Sunday, April 10, 2011

Classroom management

Not sure how you manage your classroom procedures but thought I'd share something I do in my class that has been amazingly useful...

Last year when I started teaching at my school I was incredibly challenged with dealing with a classroom that just wouldn't stay organized and/or clean no matter what I did. The problem? Well, by and large - ME. I was my own problem. This is because before I came to the high school level, I was teaching 6th graders! And jumping from middle school to high school is a BIG jump if you have never experienced it. And I wasn't used to working with students who were 1) capable of so much more responsibility and 2) a situation where it was completely fair and reasonable to expect them to do so much more. Was it fair to base a significant part of their grade on classroom participation and management of materials?

The short answer that I came up with: YES.

The long answer/explanation that I continue to use to justify my short answer: Being a good artist doesn't have to do with knowing what materials to use and how to use them. If you want good materials and tools, you have to take care of them!

The way I do it is this...

  • I identified (8) major areas of general responsibility/classroom management that could be fairly assumed by any of students
  • Every week I rotate the classroom roster so that each set of eight student gets a chance at managing their designated area for one school week. The next two weeks after they get a break and then they are up again.
  • Students are usually never assigned a specific designation more than one time and through the semester they will usually get every different designation at least one time.
  • Fifteen percent of their grade is dependent upon the completion of their classroom stewardship designation combined with their "general"/unspoken obligation to just plain do the right thing in the classroom as its called for
Each student's grade is broken down like this...
- 70% - Actual project work
- 15% - Stewardship/Classroom/Community contributions
- 15% - Daily Individual performance

I give students 50 points per week (10 points per school weekday) and a total of 450 points for each marking period at the start of each marking period and then I add/subtract to that number as it's necessary in the online grading system that my school uses noting the date that incidents occurred (for the good or bad/plus or minus) and I will readily add to a grade for the showing of good stewardship as much as I will subtract from it for negligence of responsibility. 

I post stewardship assignments a week in advance to give students a heads-up for their next stewardship assignment and the chart gets flipped at the beginning of every class. This system has worked out very very well this year and despite the fact that I felt like it was a little elementary in feel (in terms of classroom procedures) it's worked out really really well for my high schoolers and I will continue to use this system. It provides great accountable as I can always go back to any week (digitally archived versions are backed up on my computer) or any day if their are any questions but thus far? There haven't been any because everyone has really stepped up, not even complained since they aren't saddled with stewardship assignments every week and the chart being so specific helps the students hold each other accountable just as much as I try to myself. It's a good system.

Some things to note:

  • I work at a private/faith-based school so the use of the word "Stewardship" comes from what scripture asks us to do as we act in Christ-like ways
  • The idea of classroom stewardship and ways I figured out how to portion out the total grade actually came from watching the show about the Duggar family and thinking about their system of "jurisdiction" areas in their household upkeep and their philosophy of living in J-O-Y. In my classroom the jurisdiction is called stewardship and the J-O-Y goes along with Jesus first (70% - actual project work), Others second (15% - classroom/community stewardship), Yourself last (15% - Individual and daily performance)

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