How to Fix a Problem Area in Your Classroom
Do you have a problem area in your classroom?
You know, that one activity where everything just seems to fall apart?
Maybe you have trouble settling your class back down when they return from lunch.
Or maybe things get a little crazy when you ask them to exchange papers.
Often we find ourselves just trying to survive these hectic moments, but what if there were a way to actually fix these problem areas?
Well, I’ll tell you one thing for sure – if you keep doing what you’re doing, nothing’s gonna’ change.
So if you follow the logic, that means if you want to see something change, you’ve got to do something different.
You with me?
That’s why I’m suggesting you completely shake up that activity.
What is a Classroom Shake-Up?
So what exactly do I mean by shaking it up?
Well, let’s start with an example….
I was talking to a teacher recently who was having so much trouble with kids misbehaving as they were putting away their coats and bookbags at the start of the day.
She’d tried a few things and nothing seemed to be helping, so I suggested a shake up.
Her students usually hung up their coats and bookbags on a moving cart that lived outside their classroom. They showed up for school, hung up their things, and eventually made their way into the classroom.
The problem is that they’re also very used to goofing off and causing all kinds of trouble. It’s part of the routine.
So what can she do?
Well, I suggested that the next day she hide the cart somewhere where the students couldn’t find it.
Now imagine what will likely happen. The students will come in, look around for the coat rack, and be a bit confused.
They might wander. They might ask lots of questions. They might even cause a bit of a ruckus.
But here’s the kicker – she will have gotten their attention.
After nonchalantly ignoring their inquiries for a few minutes, she can then gather their attention and explain the situation.
The coat rack is gone because we were having way too many problems with it. Now, we’re going to try something new. From now on, instead of going straight to the coat rack, you will bring all of your belongings straight into the classroom.
You will sit at your desks until I call for you to go hang up your coats two at a time……
And she can go on, explaining in vivid, step-by-step detail exactly how she expects her students to behave.
Now here’s the key.
Once she explains what she expects, she will then be extremely vigilant as they go through this new process for the first time.
She will correct any small misbehavior. She will address anything that is not done exactly as it should be.
She will be kind, but she will be firm.
She’ll continue her vigilance for a few days as her students get used to the new procedure.
Until the problem area is no longer a problem.
See how that works?
Now I realize that moving a piece of classroom furniture isn’t the answer to every problem. But there is some type of creative solution for yours.
So here’s what you need to do…..
How to Create a Classroom Switch-Up
- Ask yourself, “what can I change that would shake this up?” What can I do differently that will show the students we are making a clean break from the old procedure and implanting a new one?
- Make your move. Implement the change with a calm and controlled demeanor.
- Explain the new procedure. Be detailed about exactly what will be different going forward.
- Vigilantly correct every misbehavior or mistake. If you miss this step, you’ll be back to chaos in about 3.2 seconds. So don’t let anything go. Instead, be ready for that first misbehavior and correct it right away. Continue to kindly correct and instruct until the task has been done correctly.
- Have students redo the procedure if needed. If the students didn’t follow the new procedure correctly, have them redo it. It might feel like you’re wasting time, but you’ll actually be saving a ton in the future by showing them you mean business. Redoing the task will also help them remember the right way to do it.
Have you tried a classroom switchup? We’d love to hear about it – just leave a comment below.
- Why You Need to Deal with Problems Before They’re Problems
- How to Teach Procedures that Your Students Will Actually Follow
- Facebook group: Christian Teachers’ Lounge
- Free Classroom Management Mini-Course