In the wild, animals of the same kind live and travel in groups. Typically, there is an animal who takes charge of the pack to make sure that the animals are all together. There needs to be someone who sets the “ground rules” so that the animals are working towards a common goal. If they are smaller animals, they likely want to stick together so they don’t get eaten. If they are larger animals, then they probably work together to hunt for food. Whatever the goal is of the specific group of animals, they work together under a strong leader to maintain safety and structure within the group.
A classroom can be like the wild sometimes. Children can be very adventurous and rambunctious. Sometimes, they can get a little carried away. Just like the animals need a leader, they need the teacher to hold onto the reins and make sure that the common goal, education, is still being met. The teacher must set ground rules and maintain strong leadership so that the class can remain focused and structured. Keeping the class on track and solving the problems that may arise is called classroom management.
Last time, I focused on a form of classroom management that I witnessed in field and I did not care for: punishment from recess. Because I didn’t like that technique, I had to start thinking about the kind of classroom management techniques and strategies I would like. At the end of the last blog post I formulated a question: what are some effective, positive classroom management techniques and strategies?
To dive further into this topic, I needed to get more specific. The last couple weeks, I continued to observe at the preschool to see if there were any classroom management strategies I did like. I did in fact find some great techniques that seemed to work, but a specific one especially stood out to me. When the classroom would get a little crazy, or a difficult transition was being made, the teacher used little sayings and actions to get the kids to pay attention and focus. One I observed was, “hands on top, now we’re gonna stop.” The teacher would say the part, “hands on top” and the kids would respond with putting their hands on their head and saying “now we’re gonna stop.” This worked very effectively because the children knew it was time to get quiet. Another saying that the teacher used was “swallow a bubble” in which the kids had to hold an imaginary bubble in their mouth while they walked through the halls to the bathroom or the play room. This is done so that they don’t talk in line. The kids take holding the bubble in their mouth very seriously.
I really loved these little sayings and actions, so I did some research to find out more about them. Through my research, I found that a great way to do these little sayings and actions is in a song. In the article, Singing Smooths Classroom Transitions by Sarah E. Matthews, I learned all about how singing affects classroom management tremendously. One of the ways singing can benefit classroom management is it smooths transitions. Transitions are a very difficult thing for early childhood students because children do not know the expectations the teacher has during transitions. Another reason why transitions can be difficult is because some children do not adapt well to changes. Singing can help with these greatly. Singing and corresponding movements are often found on the playground during children’s recess time. They are familiar and comfortable with singing, especially in a call-and-response format.
The article shared many accounts of teachers’ success stories using singing for transitioning. Some of the songs they found beneficial to effectively benefit classroom management include: A Helper I Will Be, Circle Time Song, and If You’re Happy And You Know It. The article states that when using these and other songs, they should be sung consistently. That way, the students know the songs and they know the expectations that are set when the song is going on.
I really enjoyed reading about the singing in the classroom. I never really thought about incorporating it into my room, until my preschool class that I observe was signing some songs. I definitely that singing will improve classroom management, and make for an overall better environment to learn in.
Hopefully, we will be able to keep the “wildness” out of the classroom and opt for some structure!!
Until next time,
A future early childhood teacher
Mathews, S. E. . (2012). Singing Smoothes Classroom Transitions. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 40(1), 13–17. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=74184629&authtype=sso&custid=s3915890&site=ehost-live