Back To Basics Classroom Management by Joel Wagner - November 24, 2008July 1, 20103 Reader Appreciation Month didn’t quite turn out the way I had envisioned it would. That is primarily my fault. As I sit here, I realize there are some things that I used to do with blogging that I don’t do any longer. I have decided it’s time for me to change some things. You may or may not notice the changes as I begin implementing them. If you do, great. If not, then perhaps it is simply a change to the way I approach blogging. Whatever the case, it’ll be good. How can I apply this to my classroom? How many times do we get into the habit of being so familiar with the subject matter that it no longer retains the excitement it once did? Is it possible that we are losing focus — or focusing on the wrong things — simply because we have begun to be better teachers? Is our classroom management so good that we have lost touch with the students? We keep them in line, their behavior is perfect, but they can’t stand our class. No, that’s not me. My kids love my class. Really? Is it possible that we need to spend Thanksgiving break (or this weekend, or tonight, or whenever) going back to the place in our mind when we didn’t know what we were doing, but we did everything we knew how to do to make our classroom enjoyable? Wait… Maybe I’m only talking to myself here I’m sure your class behaves perfectly, laughs and smiles throughout the whole class every day of the year. If that’s the case, then I’m not talking to you. Go back to your empty classroom. <grin> This year has been so different than any other year I have ever taught. As a general rule, the kids just flat out love me. I have had almost ten students bring me and the other band director breakfast tacos (remember, I do live on the border), cookies, candy, empanadas, etc. We regularly have students come in and visit during their lunches (there’s always a class going on in the band hall) or even between classes. But I also know there are some students who are scared of me or just don’t like me. It’s time for that to stop. It’s time for me to make up in my mind that I will no longer yell at children. I’ve done that before, and I don’t yell at individuals like I used to do. But I do find myself from time to time getting frustrated with groups making the same mistake over and over again. I also notice that I have a habit (much less now than ever before, but still occasionally) of getting a bit animated when I am working on music. Simply because I don’t interpret that behavior as yelling doesn’t mean that the students don’t. I must remind myself that, while they make the same mistake other people have made in the years I’ve been teaching, they are still people, they are still learning, and they are still trying to play their music right. I believe that is the key. They’re not out to get me. Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.