You are teaching a 7th grade social studies class that traditionally has been a behavioral nightmare for teachers who have come before you. This class meets right after their lunch break and it typically takes 10-15 minutes of every class meeting to get the students to settle down and engage in the lesson. Using the behvaioral techniques discussed in your TEXT (identify specific strategies, tools, concepts that are in this week’s readings) how would you get the class to settle down and begin engaging in the lesson in two minutes or less? Please use a min. of 150 words in your original response.
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If I had a rowdy class of 7th graders to teach after their lunch break, I would try to use effective behavioral techniques in order to calm them down and not give up so much instruction time trying to calm them down myself. Operant conditioning is learning produced by the rewards and punishments that results from the active behavior of a human. The active behavior is called the operant. In my classroom, I like to focus on positive reinforcement. If a student brings forth a positive operant, such as getting to a zero voice level by the time my timer goes off on the board, I will give some type of praise or prize for this behavior, which would be considered the reward. For this particular situation, I would like to try using positive reinforcers that follows an operant, which will increase the chance of of that operant or behavior occurring again. For example, I would make a deal with my students; if they are able to come into my classroom, get started on their bell work immediately, and be at a 0 voice level by the time the timer goes off, I will give them some type of reward. The reward might be primary reinforcers, which are rewards such as candy that provide immediate satisfaction or it might be secondary reinforcers, which are rewards that gain reinforcement value through their association with primary reinforcers. This might look like giving out tickets to those students who follow my instructions and at the end of the week they can use their tickets to purchase different types of prizes from my room that are labeled for different amounts (1 ticket, 2 tickets, etc.). This is the approach I would try using in hopes this would turn their behavior around. This would give them something to work for their good behavior in my classroom.
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One of the largest challenges facing teachers today is classroom management. Each grade has its own challenges, but students in 7th grade often are particularly difficult. Seventh grade students are generally immature, impulsive, and self-absorbed. Couple this with the students wanting more responsibility and independence, and during even the best of situations it is a struggle to maintain a controlled learning environment. The times immediately following an unstructured event or transition are often the most difficult to manage. This is especially true during the transition from lunch. Fortunately, there are strategies teachers can use the help.
One strategy I would recommend would be to increase the amount of engaged time students experience in the classroom. I would suggest having an intro activity ready that students should begin as soon as they enter the room. A short intro activity helps students refocus as well as creates more engaged learning time in the classroom. It is also helpful in preloading the content to be presented, or to review previous information.
Another strategy I would recommend is to evaluate the physical environment of the classroom and see if it is conducive to optimal learning. It might be helpful to institute assigned seating to avoid certain students sitting together, or to seat certain students closer to the front. I would also recommend considering the best location for the teacher desk that allows for the best view of the class. Even though the teacher should be up and moving around, the location of the teacher desk can make a difference. Along these lines, I would recommend the teacher stand at the door and welcome students as they enter. This simple action can make a room more inviting and help with student focus.
A final strategy I would recommend involves the teacher being mindful of the classroom environment and address issues as they occur. A good teacher needs to be observant and pay attention to the entire class. If students are not behaving appropriately then this needs to be addressed calmly and quickly. On the other hand, students who are behaving as expected should be praised. Praise can be a huge motivator in maintain classroom control.
There are many strategies that can be implemented to help students transition calmly and quickly. Seventh grade students will rarely show the self-control and maturity that is often needed for an optimal teaching environment. It is the responsibility of the teacher to implement structure and methods that help students learn and demonstrate the behaviors that are expected.