Category: Tips and Tricks (page 1 of 3)

Your First and Last 2 Minutes

For about a year now, I have been practicing this method I call “First 2, Last 2” in my classes. This method pertains to relationship building for the first 2 minutes and the last 2 minutes of each class period. The first and last 2 minutes of each class, I intentionally set some time aside to connect with students. I feel that in this way, the class is more relaxed and easy to control.

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As teachers,some of us prepare the materials that we will use that day before the class. This causes us to be busy in between periods. As the students enter, we scramble our things, we write stuff on the board, and so on. We barely notice the students coming inside the classroom.

After the bell rings, that’s just when we call their attention for attendance. After the roll call, we proceed to our lesson for the day–because we have limited time and we have so much yet to cover. This creates a disconnect between the teacher and the students as the year goes by, that has potential to alienate us from our students.

To combat this, I’ve been practicing “First 2, Last 2” as a relationship builder. As students enter the classroom, I make it a point to be ready with everything I need for that day so I could greet each and every one of them good morning. Most of them smile back, say good morning, yet there are still some students who completely ignore me. That’s ok. At least they can see that you’re always in a good mood before the class starts!

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As soon as the bell stops ringing, is the “First 2”. I’m not really strict at imposing 2 minutes, sometimes it lasts longer. But of course, I have to control the connection. It cannot last longer than 5 mins, because I still need precious time for the lesson! Anyway, for the first 2 minutes, I talk to the whole class. Sometimes I single out a student like for example, when he or she has been gone a long time, I welcome him or her back. Sometimes I tell a short story about something interesting I saw on the Internet. Sometimes I mention something going on around the school like a school play or a sporting event, and encourage them to participate. Sometimes I ask about the latest movies and trends. I just say something that they can relate to, for them to see that I can also be their friend. But of course, there are still boundaries, and you have to set this. A good classroom manager can draw a fine line between friend and teacher.

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For the “Last 2” or last 2 minutes of the class period, I make an effort not to give out last-minute instructions. I don’t really like parting ways with my students with shouting reminders on which pages to read. I like to end the class neat and relaxed. Instead of last minute reminders, I chat with them, joke around and laugh, and wish them a good day ahead. A good classroom manager can manage his or her time well.

Allocating the first 2 and last 2 minutes to your students pays off because the students feel respected, understood, and confident when their teacher notices them. They feel comfortable in class as they know that their teacher cares for them and what they do. This will result more toward positive social and learning behaviors.

How To Manage Cellphones in the Classroom

Technology can be a friend of teachers, but it can somewhat be a nightmare to them too. Especially when a student gets the latest iPhone and brings it to class, suddenly everyone just wants to see it, hold it and feel the luxury phone on their own hands. It’s hard for some to control students that do not want to be controlled. It’s hard to control a classroom when there’s a buzzing sound of a cellphone from time to time.

There are many ways to approach a ‘cellphone-infested’ classroom. By ‘cellphone-infested’, I mean students don’t want to separate from their phones, and you can see them texting or fiddling with their phones from time to time. You can be hard and strict, but let’s face it, that approach will just make them rebel (especially in Middle School). You can just, like how Elsa said it, “let it go”. Let them have their phones, let them text in class, however, that is the ultimate distraction for you, the teacher.

I’d like to help you out. I found these online, and maybe you can try them for yourself. I can wait to try them for my classes too! Here are some cute, fun ideas on managing cell phones in the classroom:

 

  1. Phone Hotel

Before classes begin, have your students check-in their cellphones into the phone hotel. Each student has his or her own cubby for his or her phone.

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  1. Hanging Phone Holder

Same as the phone hotel, but this one can also be your attendance tracker. You’re hitting two birds with one stone on this one!

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  1. Phone Prison

Don’t want the liability of “taking care” of your students’ phones? You always have the choice to let them have their phones in class, but state a law that once they get caught using their phones, their phones will have to do some jail time.

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  1. Put a Sign

Let them know that you know if they’re using their phones even when you’re not directly looking. Have a fun sign by the door so everyone can read it and will be aware of what you know.

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This one made me laugh so hard. It’s so smart!

 

There you go! See, managing cell phones in the classroom can be fun too. I hope even just one method works for you. Let me know how it goes!

 

It’s Perfectly Okay to Cry

It’s perfectly okay to cry… sometimes.

For new teachers, sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the workload, classroom management, other faculty members, and most especially by the pressure of:
(1) parents
(2) students who are lagging behind the class
(3) students who are misbehaving
(4) if you are being an effective teacher
(5) if you are a good enough teacher
… the list goes on. There are many reasons why we tend to break down and choose to quit in our first year. Especially teaching in Middle School it can be so demanding, that it depletes your fuel to teach. If you’re in that position, if you’re on the verge of giving up, please don’t.

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I know you are doing a great job, you are doing your best. Your students appreciate you and they look up to you. Your difficult students are just misheard. Try to listen to them, they might be telling you something. Reach out to them, be their confidant. Just keep doing your best, teacher! I promise you, all teachers have been there. All teachers have cried in their cars, desks, bed, or wherever because of the overwhelming pressure. You are not alone. Being a teacher is very purposeful. When you see your students grow up to be successful and doing something good in their lives, you’ll realize that you are a part of how he or she is today. It is worth it. It always is.

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