Have you noticed that the same old problems keep resurfacing year after year in your classroom? Isn’t it funny how the little things sometime put us over the edge? I can always deal with that “special” child, but the continuous line at my desk about drives me crazy. Here are six different classroom irritations which I find to be the most annoying plus some possible solutions to think about before school starts.
A. Children Who Are Always at the Teacher’s Desk
Give the student “question coupons or tickets.” Three is a good number. The child must give you one coupon each time s/he comes to your desk. When the child uses up all of her/his tickets, s/he can no longer come up to to your desk. The students soon learn to “think about” what questions they truly need to ask the teacher.
2) Stack three cups on each child’s desk which the children change as needed. Green (or whatever color you chose) means the student is on task and has no questions. Yellow means the student needs to ask the teacher a brief question. Red means the student has no idea of what they are doing and needs help. This color requires that the teacher goes and assists the child.
Getting a Drink; Using the Restroom
1) Try permitting this only during non-instructional time.
2) Set the number of times each student may go per the week.
3) Allow water bottles in the classroom. Research has proven that a hydrated mind works best.
4) Have a restroom pass so only one student is out of the classroom at a time.
5) Have a sign out sheet to monitor the time a student is gone and the number of times a student goes.
6) Have a special hand signal the children use to indicate they need to use the restroom; so, all the teacher has to do is nod her/his head.
7) Count when the children are getting a drink at the drinking fountain such as 1-2-3. This way everyone is given the same amount to time.
8) Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer by the door so children may use it before lunch to clean their hands. (Unfortunately, not all children wash their hands after using the restroom.)
The Pencil Sharpener
1) Have a box of presharpened pencils that all the children may use.
2) Make a designated time when students may sharpen pencils. If you have an electric pencil sharpener, unplug it during the off limits time.
3) Designate an individual to be the “pencil sharpener.” This can be a daily job in your classroom. This person performs the task of sharpening pencils before school, after school, or during any other designated time.
Place a file card with a very short pencil attached to it by the pencil sharpener. On the card, write, “If your pencil is shorter than this pencil, you may NOT sharpen it.” The children are to hold up their pencil and match it to the one on the card. If it is longer than the one on the card, they may sharpen it; if it is the same length or shorter, they should throw the pencil away as it is too short to sharpen.
5) Have two cups of pencils near the pencil sharpener, one for dull pencils and one for sharpened pencils. When a child’s pencil is dull, s/he places the pencil in the dull cup and takes one from the sharp cup.
6) If students have a “special” pencil (such as a gift from someone), they must have their own sharpener at their desk. This avoids claiming that the pencil sharpener “ate” their special pencil which may create drama as well as tears.
D. Stress – Especially at Test Time
1) Have a “stress spot” in the room where a student may go and sit quietly. You might have a Pilate’s ball there (a large ball on which a student sits and balances themselves) for the student to use.
2) Always have stress balls available. These are inexpensive and come in all different shapes and sizes. In my classroom, I provide a basket of apple stress balls which my students (college age) may take and use at any time. Many use them during test time.
3) Walk around the room placing your hand on the student’s shoulder. Give them a word of encouragement such as: “You are doing a great job.”