Tame the Classroom Management BLOB Part 2: Top Management Layers

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Hey, hey, hey there, my wonderful, talented, dedicated friend. I know you’re all of those things, because here you are using your time to listen in, to learn, grow and thrive as a primary teacher. Virtual high five teacher! We covered the first classroom management layer last week. I’m so pumped up to finish covering my classroom management framework, my layers of joyful management with you today. 

This is part two of a little series. And last time, we covered the first, most important layer: bedrock principles. So if you happened upon this episode, first, you must go back and listen there. None of this is of any use to you if you don’t first get your mindset in order. 

Today, we’ll do an overview of the other layers. Here’s the visual of this framework to really bring this idea to life.

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It is my hope that by the end of this series that you’ll be able to take on management in a more manageable, less overwhelming way. We want to tame the massive blob of gunk that belongs to this huge entity named classroom management so that we can be more joyful, focused, happy teachers. 

Review for a Gift!

Before we get there, though, did you know that I’m running a promotion? Some really amazing people have left inspiring and wonderful reviews. But it’s been a minute. And those reviews are what help my show move up in the rankings where other teachers can actually find it. So if you’re tuning in before October 21, I’m offering you a gift for taking your precious time to leave a review or to update a previous review. Simply go to my show’s page, scroll down until you see the heading Ratings and Reviews. Under the reviews others have left you’ll see Write a Review. 

Follow that process and screenshot your review. Email that picture to me: toni @ teachertoni.com and I’ll send you a very special gift in return that I’m calling the “thank you so so so so so so much for leaving me a review surprise gift.” I promise the whole process will take you less than 10 minutes. And this gift will help you in your own classroom. The deadline is October 21. 

Management Layer Recap

And with that, it’s time to pull up our sleeves, put on some elbow length rubber gloves, maybe grab some Clorox cleanup spray, and get back to scrubbing away our blob. Let’s get to the rest of those layers. 

So your mindset is solid as bedrock. You have control of your negative thoughts, and you’re taking actions to constantly improve in this area, to provide your brain evidence that you are focused, that classroom management is something you’re good at and passionate about. 

But now what? Will there still be real problems in your classroom that need dealt with? Yes, but there are layers for you to follow, sort of like stepping stones of what to do. My beautiful sunflower, you’re ready for the next three layers. The bedrock principles layer is all about you. But these next three layers are all about your students, actions, decisions and preparation that will guide them in being well managed. And since structure, or layers bring joy to all of us, they’ll find so many benefits from these layers as well.

So as a quick recap, our foundational layer is our bedrock principles, which is broken into three important segments: affirmation, assessment, and advancement. Once you have a good grasp on your bedrock, and please don’t dare think you can survive without it, it’s time to move up to your next layer. 

Management Layer #2: Joy Producing Practices

I call this one your Joy Producing Practices. practices are the things we do every day in the classroom. The actions we take to keep things flowing and calm. In Joyful Teacher Academy, I explain that if we’re going to do something every day, and we need joy in our every day to sustain and thrive, our practices should be centered around our teacher joy. 

This layer is called Joy Producing Practices, just as a reminder to make the conscious decision to create practices that bring you and your students joy. And in my course, I enjoyed the opportunity to get deeply focused on three areas of practices that I call Management Miracle Gro. My Mamaw always uses Miracle Gro on her tomatoes, and boy oh boy are those things delicious and big. 

Management Miracle Gro

So Management Miracle Gro is a mighty trio of practices that have the power to create that classroom joy, peace, and stability we all crave. This mixture includes classroom routines, expectations, and of course, organization. Again, I can’t go into deep detail here. But these are the practices that need your attention the most. These are the everyday practices that when backed up with your bedrock, give that beautiful, peaceful flow to your day. These practices teach our students what they are to do and how they are to do it. 

So if you are at a place where you have your mindset in check, but your classroom environment isn’t bringing you that peace and joy, start with routines, move on to your expectations, and then focus on organization. Pinpoint where your weaknesses lie, and work on advancing until you see progress in that one area. Don’t let the blob steal your focus, attention, and passion. We can only learn and grow in one thing at a time. A lack of joy producing practices is where a lot of preventable behavior issues come from. Our students need structure. And without routines, clearly defined expectations, and an organized physical space, you can’t provide them that structure. Let’s give our students the gift of well thought out and utilized Joy Producing Practices. 

Management Layer #3: Engagement

And now we can move on to talking about our third classroom management layer. Oh, I love it. It’s called engagement. Oh boy, I love talking and teaching about engagement, because it is absolutely essential to our overall classroom management, which is why it has its own layer to focus and improve on. 

Have you ever thought of engagement as part of classroom management? I never did. I think this is what separates my framework from many others. Now, I have come to understand and appreciate the role that engagement plays in management. Without engagement, there’s an entire group of students who can’t be managed well. If we don’t think of engagement as part of our game plan, we can’t win. It is that important. 

But we’ve sort of come to a place where that term engagement is so overused and undervalued that we don’t really understand its importance at all. What does it even mean? 

