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August 23, 2022

Classroom Management: When Students Are Just Not Feeling It

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Let’s face it: Sometimes we are just not feeling it when it comes to an array of activities—social interactions, cooking dinner, doing laundry, or even work. As adults, we have learned how to appropriately handle situations when we are not “on board,” whether that means giving ourselves some kind of break, pushing through, or doing something else to keep us going. But the young people in our lives are still growing and learning, and sometimes aren’t able to handle those moments when they are not feeling it. We have to provide them with guidance, patience and an environment where they can appropriately manage their emotions during those times.

So what does not feeling it look like in students? It looks like the student who will not remain seated, the student sleeping, the student popping in their music earbuds during class, the student who refuses to respond, the student who won’t stop talking to their neighbor, the student who sits staring at their work throughout the class but doesn’t do it, the student who keeps navigating to different sites during tech assignments, and it goes on and on. The reasons behind these behaviors are as diverse as our students are. But regardless, they are clearly not feeling it. Just as adults have many different reasons for not necessarily feeling in agreement, so do students, which is why we have to have a large toolkit so we can pull out the right tools at the right time.

Share My Lesson is here to help you expand your toolkit with loads of resources on classroom management. Here are 17 resources to help you manage your class.

Accountability, Classroom Rules and Collaborating on Expectations

Even on the days when we aren’t feeling it, we still must live by certain rules and be accountable for our actions. Making those rules and, even better, creating those rules together with your students are essential so students have a clear understanding of expectations.

Going over classroom rules is often not the most exciting task for elementary students, but with Sarah Dahlman’s video lesson featuring her dog, it can be! Puppy dog friend, Lucy, learns how to listen when others are talking, to follow directions, to work hard and not disturb others, to work and play safely, and to take care of school and personal property.

Classroom Rules with Sarah Dahlman

Be sure to also check out these great tips for all ages from Julia Thompson on how to create positive classroom rules and hold students accountable: Just-Right Classroom Rules Can Create a Positive Learning Environment, It’s Not Too Late to Create, Teach and Enforce Classroom Rules and Student Success: Holding Your Students Accountable.

accountability

And this resource on classroom interdependence from Disability Equality in Education is invaluable for teaching the concept of community to younger students.

Interdependency

    Classroom Design and Seating

    It can be hard to focus and pay attention when we aren’t feeling comfortable or have been sitting in the same hard, straight-back chair for a long time. We have all been in a meeting where we want nothing more than to get up and walk around, so why do we expect our students to be any different? Amber Chandler created flexible seating in her classroom, which helps her students to feel comfortable and focused on those days when they just aren’t feeling that standard desk chair.

    flexible classroom

    Sometimes, though, when we aren’t feeling it, we just need a moment to ourselves to get back in the right headspace. That’s when having a “Peace Place” in a classroom can be essential to a student's well-being. Check out this resource from Operation Respect to learn “how to set up and use a "Peace Place"—a special place to go when someone needs to calm himself or herself or is feeling upset or angry.”

    peace place

    Creating a Welcoming, Inclusive Classroom

    As an introvert, the thought of going to school was sometimes overwhelming, not because of the schoolwork, but because of the level of social interaction that it required. This was especially true when I switched to a new school in seventh grade where I didn’t know anybody. I felt like no one knew me or understood me, and the level at which I would have to interact with others was beyond what I felt capable of at times. It’s essential that all students feel like they are welcomed and included in the classroom, and SML has some great resources to help you reach that goal.

    Building community in the classroom can help students feel safe and welcomed, increasing their likelihood to engage in learning. Use this resource from Amber Chandler on how you can use biography to build community.

    Biography as relatable

    And then check out this resource from Re-Imagining Migration, 5 Steps for Creating Welcoming and Inclusive Learning Communities, and this resource from the Immigrant Learning Center, Creating Welcoming Classrooms: How Understanding the Concept of Implicit Bias Can Strengthen Your Teaching, as well as How to Create a Welcoming Classroom Environment for ELLs from Colorín Colorado to assist you in making sure students of all cultures and backgrounds feel included in the classroom.

    Also, being called by the name you want to be called by is so important to feeling seen and welcomed. Help students understand the importance of calling people by what they want to be called with this lesson.

    the name jar

    Differentiating Instruction

    Maybe your student isn’t feeling it because the coursework is too challenging or too easy. I had one student who caused absolute chaos in the classroom. She would not stop talking, distracting her neighbors, and certainly wouldn’t hesitate to interrupt the teacher with off-topic comments. It turns out that she had already caught onto the material and was bored. Another student was so far behind he felt he would never catch up so didn’t even know what the point of trying to pay attention was when he was missing so much essential pre-knowledge. When my partner teacher and I realized this, we knew we had to take a different approach with him.

    Check out these two webinars from Barbara Blackburn and this blog from Amber Chandler to support you in differentiating instruction: Managing the Differentiated Classroom, Addressing Students' Needs: Strategies for Success in K-12 and Student Book Clubs: The Power to Instill a Love of Reading and Help Heal.

    Addressing students' needs

    Communication with Families and Caregivers

    Sometimes we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s going on with some students and why they are behaving the way they are. Often, simply reaching out to their families and caregivers will give us those answers. Communicating with families and caregivers is essential. Working as a team will help send students the same message and ensure that they feel supported and cared for, so they can get the help and guidance they need. Then, they can start feeling it.

    Check out these two resources on engaging with families: Moving Stories at the Heart of Family Life and Conversation starters for teachers to use with families.

    draw your story

    What additional ways do you help students feel included and empowered in your classroom?

    Megan Ortmeyer

    Megan Ortmeyer is an SML Team Member and has worked in the AFT Educational Issues Department since fall 2018. She received her M.A. in education policy studies in May 2020 from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University.

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