Incorporating Creative Classroom Strategies Today!

When attending a Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser clinic, one quote that resonated deeply with me was “Criticize in private, praise in public.”  I immediately felt convicted.  I knew at that moment that I had been hurting some of my students’ feelings over the years by not following that simple piece of advice.

“When you know better, you do better.”  That simple paraphrase from Maya Angelou is something we drill into our students, and it is drilled into us too.  Once I heard that Dr. Tim quote, I vowed to do better now that I knew better!

Classroom management and developing relationships go hand in hand. So what are some things that a director can do to inspire students to love her and want to work hard for her?

1. She takes every opportunity with the students and parents to build relationships.

By building relationships, she’s building trust.  When students have a deeper connection with their teacher, they tend to want to be their best version of themselves with her.  It can be something as simple as asking “How is your little brother doing?” or “Did your team win or lose last night?”  Take every chance you get to build a bridge.

2. She genuinely listens to the students without interrupting them.

If a student is out of line, she can ask to see them after class, close the door, and with genuine concern, she’ll ask “What’s going on?”  Many times, the floodgates will open and the real reason for the misbehavior comes out.  We have to remember that our students may be dealing with deep life events and they may not have the tools to balance the stress in their lives.  Sometimes they bubble over and just need to let it out.

3. She gives the students opportunities to redeem themselves without involving the front office.

“What happens in the band hall STAYS in the band hall, unless you decide to take it out of the band hall.”  This is huge for our students.  We do not automatically send students to the office, and we do not automatically reach for the d-hall slips.  If a student needs to make something right, we insist on them taking ownership of their actions.

One favorite alternative is having the student write down on a piece of paper their inappropriate behavior, and having them get their parent to sign it to acknowledge the behavior.  When they turn it in the next day, we save it in a file and tell the student that it can live there all year and never see the light of day again, OR, it will become the start of a paper trail that they will walk down to the front office themselves the next time it happens. 

We realize that with our changing times, we have to change what we do to best reach our students and their parents.  The techniques that were successful ten years ago may not work with our changing student population now.  The one constant we can count on is RELATIONSHIPS, so we have to figure out the best ways to reach each student.  We know we’re going to make a difference in our students’ lives, so we must focus on making a positive difference!

This post is written by Jennifer Rogers and is describing the types of relationships she watches her mentor, Andie Troutman, building with their students in the Brookside bandhall in Friendswood, TX. Mrs. Rogers writes, “Andie & I have known each other for almost 30 years. She was my teacher in beginner band and I am so lucky to get to work with her every day. She communicates with parents and students in a way that is so effortless and kind. I decided many years ago to observe Andie’s interactions anytime I got the chance, and put her management techniques into practice.”

If you will be attending TMEA in February, you can learn much more about Mrs. Troutman, Mrs. Rogers and their program in Clear Creek ISD by attending their clinic on Saturday, February 11 at 9:30 in room 225. Their incredible and enthusiastic principal, Lauren Ambeau, who appreciates the directors building those relationships with parents & students, will be speaking at the clinic as well. Mrs. Ambeau is a great example of a supportive administrator for the fine arts and will have some terrific things to add to the TMEA clinic on classroom management.

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