Welcome back precious teacher friend. Since Halloween is right around the corner, I wanted to talk about something scary, something spooky, something that can be absolutely terrifying. And that is classroom management. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But yeah, it can be scary, almost like a big man-eating blob that threatens to swallow you whole, right? Well, for the next two weeks, our goal is to take control of the blob with a clearer picture of what classroom management is, and how to manage it. Today we start with the classroom management bedrock.
Before we dive in, though, I’m working really hard and hustling to get some new reviews over on the podcast. It’s been so long. And now that I’m back in the swing of things, I want this resource to grow and help as many teachers as possible. So if you leave a review, I want to show you my appreciation by sharing a free gift with you. So if you leave a review or you want to update an old one that you’ve left in the past, screenshot it, send it to me via email to toni @ teachertoni.com and I’ll give you directions to get your “thank you so so much for leaving a review” gift! I’m going to run this promotion until Friday, October 21, 2022.
The Classroom Management Blob
Alrighty beautiful friend. Now it’s time to get to the meat of today’s episode. Let’s get started on our journey to tame the terrifying, unsightly blob of classroom management. What do you find to be scary? What makes your skin tingle? The hairs on your neck prickle? What makes you sleep with your hallway light on? Is it ghoulish ghosts, creepy crawly spiders, or maybe the horrific beeps of a jammed up copy machine? Even that one gives me the creeps.
Well for years, what scared me the most was walking into work and having 25 or more students file into my classroom door, knowing for certain that my day would look chaotic. And I would leave work with a headache and some deep regret. I lived in fear every day of my lack of skill and classroom management.
My Rocky Start to Classroom Management
In Joyful Teacher Academy, I describe my very first years of teaching and how, although I took a course on classroom management and for some reason pretended I knew a lot about it in my first few teacher interviews, I really had no idea what it entailed or just how important it is.
I was deeply distracted by the bad behaviors in my classroom at the time and actually thought a prize box full of sugar could be my golden ticket to calm, focused students. Little did I know, because I wasn’t a parent back then either, the candy actually just made things worse. As it turned out, even though my kindhearted classroom management instructor had good intentions, I really had no idea what management even was.
I know you’re nodding your head right now because you know as well as I do, some things can’t be learned from a textbook. Although I highly recommend Harry Wong’s book First Days of School, it didn’t prepare me for the wilderness. You have to get inside the jungle before you can learn to time wild animals.
Meet Blobby the Blob
Looking back now I would describe my initial understanding of classroom management as one big, ugly blob. I want you to picture big, brown, hairy and random eyeballs poking out everywhere. Classroom management was the monster I couldn’t understand and therefore couldn’t figure out how to tame.
My gummy bears worked good for a bit, but never consistently. My classroom games and tricks would bring some peace here and there. But it never lasted either. The blob grew and grew and grew for days, months, even years. And I was honestly too tired after work to keep creating new tricks, new novelties that got me through the day. It was this daily wear, tear, and reflection that eventually led me to my now crystal clear, and blob free, understanding of classroom management. And boy, oh boy, was I glad to squish that big guy.
My question now is do you have a clear, focused understanding of what classroom management is and how you should approach it? When things are crazy, unorganized, and falling apart in your classroom? Do you know where to put your focus and attention to fix the issues? And I don’t mean quick fix, I mean long term fix.
If not, maybe it’s time for you to stand up to this bully and declare that you know exactly where to put your time, energy, and attention to get your classroom and work environment running smoothly, in a way that serves you and brings you joy. If so, I want you to give my own management framework a peek and try what I’m about to share with you today.
Classroom Management Framework
This is my baby, my creation that helped and continues to help me approach classroom management. It is so powerful it scares the blob away, leaving me feeling confident that I know how to deal with anything that happens in the classroom. And it is the focus of the Manage With Joy module of my digital training, Joyful Teacher Academy. Of course, I can’t give you all the details and specific strategies here because of time and my dedication to my students there, but I can share the framework with you so that you can see there is a manageable, easy to understand way to approach this blob, and you can put this framework into play in your own way.
So how do I and my students in Joyful Teacher Academy attack the blob? The answer is simple: with layers. The reason the classroom management blob is so overwhelming is because he has so much material. He’s huge!
Classroom management means so many things to so many people it all sort of meshes together, but how would you feel about classroom management if the blob was separated or put into layers? Aren’t layers easier to look at, think about, and process than our old pal blobby? Yes it is, and out of blood sweat and tears I took blobby, God rest his soul, and formed my classroom management framework called the Layers of Joyful Management.
As I said, I teach this extensively in module three of Joyful Teacher Academy. But I want to share it here anyway, because this way of seeing classroom management, just the framework, can help you get a better handle of this massive part of your career.
Classroom Management is the Soil to Your Sunflower
You may have noticed a theme here on the blog. I love sunflowers. To me a sunflower is the perfect representation of a joyful teacher. And to relate to our sunflower of teacher joy, I describe classroom management as the soil, because no flower can grow and thrive without rich nourishing soil. And no teacher can grow and thrive without rich nourishing classroom management.
