I know many of you want the art room to be a place of freedom and expression, but in my experience, I find seating charts to be heaven sent, especially at the elementary level!  There are so many students that you will find just cannot be near each other.  When you have 16+ classes that you are teaching, a seating chart helps you memorize names faster and makes it easier for a substitute to take attendance and write down names of students who had discipline issues while you were gone.  Using a seating chart is also a great behavior incentive!  I use "Sit by a Friend" passes at the elementary level.  Students chosen as Artists of the Week get a pass that they can use during any art period to sit by whomever they want.  It's also a great, one-day award for entire classes to let them sit wherever for a day!  That being said, I do have one grade level that works much better when they are allowed to sit wherever they want.  You'll eventually learn which groups you can trust and which ones need a little more guidance.

4.  Allow student input on the classroom rules.  Don't allow them to make the rules per say, but allow them to discuss if they are fair and if your consequences are fair.  There may be a rule you don't have on your list that students may bring up.

5.  Learn which behaviors can be ignored.  Some students may need to tap their pencil or foot in order to channel extra energy.  Some need to do that in order to pay attention.  Get to know your students and what their personality and abilities are like.  This will tell you a lot about their controllable and uncontrollable behaviors.

6.  Pay attention to your own body language.  If you often stand with your arms crossed, it gives off the impression that you are unapproachable.  If students feel you are relaxed, they are more likely to feel comfortable around you and respect you and your rules.
I had a hard time with the arms crossed thing...especially during my first year of teaching and having hall duty in the morning!  I never knew what to do with my arms and hands so I would always cross them!  I started carrying a mug of tea with me in the morning, and eventually was able to lose the tea and feel comfortable with my arms hanging at my sides or with a hand in my pocket.  It's easier to wave at the little munchkins when they walk by if your arms aren't crossed! ;)

7.  Sometimes a student may need to be excused from the classroom due to his or her behavior.  Be sure you and your administration have an understanding and agreement on what to do in this situation.  Some students cannot be trusted to cool off in the hallway outside the classroom and some may need to be sent to the office for the remainder of the period.  Be sure to communicate with your administrator about this before you are forced to do it.  Do NOT let this student pursue an argument with you in front of the class...they often do this because they know and want to push your buttons!  The more heated you get, the bigger and more out of hand the situation may get.  Later in the day or first thing in the morning, after everyone has cooled down, speak with that student about their behavior, why it was wrong and what the student and you can do to prevent it from happening in the future.
You never know, you might have unintentionally said or did something to set the student off and offend him or her.  Again, this boils down to getting to know your student's personalities.


Respect and Responsibility
1.  Remind students to treat the desk and classroom with respect.  Threaten them with cleaning tasks!
In some ways, this is like a "make sure the punishment fits the crime" type of deal.  If you have students who aren't pulling their weight during clean-up, make them stay after to clean up other people's messes so they can get a taste of what it feels like to do someone else's work.  Obviously, make sure that this type of consequence is okay'd by your administrator and that they will back you up!  You can get into trouble by making students write 10x's each, "I will not..." and that most often is not something that will help them learn respect and appreciation!

On another note, if students in general are not using materials responsibly and with respect, don't be afraid to stop a project cold turkey and go to something "boring" for a while.  I had to do this while I was student teaching.  I had just started a clay unit and a student stole some red clay from the room and threw it in the school pool.  Later that day, the kindergartners had gotten changed to go swimming and they couldn't because they thought someone had pooped in the pool!  (Mind you, this happened two weeks after a chemical scare in the pool which lead to the school being evacuated.)  I made the decision to cut the clay project cold turkey until the perpetrator came forward and students were given a research project on a clay artist.  Eventually the student came forward after enough students pressured him into being honest because they wanted to do the fun project, not the boring research project!

2.  Encourage students to bring their own materials to class.  Aside from the required materials (pencil, eraser, sketchbook, etc.) encourage serious artists to get their own quality materials to use in class.  This will help encourage pride in their own artwork!
Likewise, if a student isn't bringing their required materials to class, require a swap if they need to borrow an item.  And don't just ask them to swap a pen for a pencil...make it something really important...that way they remember to return your borrowed item!  Cell phone?  Hat?  Agenda?  I also take points away from their daily grade if they are not prepared.  They need to be prepared for all of their other classes, what makes art class any different?  Being prepared also includes coming to class with a positive attitude!

While posing the risk of this post becoming too much like a college lecture, I want to give you one last piece of information, taken directly from a college text book...

What is a discipline problem?  (Levin, 25)
The following information was taken directly from a college text book, Principles of Classroom Management, 2007 by James Levin and James Nolan.  The information presented here is sometimes something I still forget.  I often try so hard to keep everyone in the classroom, happy and learning, that I try to hard to keep a discipline problem on task when it is too late, which in turn distracts from the learning of others.  Remember...a discipline problem is:

1. A behavior that interferes with the act of teaching.
2. A behavior that interferes with the rights of others to learn.
3.  A psychologically or physically unsafe act.
4.  A behavior that destroys property, including personal, school or another student's property.
5. Ineffective or inappropriate employment of classroom management strategies that interferes with the learning of others (on behalf of the teacher).

**A teacher may become a discipline problem!


With all of that being said, I just want to leave you with one last piece of advice for this post.  Don't be afraid to be flexible and change rules and expectations, whether the next year or the middle of the school year.  I've been teaching elementary art for three years now and each year, I have drastically changed my rules and procedures each year.  Only now do I finally feel like I have found techniques that work for me at the elementary level, and you can bet that I will still be tweaking them a little bit for the next school year!

I'm also going to essentially be "starting over" again as I venture into the high school level.  I did my student teaching at the high school level and also did two internships before that at the middle school level, but it's been a while!  You can guarantee that I will be tweaking my syllabus, rules, expectations and procedures as I figure out what works and what doesn't work for my teaching style, classroom management style and students!

No comments:

Post a Comment