Let’s be honest. During the first year of teaching, classroom management was a painful juggling act that resulted in stress and frustration. With each year, classroom management can get easier, but it can be difficult to avoid interruptions to learning.
As each year went by, I noticed that if I was walking around the room while students were working, they were more likely to be engaged in discussing the lesson and in their work. My students also were more likely to pay attention if they were able to be a part of the lesson.
I started to question if I wasn’t giving my students enough opportunities to be a part of my instruction.
By changing how I instructed my students, my classroom management became the best it has ever been. It all started when I downloaded an app to my iPAD called, Notability. It currently costs $8.99 on the App Store. (I normally do not use resources that are not free, but this one was worth every penny.) Most schools will reimburse you for apps that contribute to improving your instruction- there is no harm in asking!
Notability gives you the ability to download your Powerpoint/Google Slides notes from your Google Drive directly onto the app so that you can write notes on top of your presentation while walking around the classroom. In order to write on your iPAD you will need an Apple Pencil or another compatible stylus pen. You can organize your notes into different subject tabs, so if you teach multiple contents you can separate your notes. You can also work out problems for Math on a blank page, annotate documents for English, or add gifs to increase engagement.
My favorite part about notability is the camera option. This is how I get students to be a part of the lesson. I will walk around the class until I find student work that could spark discussion. I click on the camera button, take a picture of the student work, and it copies onto the presentation notes. Students are proud when their work becomes a part of the lesson!
My classroom management improved drastically because students wanted to be included in the presentation. Even if their answer is wrong, they are happy to contribute. This also creates an environment that welcomes mistakes. Sometimes l will zoom in on their work and ask a thought-provoking question to the class. I highly recommend using the camera option if you want to increase student engagement during instruction. There are endless possibilities of using the camera on notability.
Notability also has the ability to add graph paper so you can graph problems for your Math students! This is seriously life changing for a Math teacher. You can also create answer keys, weekly agendas, tables, graphs, and many other visuals that will make your students more engaged. I like to create my answer keys with notability because they look extremely neat and you can easily color code them however you like.
In my classroom, I am grateful to have a television that I can mirror my iPAD to. You will need an Apple TV connected to your television in order for your iPAD or device to mirror to your TV. My classroom management began to get easier when I first mirrored from my iPAD to the TV. I could walk around the classroom and teach at the same time! I was no longer standing at the front of the room working out problems on the white board, with students behind my back. This change to my instruction decreased distractions to student learning because of the increased teacher proximity to student work.
(Note: I am very thankful for the resources that I currently have at my school. My administration wants teachers to have the instructional supplies we need to teach our students. It is a dream and I recognize this is not the norm and it is a huge blessing. I also know that this is not how every school operates.)
I know firsthand what it is like to work in a low-income school that does not always provide funding for apps and instructional tools. However, there are hundreds of grants that teachers can apply for to receive money for instructional supplies! I promise it is so worth looking into to help improve your instruction and increase student learning. I highly recommend checking out a grant application below if you are interested in any of these tools to improve your instruction and classroom management.
Grant Applications: https://teach.com/what/teachers-change-lives/grants-for-teachers/