PsycholARTSical: Psyched about the arts/Classroom Management
There are many strategies to help teachers become more effective at classroom management.
Our course text, Educational Psychology (3rd Canadian Edition) Custom Edition suggests several practices and approaches.
The ideas shared in this section reflect our reactions to Chapter 11: Creating Learning Environments.
Teacher's Casebook: Creating Learning Environments
What Would You Do?
Two boys in your classroom are terrorizing another student. They are larger, stronger, and older than the boy being victimized, who is small and shy. There are incidents on the bus before and after school, in the gym, and at lunch including intimidation, extortion of lunch money, tripping, shoving, and verbal taunts -- "fag: is a favourite chant. The other students in your class see what is going on and know you are aware of the problem too.
How do you handle this situation? What if the bullies were not in your classroom? What if the bullies and victim were girls? How will these issues affect the grade levels you will teach?
What Would They Do?
- I really liked what William Wallace had to say in the Teachers'Casebook section on pp440-441, esp. the beginning of the second paragraph - prevention, develop the relationship, mutual respect, so you can deal with conflicts on a human to human level. The book The Explosive Child is a great reference for the use of collaborative problem solving strategies. Conflict is natural, there is usually a reason why people are acting out, we have to rise to the challenge of teaching and helping our students learn to help themselves.
In the case of the above case study, "prevention" is the first order of business in my opinion. On a practical level, the student being victimized must be assured a safe and healthy space within the school and within the environments (such as a bus ride) that support the school. I am an educator who has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy when it comes to bullying, persecution, racism, discrimination, theft, and physical violence. From a societal standpoint, this is simply not acceptable in any shape or form.
Having stated the above and in alignment with “developing relationships”, I believe it is important for a teacher to attempt to understand the motivating factors behind the bully's actions. As is explored later in this chapter, “knowing your classroom” includes knowing your kids and the various life factors that affect them daily. Empathy is a very strong tool for an educator to utilize in this case study.
A typical conditioned response from a teacher would to purely take punitive measures with the students, send them to the vice-principal, and have them removed from the class or worse - expelled. This is merely a band-aid effort as there are definitely contributing factors to the bully's behaviour. With the incorporation of empathy, a teacher digs deeper and strives to understand the underlying factors. Perhaps these bullies are victims of abuse within their own home environments including physical, verbal and/or psychological abuse. Perhaps their only means of acting out is to victimize those around them that they perceive to be weaker and more vulnerable. It is a tragic but age-old scenario of reverse emotional projection. I myself was bullied by a student who was severely beaten up by his father daily. I did not find this out until many years later.
As other students in the class are aware of the situation and are aware of the teacher's knowledge of the situation, it is paramount that modeling occurs in which the problem is confronted head-on with compassion and effective problem-solving strategies. Such bullies would need to be assessed emotionally and psychologically by the counseling staff of the school, with the hopes of developing mutually respectful relationships and best assessing what support can be provided for them.
If the scenario included female bullies, regardless of gender- the outcome would remain the same to me. Persecution simply does not have a healthy place in our society and as a teacher, I feel compelled to do my best to support students in any manner I am capable. - Christopher WIlson
The Need For Organization (pp. 405-408)
In any given class, teachers encounter a multitude of challenges which must be juggled every day. For instance, classrooms are:
- crowded with diverse people, of varying goals, preferences and abilities.
- environments where resources and tasks must be shared interactively and collaboratively.
- fast paced places of simultaneous activity.
- unpredictable, no matter how carefully we might plan.
- thoroughly public spaces where a teacher's behaviour, fairness, and consistency are always open to scrutiny.
- contexts with their own unique histories, where people adopt normative behaviours based on their experiences there.
Managing classrooms effectively therefore requires ongoing study and practice in order to develop proficient levels of skill. A basic challenge in this is to gain the trust and cooperation of students, who are essential partners in creating a productive classroom. And while some may choose not to invest themselves, those students should not be allowed to diminish or disrupt others' participation. Accordingly, then, a key management task is to establish productive, working relationships with students.
The Goals of Classroom Management
Ultimately, the aim of classroom management is to maintain a learning environment that is positive, productive, and relatively free of behavioural problems. This is important toward facilitating:
- Increased Time For Learning
- Effective classroom management allows more time to be allocated for learning.
- Of course, to be valuable, such time must be used effectively, as time on task, where students are actively engaged in learning.
- Note, engaged time doesn't necessarily guarantee learning; the phrase academic learning time designates that students are working on task AND learning effectively.
- Academic learning time may thus be increased by keeping students actively engaged in worthwhile and appropriate learning activities.
- Improved Access To Learning
- In order to participate successfully in a given task, students must understand the participation structure, that is, the rules defining how to participate.
- Thus, for students to understand, participation structures must be clear, straightforward, and consistently reinforced.
- Encouragement of Student Self-Management
- Students need to be taught self-regulation and self-control to enable them to better manage themselves.
- They must learn to set goals and priorities, manage their time, make balanced choices, and deal with consequences of their decisions. They must learn to mediate disputes, reach agreements, and develop trusting relationships with others.
Creating a Positive Learning Environment (pp. 409-418)
Recent studies have confirmed an important link between effective discipline and effective learning. For instance, consider this statement: "the most and least effective teachers were identified on the basis of the quality of classroom management and student achievement later in the year" (p. 409).
Procedures and Rules Required
Procedures, though seldom written down, are prescribed steps for how activities and routines are to be accomplished in the classroom. For example, some recommended areas in which to establish procedures (Weinstein, 2003; Weinstein & Mignano, 2003) include:
1. Administrative routines
2. Student movement
4. Routines for accomplishing lessons
5. Interactions between teacher and student
6. Talking among students
Page 411 in particular contains many excellent suggestions for the creation of classroom procedures.
Rules are statements that specify expected and forbidden actions in the classroom; these are usually written down and posted. Professors Martin and Sugarman of Simon Fraser University (p. 410) provide the following recommendations to help guide rule making:
1. Consider what type of atmosphere you want to create in your classroom
2. Consider what kind of student behaviour will help you teach more effectively
3. Consider what type of limits students need to guide their behaviour
4. Ensure classroom rules are consistent with the rules of the school, and are in keeping with professional principles of learning.
Emmer and colleagues (2003) suggest the following rules for secondary students:
1. Bring all needed materials to class.
2. Be in your seat and ready to work when the bell rings.
3. Be respectful and polite to everyone.
4. Be respectful of other people's property.
5. Listen and stay seated while someone else is speaking.
6. Obey all school rules.
Overall, it is beneficial to involve students themselves in the process of creating classroom rules. This collaboration will help ensure that they understand the rules, remain more responsive to them, and develop a better capacity to self manage. Also, since students at all levels learn in diverse ways, it is good to employ a variety of organizational and visual tools when teaching students about behavioural expectations - just as you would with other types of lessons.
So ... once you have established your classroom rules, what happens when students transgress them? First of all, it is important to remember that the rules are a means to an end, and not important in and of themselves. As the text notes, “… order for its own sake is an empty goal” (406). Relationships are the foundation of learning, and it is just as important to have established a positive rapport with your students, taken the time to get to know them, and allowed opportunities for them to see you as a person too, not only as an authority figure.
It is in this context that trust is established, and choices and consequences may be frankly discussed as a classroom community. Students need to be taught that every action is a choice with its own set of consequences. Some consequences follow naturally, in cause and effect sequence; for instance, the result of a young person's overindulgence with alcohol may be illness. Other consequences may be imposed by society; for example, getting drunk and disorderly many lead to suspension from school. Whenever possible, the most effective consequence will be an obvious result of the transgression; for instance, if a student intentionally damages another students MP3 player, a direct consequence would be for the offending student to take responsibility for replacing the broken item or restoring it to working order. This would exemplify a 'restorative justice' framework, rather than a 'punitive justice' model.
In any case, the consequences for breaking classroom rules must be clear and explained to all students before any rules are broken or consequences imposed. Page 412 of the text provides an excellent list of tips regarding the establishment of consequences.
Creating a Learning Community (pp. 418-420)
How can we facilitate social responsibility among students? David and Roger Johnson have theorized "three Cs" for developing classroom community: Cooperative community, Constructive conflict resolution, and Civic values. While we strive for a state of "positive interdependence" (co-operative community) in the classroom, it is important to note that conflict is inevitable and can be a positive, or even necessary stage of learning. Constructive conflict resolution, in which outcomes are negotiated and agreed upon by all parties, thus becomes an important pedagogical agent. These negotiations will in turn be informed by the civic values developed within the classroom community through various means (direct teaching, modeling, discussions, and the airing of concerns.)
