Whenever I have spoken to anyone who has ever been in a classroom, a common word of advice they all seem to give me is have good classroom management. It seems that the ability to manage behavior and environment in a classroom, is almost if not; more important than the lessons we as educators prepare everyday. Through our systems we teach and model not only good behavior but also how to be respectful and courteous to others. This is a key component to my educational philosophy of Social Reconstructionism, because I hold fast that we educate our students not just so that they have successful lives, not only so they can be better off than ourselves, but that as a whole they help make our society better. With that in mind, my classroom management plan consists of three main strategies preventive, supportive, and corrective. These strategies focus not just on making my classroom function, but also on teaching my students to reach their highest potential as societies future.
Preventative strategies refer to thoughts, which stop, contain, or head off classroom management problems before they even begin. One of the basic strategies I would implement in my classroom would be to give students a voice and allow them to talk about the rules and why they are important (Reading, 2001). In this way students would have a say in their education and their environment. If we expects students to treat others with respect, than we must show them that we respect their opinions, and that they all have a right to a pleasant environment.
Next, I would set a number of getting to know you activities where students not only get to know each other, but practice talking about their differences and more so that peoples perceptions even in a small class can be widely different (Nelson, 1993). In this way we begin to break the stereotypes teenagers sometimes have, and more so make the class room an open form to ask and explore social questions.
Another preventive strategy is to build a community where students interact with one another feeling supported and trusted to make right choices (Coloroso, 2003). If the community self corrects bad behavior while at the same time supports good behavior, students will feel free to explore the system with out adult intervention. Peer reviewing is a less threating experience and students are quicker to lower their affective filters.
A good preventative strategy can also come from the understanding I am a quirky human being who have likes and dislikes. I know that I don’t like loud classroom environments. Yet, I also don’t want my students to feel like they can’t ask each other questions or discuss topics freely. So one preventative strategy could be to know that sometimes I could be asking kids to conform not because they are being disruptive, but for my own quirks (Gorden, 1989). To eliminate that I could play music, and ask kids to self monitor so that the noise does not go above the IPod. In this way I’m not shushing the class for my own likes and dislikes while still establishing an inviting environment.
Another preventive strategy I would implement would be to follow Alfie Kone’s what to look for in a good classroom. More specifically I would make sure that the environment had a few of his suggestions. For example, I would make sure that the desks were set up not in a front facing position but rather in as close to a circle as I could manage so that I’m not the center of attention. In this way students can see each other and interact easily. Also, I would make sure that the walls were covered with all the kids work, so that they can display what they have done. Not only that but I would allow students to create other wall decorations so it feels more like their environment.
The last preventative strategy I would use would be to allow students to tell me their needs, and how I might be able to help them be successful in my class. I would take into consideration any requests they might have and do what I can to help them (Charles). Often times we don’t take others needs into account. If we want our children to be kind courteous members of society then we need them to know people care able them. We need to model that so that they can model it as teens then adults.
The Next major part of any classroom management strategy need to include a supportive component. Once you create a safe environment for learning one must continue to cultivate that relationship with students. We have to reinforce and model good behavior everyday. One strategy I would use to do that is through the use of none verbal communication (Jones, 1970). Often times all we need to do in order to manage a classroom is move around the room. We can learn to watch over our class with being an over bearing guard. Often times, moving over to a group and praising their work or offering suggestions is enough to keep everyone one on task. It also teaches students that your interested in their learning and not just there to burdening them with tasks.
The next strategy I would use would be to give each student positive feedback everyday. Students seem to have difficulty giving and receiving compliments especially to other students (Nelson, 1993). So to create a classroom where kids can feel appreciated, I would compliment or say something kind to each of my students each day. This doesn’t have to be a grand jester, but rather can be accomplished by simply standing by the door before each period greeting each student.
