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EDCI 553 Classroom Management Plan
Transcript of EDCI 553 Classroom Management Plan
Carson, R. (2003). Beyond competitive schooling. EDCI 552 Coursepack. Montana State University, Northern Plains Transition to Teaching, Bozeman, Montana.
Deiro, J.A. (2003). Do your students know you care? Educational Leadership, 60(6), 60-62.
Glasser, W. (1986). Choice Theory in the Classroom. New York: Harper Perennial.
Levin, J., & Nolan, J.F. (2010). Principles of Classroom Management: A Professional Decision-Making Model. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
MacGrath, M. (1998). The Art of Teaching Peacefully. London: David Fulton Publishers.
Montessori, M. (1967). The absorbent mind. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
According to William Glasser's Choice Theory, this should be the primary focus of the educator, as “we cannot pressure any student to work if he does not believe the work is satisfying…. We are far too concerned with discipline, with how to 'make' students follow rules, and not enough concerned with providing the satisfying education that would make our over-concern with discipline unnecessary” (Glasser, 1986, p. 12). My own natural enthusiasm for mathematics is a good starting point for piquing student interest, but is insufficient to draw in a large percentage of students. I plan on bringing in a wide variety of my connections within the community to talk about how they use math in their jobs, even if the math they use does not fall under the purview of the particular class I am teaching. For those students who share my enthusiasm, I keep books from my graduate study on a bookshelf in the room so these students can get a taste for where math goes.
My philosophy is to reward even the smallest amounts of effort and build off of those. Guiding this philosophy is the following passage from one of our EDCI 552 readings:
"Successful students can do things better and more easily than unsuccessful students. If all we see is the quality of the product, we can actually set up a situation in which no student really ends up trying harder, going further, or engaging in really challenging work. [The Adlerians] suggest we focus on the quality of the effort and work to keep making that effort better, more focused, and more skillful. Students who learn to focus on effort will tend to continue improving the quality of the product. If we can make that kind of behavioral pattern a habit, then competence is bound to keep growing”(Carson, 2003, p. 8).
I also believe that academic motivation can be increased via participation in extracurricular activities; in these settings, students can develop new skills and feel more connected to the school community. On a more or less weekly basis, I plan on highlighting the benefits of joining various school teams and clubs, and hope to have the time to be a coach or advisor for at least one of them.
When a Student is Disengaged
Mathematics is difficult to learn in isolation, so I try to incorporate collaborative learning into the curriculum as much as possible. A good way to initiate this process is to have a conversation in which we explicitly discuss what peer support looks like in a high school math classroom: “Pupils brainstorm in small groups all the ways in which they can help each other and then ideas are shared, the teacher acting as scribe on the board. Later the summary of ways pupils can help can be displayed in the classroom, referred to as necessary, and updated when appropriate” (MacGrath, 1998, p. 77).
“Supposing we study the phenomenon of error in itself; it becomes apparent that everyone makes mistakes. This is one of life’s realities, and to admit it is already to have taken a great step forward. If we are to tread the narrow path of truth and keep our hold upon reality, we have to agree that all of us can err; otherwise we should all be perfect. So it is well to cultivate a friendly feeling towards error, to treat it as a companion inseparable from our lives, as something having a purpose, which it truly has” (Montessori, 1967, p. 246).
A positive learning environment is one in which genuine progress takes place, in that students acquire critical thinking skills that are applicable in all domains of their lives. This does not happen unless students possess the confidence to take risks, learn from mistakes, and cultivate some sort of emotional detachment from the ideas that pass through their consciousness. Strong communication skills will be vital to their future success as well, so I will respond as often as possible to students’ verbal statements with, “Can you explain further why that is true?”
To move students towards a mindset of resilience, I would like to start presenting work that I have saved from past years’ classes and ask, “What is admirable in this work and what needs to be improved upon? What mistakes were made and how would you try to help this student fix that error?” With time, I hope to find students who are willing to have their work critiqued by their peers. If handled well, these peer review sessions will encourage more and more students to put their thinking on display, but I will never force a student to present their work if they don’t want to.
Teaching Resilience, Breeding Confidence
•To learn names, I set up seating charts and study them before the school year even starts, along with photos in the online grade book. This year, I knew all of my students' names by the end of the first day of school, which made them immediately feel valued.
•To get to know the students, I give them a questionnaire on the first day that includes questions like “Do you think there is anything that I could do to make it easier for you to learn math?”, “What do you imagine your life looking like ten years from now?”, and, “Is there anything else that you would like me to know about you (I will not share any information with anybody else)?”. These questionnaires can be referred to at various points during the year to get a more complete picture of the student once I know them as more than just a name and a face.