Getting Started on Community
Clearly, this is an ongoing process in which each part informs the whole, and each teachable moment builds on the last. The classroom and school community evolves through each transition, over time creating a general culture of social responsibility. But before this process can even begin there must be input from teachers, parents and students. In the example of Blakeburn School, a leadership team developed a plan which related their philosophy with a provincial ministry document on social responsibility. It brought this plan to a larger group of stakeholders and ironed out a common language and set of expectations. Students and teachers then spent the first week of school working on their understanding of issues around personal agency and social responsibility, which were integrated into all levels of school life from curriculum to personal interactions. In this way, an entire school was brought "on board," with seemingly lasting impact.
- While in a class of 30+ students, it often becomes difficult to ensure that every student is afforded equal opportunity for success. I have often found that either too much time is spent encouraging less capable students or focused on engaging more capable students that one group or another gets neglected. The guidelines on page 450 of the text, give great examples as to how to avoid this. One in particular that I found to be especially significant, is “monitoring your non-verbal behaviour.” It is amazing how much we can communicate through our body language and the students are continually watching. It is the teacher that needs to show what the atmosphere of the classroom will be. Recently, I was faced with a situation teaching a Grade 12 University level course with a wide variety of mixed ability students, at least 3 had IEP reports with learning challenges. Much of the class was based around group discussion and partnered work. It was essential for a cohesive classrooms that each student felt valued and that they were comfortable to share their opinions. From the very first day, I noticed that many of the students turned away and tuned out when we were having meaningful class discussions. As the discussions began, usually it was dominated by two people without anyone else volunteering. It was essential that I gave other people opportunity to speak as soon as they put up their hand. By doing this, the other students realized that if they had a comment, they would be heard. Also, I ensured that students who had a hard time expressing themselves had opportunity to clarify what they wanted to say. After a few classes, students were more ready to engage in conversation from the beginning of class. It actually became difficult to end the discussions and assign the work. I also noticed groups of students working with a wider variety of people when choosing group work. The students felt confident enough to choose topics that interested them rather than just working with their friends. It is essential to ensure that each student feels like they are a valuable part of the classroom. Also, I allowed the students to resubmit any work until a given deadline. The students really appreciated this because those in need of good marks for university acceptance had opportunity to improve their marks, and those that may not have been as academically strong, had opportunity to receive feedback on their assignments and make any necessary changes without being singled out. This allows for a fair means of evaluation and allows students to achieve higher learning because they don't get discouraged over a low mark. Overall, these guidelines allow for a happier well-balanced classroom.
Maintaining a Good Environment for Learning (pp. 420-427)
It is really important to understand that the format of any lesson given in a classroom will affect the amount that the students involve themselves. As a teacher if you try and find a way in which to present a lesson that would address the students interest the level of involvement would increase. There are several ways in which a teacher can increase student involvement:
1. Guide the students with continuous cues on what to do next. (This might be very useful for the grade nine and ten classes)
2. Provide all the materials needed for the students to do the task laid out for them.(This is really important in the art and science classes)
3. Keep the students interests up. If you find that the levels of engagement in decreasing try to quickly modify your lesson to gain the students interest back.
4. Link the lesson to real life things. In other words, try and make the lesson authentic.
5. Make all the instructions clear from the very beginning of the task.
These instructions include:
- work requirements
- rules about late and/or incomplete work
- the due dates
6. Communicate the assignment. There are several ways in which a teacher can give out an assignment and the way in which you would do it would really depend on the needs of your students.
Some examples of how to give out an assignment might be:
- write the assignment on the board
- give out a syllabus at the beginning of the course
- remind students of upcoming assignments
- hand out an assignment sheet with the instructions on it
- demonstrate how to do the assignment
7. Monitoring the students while they are working on the assignment. The teacher needs to make sure that the students get start on the task and is doing it right. It is important to not just check or help the students who raise their hands but to check if EVERYBODY is doing the work properly. It is really important to check the progression of the students.
Some things a teacher might want to do in order to check up on the students work is to:
- have weekly or biweekly meeting with the students
- have a midway discussion
- midway marks to illustrate where the students work is heading and how they might want to improve it.
8. Give students constant feedback. This relates very much to number seven and should be done while you are monitoring the student's progression. Feedback is really important because it allows students figure out where they are and if they are doing the assignment right. As we know, students like to have the freedom to do things on their own but as adolescents, they still need the reassurance that they are doing something right.
It is important to consider:
- Once an assignment is completed, it is important that you hand it back as quickly as possible.
- It is also a nice idea to put up the students work (if they want to show their work in the class) so they can each other work and possibly get ideas for omething they might want to do in another assignment.
- As a teacher it is also extremely important to have a record or marks. This is important because students might want to be able to see their marks on request or see what projects they still have to do in order to have everything completed.
- If a large assignment is given out it is really important to breaking it down into smaller phases. This will prevent students from getting confused and doing a poor job or getting to stressed out resulting in them not being able to do the work at all.
Dealing With Discipline Problems
Being effective with classroom management does not mean publicly correcting all instances of misbehaviour. This type of public attention may may actually reinforce student misconduct. Emmer and colleagues (2003) and Levine & Nolan (2000) suggest seven simple ways to stop misbehaviour, moving from least to most intrusive:
1. Make eye contact with, or move closer to, the offender.
2. Try verbal hints such as name dropping, or asking the student a question to get him/her back on task.
3. You may consider asking the student if he/she is aware of the effect of their behaviour.
4. Remind students of class procedures. Quietly take away items that are a distraction.
5. in a calm voice, ask the student to recall the correct prcodure and then ask them to follow it.
6. Tell the student, in a clear and assertive voice, to stop the misbehaviour.
7. Offer the student a choice between following the procedures or accepting the consequences of their actions (e.g. removal from classroom).
Special Problems With Secondary Students
Many secondary students fail to complete their work. What can we do to deal with this?
- teach students how to use a daily planner
- establish and consitently enforce consequences for incomplete work
Some students are repeatedly breaking the same rules. How can we handle this?
- seat students away from others who might be a source of conflict or distraction
- establish and consitently enforce consequnces for misbehaviour
- teach students how to monitor their own behaviour (see ch. 6)
Guidelines for consequences:
- delay the discussion until you and the students involved are calm and rational
- impose consequnces privately
- after imposing consequences, establish a positive relationship with the student
- set up a graded list of consequences that apply to the most common occasions
Dealing with hostile students:
- remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible
- offer the student a moment to cool down outside the class -- talk to the student privately once he/she has calmed down
- if the student refuses to leave the class, send another student to call for a VP
- if misbehaviour persists, consider meetings with parents, school counselors, and administration
- speak with colleagues to see if this student is disruptive/hostile in other classes
- keep detailed records of students' actions
- in instances of violence of desctruction of property:
- do not attempt to break up a fight, or apprehend a student
- make a note of the students involved and any witnesses
- inform the school of the situation as soon as it is safe to do so
The Need for Communication (pp. 427-434)
Diagnosis: Whose Problem Is It?
Ask yourself, "Does this student's action tangibly affect my ability to fulfill my role as a teacher?"
- You own the problem if you are blocked from reaching your goals by student action. You must confront the student and seek a solution.
- Your student owns the problem if they are blocking their own success. They must find a solution, but you can offer couseling.
Counseling: The Student's Problem
- Once you have decided whose problem it is you can act.
- If a students brings their problem to you be an empathetic and active listener.
- Listen to their words and their emotions and paraphrase what they said being sure to capture the emotions, intent and the meaning behind them.
- By letting students realize that they have really been heard by their teacher, they can begin to trust that teacher and talk more freely.
- Avoid the tendency to jump in with advice, solutions, criticisms and reprimands before listening to their problem.
Confrontation and Assertive Discipline
Assertive Discipline shows that you care too much about the student and the process of learning to allow the inappropriate behavior to continue. The Assertive Disciplinarian:
- Makes expectations clear;
- Follows through with established consequences;
- Gives Students a straightforward choice;
- Is firm and unhostile when responding.
