Typhani Harris | March 2015

Strategy Sidebar

Strategy Sidebar

One of the exciting opportunities I have had as an instructional coach is creating a weekly newsletter for my teachers.  Within the newsletter, I share resources, inspirational quotes, previews of the week ahead, comments and ah-ha moments from the teachers, spotlights, and strategy sidebar.  Since we have an extra week in this month, I thought it would be fun to share some of these mini strategies with you.  These are quick little tricks that can be used in the classroom immediately.

Always Assume the Best

Sometimes it may be difficult, but it is important to always assume the best about your students.  Assume they want to learn your content and assume they want to learn good behavior.  When they test us they ultimately want us to pass the test.  Be on the same side as your students.  Even when they are complaining, put yourself in their shoes…would you complain too?

Eye Contact, Proximity, Pauses, and Names

These can be useful for classroom talkers.  Move around the room, get closer to them, use their names, pause right beside them, look them in the eyes.  These can all be the first line of defense when keeping students on task.

Consistency is Key

Consistency is really the key to classroom management.  Commit to teaching students content, behavior, and procedures and consistency is sure to follow.  Check your consistency in the following areas:
-holding your ground without overexplaining
-staying focused on the topic at hand even if students try to change it
-teaching and reteaching procedures
-bell to bell instruction
-enforcing and following through with consequences
-talking with parents
-welcoming and encouraging students

Rules and Consequences

We all have rules, most of us have posted them and discussed them with our classes, but what about the consequences.  Know your consequences and remain consistent.  Things to remember about consequences:
-don’t treat the consequence as a punishment, only a response
-use consequences as a pause to get student attention
-organize consequences in a hierarchy beginning with the mildest
-ultimately, we don’t have control over our students, they are human beings and control themselves, but it is important to guide them
-consequences give students the power of choice, if they know the rules and choose to do otherwise, then they are choosing the consequence

Saving Face: Avoiding the Power struggle

The quickest way to get into a power struggle is by putting a students “on blast” by calling them out in front of everyone.  Traditionally, we all have a handful of students where this could potentially happen. So, why not avoid the power struggle all together by letting students save face.  Try not giving the consequence right away, first get the student refocused and then talk to the student later.

Implementing Change: One Step at a Time

Making changes mid-year may not be easy, but it isn’t impossible.  If you are trying to make a couple changes in your classes, whether in policy, procedure, protocol, or consequences try the following steps to put them in place:
-try making a list of all the changes and put them in order of priority
-make sure your number one priority is something that can actually be completed, if it is too complicated it is important to break it up into smaller parts
-implement your number one change only and test it out on your favorite class first
-once the change is working with your favorite class, slowly introduce it to the rest of your classes.  Once the change has been made, and is consistent start the process again by reprioritizing your list with a new number one.

Channeling the Chaos

For many of my teachers I have made suggestions such as: if students are going to talk, use it or don’t fight the chaos, embrace it.  Especially in the later hours of the school day, our students become a little restless.  They have been sitting quietly listening for hours, they have a lot of built up energy, and they love to talk to their friends.  So, why not channel this energy by starting your class with an opportunity to move around and talk.

Class Debates

Class debates are a great way to channel this chaos and gives students a chance to talk and argue.

Four Corners

Four corners is also a fun way to move them around.  Similar to a likert scale, set responses like always agree, mostly agree, mostly disagree, and always disagree in the four corners in the room then ask the class questions.  These questions should revolve around the previous lesson or even a review of a unit.

Walk the Line

Split the classroom in half, one side being yes and one side being no.  Have students respond to questions by placing themselves anywhere in the room.  The further to one side will communicate a hard yes or a hard no, and the closer to the line provides a softer yes or no, on the line is a maybe.

Scavenger Review

Set up a unit review in the form of a scavenger hunt.  Group students and pass out questions for review, once the answer is completed correctly, students receive a clue as to where to find the next question and the next clue.

These are fun, quick, strategies that can be implemented immediately and will make your classroom run smoothly with lots of fun.

Next Week: Secrets of a Dance Teacher

Teaching history and theory of dance within our dance classes is so important.  However, with the multitude of things we need to complete, how do we fit it in and how do we determine what is most important to teach?  Over the next couple months, I will be sharing full lesson plans with assessments for history of Ballet, Jazz, and Modern that can be used immediately.  These plans take roughly a week to complete so the students get an opportunity to learn about the history without taking too much time from the practicum of the studio environment.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.