Carolina from Phoenix writes:

I was unable to attend your session at the iFLT conference in San Diego about classroom management.  You suggested I read over your handout material posted on your web site and email you if I had any questions. I do have questions and I am hoping that you could help me out.

Thanks for asking these questions.  You are right, they are not clear in the handout.  The classroom management presentation at iFLT could easily have been a half day or even a full day and with that volume of information crammed into a small package many details were left out.  I will try to address your questions below.

I will be giving a similar presentation at the NTPRS conference in Dallas next week and I will post the revised notes on the Free Stuff page of my web site again, so check back there next week.

Here are Carolina’s questions:

1.  Do you have the framework from The Talent Code and the TPRS tools adapted from Fred Jones as separate files?  would you be willing to share them with me?

I am working on distilling the relevant information from The Talent Code into a usable format this week. I plan on incorporating them into the notes for the NTPRS sessions.  The PAT time idea is the biggest take-away for me from the Fred Jones material.

2. How do you keep track of classroom jobs?  I have 7 different classes a day in different grade levels.

I do not really keep track of the classroom jobs.  I teach 6 classes a day and so I can sympathize with the big numbers of students. The jobs are posted and I integrate them into my normal teaching, so I just ask, “Who is our Quiz Writer?” and off we go.

3.  In regards to beginning of year activities, do you have any suggestions for my students?  Most of my students have been with each other since kindergarten.  We are a K-8 private school and the students know each other very well.  

It makes sense that if they all know a lot of relevant information about one another this exact activity may be a bit anticlimactic but I bet the details of it could be adapted while maintaining the delight of disclosure and discovery.  Kids would still enjoy the attention and there are still things about one another that they do not know–hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, even hobbies and pets, maybe.  They also need to know the basic greetings and vocabulary involved in the activity.  It occurs to me that there may also be some new students that could become more integrated into the group with the help of the original questions.  You know your students.  What are some types of questions that might work with them? Maybe you and I, or other readers of the blog could come up with some additional topics that would help other teachers in your situation. Let us know.

4.  How many days do you take up with routines and are these done in the target language?

I do the routines in English.  We add the classroom routines little by little as we are teaching content and those situations come up.  They are not all dumped on kids the first day or two because that would be inefficient teaching.  We teachers know that the brain is like a tea cup and that if we try to pour too much into it all at once, it just runs over and is not useful, but I have too often forgotten that when it comes to the rules and routines at the beginning of the year.  So now I try to stick with the little-by-little idea in this old rhyme, “By the inch, it’s a cinch, by the mile, it’s a trial.”

5.  You also mentioned a point system to use in class for monitoring behaviors but I didn’t see this mentioned in the notes.  Can you share this with me?

That is the PAT (Preferred Activity Time) idea from Fred Jones described in his book Tools for Teaching.  The points become minutes that can be used on an activity among options that the class chooses on PAT day, usually Friday.  Each class can get three points at the beginning of class if everyone is on time, prepared and quiet, and they can get more at the end if no one spoke in English without permission.  I also give points if they are amazing (I am easily amazed by my students) and if they catch me in an error, which we call “stump the chump”.  So the point can add up to 8 or more a day, but usually average 6 or so.

6.  Finally, do you have a beginning year classrooms procedures and/or classroom expectations sheet you hand out to your students, that I could take a look at?

I am attaching one that I have used, but I think I will revise some parts of it and make it smaller this upcoming school year.

I am sorry for the long list of questions and I will appreciate any feedback you can give me.   It was nice meeting you and I hope to see you again soon.

My pleasure.  I like teaching and I like helping teachers almost as much–I believe that things can get better if we all share what we know and help one another.  Let me know if I did not answer any of your questions sufficiently.

Keep in touch.  We’re all in this together,