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Transcript of Classroom Management
tips for graduate teachers
one perspective on
In order to teach effectively a classroom management plan is essential. This includes your attitude, beliefs, and philosophy on teaching and on the capabilities of your students, and the strategies you will employ to prevent and manage student behaviour. A plan created with connection, prevention, instruction, planning and reflection interwoven to form a positive learning environment. As McDonald (2010) states, this forms the necessary connections of trust and development of teacher-learner relationships required for effective classroom management and learning. Students feel they are part of the classroom community and you as a teacher can enjoy your role, feel satisfied and effective (Bondy et al. cited in Lyons, Ford & Arthur-Kelly 2011, p.X).
This classroom management plan highlights a belief in an authoritative model of instruction; a belief in students’ capabilities; an individualised approach to learning and behaviour management; and an engaging environment that encourages creativity, enjoyment and personal achievement. As Whitton et al (2010) express, ‘an authoritative style of managing student behaviour develops more competent learners’ by encouraging students to set their own standards and encouraging student autonomy. As the shift continues towards student-centred pedagogies, teachers have a changing role in the learning partnership, with an emphasis on socio-emotional learning, students are encouraged through a positive school environment to self-manage behaviour and engage in learning (McDonald, 2010).
A = attitude
The role and influence of the teacher is paramount. As Hayes et al. (cited in Churchill et al. 2011, p.552) comments, ‘key educational research has consistently demonstrated that, of all school-base factors, teacher classroom practices have the greatest impact on student learning outcomes’. Which leads to knowing our students. As described by Paterson (2005, p.12), it is important to ‘get to know your students as individuals’, and to interact to ‘demonstrate that you are personally interested in them’ (Marzano et al. 2006, p.62). This encompasses knowing their academic and cognitive abilities; various learning styles; embracing cultural diversity, and supporting their social-emotional learning. By focussing on student well-being and the development of strong interpersonal and social relationships these connections create a safe, inclusive, engaging and challenging learning environment and positive school culture.
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The relationship built between teacher and student is built around respect. Respect of ourselves, respect of the learning environment and respect of the relationships we build.
A major part of respect is the way we deal with behaviour in our classroom…
It makes sense to teach children the expected behaviours and to encourage and reward that behaviour rather than waiting for misbehaviour and reacting to that in a punitive manner. As Sulzer-Azaroff and Mayer (cited in Whitton et al. 2010, p.228) contend, ‘it is important for teachers to aim to reinforce and teach desirable behaviours and minimise the use of punishment’. This allows the teacher-learner relationship to maintain a caring, respectful, and positive approach. Surely, that is what we as teachers would prefer and is best for everyone in our classroom community.
As discussed the first step is getting to know the students and letting them get to know you. A plethora of activities are on offer to begin the year with engaging activities that provide opportunities for everyone to express themselves, to get to know one another and to set the rules and procedures for their classroom community.
B = behaviour
(Lets not call them rules and procedures, much better to apply a positive connotation).
Classroom Pledge - The creation of a class pledge is a great way to involve and provide students with responsibility of their environment.
Not too many, not too few – just the right number of rules that allows students to understand the expectations & remember them.
Compile rules together as a class community – This encourages ownership. Some guidance from the teacher for younger students may be required and the wording appropriate to their age for comprehension.
Express expectations positively and clearly.
Send them home for caregivers to view, this helps connect home and school.
Display the rules in a prominent place.
Describe & practice noise levels for different activities.
Develop procedures & practice them for various tasks and transitions.
As Marzano et al. (2006, p.5) express, rules and procedures ‘give students the structure they need and also help them feel that the classroom is a safe and predictable place’. Positive teacher-learner relationships are strengthened through the creation of expectations together and through explicit explanation, demonstration and positive reinforcement a community of learners is created. ‘Students who feel that they’re part of a community of learners, who have the experience of “being in this together”, are more likely to be part of the solution than the problem' (Marzano et al. 2006, p. 16).
Interventions – preventions
To manage behaviour effectively, a preventative approach is a good starting point. By adopting a proactive attitude misbehaviours can be minimised. As Henley (2006, p.218) attests, ‘the purpose of proactive behavioural interventions is to decrease misbehaviour while increasing constructive behaviour. Strategies that work best are those that help students learn more about themselves’.
Reinforce desirable behaviour – catch them being good.
Actively listen to students and be aware of their individual needs.
Tune in to the environment and the interactions occurring.
Individualise effort and ability and praise accordingly.
Encouragement and verbal praise is inflating for everyone. It needs to be descriptive of the desired behaviour.
Model appropriate behaviour.
Know your students and how they like to be praised – avoid embarrassment.
Don’t overdo praise and defeat the intended purpose.
Getting to know
Box of Personal Treasures
Send a letter to each student before the year begins, introducing yourself. Ask students to bring a box with no more than 7 objects, pictures etc. that tell you something about them, their family, and things they like. Start by sharing your box then students can show their objects and talk about themselves, as everyone learns a bit about each other.
Everyone sits on the floor or at desks and throws a ball of wool to each other, while holding on to our piece and telling something about ourselves. At the conclusion, we are all connected by this web of wool, and a discussion can ensue that we are going to be a web of learners who need each other to create a learning atmosphere appropriate for learning. We discuss how this might happen, for example, respecting each other, listening to each other, supporting each other, etc.
