Classroom Management Strategies

I have one class in particular that is stacked with a good number of freshmen who have yet to develop the study skills and self-discipline expected at the high school level.  They tend to do little homework, seldom attempt to prepare for upcoming assessments outside of class, and have tepid response to instructions to transition in class (take out your notebooks, move to this location, put on safety glasses, etc.)

Several of the strategies for “students that struggle to complete work” were similar to a strategy I already had attempted, having them set their own new year’s resolution after doing some reflection on their past performance.  I have not seen a notable change from most students, so I’m reluctant to try a similar thing again.  I may, however, have them write down their choice when given options on future assignments, which was another recommendation.

In order to prompt this slow-moving class to transition more urgently, I tried drawing the “if there’s time” line on the agenda in the class, with the rewarding promise of a video if we were efficient in getting the other work done.  Long story short, it didn’t work.  Not only did we not get past the “if there’s time” line, the students were so unprepared for class and had such poor recall of the previous week’s lesson and activity that we weren’t able to accomplish even the first item on the agenda.  We were supposed to prepare students with information to be used on a lab the next class, and we had to bump the whole plan another class ahead.  None of them argued when I announced it  or complained about missing the movie, but I don’t know if this was the result of the agenda.  Regardless, I’ll be trying this one more in the future.

With the same class, I gave a remediation activity for them to work on in small groups.  Because many of the students tend to dally and not begin work in that class, I set an end time for them and also used verbal progress markers, noting out loud where most of the groups were in the process and giving cues to skip to the the next section, even if they weren’t finished the current one, so they could get some experience with different problem types.  This seemed to be really effective.  They all seemed to move through at a similar pace and got the gist of the skill being assessed.

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