In contrast, a teacher with a passive response style might ask the student to try or to think about appropriate behaviour, fail to follow through on consequences or ignore inappropriate behaviour altogether. They might ask questions such as: “Why are you doing that?” or “Don’t you know the rules?” or “Sam, are you disturbing the class?”
While a teacher with a hostile response style aggressively makes “you” statements such as: “You should be ashamed of the way you are behaving!” or “You never listen!” or “You are acting like a baby!” This response style also often includes threatening and vague consequences that are impossible to follow through.
Note: Critics have questioned the consequence focus of assertive disciple as undermining student self management.
Student Conlicts and Confrontations It is important for the teacher to communicate to the students that bullying is an unacceptable behaviour in the classroom. Clearly identifying the issue will help in its prevention. A common form of bullying that arises in the classroom is verbal assaults. When acknowledged by the teacher the behaviour is often excused as, “Just teasing,” when quite often it is much more hostile. Barbara Coloroso, author of “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander,” suggests that it is helpful to use two different words to describe two different activities. These activities are teasing and taunting. Teasing is a fun thing to do with friends, where as taunting is designed to hurt another person. Barbara Coloroso created a list of ways to identify taunting:
1. Is based on an imbalance of power and is one-sided
2. Is intended to harm
3. Involves humiliating, cruel, demeaning, or bigoted comments thinly disguised as jokes
4. Includes laughter directed at the target
5. Is meant to diminish the sense of self-worth of the target
6. Includes fear of further taunting or can be a prelude to physical bullying
7. Is sinister in motive
8. Continues especially when targeted kid becomes distressed or objects to the taunt
(Barbara Coloroso, “The Bully, the Bullied, the Bystander,” p. 33).
Summing It Up: Learning Environments for All Students (pp. 434-437)
Research on Different Management Approaches
The meta-analysis of three general perspectives on management (including: Influencing students through listening and problem solving; group management through class meetings and student rewards; and control through rewards and punishments) found no clear conclusions as to their impact on students' behaviours. However, research has shown that a combination of a variety of discipline approaches does have positive effects:
- Recognition for appropriate behavior
- Hints about what is unacceptable
- Discussion about how behavior affects others
- Student involvement in discipline decisions
Culturally Responsive Management
The affects of culture on classroom management most commonly play out as a lack of cultural synchronization between teachers and students. These types of misunderstands might lead to the disciplining of unintentionally disruptive or disrespectful behaviours.
Consider cultural meanings and styles when planning how to manage and respond to students;
- Be a warm demander: show high expectations and great caring for students;
- Use humour and dialect to communicate expectations.
Communicating With Families About Classroom Management
1. Make sure that families know the expectations and rules of your class. (Ex: Provide families with a list of due dates and tips on how to encourage prompt and stress free completion.)
2. Make families partners in recognizing good citizenship. (Ex: Communicate successes, not only problems with parents.)
3. Identify talents in the community to help learning environments in your class. (Ex: Contact community members and parents to help find services, equipment and resources for the classroom.)
4. Seek cooperation from families when behavior problems arise. (Ex: Keep parents informed and listen to their input.)
- One of the comments that got my attention in the 'need for organization' comments at the beginning of our reading material was the final sentence:
the history of the first few weeks of school affects life in the class all year. (p. 405)
- I can relate this to my practicum. I felt my first impressions were crucially important to develop the proper balanced relationship between the students and myself. Upon doing so, I would have a great chance at success with my lessons due to the trust and willingness of the students to allow me to fill their heads with knowledge. That being said, I'm not sure that everyone's experience is the same. I'm interested to hear what various people have to say about the value of "the first few weeks" of class, in reference to class management. Do you need to 'set up' that standard, and if so, how do you do that? As we discussed today, a teacher can have bad classroom management skills and still be considered one of the teachers who guided us to become teachers.
- How do we establish that "behaviour standard" from the beginning?
- Comments? Experiences?
- I know that the kids in my class over practicum where sooo good to me, they could have been monsters but they had a tough ass teacher who also showed them that they deserved excellent lessons and cared about them. The thing that I have noticed over the years is that the kids do not assume the respect your elders stance, an "elder" has to gain the students respect, I think this is healthy! Lance was right - know your student!!! or try this; "go ahead punk make my day"
- --Lisa chupa (talk) 18:56, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
- Side bar: I have a colleague (and a principal) in the Durham District School Board who has recommended me this book The First Days of School. Its humourous, yet practical, providing tons of good techniques for preparing for that first day of school for the rest of your life.
- --Mr. Magoo (talk) 05:11, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
- I had an interesting experience trying to apply my own classroom management techniques in my practicum experience that directly relates to the history of the classroom. One of my biggest challenges was trying to refocus thirty grade nine students in a drama class. Their teacher used a countdown method that was very effective but was hard for me to adopt, so I established my own clapping approach. The difficulty with applying my own method was that the students were already used to the procedures of their teacher and instituting something different was somewhat confusing for them. Therefore, I had trouble using my method and I regularly had to remind them of the new rule. Reflecting back on my experience I think I should have maintained the techniques they were experienced with, to not only establish myself as their teacher but also in fairness to the class.
- I think this situation shows how effective it is to establish classroom management techniques at the beginning of the school year. This class responded well to their teacher’s countdown because they knew what it meant, they understood the consequences for not paying attention, and they had become accustomed to it. Their teacher had created such firm guidelines that when I tried to modify things, it did not work so well.
- I strongly believe that the first few weeks are fundamental to how the rest of the year will go, but similar to Jeff, I am unsure of how to establish those necessary rules and procedures in the classroom. I like the idea of collaborating with the students to determine the guidelines so that they feel valued and part of the process. But I do struggle with how to make the rules clear while still maintaining a positive, fun, and energetic environment.
- --JollyJamie (talk) 23:04, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
- I agree with Jamie that seeking thoughts and ideas from students in regards to what the classroom expectations should be, is key. This way, the teacher is giving the students a voice, which shows them that as a teacher, you value their input and suggestions. In regards to Jeff's quote, I feel that establishing classroom rules in the beginning of the semester is crucial because as an educator, you have to maintain some sort of structure in order for your classroom to run smoothly throughout the semester. What is more important however, is following through and being consistent with your classroom rules. What I found difficult during my practicum was how my associate teacher always expected me to control the class and ensure that students were following the classroom rules. I was to never let any form of disruption go unnoticed. However, I learned that doing this is absolutely crucial because what is the point of establishing classroom rules if you are not going to follow-through with them? If a student gets away with misbehaving once, then he/she would be propelled to misbehave again. This in turn, would influence other students to disrupt the class. Thus, being consistent with your classroom rules and addressing disruptive behaviour is crucial for the general well-being of your classroom.
- In regards to specific classroom-management strategies, I used many non-reactive approaches during practicum. For example, when students were talking out of place, I found “the look” to be most effective when dealing with students who were disruptive, or I would just sit back and wait for students to settle down. It was amazing to see how the students responded to this strategy.
- Another strategy I have learned during my practicum was how important it is to be proactive in trying to prevent the occurrence of disruptive behaviour in the classroom. For example, if students keep busy and are always engaged with an activity, this leaves little time for them to disrupt the class and misbehave. Also, I have learned that establishing a general rapport with students builds trust and respect, where students will show more respect towards you in the classroom. Like Jamie, I too am wondering how a teacher can enforce classroom rules while still maintaining a fun and enjoyable learning environment.
- I agree with Jeff on the point that the first few days with a new class are crucial in establishing a positive environment for the rest of the year.
- One problem I encountered during my practicum was not letting the pressure of making a good first impression (greatly) affect my interactions with the class. It was really difficult for me to put my own concerns about being successful out of my head and focus solely on the needs of the students. I think it is important to remember that our students are often feeling similarly anxious in the first few days of a new year or semester.
- I am not sure I was entirely successful in establishing myself as an authority figure during the first week of my practicum. This was partly because my associate teacher was still finishing up the previous unit and so I was not teaching all the time, but also because I was having trouble seeing myself as the (or an) authority figure. It may seem obvious to some but I think an important step in establishing effective classroom management is being able to see one’s self as “the teacher”. Students will definitely take notice if you appear uncomfortable in that role and, as was the case in my practicum, will respond accordingly.