So I like to think of classroom management as the soil we are growing in and the soil, just like real soil, is broken down into layers. Every layer is important and needed by the flower, but they are ordered very specifically, because they affect one another. When we talk about soil, deposits of one layer are found in the others, all building from the bottom most important layer called the classroom management bedrock. The bedrock was the first layer formed, and our layers move up towards the surface from there.
Let’s Start With the Bedrock
In today’s episode, we’re only going to cover the first layer. I’m breaking this series up this way because this first layer is the most important and it is the beefiest. If you get distracted and never make it back to the next episode, I believe this one layer can be the most beneficial to you.
In the layers of joyful management framework, we start with the foundation, the bottom layer, which I call your bedrock principles. You can also think about this layer as your management mindset, how you think about and handle management mentally and emotionally. This is the layer that needs the most of your attention because without a clear, joyful mindset and actions to back it up, management will never be easy for you or be something you can enjoy. Joy, my sweet teacher, comes from our thoughts, feelings and actions, not from our actions alone. This is why those tricks I told you about all that candy didn’t work for me. My mindset wasn’t in the right place. So this is where management begins.
And in Joyful Teacher Academy I teach three main classroom management bedrock principles that make this layer solid and unshakable. Those are affirmation, assessment, and advancement. All three began with A’s just to make it easier to remember. In the course we get hyper focused on each one and I provide tools to improve them. But I’m going to quickly give you the most important information about each of these.
Classroom Management Bedrock Principle #1: Affirmation
So our bedrock is made up of three principles. The first is affirmation. This is the part where you need to encourage yourself and weed out your negative thoughts about management. If you let negative thoughts control you, you can’t manage with joy. In the course I call negative thoughts weeds. No garden, no flower, can thrive if it is overcome with weeds, negative thoughts.
Some tips I can share with you to help you improve your affirmation principle is to learn more about affirmations and how they can be used to help you overcome your negative thoughts. I like to find my weeds and write them down so I can see them and then create an affirmation I know will kill them like a powerful weed killer. We must be able to combat our own negativity or we can’t manage with joy. Affirmation is an irreplaceable part of our bedrock, so I highly encourage you to put a lot of work here in identifying and overcoming your negative thoughts about classroom management.
Classroom Management Bedrock Principle #2: Assessment
The next section of our bedrock is the assessment principle. We teachers are great at assessing our students to learn about their deficits and provide ways for improvement. But what about assessing our own management decisions and practices? To be successful, to see our deficits and move toward growth, we must consistently assess our layers and decide what needs our attention and focus. This allows us to push away other things that steal our focus away. Those smaller issues that are less pressing, but seem big and important at the time.
Assessment allows you to make actual progress and avoid overwhelm. In Joyful Teacher Academy I give my students precise tools to do just that. Once you learn the layers of Joyful Management Framework, you can do your own weekly assessment of your layers, decide which layer is your main weakness for now, this changes very often, and then put your focus on improving that layer.
Classroom Management Bedrock Principle #3: Advancement
Take your focus off the blob and decide which layer is stealing the most joy. When you figure that out, this is the layer you’ll need to attack with our next principle, which is advancement. Well, friend, neither of the first two are of any use if we don’t actually take action, and improve.
You must be adamant in your mindset that you will continue to grow in your classroom management skills to advance in this area of your teaching. Without growth, you can’t be joyful. This is where our flower gets fuel to keep getting taller. Sunflowers are so tall. And advancement is where that height, that joy comes from. So the easiest way to make sure you are advancing is to use your assessment and then create and track classroom management goals. Write down your need and exactly how step by step you plan to advance in this area. The layer that you need the most work in at the moment is your fuel. And as you create and track these goals, you will be energized and be ready to keep moving forward to keep getting taller.
Bedrock is the Most Important Layer of Classroom Management
Again, that is the really quick and dirty breakdown of our first layer bedrock principles. But if you have these three principles at play, the other layers that I’m going to tell you about in the next episode are set up for success. They are fully supported and you will be equipped to handle and improve them.
The foundation is the most important. And I really feel that is where many classroom management techniques and systems go wrong. No one teaches us how to control our mindset, our thoughts and actions towards classroom management. So I really encourage you, teacher friend, to think about and meditate on these three bedrock principles that I’ve shared with you today. If you can get this right, the rest comes easy, I promise.
Work hard to put these three principles into play in your teacher career, affirmation, assessment and advancement can change everything for you. We will get to the other layers which are definitely important but not as important as this one in our next episode. Yes, my friend I’m going to give you everything you need as we move forward in timing this scary blob for good.
If you’d like more on classroom management, check out this POST to simplify your classroom management.
Want to keep learning?
Sweet teacher friend, if you feel like you’ve learned something new here today, you are a perfect student for my online self paced digital training course, Joyful Teacher Academy. I encourage you to come and learn and nurture your sunflower of teacher joy with others who are just like you. Enrollment is closed for now, but will be opening very, very soon. Click the link to join the waitlist and you’ll be the first to be notified when the doors are open again. I would be honored to have you as part of our growing tribe of joyful teachers.
With that I hope you find lots of happiness and contentment in your classroom and in your life this week. Until we meet again, go make a difference, my joyful teacher friend.