Engagement and Classroom Management

Today I had a lot of issues with classroom management.  It started off with my AI period where students were off task and threw stuff out the window.  I think I might need to spend these periods for a while just monitoring behavior rather than also working and trying to model working behavior.  I was reading and as a result I didn’t see much of what was going on in the classroom.
My next class was the class that was normally the rowdiest and they were especially bad today.  It was almost impossible to get their attention and we didn’t get anywhere close to finishing the activity.  It was really too bad because there was only a little bit of normal work time to get ready to do the fun moving and chanting exercise.  I think it would be useful to find a way to more quickly get into the moving around activity, and then if we find we aren’t sure how to do it, there might be more motivation to spend the time figuring the graphs out.  Or maybe I could find a way to make the students trust that once they explore the topic they will do a fun activity.
The next class was not as bad but they also were very resistant to remain on task and quiet down when I needed to make a quick announcement.  We got through the activity and a few students who were very resistant until I kept chanting in front of them managed a smile when they finally gave in.  I think many of these students didn’t quite enjoy the whole period but had some enjoyment towards the end.  Still I think my classes yesterday had a much better day than today’s classes.
I think this activity was good, but I want to find better ways to have more rapid engagement and really hook them early on.  For this activity I would need to find a way for them to understand how to participate in the activity with much less front loading of information.  It also didn’t help that these students needed to finish up a worksheet since we didn’t have time for it during the last class.  I have to catch them up as quickly as they can so they have to keep playing the catch up game.
The next class period should be interesting for both classes.  I will have their first real homework assignment and their first quiz to start looking at what students are individually understanding.  I also think my next activity will go well because there is no front loading of information.  Instead they will do a short “musical chairs” type activity and then use that experience as an analogy to unit conversions.  We can go right into this activity and hopefully keep their attention and help them enjoy class.  I think a lot of the issues with engagement and classroom management are linked and I just need to keep on trying out new things and taking notes until I find something that works well.
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