Classroom Management Ugandan Edition
Teaching in Uganda always has its adventures. Especially in the classroom management department, I have 75 students who can’t always pick my accent and are used to being disciplined with a cane which, makes it hard sometimes when I go into the class trying to use a positive behavior system I didn’t always get respect from the kids. They thought, since she is not going to cane us we don’t really have to listen to her. It took me several months of brain breaks, fun call and responses, and showing that the kids will get rewarded if they behave to get them to respect me and listen. I am realizing more and more that it's going to be so interesting head back and teaching in the states and cutting my class size to a third of what it is now. It's going to be a challenge to adjust for sure. However, I am always up for the challenge. To be able to manage 75 students you have to be creative, energetic, and active.
With all that being said, I decided that it might be fun to share with you all how I use classroom management in a class that large. There is a lot of singing and brain breaks that’s for sure. I try to start and end every lesson with some sort of energizer. My student’s favorite is Banana Unite, it cracks them up and I think they just like to go bananas. I usually switch the energizers up with head and shoulders, stretching, or some yoga poses. I am currently in the middle of trying to create new energizers that fit together better culturally. That being said I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. It’s probably one of my biggest uses of data.
While I am teaching my lessons I make sure that I am constantly upbeat and extremely energetic in order to constantly keep the kids engaged. I also try to ask a lot of questions and I walk around the classroom in order to make sure that the students are always paying attention. Another thing that I do to constantly insure that my students are engaged is teaching with songs. Not only do songs help keep my students extremely engaged but it also helps them memorize and learn new things. Another thing that I do during lessons is I utilize break breaks, while I am teaching I am constantly evaluating the class and I can easily tell if my students need a break because they are sleepy, or if they are just getting confused and need to refocus. Once I notice something like this happening I will have my students stand able and take a wiggle break, stretch, do some sort of exercise, or do a quick energizer. Some teachers give me a hard time for my use of brain break but you do not understand how important they can be for a student and how quickly it can and will refocus and make your class pay attention better.
With large class sizes you have to worry about side conversations because they can get noisy very quickly. In order to keep the side conversations to a minimum I use a variety of attention getters. My students favorites are “1, 2, 3, all I on me. 1,2 eyes on you” and “Hocus Pocus, everybody Focus” this gets the class quiet and paying attention to me once again. IT takes me a while to introduce new attention getters because my students are English learners they have to practice a lot. So I am trying to introduce a new attention getter every three weeks. That way they have the attention getter down pat before I teach them the new one.
Another thing that really helps my classroom management with large class sizes is giving a whole lot of praise. I constantly praise my students when they are listening, participating, and thriving in class. This makes my students work even harder and because they want to be praised. My praise always involves participation from them which always them to shout and move for just a little bit at any given moment.
And lastly, for my older students I use a positive behavior system. We have a list of classroom expectations and as my students follow those expectations they get stars. They can earn up to 3 stars in one class. When they earn 30 stars they get a class period that is filled with phonics games and a dance party. The students can lose the stars they earn during the class but once they are put up onto the poster they cannot be removed UNLESS they hit another student. When that happens they lose a star from the poster and can’t earn stars for the day. This has been doing wonderful for my students and their behavior has greatly improved and their level of respect for me has gone up.
Well, there you have it, all the ways that I manage my large class sizes. It’s hard most days but honestly it has allowed me to become such a better teacher for it and it has forced me to become more creative. I am so excited to continue to grow as a teacher here in Uganda so when I go to the states and have my own classroom I am going to be able to crush it even more because things will be just a bit easier.