Beach Ball Games
I take a beach ball and write activities on it in black permanant marker. Some things I add to the ball are: play tag, sing part of a song, play duck, duck, goose, Say your favorite color, etc. Then the students and I go outside and stand in a circle. One child starts with the ball and tosses it to another child while calling out their name. The student whose name was called catches the ball and wherever his/her thumb lands, they are to play or say whatever the ball tells them. This really gets the kids excited about playing with one another and they get to practice names! They LOVE that it’s outside on the first day too! It makes a nice break in all of the rules and telling/teaching expectations for the first day!
Give each student, and one for the teacher, a square piece of white cardboard and I ask them to write, draw, or put anything that represents them as individuals. They decorate the piece of cardboard as they wish. Each piece has a colored part that they can not write in. When they finish, they have to put the mosaic together as if it was a puzzle. When the mosaic is put together the class level or special word can be read. Tell them that the class works as a whole and if one part of the mosaic is missing, falls or is torn, the class is not complete. We are all part of that class and we all build it up.
Interventions – low level
Deal with low level infringements in a calm, manner, to prevent escalation and ensure that class expectations are understood.
Use verbal and non-verbal cues to redirect inappropriate behaviour.
Point to display of class rules
Look directly at student and stop instructing
Consequences should to be logical in reference to the unwanted behaviour, fair and consistently applied and they must be followed through. The maintenance of the teacher-learner relationship needs to be considered, so respectful communication should be modelled and acknowledgement of attempts provided. ‘Solution-focused orientation seeks to assist the students in developing autonomy and seeing problems as opportunities for personal growth (Nelson, Lott and Glen cited in McDonald 2010, p.121).
You do not want a confrontation and for the student to feel they are backed into a corner. Offer choices and the consequences of the choices, provide time for the thinking and decision process to occur, and walk away until the student makes their choice. As McDonald (2010, p.213) describes, ‘choice in the classroom is important in developing a democratic learning environment, where students develop their capacity to self-regulate learning and behaviour’.
We have adopted a positive approach and attitude to our students and their abilities, which has informed the behavioural expectations and consequences set within our community. All of which focuses on the connections and culture created within a classroom in order to create learning…
C = Create
Another aspect of classroom management is of course the environment and learning itself. It needs to be creative, engaging and meaningful for all members of the class to provide opportunities for learning and also to minimise disruptions and unwanted behaviour.
Our surroundings influence and affect our mood and behaviour, classrooms and students are no different. Consider space and movement, seating arrangements, light, sound, and visual stimulation.
- try different sounds (student input/vote)
at times quiet
other times general chatter
sharing of ideas
helping each other
different voices for
you want to be
a sense of
Design creative learning experiences that promote diversity and are reflective of the students, their interests, backgrounds, strengths and learning styles. This ‘relies on the teacher knowing their students to help build upon their strengths as well as cater for the range of intelligences and learning styles' (Gardiner cited in McDonald, 2010). Various levels and kinds of assessment can be embedded in the content so that all students can work towards individual achievement.
The provision of choice is a wonderfully motivating and engaging aspect for students (McDonald 2010, p.126). Various activities can be designed and offered that allow individual strengths and learning styles to be utilised in completing set tasks. As Marzano et al. (2006, p.59) state, students respond and engage with tasks that ‘recognise their unique qualities, skills, interests, needs and personalities’.
Promote and maintain high expectations of students and yourself, this includes goal setting and celebrating success, individually and as a group. As Henley (2006, p. 32) states, ‘what teachers believe about their students goes a long way toward determining student success or failure’.
Believe in your students & they will believe in themselves.
Think about ways of incorporating and engaging different senses into lessons. We often resort to the visual and auditory, by including other senses another dimension to the lesson is created and the embedding of knowledge can be enhanced. Procedures and routines do provide a reassuring environment for students but an element of spontaneity and fun can also be injected. Humour can be used to defuse a situation and to enliven a class, as Loomans and Kolberg, (1993, p.XII) explain, it can also help a teacher deal with stressful situations, help form connections with students and build an enjoyable learning environment, all of which enhance the learning process.
Laugh & bring laughter.
Laugh - a lot!
Learn & grow with each and every one of your students
Be flexible – you may have to change your teaching style to help a student to improve their learning.
Expect the unexpected
Celebrate every little success, every little step forward
Remember to reflect
As Churchill et al. (2011, p.453) explain, 'reflective practice can offer new insights that will improve our work and our relationships with our students'. By casting a critical perspective over our own practice, we can continually improve and develop our responsibilities and actions within the classroom.
Aim to learn from experiences and inevitable mistakes; seek advice and support from mentors and colleagues; and continue to grow and develop through professional and personal development.
Remember that tomorrow is another day
Keeping in mind the needs of your students, some may not cope with too much visual stimulation or too much noise. Ensure that you can see the students and they are able to see you and teaching resources employed.
& finally some thank yous....
Along with the cited and referenced academic literature, I would also like to acknowledge the various sources of inspiration that helped to inform the collection of material in this presentation:
• To the various lecturers that have shared their knowledge and personal anecdotes
in regards to experiences within the classroom. This includes Terri Redpath,
Gaelene Hope-Rowe, Bernadette Walker-Gibbs and Kate Harvie.
• To the many teacher blogs I have visited in order to gain some insight into the teaching profession and how individuals manage their classrooms.
• The invaluable information provided through EEC318, in the form of weekly readings, discussions, assignments, and the feedback proffered throughout.
• And to the many teachers who have allowed me to observe them in action in their classrooms. To witness the interactions occurring between teacher and learner and the varied strategies employed within the classroom to enable learning.