- To that end, despite the fact that developing a standard of student-teacher (and student-student) interaction is critical within the first few days, it is possible for these interactions to change as time goes by. Once I became more comfortable in my role as the classroom teacher, I found that several classroom management techniques came almost naturally to me, such as “the look”, saying a student’s name out loud when/he she was talking, or asking questions to help re-direct the focus of the class. These techniques were effective with all of my classes – the students (both those being disruptive as well as the rest of the class) seemed to respond to the fact that I was taking charge of the situation and not letting disruptions go by unnoticed. Once secure in both our roles in the classroom and interactions with one another, the atmosphere of the class definitely changed for the better.
- Though I have seen it work successfully – and, in fact, my associate teacher used it for all of her drama classes – I am hesitant about the practice of establishing a “formal” set of rules at the beginning of the year. Rather, though I think this is an important step – as students need to be aware of what behaviour is simply NOT acceptable – in an ideal situation I would place more emphasis on demonstrating the rules and procedures of the classroom – and communicating my expectations to the students through my behaviour.
- As a student, this is my own preference and likely this is why I take the same approach as a teacher. Despite my hesitancy to create formal guidelines for classroom behaviour, I will likely still use the practice in my classroom as – just as I prefer to learn about appropriate behaviour through observation – there will be students who need, and like, to be told ahead of time about what the teacher and the students should expect of one another.
- --Ayanda (talk) 05:20, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
- Also following the thread regarding the first few days of school, I believe that it is important to 'set rules', however I don't mean that one should 'preach' rules and expectations, but rather come up with a list of ways to give and earn respect with regards to classroom management. I believe I would begin by having a class discussion about a positive learning environment: asking the students what type of classroom they work best in including various methods for taking attendance (maybe the teacher is not always the one to do it), activities to start with in order to gain focus and even transitions such as bathroom breaks, moving on to new activities, language, silence, etc.
- This would be a group brainstorming activity where I would validate all responses and comment on the pros and cons from my point of view, which I think would lead into further discussion. I have done this approach with older campers, and it has worked well because you are in many ways allowing the students to have a say and at the same time, you may learn a thing or two. I would end the discussion by establishing what practices will be put into place by using terms such as "can we all come to an agreement?” I believe that this method is not only a useful way to throw out positive reinforcement ideas, but it also allows you to 'manage' each of your classes differently as ideas could vary from class to class. The beauty of this also lies in what other classes come up with - if you hear/find a better 'process', then suggest it the following class with enthusiasm and maybe the overall outcome will be better.
- Let me also add that I would never begin my very first class with 'the classroom contract' (at camp we would write out all the rules and then campers signed the bottom...I think high school students are too old for this...), but rather I would begin with stating 'the entry routine'. As a drama teacher, I wish to continue in the footsteps of each and everyone of my previous drama teachers by asking students to remove their shoes once they enter the class (socks are more than welcome, even dance shoes or a drama shoe) and we begin in a circle sitting on the floor. Introductions are a must, followed by some ice breakers and name games...once people are starting to feel more comfortable we can move on to 'the discussion'. I'm a big fan of those 'tell me about yourself' activities, whether they are in the form or presentations or on paper. I would give homework the first day only because I don't want drama to ever be seen as a 'bird course'. This being said, homework would be nothing more than we've done at OISE: another 'tell me more about yourself/your family/what you like and dislike' sheet so that I can start gearing my lessons to their interests-even the first week.
- --Winchell (talk) 04:44, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
- In line with the various ideas that have branched from Jeff's discussion of the "first few days of class", I would like to highlight the idea of establishing effective communication within the classroom; both between students and between students and teachers. One theory of communication that I found rather interesting and unique was called the, Paraphrase Rule. As explained in chapter 11, paraphrase rule, is a form of practicing and receiving messages by which, a participant is permitted to respond to another participant only after they have summarized the ideas of the person who spoke before them (pg. 428).
- At first, I found this strategy to be quite inventive and clever. I thought it was a great way to get students to not only be active listeners, but to also acquire information summary skills. However, I soon began to visualize how this would play out in a real classroom setting and I quickly began to realize that this theory, although seemly clever and feasible, it is not very realistic.
- From my experience in practicum, one valuable thing that I learned is that there is not enough time in a period to get through all the material that one would hope to accomplish. That said, I can only imagine trying to get through an entire lesson with the PLETHORA of "noise" interrupting the process(ie. student whispers, students' note taking in slow motion, announcements etc.) and then after finally getting through the lesson (if you're lucky) beginning a class discussion with the intention of using this Paraphrase rule in order to teach effective communication skills. Given the attention span of youth today, I cannot see that students would even be listening to their peers' responses in order to effectively summarize a response; and if this process takes as long as I imagine it would, I feel that this strategy would take far too long to hold the students' interest.
- Again, I do enjoy this theory for the development of effective communication skills, however the paraphrase rule seems more of an idealistic vision than an realistic one. Any thoughts?
- --Acardona (talk) 06:44, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
- I am going to continue along the theme of the importance of establishing routine and organization in the classroom early on in the term. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed my first week of my practicum. I couldn't understand why I felt this way, as I have taught in various institutions in the past. After some considerable reflection, I realized the difference was the fact that I was walking into someone else's class. A class settled into their routines (or lack of) and expectations. Although I successfully taught my lessons, I never felt completely comfortable with the set up of the classroom. Students were sitting next to their friends, coming in late to class, eating in class, leaving for long periods at a time and so on. I couldn't gain control, because I was working on someone else's ground. I decided to restructure the class to suit my teaching style. Immediately, the dynamics in the classroom changed. I was able to move easily around the classroom to assess and make eye contact with all students. In addition, I set up classroom rules and expectations. With these few changes, the class ran smoothly and the students reacted to the changes positively. I find it interesting that Jamie and I had completely opposite experiences. I suppose difference between the associate teachers would affect how the class would respond to new ideas or routines.
- I agree, it's extremely important to establish classroom management techniques at the beginning of the school year. What I found to be most challenging during practicum was attempting to implement my own rules & procedures, for example, a good majority of students had difficulty with self-management, they had an extremely difficult time working independently especially on homework assignments. I found that there was no concrete rules established that indicated the repercussions of their actions. Viewing this from the student's perspective: If there are no consequences then why should I be responsible & stay on task?
- I found the section “Prevention is the Best Medicine” (pg. 422-423) offered some good examples of effective teaching. “Group focus” indicated the importance for teachers to involve as many students as possible in activities so that all students have something to do- that’s wonderful! However, I dislike the example that was provided, I think that having the children hold up cards is good for involvement but is a poor method to check for knowledge/understanding.
- If I recall correctly, some studies have shown that people go against their better judgment and agree with the majority in order to “fit in”; even when the answer was clearly wrong. With that said, I wonder if that pertains to children in the classroom as well. CHECKOUT THIS STUDY- SOLOMON ASCH EXPERIMENT: A STUDY OF CONFORMITY (SOCIAL PRESSURES & PERCEPTION)http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/psychology/social/asch_conformity.html
- --SuzieQ (talk) 03:10, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
- It would seem that we're all on board with establishing a set of classroom guidlelines early into the year. This agrees with my practicum experience, where I took over five of my ATs classes in his absence because of a 3-day field trip that he had to attend. Having been left with a room full of 'strangers' without a viable authority figure to turn to, I really felt the need to establish clear guidelines with the students. The first line of defense, for me, proved to be the after class chat. Pulling aside a disruptive student to discuss his actions, their effects on me and his colleagues, and the consequences of further disruptions was very effective in my situation. I also tried to appeal to the students sense of good will ("help me out with this . . .), giving them more ownership and responsisbilty over their actions. In retrospect, I think this clarity helped establish what the positive rapport we enjoyed together.
- That said, this rapport developed slowly. I wasn't unitil the second half of our block that I started to feel a relationship with the students. This is essential, as students seemed less inlclined to act out because of their concern for me. We only have 4 weeks in our classes, so we need to be aware of the effectiveness of some of the aforementioned techniques in that context. We don't really hold any real clout during practicum, and the students know that. That's when you can only hope that you have a supportive AT in your corner to help things along.
