Over the years, I’ve mentored plenty of new teachers. And without a doubt, the biggest area of concern is classroom management.
Heck, who am I kidding!? Classroom management is still an issue for many of us veteran teachers!
When talking to teachers who struggle with classroom management, something I find is that many of these folks view classroom management as a reactive endeavor. So, a student demonstrates behavior X and then teacher responds (reacts) with action Y. Often times, this results in a culture where “classroom management” becomes a system of rewards and/or punishments used to keep students’ behavior in check.
What I encourage these teachers to do is to rethink their definition of management. Specifically, rather than being reactive, try instead to be proactive. This means figuring about a way to structure their classrooms to restrict problem behaviors from happening in the first place.
For me, a HUGE part of fostering a classroom that limits problem behaviors is to make sure that there is always, and I mean ALWAYS, something engaging for students to do. That means that there is absolutely NO WAY a student can be “done.” In my experience, students who finish early and are “bored” are 99% of the time responsible for unwanted behaviors.
Therefore, having a stash of high-interest, open-ended anchor activities available at all times to students is essential!
In my classroom, I always have a handful of anchor activities available. Typically, the anchors that I use involve reading a book from the classroom library, or writing in our writer’s notebook. I like activities that are fun and engaging, but also not totally astray from our curriculum. I also want tasks that any kid can do, regardless of ability, and are not too much prep/management on my part.
My Top Three Favorite Anchor Activities:
Library Scavenger Hunt
Have students “hunt” through the books in your library for a variety of things. Prompt examples might include:
- Find (and record) 10 sentences that use one of our Greek and Latin root words.
- Find (and record) 10 examples of complex sentences.
- Find (and record) 10 amazing openings that draw the reader in.
- Find (and record) 10 titles from books about the Holocaust.
These activities are all about creative writing (which we just don’t ever get enough time for!!) and stretching the imagination. I am always shocked at just how much kids love working on them!