My Classroom Management Plan
Renée Williams-Erwin, Artist-in-Residency, Main Office Mural, Leaves Painted by the Students of Walton Farm Elementary. Background Mural Painted by Renée, 2017
One of the critical strategies for promoting a positive classroom climate is developing lessons that connect students with the material. As an art educator, I strive to establish routines and expectations that intrinsically motivate all learners. When students gather at the art room door, I invite them in and greet them as they move to their assigned tables. Each day students have a drawing prompt word of the day (for example, shiny, giant, stripes). Once students have developed sketches, I open a whole group time to share students' divergent explorations of the prompt.
Students will have multiple modes of entry into the lesson, including verbal, visual, handouts, and teacher demonstrations. By differentiating instruction and introducing lessons with diverse contemporary and historical artists' students' will be hooked, and when students feel connected to the lesson, behaviors are minimal.
My classroom management style is closely aligned with the Teaching with Love and Logic theory by Jim and Charles Fay. Students are encouraged and supported as they take responsibility for actions that cause a problem for learners in the classroom. Most importantly, students will know that I am genuinely interested in them and have high expectations for their success. I will meet challenging behaviors with genuine care, empathy, and patience. When students exhibit disruptive behaviors in the classroom, they are a symptom of a deeper issue. Students will be encouraged to solve their problem behaviors that arise in the art room. If they are unwilling or unable to, I will solve it for them by quietly letting them know they have two options to choose from and then quickly moving away to resume teaching. In Love and Logic fashion, consequences for behaviors will depend on the specific student and situation. Students will also know they can come to me if they feel the consequence is unfair, and we will talk it over. Students know that I care about them and that they will always have an opportunity for a fresh start. It is infrequent to have a situation where a student's behavior requires a quiet place away from the group to calm down, but when it does happen, I tell the student that I look forward to having them rejoin the group when they are ready. When students see that I can fairly address behaviors in my class, it builds their trust in me as their teacher. Helping students unpack the motivation behind a behavior can be a bridge to growth for the student. Digging deeper into a chronic behavior could help me advocate for the student and find staff and resources in my building that best support the child's needs. There are, however, circumstances that warrant calling the office; these are reserved for extreme physical or emotional behaviors.
Managing time in the art room is essential to maximizing my time working with students. While students complete the drawing prompt of the day, I start writing table jobs on the board. I set a calm chime alarm to go off 5-minutes before the end of each class. Students pause, and I ask for their attention as I go over the table jobs. Students spend the last 5-minutes of class cleaning up, putting away materials, and putting out materials that the next class will need. In this way, students learn responsibility and care for their classmates.
Another strategy I have learned from my co-op Nancy Yurkovich is to offer blocks of time for students to come and volunteer in the art room. Students also come to the art room during recess or lunchtime to catch up on their projects. The benefits of this strategy have been two-fold. First, students can meet new classmates in their peer group and start to form new friendships. Students' tasks during their volunteer time vary from preparing artwork for the art show, replenishing supplies, sharpening pencils, and working on mosaics projects that will be installed in the school. Second, students will develop a stronger sense of community as they work in the safe, supportive space of the art room.
When students say something that profoundly upsets a peer, I am responsible for bringing the students together and establishing paths of empathy, understanding, and restoration. For the students, these moments have the potential to become an opportunity for significant emotional growth. I aim to provide a safe space for all students in the art room where they will know they are accepted and cared about.
When students have met the criteria for each day of art class (Be safe, respect yourself and others, Do your best work), they will have an opportunity to "Clip Up" towards a reward. Rewards include: Playing a series of Kahoots based on art and artists, a board game day, a color and shape bingo day, or art stations day.
Consistent procedures contribute toward establishing a caring classroom climate. I continue to review my classroom management strategies and adjust policies as I explore current best practices.