I wasn’t sure for a long time, but I was still good at popping off that pretty word. My students were so engaged with the engaging activity that engaged my interest on Pinterest. Okay, so maybe that took it a little far. 

But to understand engagement, I had to redefine it to give it a purposeful meaning, one that actually connected with me when looking at my students and considering their needs. I shared in Joyful Teacher Academy way more extensively, but I want to give it here to you. So the formal definition of engagement is how cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally invested my students are in the classroom at any given moment. 

What does engagement MEAN?

I simplify the term engagement by asking myself one meaningful, motivating question throughout the day: are my students thinking, thankful, and thriving? 

Because my friend, if they are any of those things, they are engaged. So let’s go a little deeper in what it means to be thinking, thankful and thriving. Thinking plays to that cognitive engagement. Are my students actively using their most important body part, their brain, during our instruction? 

Thankful plays to the emotional engagement. Are my students happy and thankful to be here? Can I see the joy that they feel when they’re in the classroom? 

And thriving plays into that behavioral engagement. Are my students thriving in their environment? Living up to expectations? Are they fitting in with their peers?

I know that is a very quick dive into my definition of engagement. But in Joyful Teacher Academy, I go deeper into this way of thinking and give specific strategies.

Just start by asking yourself that question: are my students thinking, thankful, and thriving? Use your response to gauge your student engagement and determine if this layer is one that needs your bedrock principles of affirmation, assessment and advancement. 

Management Layer #4: Student Behaviors

And with that, now, we’ve covered bedrock principles, Joy producing practices, and our third layer: engagement. Now let’s look at the top, final classroom management layer. It is called student behaviors. I know that at some point in your career, you were like me, and felt that student behaviors took all of your time and attention. It was almost as if classroom management was all about managing behaviors, right? 

Well, friend, it doesn’t deserve all of our focus, not even the majority of it. Our first three layers are more essential to our overall picture. Because when we’ve got those layers settled into place, student behaviors are easier to deal with. It is only when our practices and engagement layers are fully in place and solid, that you can even categorize who is actually a behavior problem and who isn’t. 

In Joyful Teacher Academy, I teach my students to categorize their behaviors. So you can really see with clarity and certainty, who actually needs your extra behavior layer attention. If it feels like the majority of your students are behavior issues, your other layers just aren’t working correctly. 

Categorize Student Behaviors

But when you figure out how to recognize who actually needs your sunlight, your energy, it is easier to provide that energy and to conserve the rest so you feel less exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed. So think about categorizing your students’ behaviors, and really think about whether my practices are regulating behaviors as they should. Who is benefiting from them, and who isn’t? And then think about engagement, who is engaged and who isn’t? 

Because the truth is, if those two layers are in place, and you have students who are still not responding, they are in their own category. I call these students the full sun needing flowers, because they need a heavy dose of your sunlight, your teacher energy to be successful. And since after categorizing them you recognize there aren’t many of those students in your classroom, you’ll be more equipped to find solutions to suit them. You will know how to use your energy efficiently. 

So if the behaviors layers is your area of weakness, my best advice is to begin by focusing on your first three layers and then categorizing your behaviors so you can truly focus on individualized solutions for those students who need this level of attention. 

Now you have layers!

And with that, my friend, we’ve had our full breakdown of each classroom management layer of Joyful Management Framework from Joyful Teacher Academy. It all begins at the bottom, the foundation with our bedrock principles. With that mindset in place, we can focus on our Joy Producing Practices, our routines, expectations, and organization. After that, we can focus on student engagement, to bring an even deeper level of control. And finally, we can get hyper focused on solving behavior issues, because we know that those students who don’t respond to our other layers just need extra energy and attention to thrive. 

Whew, that is a lot. But nothing compared to the more detailed version from my course, which includes principles, guiding questions, strategies and resources that can help really bring this framework into reality. But as I said at the beginning, this framework, recognizing these layers, and considering them and their order, when you are taking on classroom management is enough to make a mega difference in your classroom. 

So I encourage you to print the framework, take some notes about each layer, and start putting those bedrock principles of affirmation, assessment, and advancement into place, and focus on the layers that you know you need the most help in. 

I know that you can smash that blob and find freedom from the mess of classroom management. And as a result of cleaning up that mess, underneath you’ll find more peace, love and joy in your classroom. 

Join us in JTA!

My dear friend, I really hope that the information found in this episode has served you well. I hope it has given you the confidence to take on this huge entity we call classroom management. If this information has been useful, I know you’d be the perfect student for Joyful Teacher Academy. Doors will be opening before you know it. So if this is of interest to you, please go to the WAITLIST and drop your email, it only means that you’ll be notified via email when doors are open again. I would just be honored to work with you. 

And since you were such a good student here, I want to ask you another favor. Can you send me an email about possible needs that you have and topics you’d like to hear about here? Because I do not want to waste your time. I want to make sure the time you spend with me is valuable. So send an email at toni @ teachertoni.com and let me know what you need to hear, what needs you have in your classroom about management, relationships, whatever it is. I’d love to hear from you and work on what you need. 

Until we meet again, go make a difference, my joyful teacher friend.



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