Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mystery Walker

Hello all! Long time, no blog! A lot has happened since the last time I posted, including some fun projects, Apple Week, a field trip, starting Math Stations, and a lot of learning (by the kids and by me!).

Today I wanted to write about something that I feel like I personally have been struggling with: classroom management. My class is very chatty, and I have a couple of kiddos with severe behavior issues. There have been days where I feel like I spend more of my day trying to get my class to be on task than I am actually teaching them something. What many of you may not know about me is that I'm a perfectionist. (Like, if you looked up the word perfectionist in the dictionary, my picture would be right there.) It's very frustrating for me when I feel like I am not doing things right the first time (even when other people tell me I'm doing ok), and keeping my class under control is one of those things.

That aside, I have learned a couple of tricks throughout the past few weeks that have drastically helped my class, and today I want to tell you about one of them. It's called:

The Mystery Walker.

Now, I wish I could say that I came up with this idea on my own, but I didn't. It was one of those things that I happened upon while skimming Pinterest, and I don't think I even pinned it because at the time I thought "Well what a silly idea." For some reason though, it just stuck with me. One day when my class was being loud and unruly in the hallway, this idea popped back into my mind and I decided to give it a shot. Turns out, it is one of the best management tools I have for transition times in the hallway. The Mystery Walker is the one student whose behavior in the hallway will determine whether or not our class will earn a letter toward our REWARD for the day.

Here's how it works: Every time we are about to leave the classroom, I pick a student to be my Mystery Walker, but I don't tell them who it is. I do mark them on my class list that I keep on the clipboard that I carry everywhere so that I don't forget who it is. This also helps me keep track of who I have already had as Mystery Walker so I can make sure everyone gets a chance. I keep an eye on that student to see if they are doing a good job in the hallway. When we get back to the classroom, I announce whether or not the Mystery Walker earned a letter for our class. If they did, I tell them who it is and give that kiddo a Hershey's Kiss. If they didn't earn it, I don't reveal who the person was and I give that kid a chance later in the day to earn it.

This simple practice takes very little time/effort and has made a HUGE difference in the way that my class acts in the hallway. Since they don't know who the Mystery Walker is, they are ALL on their best behavior just in case it's them. If someone starts acting up in the hallway, I just calmly remind the class that "I am watching my Mystery Walker and I hope that they can earn us a letter" - usually that gets them all back in line immediately. When I announce that our Mystery Walker earned the class a letter, that kiddo always looks so proud as they march up to the front of the room to get their Hershey Kiss and the rest of the class usually claps for them or congratulates/thanks them. I like how the kids feel like they are working for the team not just for their own personal reward.

What is your favorite classroom management tip?