- --Maurosavo (talk) 04:59, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
- My practicum experience gave me an interesting insight on just how pivotal "first contact" and the establishment of ground rules can be. Unfortunately, I developed this insight through the difficulty of trying to assert a "kinder, gentler" approach to classroom management than what my AT had established. His method of gaining attention of either an individual or the class was to yell at them, and I found it extremely difficult to get them to respond to anything else. In the end, perseverance did show results, and I was able to quiet the class by simply standing by the board and waiting quietly until I had half of them, then doing a silent countdown on my fingers. I felt that I also made progress with individual students through one on one consultations that tried to get at the root of their frustrations, while explaining how their behavior was effecting my ability to teach the class. It took a lot of effort to get to this point, however. I had expected the students to quickly respond to a "nicer" method, as they clearly disliked being barked at, but they literally had to be re-trained.
Proactive Classroom Management
- Although it is often viewed within its own context, prevention of bullying is a direct function of classroom management. Teachers have the potential to influence the behaviours of their students in negative, neutral and positive ways, according to the behaviours they themselves display. In other words, teachers have the power to encourage or discourage bullying through consistent modeling. Thus, it is very important for teachers to be aware of the signals they send, intentionally or unintentionally, when confronted with critical situations. They must also understand that promotion of tolerance and civil behaviours is an ongoing, proactive effort.
- According to Janet Markus (OISE), a teacher is a model of how to be any number of things. He or she may demonstrate what it means to be a man, a woman, an adult, a leader, etc. Because adolescents are in the process of finding/shaping their identities, the teacher as a role-model is crucial. So, when conflict in the classroom arises, students will watch the teacher’s reaction for cues on what is expected and appropriate behaviour. When a teacher encourages or part-takes in bullying (this still happens in some communities), it is obviously very bad news. More frightening is the thought of a teacher who chooses to ignore hostile behaviours, allowing them to continue. In this situation, aggressive students may not realize what they are doing is wrong because there is no intervention on the part of the teacher. Moreover, victims are likely to feel alienated and vulnerable. This is a scenario of an “absence of classroom management” and it happens for a variety of reasons, most of which are inexcusable. However, it may also occur when a teacher wants to act but lacks the confidence and training to confront questionable behaviour. Considering the persistence of challenges associated with bullying in schools, it is surprising that prevention training is not yet a standard component of teacher education programs. Entering the profession, teachers must realize that providing a safe, student-friendly learning environment is not only a part of good teaching – it is a duty of care.
- For teachers dedicated to achieving enduring positive results, it is necessary to distinguish between reactive and proactive approaches to classroom management. Only one is genuinely effective. Reactive solutions are limited to “damage control” over situations which could potentially be avoided. It is not enough to say “stop” and move on, because students need to understand why certain actions are unacceptable. This understanding is gained over time and requires consistent proactive reinforcement from the outset. For teachers, this means establishing a clear set of rules, expectations and consequences as a foundation for all classroom activities. For example, many high school teachers try to develop a contract of mutual respect during the first day of school. This is an effective way to appeal to the students’ sense of maturity. Furthermore, teachers are in a unique position to shape the learning environment by modeling desired behaviours. Something as simple as making a conscious effort to use the students’ names as often as possible can have a dramatic impact on the kind of classroom culture that will emerge.
- --Artursedov (talk) 05:10, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
- As many others have said, during my History practicum I had a little trouble feeling comfortable in someone else's classroom. Even though my associates and the students were very welcoming, it is challenging to find your own style, without deviating too much from the set classroom atmosphere. My associate was a bit more strict than I am, and as such did not tolerate any sort of chatting during her lesson. If it was a temporary situation I was usually content to let it go, unless it became a lengthy chat. At first, since it did not bother me, I left minor incidents alone. I soon realized that just because I was not bothered did not mean that other students were also okay with the chatting. Haven't we all been in a class where someone was talking in front of us and we just wanted to listen? (Or is this just me?) Anyway, I realized that out of fairness to the rest of the class I would have to be more proactive in stopping this behaviour. However, the aspect of classroom management I found most challenging was what the chapter calls "Withitness", or conveying to the students that you are aware of everything going on in the classroom. At first I could not figure out how I was missing students not paying attention, chatting or taking extended washroom breaks. However I soon realized that often I positioned myself in such a way that I was not able to see pieces of the room, especially when stopping to help a student or group. I found that if I made sure to help students while still facing the rest of the class, the amount of chatting and disruption decreased dramatically! As long as students saw me facing the classroom, they knew I was monitoring them and that they could not get away with anything. I also made an effort to create smooth transitions between activities, which kept more students involved and therefore less likely to cause trouble. Overall, once I realized my students needed me to be less laidback things began to run more smoothly. This is definitely one of the more challenging aspects of teaching for me. - Liz
- As most people have mentioned, it is crucial to develop ground rules right from the start. The first few weeks are essential in establishing respect within the classroom. I really appreciate the comment on rights versus rules (p. 412). Teaching there is a rule for something because it is wrong instead of reinforcing something is wrong because there is a rule is essential in the classroom. It is very important when working with children and youth to help them understand the reasoning behind issues. A better teacher-student relationship and overall classroom culture will be able to be cultivated by allowing students to critically assess information and reflect on the reasoning. It establishes a sense of maturity and allows them to become self-managers as they are given the opportunity to make a decision based on their knowledge of the facts and the consequences of their decisions. I found it interesting to read that although studies have shown students respond in a more positive manner when they feel cared by their teachers, historically, North America schools have tried to regulate behaviour through rules rather than relationships (p. 419).
- During my practicum I found it very difficult to come into a classroom mid-way through the semester after ground rules and classroom expectations were already in place. Although, my AT was very supportive and the experience was positive, I never felt entirely comfortable in the classroom in the beginning. I really commend Michelle for being able to establish her expectations midway through her practicum. I desperately wanted to state my expectations midway during my practicum but I was not able to envision in what manner I could present it. I felt as if it was too late to introduce my expectations. Nevertheless, after the first two weeks of my practicum my AT was away for a few days. During his absence I was given full responsibility of the classroom. This allowed me to be more at ease with the students and actually run the classroom the way in which I felt suited me. Allowing the students to see me in that setting with full control of the classroom and the material, gave them a chance to better connect with me, and propelled our relationship to a much better state. They were able to see I was sincere about my efforts in helping them. After this incident I found they were much more respectful towards me and listened to what I had to say. I also found my confidence in my ability to control the classroom had increased, thus once my AT had returned I was able to be more assertive with my expectations for the group.
- One of the keys to classroom management is that students should be able to detect you are comfortable and have the confidence to maintain control within the classroom however that may be. Therefore, It is vital to identify your own personal pedagogical style and be able to execute it, so that you can be as comfortable as possible in front of the class.
- --Thomas20 (talk) 04:41, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
- For me during my practicum, classroom management was an interesting topic. From the outset I could tell things were not going to be quite as difficult as even your average math class, because my grade 11's and 12's were there by choice, rather than by default (arts courses beyond grade 9 are all 'electives'). Hence, my kids were mostly self-motivated and maintaining and orderly classroom was pretty easy. Yet, there were a few strategies that I found to be very effective that I feel I ought to share (ones I didn't see mentioned in the text).
- I realize that this doesn't come naturally to everyone, but I see it as an integral part of classroom management, especially when it comes to conflicts with students. There is obviously a time for being staunchly firm and unmoving, but before getting there, one can often be firm but employ the use of a joke or some sarcasm that lightens the atmosphere considerably, giving the same effect as a gentle admonition. This works wonders in classes with behavioural problems. In fact, the LAST thing you want to do is get into open conflicts with kids in front of the whole class, because kids will often escalate matters in order to save face--all of their friends are watching. So I believe that the rule of thumb is never to embarrass kids in front of their friends; take them outside into the hall if things are getting out of hand.
- Know Your Class
- What motivates your kids? This was huge for me. My kids were at an all academic school that had no applied streams. Obviously, my kids were motivated by marks. For example, I found that introducing daily activities with the idea that they were going to be worth marks was a hugely motivational factor. Day one (unmarked), they all did half-assed jobs. Day two (marked), they went crazy. Later I managed to get most of the kids improvising (many who had never tried to before), by offering bonus marks. Technically we're not supposed to grant bonus marks, so I couldn't REALLY count them, but hopefully this will remain the best kept secret in existence...
- Kids who aren't motivated by marks are often motivated by the idea of 'life choices'--that everything we do has a consequence, and working hard is in their best interest if they want to become employed. In fact, I think this works much better with older kids (gr 11-12) in spite of their academic stream.
