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7 Ways to Deal with the Fall Behavior Crazies

Are your students using your class as a FREE period/Recess?  Are they constantly talking over you?  Do your littles basically do whatever they want, no matter what you say or do?  I feel you music teacher.  

It’s fall, so it’s only going to get worse.  The closer we get to Halloween, the worse it’s going to be.  And just wait until they’re bringing candy for lunch every day.  Oh nooooooo!

Don’t you feel like your students are harder to control than ever before?  Me too!

But I’ve discovered the magic method for controlling behavior with even your hard-to-control kiddos.  Honest and for true!  And today I’m going to share it with you . . . 5 ways to deal with the fall behavior crazies.  There’s not a moment to lose, so let’s check them out.

  1. Be the silly – Years ago, a very wise music teacher (I can’t remember who . . . Ha!) gave me some amazing advice.  If you don’t add fun and silly to your activities, your students will.  Think kindergartners falling out of their chairs on purpose . . . 5th graders making faces behind your back.  It’s super irritating right?  That’s why you need to add the silly yourself.  Keep them guessing – what if your students come in and never know what will happen next.
    1. Toss the scarves at them instead of handing them out
    2. Bring out monkey noodles and use them as part of your music activity?
    3. Go skipping around the classroom and act super silly?  
  2. Reward them – Compliment them for meeting or surpassing your expectations.  Try to catch them doing what you want.  Reward them with something they’re dying to do.  For example, if one class has a great day, let them play ALL of your drums on the way out the door, or pick a silly song (It’s Corn is super popular right now) and let them move or just listen to it.  Let them play your giant gong as they are leaving.  Be sure to tell them WHY they get to do it.
  3. Be very structured – As a music teacher, your schedule is challenging, and usually, you’ve got back to back classes.  It’s easy to be a little loosey goosey when students are entering, because you’re still regrouping from the last class.  However, a solid structure will help A LOT.  Here are some tips on structure:
    • Tell your students that they will show you they’re ready to come in and listen and learn if they are in a still, silent, straight line.  Don’t allow them to enter until they are.
    • Set up an activity that they do as they enter, and give them instructions while they are standing outside your classroom.  For example, you could have them echo rhythm cards that you are holding or echo the words to a new song they will be learning that day.
    • If they don’t enter the way you want, take them back out and have them try again.  Yes, this takes time, but they will eventually learn that they have to follow your directions.  Be sure to point out that their behavior has caused them to lose 2-3 minutes of the fun activity you’ve planned for the end of class.
    • Give vivid instructions about all activities.  Here is an example:
      1. Boys and girls, silently stand. (If they don’t stand silently, tell them to sit back down and ask them why they are sitting back down).
      2. By the time I get to zero, I should see you sprinkled throughout the room.
      3. You should be standing straight and silently with your arms at your side.
      4. You should be able to stretch your arms out and not touch anything or anyone.
  4. Let your students choose – Think about how often your students don’t get a choice.  Everyone just tells them what to do.  Rarely do they get to share an idea or give their opinion.  Things just happen to them, many times whether they want it or not.  While they are children, and they should not always get an opinion or a choice, it’s nice to give them a choice.  It can be as simple as letting them choose where to sit or as complex as letting them help you design the next Orffestration you teach.  
  5. Never yell – This is easier said than done, right?  However, if you follow these steps, your classroom will run smoother, and you’ll feel a lot more in control.  When you do feel like you might lose it, think about how it feels when someone yells at you or speaks to you with a tone in their voice.  It doesn’t feel good.  And for some students, being yelled at can be really hard to take.  
  6. Be respectful – It’s easy to treat children as less than, because they are young, and they don’t know as much as we do.  It’s easy to be short or frustrated when they don’t listen or when they ask you to repeat something for what feels like the 80th time.  

Remember what it felt like to be that age.  Try to put yourself in their place.  While what you are saying is important to you, they may be thinking about the nasty comment their best friend just made or the big soccer game they’re playing later that day.  Your agenda is usually NOT their agenda.  

Try to speak respectfully to your students.  Treat them like they matter, and give them some grace.  Try to find something to like in every student, even when that student is just hard to like.  

  1. Show & tell your students what good behavior looks like – Just like your students are learning how to play, sing, and move, they are also learning how to behave in your classroom.  They require instructions.  If you keep this in mind, it will help when they are getting on your last nerve.  It works well for students if you use the phrase, “This is what it looks like” and then describe what it looks like.  For example, when your students sit down behind a xylophone, you can say this:

“Boys and girls, we are going to be playing xylophones today.  This is what it  looks like when you play a xylophone.  You should hold your mallets properly, play only when I say to play, and stop when I ask you to stop.”  

While you’re giving these instructions, you should be modeling what you are saying.

Behavior management is a struggle for you, the music teacher.  You don’t have the power, and your students don’t take your authority seriously.  Plus, oftentimes your students are going through things that no one has shared with you.  It’s ok to do whatever it takes to make classroom management easier, especially if your students are still learning.  Good luck as you progress through the holiday season fabulous music teacher.

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