Just today a teacher brought her Kindergarten class my door greeting me with the rolling of her eyes, “They’re a handful today,” she whispered as the kids skipped happily into the room and headed for their dots. “Good to know,” I responded and then began to assess how this lesson time was going to go down. Now what?
Here’s where procedures really pay off!
After everyone is in the room, we sing a Hello song which includes singing all student names (echo teacher on so mi). As we sing their name, they sit down.
The kindergarten class coming into the Music Room can be challenging.There’s a student who never stops blurting, is hyperactive and has a bit of an anger issue. It’s very disruptive and affects how the other students respond to the lesson. What to do?
CALMLY REMIND STUDENTS OF THE RULES OF THE CLASSROOM:
As soon as the student began blurting I asked him to raise his hand if he had a question and to participate in the movement activity. He couldn’t help it–he was blurting (shouting) over the music and the other students began to imitate his behavior.
I like to use the word “Magic”. It get’s everyone’s attention. I use magic eyes, magic feet, magic music– I made some posters just for you. They have the visuals-no words. You can apply them to pretty much any situation. “Put some magic glue on your shoes and stay in your place.”, “Put on your magic glasses and tell me what you see on the white board?” Tons of ways to use these!
RESTATE THE CONSEQUENCES:
After a couple of tries of stopping the class and reminding them of the rule (no talking when we are listening to music), I then had everyone sit down. it was time for some kind of intervention and a consequence. “Okay,” if someone needs to talk to Mrs. H–what do we do. Immediately hands went up and everyone wanted to tell me that they are supposed to raise their hands. I responded by acknowledging that they had raised their hands. “That’s right!” Here’s my posters that I use to help students know exactly where their behavior is during class.
STICK TO IT:
Then I said, “let’s all SHOW Johnny how to be quiet during a movement activity.” And “I can’t turn on the music when you are shouting to each other, so I guess we’ll sit here and think about it for a few minutes.” I was pleasantly surprised by the dead drop silence of their response. I realized that the teacher had used this technique too. I turned the music back on and the students once again were moving-this time I could hear the music. I walked around the room complimenting them for being such a great example and making good choices. All the while Johnny looked a bit confused because he was having a hard time stopping his blurting–and that was okay. I knew that he didn’t have complete control of this action and that the professionals were working with him and I wasn’t going to be the one to make a huge difference in his behavior–but I also wanted my music class to run smoothly and for the other students to have a quality experience. Johnny ended up sitting in “Thinking Time” for a little while. He was very wound up and I asked him to sit quietly for a minute and calm down. He eventually did–just in time for his teacher to pick him up!
EXITING THE CLASSROOM:
I have students line up silently-walking around the circle to a specific spot and end up in a line. Then when teacher comes they give the teacher a double thumbs up if they’ve done a great job-then they give me a “silent” thank you in sign language. I send them out silently.
Every situation is a bit different and I don’t necessarily handle every disruption like this one–but I believe that creating and following a standard set of procedures will ensure good classroom management and get me through the difficult situations with students who can or will not follow the rules.
I do know that students in the primary grades respond really well to songs, chants and hand actions. When we line up and there’s a couple of extra minutes before the teacher arrives, I can sing a little song or use some pantomime activities to help the students remain calm and quiet.
WHY HAVE A PLAN?
I find that I can be much calmer when I have a set plan to follow. I don’t feel like it’s the procedure that makes a difference-it is the teacher that makes the difference. I found that my procedures work well for me because I created them, or adapted them to fit me as a person. I like teaching hand signs and using silent motions which helps me save my voice. I like things that are simple and easily managed. I like to connect emotionally with my students and I also want to connect music concepts with my procedures. So many of them are singing and moving type procedures. I also have learned to adapt my procedures per the special needs of my students. I take the time to chat with the teacher about the students who are struggling and then adjust my procedures and behavior plans accordingly. It takes some time to become comfortable with procedures and it takes student practice too. But it’s worth it! Having a caring and calm classroom is critical to learning success.
For some ideas on Transitions check out this article: Five Steps to Creating and using Transitions
HERE’S SOME HELP!
Want to learn more? Here’s what I created for my classroom along with some songs, games and activities you can do to help you get started.
MUSIC CLASS ESSENTIALS- a complete package for a music classroom.
For any classroom teacher:
I hope you’ll keep reading to find more Classroom Management tips here:“HOW TO MANAGE MONSTERS IN YOUR CLASSROOM”
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