- There is actually a really useful article on classroom management in our TES course pack called “In Good Discipline, One Size Doesn’t Fit All.” I think that as new teachers, many of us are afraid of dealing with classroom management because we want to focus on teaching rather than disciplining our students, but what this article points out is that “sound discipline is a prerequisite for student learning.”
- However, discipline isn’t just detentions, and classroom management doesn’t have to mean demanding silence. For example, rather than yelling at a student who is not on task for “wasting their time,” the article suggests that a good discipline method would be a low-profile intervention, such as walking over to the student and reminding him to start, or offering them assistance with the assignment. This was a method that I found very successful in my practicum, especially with special education and ELL students who needed a little extra one-on-one attention and generally appreciated the assistance. Even if students had missed the instructions because they were talking, I preferred to walk over and explain the task to them, rather than interrupt my lesson by yelling at them for talking. I think it shows more respect for the students, which encourages them to show more respect for the teacher.
- The idea of the “low-profile” intervention also goes along with what Terry Alderman refers to as “Cruise Control.” This is the technique of moving around the room to maintain classroom management. I found this an incredibly effective preventative tool in my practicum. By moving about the room, students refrained from talking and focused on their work; they also felt more comfortable asking questions. The majority of students really appreciate a teacher who cares about them and will respond well when the teacher comes up to them individually to ask them if they have any questions or concerns. In my practicum, my AT encouraged me to call out students names, stand at the front of the room with my arms crossed, or make comments like “if you waste my time I’ll waste yours,” but I found it was much more effective to walk over to groups of students who were talking, and ask them if they needed any help. It may be more work for the teacher and it may not result in instant silence, but in the long run, I think students will be more interested in behaving well and working hard in the class.
- In the article, Alderman also discourages teachers from using their voice as a discipline method for a similar reason, it only encourages student resentment. Therefore, it is better to be positive than negative. Alderman suggests that teachers emphasize the rules as opposed to the problems. For instance, a teacher could yell at a student who calls out an answer instead of raising their hand, or simply thank the student who does remember to raise their hand. However, if students are talking while you are trying to give instructions, it may be necessary to draw attention to them and ask them to be quite for the sake of maintaining order, but this can be done in as respectful a way as possible.
- Finally, teachers need to be consistent with their discipline and need to administer negative consequences when necessary, keeping in mind that fairness isn’t sameness and some students will need more assistance for improvement than others. Alderman encourages teachers to give themselves “permission to use different consequences with different students” and points out that “consistency with individual students is more important than always following the same consequence with every student in the class all the time.” Setting out the rules from day one and letting students know that negative actions will result in negative consequences are essential elements of classroom management. Students will see a teacher who does these things as a teacher who cares about whether or not they are learning. Being “strict” doesn’t make you the bad guy if your students know that the rules are there out of respect for their learning and well-being.
- --Malexander (talk) 04:54, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
- On Classroom Management and Establishing Rules
- Growing up and learning from my experiences from high school definitely had some correlation between the readings we had for this week. In terms of managing the classroom, I always saw the teacher as part messenger, part guide, and part performer. Going to the front of the class everyday and having a handful of eyes on you definitely takes a lot of courage and determination. And if the teacher is aiming for longevity in his/her career, he or she will need a ton of planning. Students really only have a fraction of that already small period given for each subject where they’re actually learning something, and from an entire chapter of material, they might have only retained a few key sentences (or at least you’re hoping that they’re the key ones). In order to limit the amount of chat time, fidget and fuss time, and simple organization time, it is best to have a clearly laid out plan that both the students and the teacher can see, whether it be a list on the board or books/handouts on the tables. That way, the only physical thing that the students are required to do is to pull out a pen, some paper, and make notes. Time is precious in a school classroom, but teachers are expected to be flexible enough to expand/contract the same amount of material to accommodate certain changes or unpredictable events (i.e. late students, students getting called out of class, etc.) And the most tricky and difficult task I think is the rules that teachers have to establish. I agree with the author’s point in that the rules should be laid down right at the beginning of the year, and I also believe that the rules should be flexible but never overridden. Part of the whole “gaining respect” part mentioned earlier in this discussion I think relies on making these rules firm and fair, and by letting the students know that you’re a professional and that you will not tolerate certain things allows them to recognize that you have already set a standard or value to their learning and that their safety, learning, and comfort in the classroom is important to you. The minute students start to see a teacher not care or cave in on a certain student just to maintain peace for that period or moment in class is when the students find a crack in the teacher’s structure, and as I remember in school, if the students start to find certain things in the class difficult they will take it out on the teacher and start to take advantage of the teacher’s weaknesses. At the end of the day, students would rather be at home or with friends, talking about their own lives rather than what happened in class. It is for this reason that teachers need to make their classes exciting, engaging, and interesting for the students in order to keep their attention and help them remember the material. Finally, setting a routine is another helpful strategy that is vital in elementary systems but as teachers move into the higher years it starts to dwindle.
- ----Irenedongas (talk) 05:46, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
- SOME DIFFICULT QUESTIONS
- Wow! This is the first opportunity we’ve really had, for the most part, to read each others’ work, and I’m impressed with how thoughtful and well articulated everyone is. People’s commentaries were very stimulating, especially (for me), Lisa’s, Malexander’s, and Artur’s. Key concepts that I see over and over here include: consistency, follow-through, reflection, routines, fairness, and ‘intelligent discipline’ rather than reaction. People made some really good points.
- I agree (i.e. w/ Lisa) that nipping misbehaviour in the bud is important, and that following through with expected consequences is essential if the rules are to be taken seriously, and people respected all ‘round. But it’s true that’s hard to do in someone else’s classroom.
- In my first practicum placement (although in almost every other respect my AT was great), I noticed that my AT did not exhibit that ‘withitness’ quality. Instead, she would either not notice, or not respond, to rising levels of horseplay from the other side of the room from where she was occupied, while I couldn’t imagine how she wouldn’t notice it. It would build and build until she suddenly became aware and then yelled at the kids. Which was not very effective, and not preventative in the least, and really was unfair given that she allowed them to escalate their rule breaking. After which she would proceed to lecture/complain, asking rhetorically why they just wouldn’t behave, why they had to do such silly things, etc. Again, not effective and just caused even me to want to tune out – she wasn’t even giving them a directive, just venting, really.
- As Artur noted, reactive solutions are limited to “damage control” over situations that could have been prevented. Many times in that context I wanted to intervene with something more firm and consistent, and eventually (after some candid discussions with her, and after developing some classroom rapport) I got comfortable enough to do so from time to time if necessary. Results were mostly positive, though they didn’t always heed me; I think one of the most effective techniques in that art classroom was simply to circulate and move myself sometimes into the proximity of whatever ‘event’ was going on until they felt uncomfortable carrying on like that with an adult nearby.
- I think Malexander made some brilliant points: “discipline isn’t just detentions”, and “fairness isn’t sameness”. Most importantly, there is never a good reason to embarrass or humiliate a student. Apart from the fact it is unethical for our profession, it is also not effective. For, not only will it likely have a negative effect and just sow resentment and future resistance, but it can also be extremely damaging, depending on the person and the circumstances (i.e. might reinforce a larger pattern in which they have been similarly devalued, labeled, have low self esteem, and continue to act out – vicious cycle). But sadly, we have all seen authority figures – parents, teachers, cops, etc.- who seem to indulge in that kind of humiliation of people they don’t like. Which is really more about their insecurity and need to control. As Patch Adams (well, Robin Williams) said – ‘you don’t have to be a prick to get results’! Problem is that in the general population discipline is too often seen as synonymous with punishment (if imposed from outside), or as self-denial (if self imposed). The French philosopher Michel Foucault, who was a historian of the development of social institutions like prisons and asylums (which schools bear more than a passing similarity to) actually wrote a book called ‘Discipline & Punish’. In it, he traces the cultural evolution of prison systems in Western societies, along with the generalization of their values & principles in the creation of similarly functioning institutions like hospitals, schools, factories, police, military. The key concept here is REGULATION. The kind of pervasive, rational (but not necessarily reasonable) regulation which inspires rebellion; which “…cannot fail to produce delinquents.” (Foucault, 1977:266)
- In this sense, I think Artur’s discussion of bullying and alternately modeling as positive human beings is terribly important. Simply because bullying often goes on in very nuanced ways, with subtle, not very obvious causes and effects. Indeed, I tend to think that in some ways, the attitudes underlying bullying are almost inherent in the social system (especially the kinds of institutions we will work in), even if that is often subtle or submerged. I mean, where does bullying come from? Do we locate it only in the individual and see it as a result of a character flaw and maldevelopment? Everyone is a product of his/her environment, after all. What about the social formation of bullies? There really is not a fixed boundary b/w an individual mind and society, but rather a constant intersubjectivity with alternating moments of relative solitude.
