After spending these first 8 months of this school year supporting teachers, I have come to realize that what we have done in the past just isn’t working (and may not work again for a long time.) I love helping teachers improve their classroom management strategies.
Teachers are trying to manage extreme student behaviors as well as significant academic declines with the same rulebook they’ve used in the past.
The reality is, the past 2-years have changed everything. It has changed how students learn, it’s changed how teachers need to (and want) to teach, and it has seriously changed what teachers need to be happy and successful as teachers.
Here are 3 classroom management strategies that I think we need to make as we move forward into our new reality as educators.
1. We need to back WAY UP!
I’m going to say something that may be controversial in the field of education. Sometimes going backward actually takes us where we need to go. What I am seeing is that in general, students (especially in the lower grades) are close to a year behind where they need to be in many skills that help them be successful students. There are so many skills that students have not had to use over the last few years and some students haven’t ever had to use those skills Students have not had to attend, stay on task, follow multiple-step directions, sit quietly, the transition between activities, just to name a few. We need to back WAY UP and teach those skills just as we would as if it’s their first time in school. I know this isn’t ideal and causes other challenges, but we really don’t have a choice. If we don’t back up and teach students these basic skills, when will they ever learn them and how will they move forward?
2. We need to slow WAY DOWN
It feels like we need to do the opposite, we need to go faster, but this just isn’t working. We all came into this school year focused on “catching the students up” to where they should be. Can we all agree to throw all the “shoulds” out? 🙂 Moving faster is not getting our students where they need to be, it’s actually leaving most of our students behind. Not only are students trying to re-learn (or learn for the first time) all of the learning to learn skills they need to be successful students, they are also expected to access everything they “learned” during virtual (alternative) learning. This is just not possible for most kids right now. We need to slow down and make sure the students (as they are now) are able to keep up with the pace we are moving.
3. We need to lower our expectations for students and ourselves!
Yep- I said it! We need to lower our expectations because what we’ve all been through is a lot and we just can’t expect the same things for students and not for ourselves. We need to understand that it is going to take time for things to re-balance and just pushing our students and ourselves to be performing where we were in 2020 just isn’t realistic, manageable, or healthy. We will all find our way, I am certain of that, but in the meantime, we need to take it a little bit easier.
Teachers and students are working really really hard this year, and doing amazing things, but it’s a tough year. Let’s all look around, acknowledge the struggle and the victories, and make a few small changes that will help finish the school year strong!