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Classroom Management: Dicipline

Hello all,
This one is to all the music educators out there.
I just completed my student teaching and found out that yes, I am good at what I do, and yes, I love every minute of it! Yay, glad that worked out! However, there is one area that I still need to understand a little better before I start my forst year of teaching (which will most likely be a middle school position). Classroom management is a huge deal in the world of education. However, my program, as I'm sure most are, teaches general education and music seperatly for the most part (with the exception of the one or two music ed professors you can talk to). As a result, you hear a lot about techniques which work very well for the general classroom, but is not quite effective for a music class. To be more specific, the area I am most interested in improving is classroom management as it relates to classroom procedures, dicipline, and developing a respectful, working atmosphere where students are proud and excited for class (rather than excited and chaotic).
A couple of questions:
What classroom procedures do you create in your classes to happen automatically to improve efficiency and how do you instill this into students early in the year? (little things like roll, bathroom breaks, and seating arrangements all the way to first tier dicipline and emergencies)
How do you dicipline the class? Especially considering rotation classes where the whole class could be a little rowdy or if there are a couple of class clowns which are immune to participation grades and detention is too severe. Keeping control of an excited class of students might be the hardest thing, and I realize that most music teachers have an enthusiasm issue (or the opposite, like a beginning high school class full of apathy).
Now the most important question for me. I've seen many masterful teachers when it comes to classroom management. I've walked into middle schools where, by Christmas, all the students are quiet and respectful, line up professionally, and take pride in good work (without sacrificing fun!). I've also seen teachers which could simply flash a handsign and quiet an entire autotorium of kids before an elementary school PTA program (this teacher also apologized for the rudeness of his/her class when the students talked out of turn for about 5 seconds). Often I hear about certain classroom management techniques. However, what seems to be lost is that teacher's innate ability to instill dicipline and musical value into students. What might be some mindsets, practices, techniques, or processes you might use, especially at the beginning of the year?
All of these questions are out there for all three levels of music education. I understand that A LOT of these things I will learn on my own time through experience. However, I want to give myself, and my students the best chances as I start teaching.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
Replies (14): Threaded | Chronological
on May 17, 2011 11:18pm
Hello Andrew,

In my 10 years of teaching two major things have been more helpful than anything else as far as discipline goes.

1. I have ridiculously high expectations of my students. We talk about how professionals behave and how that is the only option. We talk about what that means and specifically what it looks like everyday in class. I have a rehearsal rubric that I use to grade them on and have them do self assessments several times each fall according to the rubric. There are four elements; responsibility, responsiveness, participation and goal setting. I'd be happy to share this with you if you'd like.
2. I keep my students incredibly busy in class, it is a pace at which that the kids have to be on their toes to keep up. I don't steam roll the kids, but they are constantly moving, changing activities and multitasking. Its taken me years to find this ideal pace but it's certainly a cornerstone to my teaching style and creates very little time in which they have the time to be "rascally" in class.

Good luck!

Applauded by an audience of 5
on September 4, 2014 7:56pm
Could you please post your rehearsal rubric and what activities you use during rehearsals to keep students busy? 
on September 5, 2014 6:28am
I write a blog with several ideas for discipline in middle school choral classrooms.  
Here are a couple of links:
I also have a YouTube Channel with some classroom management posts:
Hope it helps! 
Dale Duncan
Creator of S-Cubed Middle School Sight Singing Program for Beginners
Email me at dduncan158(a), and I can email you my syllabus.
on September 6, 2014 9:00pm
Welcome to our wonderful and crazy profession. There's no magic bullet for classroom management because it's all based on the kind of relationship you create between you and your students. Also, most tricks you try will stop working after a certain point. All the same, if you're new, you need a few good tricks. 
I have a few specific techniques in addition to everyone else's collection of insights.
1. If students are talking while you're working with another part, I make silence into a competition. Let's say the altos are silent while you're working with the sopranos, but the instant you start with the altos, the sopranos begin to talk. If this were my choir, I might look over at the sopranos and and say, "the altos are winning right now. They didn't talk when I was working with you." As you go back and forth between the parts, it's easy to say, "Ooh! Altos, your lead is slipping!" or something to that effect. I don't do score cards, numbers on the board, or keep track of it in any way. I am the judge of who is winning and there is no arguing. The kids do the work of policing each other, though. If the sopranos are winning, you can bet the other altos will give evil looks to the other altos pulling their section down. Peer pressure is SO powerful in middle school use it. Oh, and if they ask you what the prize is, be honest. The prize is that when the concert comes, the music will be excellent because we all worked together and stayed on task. This will elicit eye rolls, but remember: almost everyone in your class wants a good concert. Even the class clown doesn't want to go on stage and not be ready.
2. On occasion, I've had a group that develops a bad attitude. They seem to stop caring, they argue with each other, the talking increases, and they complain about everything (especially standing up). At the point where the negativitiy is beginning to get obnoxious, I initiate the "yay!" rule. It is my expectation that when I ask them to do anything (stand up, try measure 24 again, run the whole song from the beginning), they all say "yay!" in the most disgustingly cheery voice possible. I also expect them to smile while they do it. If I notice that someone's yay is lacking, we try it again as a group without drawing attention to that person if possible. your student's reactions won't come from a place of genuine happiness, but they will start enjoying choir again. Eventually, the ridiculousness of "yay"ing something that is not very fun becomes a source of amusement for everyone, including you. Once that happens, the complaining falls away leaving a group that feels renewed and refreshed.
One warning: make sure you demonstrate exactly how you want them to "yay." Otherwise, this devolves into chaos quickly.
Best of luck, and have fun!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 11, 2014 1:13pm
Hi, Andrew
I'm retired but taught music on all levels during my 37 years in the classroom.  There are no set techniques that work for everyone.  A lot has to do with the teacher's personality.
I believe the tone for discipline begins the minute the student walks into the classroom.  Say hello to each and have some general comment made, especially to those who might be
a problem in class.  Tell them on the first day what your goals are and what you expect of them.  The most important thing is to be CONSISTANT.  You'll find,  in most cases, that music is its own discipline.  I used to start each class with several one minute music questions which were graded.  This also helps students to not be tardy.  You'll find very soon what works and what doesn't.  Good luck!
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