- The point? That our society, founded as it is on competitive, individualist, indeed aggressive principles, communicates something in the way of values and permissiveness that shapes institutions like schools and their ‘inmates’ (teachers & students alike). Indeed, it has been said that capitalism, if left to it’s worst impulses, essentially becomes fascism.
- Farfetched? I remember watching with a sense of absurd horror on the news yesterday as George Bush wound up his mid-east ‘peace’ tour by selling billions in advanced weaponry to Israel and Arabia. There’s something out of kilter that I’m trying to put my finger on, something very sick, that makes me ask, ‘why are we so surprised at the kind of bullying and behaviour problems that go on with our youth’? And, how do we instill civil, cooperative, creative, compassionate values in them surrounded by much more dominant, conflicting messages and examples in society, as above. More pointedly, is conflict inherent in the school system, in the structures we are being trained to reproduce, and thus compelling the very misbehaviour we are talking about managing? Related here is Chomsky’s notion of ‘cultural managers’ (teachers, professors, police, lawyers … professional classes with their own special privileges) who are often so invested in (and rewarded by) the system that they can't or won't see the underlying nature of the system they administer.
- Very relevant I think to notions of classroom management, as through this, we’re also creating future citizens who are not only learning math, or art, or drama, or history, but are learning more than anything else to be disciplined according to the needs of a mobilized workforce.
- And who may (as teenagers at least) rebel against that. Weinstein notes that “teaching children that something is wrong because there is a rule against it is not the same as teaching them that there is a rule against it because it is wrong, and helping them to understand why this is so” (Weinstein, 1999) (412). Nice point. alternately, does this mean , as authority figures, we assume the school system and curriculum is always benevolent, always ‘right’? Can we justify that? Do we even question it very deeply? Because many of the ‘problem’ students probably do, often being bright enough to see and experience the systemic contradictions for themselves. As Chomsky said:
- “These [hierarchies] all have to be questioned. Sometimes I think you can find that there's a legitimate claim to authority … But the burden of proof is on the authority. So for example, some form of control over children is justified. It's fair to prevent the child from putting his or her hand in the oven, let's say, or from running across the street in traffic. It's even proper to place clear bounds on children … They want to understand where they are in the world. However, all of these things have to be done with sensitivity and with self-awareness and recognition that any authoritarian role that one plays, or that someone else plays, does require justification. It's not self-justifying. (Noam Chomsky, 1994: http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/rab/rab-8.html).
- So there, I’m taking a critical view and playing the devil’s advocate, throwing the gauntlet down, as there are things said between the lines here that are not at all explicit in the reading itself or in our commentaries on the reading. I’m speaking, of course, about … the hidden curriculum – underlying institutional values and priorities that may be more in the interests of society’s ruling classes than the average student – particularly those from more disadvantaged backgrounds or communities who attend inner city schools in TDSB. Lance got us thinking about some of this, including concerted cultivation and class differences …
- But I also want to admit that I really like this text – very accessible, and I find the concrete examples of problem situations (i.e. Teacher’s Casebook, and Stop/Think/Write scenarios) very practical, posing challenging and realistic dilemmas for the emerging teacher. - James C
- Class Management through Progressive Discipline & Differentiated Teaching
- Here's a couple of things I tried with a 'difficult' grade 9 English class. A bit of background first. My AT had told me that this class was her worst in years, and that somehow, prior to my arrival, she had "lost" them, and could not get them back. To this day I'm not exactly sure what she means by that. In her defense, yes, there were 4 or 5 very disruptive students—one of whom, D, she told me to not waste any time on because she was sure he was going to be suspended any day—and, from what I could tell, the class was lost, although I'm not entirely sure why...but I'll guess: one, my AT was afraid of them, literally scared that they might physically harm her; two, my AT didn't want to put in the time and effort necessary to try anything more sophisticated than "just getting through it" to quote her.
- Here's a few things I tried.
- Progressive Discipline
- I learned their names in two days (admittedly, this is much harder in a non-semestered school), and did the attendance daily. I greeted as many students by name as I could each day as they entered the classroom. I rearranged the desks in a circle and reassigned seats due to a random draw of numbered slips of paper. When I was not teaching the class, I sat at the front and made eye contact to quell disruptions which worked only some of the time, or, I would circulate to help out when they were doing deskwork. I did not actually do a lesson with this class until the third week of my practicum, however, once I did start, I set out to try a few new things. I roamed the classroom and tried to solicit response from students by calling on them by name. (Yes, the best way to do this is to use the students name at the beginning of the question.) And, I used physical proximity on occasion when certain groups grew disruptive. All of the above tactics had a positive affect. It never got to the last stage as indicated in the text book, the part about sending the student to the VP. Even if it were my classroom, this would be an absolute last option.
- My problems with this approach were three-fold: 1) My AT was critical of any approach toward discipline as being confrontational, anything outside of learning their names and changing the seating plan that is; 2) I had so little continuity with this class that I never really felt as if they were mine for long enough establish any degree of intimacy which is, I feel, an important aspect of effective, or nuanced, progressive discipline;3) I was a Student Teacher with no real punitive authority so I had little to say when the students challenged a request I might make with an "is this being marked?", or "but what if I don't want to?"
- One last word on my above comment on nuanced progressive discipline. I did have a chance to do a little of this, and will definitely try this in the future. In fact, it was the one part of my curriculum which came close to something like an authentic teaching voice I would like to develop once in the field.
- Here's what I did. In the first two weeks my hands were full with the other two classes I was with, so I couldn't really be front and centre with the grade 9's, but, I did ask my AT if I could mark and hand back an early quiz they did. I paid attention to the marks and came away surprised by the good test results with a few of these troubled students, D, in particular who scored a surprising 8 out of 10. As I handed the papers back I made a point of complimenting the disruptive students who scored well. From then on I frequently reminded these students—especially when they'd become exasperated over a deskwork task—that they were smart, that I knew so because I had marked their tests, and that they could do the work in front of them if they put their mind to it. These personalized comments generally motivated them to put their heads down and get to work for a little while at least. I'm confident that, with prolonged contact and repetition I could have got them self-motivated in a meaningful way. It takes time though.
- Differentiated Teaching
- My AT had a pretty comfortable routine with this class. She sat at the front of the room and asked for volunteers to do class reading in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette. Day after day she did pretty much the same thing. Yes, there was one field trip, we took the class to see a production of the play at Hart House, which was a good idea. It meant that there was at least some academic frame of reference (a shared experience enjoyed by at least half of the class) the teacher could draw upon with subsequent discussions of the play.
- When I came in we started to do activities, which she saw as a way of having some fun. For some reason fun was what she thought the class needed. There was no discipline, no respect, no expectations, and very little learning going on from what I could see, so I was not very optimistic about "fun" as a solution to her many problems with this class. She pulled a few activities off the internet which were fun-ish momentary diversions that offered no real teachable moments and did little to either build confidence or motivate her students...things like Make Your Own Shakspearean Insult, or competitive games of tag and such.
- The one activity I had some success with was something like a choral reading activity in which I made a script out of two similar speeches from the play intercut with one another. The students were broken into two groups and instructed to perform the script in whatever way they wanted. I suggested that they could assign parts, or read in unison, or repeat key words, or treat it like a song lyric, then gave them 10 minutes to work on it before their presentations. The presentations were not very good, although a few of the afforementioned troubled students really did rise to the challenge and display skills I had no idea they possessed. One student—a smart-alecky and oafish football player—proved himself to be an excellent director. He asked me for clarification about my "objectives" (his word), then took out a pencil, marked the script up, and assigned parts. Another student, one with a severe "impulse-control" problem, became extremely focused for the performance and did what actors do, stand still, face front, speak clearly, and project. Because I had used a threat to initially motivate them—"Yes, this will be marked"—I had to make good on my promise, sort of. My AT said it was stupid to make such a threat because she had no idea how I would mark such a thing so there was no way she could possibly assign a mark. Further, she thought the exercise was a complete failure, so why dwell on bad news. Not much fun in that is there? So I struck a compromise. I asked if I might be able to simply site a few cases of exemplary effort. I did that. I complimented both of these bad boys, and mentioned 3 specific points of on-task behavior for each student in front of the class, and that was it. It had an immediate effect on their mood and focus for the rest of the class which, unfortunately marked the last day of my practicum.
