In my previous post, I gave some general guidelines about managing student behavior in the comprehensible input (CI) classroom. In this post, I’m going to take a look at three classroom management systems specific to the CI classroom. None of these is my original idea. They all have one thing in common, which is the desire to create a classroom environment with minimal disturbances so that students can be exposed to as much input as possible.
The first system I’m going to discuss is Ben and Tina’s classroom management plan. Ben Slavic wrote a bit about classroom management in The Big CI Book, and he teamed up with Tina Hargarden to write the book, A Natural Approach to the Year: A Year of Lesson Plans for the First-Year Proficiency-Based Classroom, in which Ben and Tina have outlined their classroom management plan. Ben and Tina see the first six weeks of class (give or take) as the time when the teacher should train their students to behave in the classroom. Classroom behavior is managed mainly through use of an Interpersonal Communication Rubric and phone calls home – MADE DURING CLASS SO ALL STUDENTS HEAR! – when students’ grade on the rubric is below 80%. In addition, Ben and Tina outline their plan for classroom disruption, which I have summarized below.
- Ben and Tina advise starting with Plan A. Walk over to the classroom rule sign. Point to the rule being broken, smile, and say nothing until students settle down. Do this as many times as needed.
- If a particular student refuses to settle down, move on to Plan B. Without speaking, move physically to the student misbehaving , stare at him or her, and use body language (hands on hips, body facing the student) until the disruption ceases.
- Ben and Tina say that, once they move to Plan B, they then call home to discuss behavior and also try to make that student the center of attention in class for a few days. They may assign him or her a class job to redirect the negative behavior. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to move to Plan C, where the teacher calmly kneels next to the student, smiles, and says something like, “This keeps happening and it needs to stop. If it happens again, we will have a longer conversation.” Ben and Tina recommend that you call home after an exchange like this.
- If the student’s behavior doesn’t improve, it’s time to move on to Plan D, where the teacher asks the student into the hall for a private, non-confrontational conversation. Without smiling or making eye contact with the student, the teacher calmly asks, “What was happening?” “How is that a problem for the class?” “How is that a problem for me as your teacher?” “How is this going to be a problem for you if you don’t stop?” After this exchange, it is time to call home again.
- If behavior is still an issue after this, Plan E is deployed, where the teacher reaches out to administrators and counselors for help.
If you are interested in trying this classroom management plan, I recommend that you buy Ben and Tina’s book, A Natural Approach to the Year: A Year of Lesson Plans for the First-Year Proficiency-Based Classroom, which contains a more detailed explanation of their classroom management plan.
The second classroom management plan I’m going to discuss is Mike and Craig’s classroom management plan. Mike Coxon and Craig Sheehy are both former classroom teachers who now train teachers to teach using Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS). When they were classroom teachers, they both used a system where they gave the students opportunities to earn points for positive behavior. During class, a timer was set for eight minutes. If students broke one of the classroom rules during that eight minutes, the timer was reset to zero and students tried again. Once students made it all the way to eight minutes without breaking rules, they earned a point. Once students had a certain number of points, they earned a predetermined reward. I have written about their management system before in this post.
The third and final classroom management plan I’m going to discuss is Annabelle Allen’s classroom management plan. Annabelle employs a point system also, but because she calls herself “La Maestra Loca,” her plan is a bit crazier than Mike and Craig’s. First of all, she rewards them points for positive behavior she sees and gives HERSELF points for any negative behavior she sees.
She does not reward points with a timer like Mike and Craig do. In addition, she gives students points arbitrarily and those points become rewards arbitrarily. Sometimes she gives a reward if the class can earn more points than the teacher for a certain period of time. On other occasions, she has all her classes compete for an arbitrary length of time (a week, a month) and the reward goes to the class that earns the most points. She believes, and I tend to agree, that changing the reward keeps the whole system exciting and novel, which keeps student enthusiasm high. You can read more about her thoughts and techniques for behavior management on her blog.
No matter what kind of classroom management system you set up, what is important is that you find some sort of way to control any negative behaviors you see in your class. And no matter what behavior plan you use, remember that the best way to maintain positive behavior in class is through your lesson plan. And if you are a new teacher, go easy on yourself if you have those days that the class gets a little crazy. It happens to everybody. What is important is that you try to remain consistent and calm with your expectations and that you can learn from you mistakes and improve your management skills over time.