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Whack-a-mole

One of my classmates draws a distinction between classroom management and student management. Classroom management, he suggests, is what teachers do to create an environment in which students can learn, and it includes the routines, class work, relationships, etc. of the classroom. Student management, on the other hand, is the attempt to control each moment of each child’s behavior.

In thinking about the last several days, I realize that I’m doing what I never wanted to do – instead of setting up an environment in which the kids behave well, I’m working within broken structures and am essentially playing whack-a-mole with the kids all day. Essentially, I’m practicing student management instead of classroom management. I spend the day – especially the afternoons – telling kids to stop talking, stop wandering, stop tapping…stop, stop, stop! I hate it, it’s not effective, and I want it to change. The challenge is to figure out how to do that.

To start, I need to get over my reluctance to change the kids’ routines. The reality is that I do things differently than their old teacher and I have a different relationship with the class, so we’ve already changed the day in big ways. Given that, changing the desks around (for instance) to separate the kids who are driving each other crazy just isn’t a big deal.

Another part of the problem is that the academic work we’re doing isn’t that interesting. For the most part, it’s either review or boring requirement. I don’t know how much I can change about that, but I can at least keep it in mind when I respond to the kids. Bored ten year olds are misbehaving ten year olds. I’ll try to figure out how to make the remaining lessons more interesting, try to cut the kids some slack, and try to move things around so that the classroom works better for me and the kids.

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