With the first full week of school being in the book and the foundation for a great year being laid, I am reminded classroom management is a dance between my class and me. As soon as I think I am in control of the dance… I am already out of time with the music! Classroom management is a joint effort with mutual respect, expectations and responsibility being the primary steps. The students are watching me to see if I actually am accountable in these areas… just as I am watching them for the same thing! They want to know if I will be their consistent partner in this education dance and that this partnership is a commitment. The children are watching my eyes and my actions while wondering if “they” are really my first priority. My job and a big part of classroom management, is to show them by my words and actions that I truly am there for them. This dance is about the love of learning. Children are quick to learn these simple truths. My moves must be consistent with my heart. This dynamic is such an important part of the dance. Will you be there when your partner needs you? New partnerships take time to develop trust. It’s so easy to want to jump ahead and teach the next move, but I know too much too fast won’t last. The children are trying their best to figure out just what the steps are to this new dance, while I am trying to see who is a natural dancer and determine the children who need a bit of help getting on the dance floor! Sometimes when children aren’t sure what is coming up next, I see negative behaviors or missteps in our new routine! If I am careful to foreshadow the upcoming steps, we are able to complete the twists and turns effortlessly. Eric Jensen says when students lack choices and control, negative behaviors increase. On the contrary, Jensen says when children have choices, behaviors are much more manageable.
As we navigate our dance, I am constantly on the lookout for places the children can create and name the moves of the dance. I find myself wanting to push ahead to the next sequence but I am quickly reminded we need time with these steps. They are still new. The more we practice, the closer we get to moving in the right direction. Daily routines and rituals will enable us to perform in way we can learn our best while encouraging others to learn their best too. I must say these first graders are becoming familiar with the beat of their new dance and in time, they will be realizing their fancy moves will set them up for a crescendo in learning.