The next supportive strategy I would use is to continue to keep my students quirks and individuality in tacked. Often times as educators we struggle to reach the student who never talks. Yet, we ignore the chronic hand riser because we feel we give them too much attention. Regardless, if the hand riser need extra help, or they know every answer, we need to support every student in our class. They need to see their question or answer is valid and not just dismissed. (Jones 1970). So while we still need to reach the quiet ones we also need to continue to respond the talkers.
Another strategy I would implement would be to keep my lessons varied and dynamic. By this I mean I need to create lessons that are not just engaging but that also differentiate in order to keep students interested in learning (Glasser, 1985). If students are interested in what they are doing then they are less likely to act out or misbehave.
A final component to my supportive strategy would be to talk to students and ask them about their lives. Students are more likely to care about others if they feel like others care about them (Kohn, 2001). Again these don’t have to be huge conversations but taking time to find common ground or asking about students likes or dislikes can help support the on going classroom community.
The final Major component to my classroom strategy is a corrective component. I believe we all want our students to be as engaged and excited about their learning as we are. Yet, sometimes students in their quest to become adults, over step their bounds. When this happens we as educators have to step in and help correct their behavior.
The first strategy I would use in correcting behavior would be to treat the incident not the student. I believe that every incident needs to be handled with dignity and respect. That means not making a public spectacle of the student or the bad behavior. Students should not be reprimanded in front of the class if it can be avoided. This doesn’t mean that I would allow the bad behavior to continue, rather that the subsequent discussion doesn’t have to take place from across the room (Meddler, 1983). Students need to learn to treat people with respect and modeling how to do that is not only tactful but also respectful to them and the class.
The Next strategy I would use is to model to my students how to let things go. That is, if I had to reprimand you yesterday, that does not mean we cannot start over tomorrow (Gordon, 1989). As adults, we learn to let petty arguments go. We learn to take responsibility for our actions and move forward. Often time’s students hold a grudge against their teachers. This hinders not only the relationship but also the students learning process. What we need to do than is show the students that we have moved on by talking to them, asking them about their day.
Another strategy I would use would be to hand over the responsibility of the student’s life back to them. For example, if a student were being disruptive I would ask them to leave my room and come back when they believe they can handle the room again (Medler, 1994). In this way I could make the student choose which action they want to take while still saying you can’t take the negative action in my classroom. This can be done with respect while also ultimately allowing the student to choose his or her own discipline.
The next strategy I would take follows the philosophy of the golden rule and that is to do on to others as you would have done onto you. I believe that students and teachers need to have a measure of self-control and responsibility for their actions (Coloroso,1994). With that being said we need to as educators take a moment each day and think to our selves did I handle that situation in a way that would have been respectful to me, or my child. If we are going to model how to be respectful members of society we need to start by showing that respect to everyone in every situation.
Another strategy I would use comes from Robyn R. Jackson who runs seminars and is invited to teacher’s classrooms for management help. Jackson strategy is to look at what currency students bring In order to help facilitate learning. She says that students and teachers often bring different kinds of currency into the classroom. Teachers have one expectation as to how learning should take place while students clearly have another. The goal then as an educator is not to just dismiss student’s currency, or learning style, as bad behavior because it doesn’t translate well with ours. Rather, as facilitators of learning we should offer students a ways to cash in what they bring and help them succeed by at the very least meeting then in the middle.
Finally the last strategy I would use involves giving students the ability to discuss how they will solve their own problem. In this win win approach students take primary responsibility for their actions and decide how they can correct their behavior (Gordon, 1989). In this way they have to examine not only what they did but also how saver the punishment should be. By giving students respectful control we can teach them personal responsibility.
As Educators we sometimes forget that what we are doing is teaching more then content. It is not knowledge for knowledge sake rather it is knowledge with a purpose. We want our students to learn to be better people, to respect others and to learn personal responsibility. We use content to expand their perceptions of the world so that their futures and their realities can be grander than ours. Managing a classroom than is not about discipline, but rather about showing them how to test their own limits in a safe environment.