Shawne Kearney on How to Develop Excellent Classroom Management – POP 6

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger

Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne
For this kernel of wisdom, Brandon speaks to Shawne Kearney who is a Master Teacher and New Teacher Support Provider and Mentor and is currently teaching 4th Grade in Sonoma State, California.

A teacher for over 20 years, Shawne also now teaches adults at Sonoma State University where she specialises in project-based learning and classroom management.

Tips for teachers for building positive classroom management systems

1. Pro-active classroom mangement

Shawne believes strongly in pro-active classroom management. She greets her students at the door, which is very important especially at the beginning of the year to help you establish a relationship with your students. Also important are:

  • Inclusion activities
  • Team building
  • Establishing common interests

Alongside this you need very clear procedures and routines – available in writing and practiced with feedback given.

Shawne Kearney
Shawne Kearney
Shawne believes kids want to do well but they need to have a target and they need to know what ‘doing well’ looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like.

It’s also important to have clear consequences. Everyone, Shawne says, appreciates knowing the consequence  of a behaviour ahead of time. If a consequence is sprung upon someone, they are likely to get upset.

2. Setting students up for success

This is especially important for struggling learners – they should be able to participate on a level they feel comfortable with. Ask questions you know they can answer so they are not ‘put on the spot’. When you see they have a great answer, you can whisper in their ear and ask them to share it later when called on by you. This helps them to feel proud and good about themselves.

Shawne thinks it’s also important to modify work for struggling students. They often work slower but they still need to be able to finish the task you have set and feel success.

3. Teach collaboration and communication skills explicitly

Often, teachers put learners in a group and expect them to be able to collaborate and communicate – many adults don’t know how to do this!

Shawne recommends this video about students giving feedback to illustrate her point:

Austin’s Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work from EL Education on Vimeo.

Shawne teaches these kinds of collaboration and communications skills very explicitly in isolated lessons so that, when they get to those groups lessons like the one in the video above, they know what to expect.

Shawne sees this transferring into students’ social situations outside the classroom by about half way through the school year.

Bonus tip! Self care

Make sure you take care of yourself so you are:

  • Rested
  • Patient
  • Rejuvenated
  • Genuinely feeling you enjoy your job

Kids know if you are upset, angry or grumpy.

Shawne on Twitter