As a classroom teacher for 15 years, Michael Loden has asked his students to live by one simple rule – “don’t be an idiot.”

“It’s on my syllabus and it pretty much covers everything,” shared Loden with his fellow teachers during Shelby County Schools’ new teacher orientation held in late July.

Loden was one of 1,200 Shelby County Schools teachers who were part of the district’s three-day training that covered everything from ways to teach different subjects to the teacher evaluation system. This is the second year that Shelby County Schools has offered teacher orientation in one central and combined event  for teachers, master teachers, learning coaches and principals.

“We want to build their confidence to be a classroom teacher as well as their skills and knowledge,” said Kori Hamner, director of teacher support in the department of talent management.

Chalkbeat TN got a chance to sit in on a session on classroom management, what many teachers described as one of the most difficult aspects of teaching.

Here are a few tips teachers and trainers shared with each other at the session.

  •  Be warm, but firm with students when correcting them.
  •  Lay the ground rules and the consequences for breaking them on the first day.
  •  Trainers advised teachers not to be the one ‘crying wolf.’ “You don’t want to be the teacher who sends every student to the office because when it matters, the principal may not take your referral seriously,” one presenter said.
  • Follow the district’s discipline plan and communicate with students and parents the consequences for violating the rules.
  • Think of how they would react to student misbehavior and the consequences.
  • “Teachers can’t let everything get to them,” said Loden, adding that teachers have a lot to do in the classroom.  “We have to keep students engaged using technology and interactive things to hold their attention.  Everything has to be broken into shorter segments and we have to spend time lecturing.”
  •  Hold students accountable and find ways to motivate as well as manage students.
  • Tell students specifically what they’re doing well.
  • Build trust with students.

Contact Tajuana Cheshier at tcheshier@chalkbeat.org and (901) 730-4013.

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