•Each day, I stand at the door as students enter the room and greet them, and I will occasionally pull a random student aside and ask how they are doing.
•I eat lunch in my classroom every day that I don't have a meeting scheduled, and make myself available before and after school to answer questions.
Getting To Know Students
Relationships are not merely central to the smooth operation of the classroom, they ARE the classroom. It is the first thing that a stranger to a classroom picks up on, and it is the component of the education process that will stick with students for the rest of their lives. They will remember that I cared about them far longer than they will remember the quadratic formula.
“If a child in your class habitually causes you problems, he or she is not the problem (even though it may feel like that) – he or she has a problem” (MacGrath, 1998, p. 10). In Judith Deiro’s (2003) observation of teachers who were rated as extremely caring by their students, she noticed that “[they] extended to students the opportunity to make their own mistakes and live with the consequences without harsh judgment. They approached discipline as an opportunity to teach rather than punish” (p. 62).
Students expressing anger need not be feared or controlled; rather, they need to be taught how to deal with their emotions effectively: “Many pupils are frightened by their own anger and dislike sudden outbursts in which they feel out of control. Understanding what anger is and learning that it is possible, with practice, to choose a different kind of behavior can, therefore, be a relief to some. Discovering that they have a right to anger alongside a responsibility to manage it constructively in school and in society can come as a revelation to many: often they have been told not to be angry at all. Anger suppressed in this way can frequently burst out inappropriately or with inappropriate force, when someone appears to overreact to a relatively insignificant incident” (MacGrath, 1998, p. 96).
It is imperative that I always remain calm (awareness of my own posture, breathing and emotional state is essential here), and that as I address the student, I focus on the learning that should be taking place rather than the behavior that shouldn’t be. I will only remove a student from the classroom if they are posing an immediate threat to the well-being of their peers. Every student possesses the capability to calm down and behave appropriately, and it is that aspect of the student that I will speak to.
When students know what to expect before they even walk into the classroom, it instills a feeling of security, which is a necessary foundation for not only engaging with the education process at a basic level, but- more importantly- being willing to take risks. Within these routines, though, there is a small amount of flexibility so that students can align the academic requirements of the moment with their mood at the time.
Pretty much every day, class begins by me asking if the students have any questions- whether it be on the previous night's problem set, something that was said in class the previous day that they didn't understand, the format of the upcoming test, or anything else that they want to ask. The simple act of asking if there are any questions- even if nobody in the room takes me up on the offer- gives the students the opportunity to ground themselves and make sure they are ready to move forward with new material.
When A Student is Angry
Classroom Expectations (Posted in the front of my room)
It is much better to begin the school year getting to know students well and building strong relationships, as opposed to laying out a litany of rules that over-emphasize the power structure that is already inherently built into the classroom dynamic. “If a rule is not essential, it is generally best not to introduce it since it provides another potential battleground” (MacGrath, 1998, p. 6). As such, the conversation about rules (framed as “expectations”) is brief, and each of the following is given justification so that students know why I value it.
1) Be honest.
2) Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
3) Be willing to ask questions when you don’t understand something.
4) Support and encourage each other.
My students, while not fully mature, know what their needs are more than I do. Their individual needs will vary from person to person and day to day. Spectra of needs that I want to be sensitive to and respond to appropriately:
Processing New Academic Material
Conveying Respect In Interactions
Processing Social And Emotional Challenges
Being given frequent encouragement and hints
Being left alone to figure things out after just a few examples
Earnest and direct proclamations of caring
Affection expressed through joking around
Wanting to talk through their problems with somebody that they trust
Using class as an opportunity to put their problems aside and take comfort in the logic and predictability of math
Behavior Management Hierarchy
My response to a given instance of misbehavior depends on the degree to which I think I need to interfere with the student's self-regulatory processes. The following hierarchy is adapted from Levin and Nolan (2010).
Movement Towards the Student
Steady but Gentle Eye Contact
Polite Request to Return to On-task Behavior
Use of Humor
Questioning Awareness of Effect
Explicit Redirection (Broken Record if Necessary)
Providing Choices with Logical Consequences
Students are best able to respond to each other's needs when they are empowered with what I call "the language of the learner," which is a way of speaking that appropriately conveys the frustration, anxiety, and/or confusion that accompanies the learning process. Included in this vocabulary are questions like, “I’m sorry, I am not following you- could you please slow down a little bit?”, and, “Could you please try to think of some other way to explain that, because I don’t think I understand it fully?”. When this way of speaking becomes the norm in the classroom (through modeling on my part, along with instruction on when it should be employed), it becomes easier for students to read their peers' emotional states and respectfully provide them with guidance.