Move Over Alan November!

Move over Alan November, I have found another educational idol and his name is Michael Linsin. It’s not that I am totally fickle, I will still incorporate Alan November’s methods in my class, but Michael Linsin is truly a genius when it comes to classroom management.

Over the summer, I read his book Dream Class.  Expecting the usual “blah, blah, blah” that most authors use when writing an educational book, I was immediately drawn into the book.  He not only gives suggestions of how to have the “dream class” but he gives scenarios which help the readers see where the techniques could be most effective.

Michael Linsin uses common sense approaches to situations we often face in our rooms.  He is a big proponent of role playing.  The twist is, the students don’t role play, the teacher does. For example, every year I have a problem of students not coming into my room the way I want them to enter.  They come in noisy, waste time by chatting with others, and don’t get ready for the day like I want them to do.  Almost every day, I have to remind them of my procedure.  Mr. Linsin, suggests that on the first day of school, I need to pretend that I am a student and SHOW the students how to enter my room.  If they don’t do as I expect them to do, I need to SHOW them again.  He feels that humor is a huge part in having a successful relationship with the students, and teachers need to “lighten up” a little and role-playing is a great way to do this; however, at the same time the students need to respect us and know that we expect them to behave a certain way.

One of the best techniques I got from the book was the section on consequences.  The author has three consequences if expectations are not followed by students.  The are: 1) verbal warning, 2) time-out, and 3) a letter home (which must be signed by parent and returned the next day).  The most important thing that teachers must do is be consistent and not waiver (this is my major weakness).  It is so easy to keep giving the verbal warning, but you must give it only once, then move to the other consequences.  Time outs are in-class so that the student still hears the lesson or activity, but they are not allowed to participate.  The letter home is a form letter that must be returned the next day.  In the book, he used an example of a student that didn’t return his letter the next day and the author gave specific techniques of how to handle the situation.

The other major point in the book that I related to was that when disciplining, be quick and to the point. STOP lecturing!  After about three minutes, most students “tune-out” and we are basically talking to ourselves.  If a student misbehaves, tell him what he did wrong, his consequence, then move on with the lesson.  Teachers should not act mad, give dirty looks, or hold a grudge, this only empowers the student(s) more.  Even if the student has to take a letter home, the teacher should let the student start over with a clean slate the next day.

I cannot express enough how much this book helped me with classroom situations that have plagued me for years.  It is an enjoyable yet educational read and I wish every teacher at our school would be required to read the book.  It is such a simple yet effective way to manage student behavior.  It makes good classroom management doable.


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September 2013
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