Thursday, November 15, 2012

Classroom Management

Today I would like to share some thoughts about classroom management. The nice thing about arts activities in the classroom is that motivation is not usually an issue. Kids generally love to make music and art. Creative arts experiences, however, can easily get out-of-hand if they are not set up in a deliberate, organized manner. For art activities it is important that all instructions are given, understood, and listed on the board before any materials are distributed. The same applies to creative movement activities. Let the students know exactly what they will be doing before they leave their seats. For example, let's say that they are going to do mirror movement with a partner. The students will need to move to some place in the room and choose a partner. So, first, think of the steps: stand up, find a partner, and find a space in the room. I would explain to the students that we are going to do a movement activity with partners and that, when I give them a signal, they will stand up, find a partner, and find a space in the room where they can reach out to all sides without touching other partnerships, furniture, or walls. At that point they will sit down quietly on the floor and listen for the next instructions. To give an added challenge, I will ask them to see if they can complete these steps without talking (they have to make a silent agreement with someone to partner) or running and to do it in under 30 seconds. Before giving the signal, I will anticipate at least one problem: What if there is an odd number of students? I will instruct the students that if there is someone left out, they can join two other students to make a group of three. I will review the steps, making sure everyone is attentive, and then give the signal. By being thorough with the instructions, in this way, we generally can avoid chaos and confusion. It is important that they know exactly what to do when they get there as well. An ounce of prevention, in this case, is worth a pound of cure (or however that goes). Now they are seated on the floor with a partner and I can give the next instructions. I'm going to have them mirror the slow movements of their partners. I will first choose a student to demonstrate with me. Then I will have them decide who in each partnership will be the leader. Then, when the music starts, they can begin moving and mirroring. I will have them do this first sitting down. Then, I'll stop the music and have them switch leaders. Start the music again. Stop the music and have them switch again and stand up. Remind them to move ever so slowly so that the follower can follow. Stop the music. Then explain that they will switch on a signal from the triangle. Remind them that they can turn, but to not move around the room or do something too fast. If at any point they are not understanding or following instructions I will have them sit back down on the floor. At some point I will have them sit down and watch one or two partnerships. I find that kids are generally well-behaved when they are watching their peers perform. I think that maybe they think of themselves as potentially or eventually in the position of performer. Usually they all want a chance to share, so I also use that as an incentive to be a good audience member; I call only on students who are behaving appropriately. Anyway, those are my thoughts about classroom management today . . .

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