- --Jameso'reilly (talk) 06:03, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
- Classroom management, like management of all types, involves the development of rountines, policies, and organization. We have all been in a management position at one point in time. Whether it was managing ourselves, or managing our kids, we all have the potential to create an environment where our students, employees, kids, or ourselves can stay focused and achieve goals. In the case of classroom management it is important to understand that we are in a controlled environment, and therefore have to make up our own rules. These rules should be consistent with our expectations of how we think our students should act. It is therefore imperative that the "rules" of the classroom are well known and clear.
- The dynamic of the classroom is very similar to that of an environment in the workforce. The first few days at a new job consist of learning the policies, rules, and consequences of failing to follow the two, that are unique to that job. The students need the same immediate guidance so they understand what is expected of them. As time goes on it is imperative that these rules and regulations are consistently followed so they don't become laughable. A habit will build in the students if they receive positive or negative feedback in relation to the rules.
- The difference to the workforce becomes apparent when classroom management breaks down. A student can not be "fired" like an emplyee can and it shouldn't be a teachers goal to give up on them. It is in these cases that classroom management becomes difficult. As a teacher and a leader , we have to understand and believe that their is a solution to almost all of these situations. However, in any extreme case it is the external resources that will benefit us the most. Pin point the problem that is evident in a particular situation of classroom management and search for a solution. A great manager is not only a guide but also the path that the guided walk on.
- In my experience, I’ve found there are many different forms of effective classroom management, and these vary from teacher to teacher. I’ve met teachers who see any peep from a student as an unforgivable act of defiance, and seen teachers who don’t bat an eyelid at seeing students talk openly while the they're lecturing, as long as the students aren’t being “openly disruptive.” I think that part of the first year or three of being a full-time teacher is spent finding out our comfort zone for management. After we’ve found this comfort zone (through a lot of trial and error of course), then we can start to determine how to properly create a classroom structure that enforces our ideas about a classroom, and try different techniques to reach our desired goals for classroom management.
- My AT had an interesting story about finding his footing in classroom management. In his first few years as a teacher, he tried to be as “nice” as possible, because that was what he thought a teacher should be. He would never raise his voice, he would allow extensions for material well past the due date, and generally behave doormat-ishly. After a few years, he was completely exhausted and frustrated. He then realized that he was being inauthentic in the classroom, and the students could sense this, and when he made the decision to be more authentic in his teacher personality, and allow himself to act like a normal human being instead of a “teacher,” he could then focus more energy on creating an atmosphere of genuine inclusivity and teamwork in the classroom.
- Of course, throughout our careers, we’ll be learning different classroom management techniques, and learning more and more about what we feel constitutes good classroom management. But the important thing, in my opinion, is to always be “checking in” with yourself. Know where you’re coming from, and allow yourself to be constantly modifying your procedures and rules as the years go on. Of course, it would probably be wise to modify them on some sort of schedule – maybe a yearly or bi-yearly “control review” would be a good way to check in with where you are currently on classroom management policies.
- During my Practicum I was responsible for a fully integrated class, which was comprised of wonderful group of students possessing diverse inherited characteristics, differing levels of ability, and facing unique individual challenges.
- One such student, "X”, had been going through rough times. X had a violent temper, and earlier in the year had been briefly institutionalized. X was still undergoing psychiatric assessment, and had difficulties behaving and maintaining focus in many classes.
- To this point, I hadn’t had any run-ins with X. This was in part because of my anticipatory approach to classroom management, having well-laid guidelines and addressing escalating issues before they occur. I also pride myself in being a calm and even-tempered individual, with a kind and gentle demeanor. I was always able to direct the class without raising my voice; no doubt this helped me to “win them over”. I made regular use of a “Tibetan Singing Bowl” to capture their interest and attention, and signal transitions between tasks. This tool worked remarkably well in quieting down the class.
- One day, X had an altercation with another student. I saw X being escorted to the office as I headed to my next class. I asked X what had happened; X responded “That (expletive) was bad-mouthin’ my friends, so I got in their face!”
- My teacher associate was not able to come to school that day, and so a substitute teacher was provided for my fourth period class. I informed the substitute in advance that my third period class was on the opposite side of the school, and I had to rush to get to class. The substitute teacher volunteered to take attendance.
- X got to class moments before I did. X made a grand entrance, swearing up a storm, expressing frustration with the school staff and the student whom they had fought. The substitute took exception to X’s behavior; X became mouthy with the teacher as well.
- When I arrived in class, I had to diffuse the situation. I asked X if he/she wanted to talk to me in private; X did not. Rather, X immediately began to launch on a tirade. I allowed X to voice their frustration, and that diffused much of their anger. I acknowledged that I could sense X's frustration, and that I would let X sit out some of the day’s activities, if it made them feel better. I was very calm and reassuring, and X quieted down.
- I pointed out that it was inappropriate to have challenged the supply teacher, and I asked X to apologize to him. X refused. I told X that I recognized they had been having a really rough day, and that I empathized. However, if their challenging behavior continued, I would have to send them down to the office. X relented, and said that they would apologize to the teacher, but “didn’t really mean it.” X also expressed a desire to “get on with the class”. I persisted, and suggested that when they made a proper apology to the teacher, we could get on with things. X apologized, and we moved on. The class progressed smoothly, and the students seemed to approve of the way I had handled the situation. Because of this, I must admit, I felt more assured and confident in my role as teacher.
- My class wanted to have a party for me on my last day, both as a going away present and to celebrate my birthday. The children indicated that they would miss me, that they thought that I would make a great teacher, and that they wished I would return to their school. X was surprised to discover this was my last day, and wrote a note for me: “Happy Birthday. Sorry for all the troubles. Hope you had an amazing day!”
- I think that the approach I took with X was the correct one. I did not allow their behavior to get me upset, and I realized that it was motivated by factors outside of the classroom. Ultimately, X seemed to recognize my patient, persistent, and gentle demeanor as benevolent and genuine.
Managing an Arts Classroom - Whole New Ballgame
- I had it so easy during my first (English) practicum. These Grade 10s already respected my AT, for the most part, and all I had to do was pick up where she left off. My teaching style was just different enough from hers for the students to buy in easily, even if it was just out of curiosity to see where this student teacher was going. I think I also came across as more hip and generally pop-culture savvy, which seemed to score a lot of points with my classes. The class' attitude was so predominantly positive that the few disruptive kids were easily handled without ever having to stray too far from the lesson. I though I was some kind of classroom management genius.
- Then came my second (Drama) practicum. I'm not sure if the Music and Visual Arts teachers experienced the same thing, but running my Arts classroom was something else entirely. Order had to be created and maintained without the literally structural support of academic classroom architecture. Most of my smooth management techniques from first semester were now useless. My biggest challenge turned out to be what the textbook calls "movement management" (p. 423). With the Grade 10 classes doing either solo or group work towards performance presentations, keeping lessons and the in-class work moving smoothly required vigilance unlike anything I had to do in my English class. I was amazed at my AT's high level of withitness and frustrated at my lack of it. It took me until the end of my third week to start picking up on the signals flying around the room while I worked with one individual or group. Eventually, I found withitness matched with overlapping. Keeping all thirty students in their five groups busy meant I had to be aware of what everyone was up to in every corner.
- As at least of couple of others have mentioned in this section, this took time and the first week and a half felt like pulling teeth. However, once I stopped rushing into delivering information, activities actually started flowing more quickly. My AT pointed out that I was starting to give instructions for activities or assignments before I had the whole class' attention. Clouds parted, angels sang, and I experienced what "epiphany" means. The next day, I started establishing a routine of not beginning any new thing until the whole class was quiet. This often resulted in the more motivated students shushing the less motivated ones so that we could move forward. This made my life easier because the students were starting to police their own behaviour. Although at first it felt as though this strategy took more time than before, I realized I was actually saving time through not having to repeat myself multiple times to those who hadn't heard me when I spoke over top of their conversation. Not rushing into the lesson is now part of my bag of tricks.