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Discipline Philosophy & Management Plan

My plan for managing the classroom, with attachments to support and enforce my plan.

John Sizemore Jr., M. Ed.

on 15 June 2014

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Transcript of Discipline Philosophy & Management Plan

I've adopted the student-directed management theory for my management plan, as it is consistent with my adoption of the ideas of a democratic classroom which I studied in a previous class.
. . . Can we find any reason that does not ultimately come down to the belief that democratic social arrangements promote a better quality of human experience, one which is more widely accessible and enjoyed . . . ? Does not the principle of regard for individual freedom and for decency and kindliness of human relations come back in the end to the conviction that these things are tributary to a higher quality of experience. . . ? Is it not the reason for our preference that we believe that mutual consultation and convictions reached through persuasion . . . on any wide scale?

--John Dewey, "Experience in Education"
The idea of Jeffersonian democracy is to educate its people to govern by giving them initiative to run things, by multiplying sources of responsibility, by encouraging dissent. This has the beautiful moral advantage that a man can be excellent in his own way without feeling special, can rule without ambition and follow without inferiority. Through the decades, it should have been the effort of our institutions to adapt this idea to ever-changing technical and social conditions. Instead, as if by dark design, our present institutions conspire to make people inexpert, mystified, and slavish.

--Paul Goodman, "Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals"
You cannot train a person to have a strong will. If you educate children in freedom, they will be more conscious of themselves for freedom allows more and more of the
unconscious to become conscious. That is why most Summerhill children have few
doubts about life. They know what they want. And I guess they will get it, too.

--A. S. Neill, "Summerhill"
The logic I followed in studying democratic philosophy led me to Neill's ideas, particularly his idea of self-governing his school. Unfortunately, such an idea would not feasible in the public school systems setting, but a plan that incorporates as much of his ideas is possible in the classroom.
Ask class to explain why rules exist
Give class a copy of the US Constitution
Explain that:
we live in a country where the laws are agreed upon by the people it serves
laws are based on respect of each other, acknowledgment of our responsibilities and explain our rights
the teacher has has an obligation to teach as well as protect the student's rights by enforcing the rules. Like the President signing a bill into law, the teacher has final say about what governs the classroom
Introducing the Ideas of Rules
In one of my substitute positions, where I was an Emotional Support provider, the teacher of the 4th Grade class took ten minutes after lunch and recess to allow students to express their grievances about class, without interruption by the other students, and let all parties involved discuss and resolve the grievance. This was all done in the comfortable setting of the reading section of the classroom and the rules of the class were relaxed for this session. This was the closest to Neill's
self-governing idea that I've seen in any school, though not a pure interpretation of his ideas (the teacher still lead the meeting and made final decisions, whereas Neill's meetings were student-led).
My classroom management plan will adopt two characteristics--the creation of class rules on the first day and a "classroom meeting"--that place secondary responsibility on the students, primary responsibility on the teacher, and be dependent upon the full cooperation of the parents. My plan is a twofold the class rules are created on the first day.

The creation of this type of self-governing classroom is dependent upon the referent power base, where "the student behaves as the teacher wishes because...[they] view the teacher as a good person who genuinely cares about them, cares about their learning and demands a certain type of behavior because it is in their best interest" (Levin & Nolan, 80). The risk of creating an environment where the students manipulate the teacher can be resolved by setting aside time from the formal teaching, where the teacher has the ultimate control.
Furthermore, this type of self-governing classroom can be thought of as a lesson in participatory democracy. On the first day, the teacher can explain that we live in a country where the laws are agreed upon by the people it serves. Since they will grow up and live in such a the class will have an opportunity to create class rules with the teacher and all will agree upon such rules. If students believe there was a beach of such rules, it can be discussed at the daily classroom meeting.
Dewey, John. Experience and Education. Indianapolis, IN: Kappa Delta Pi, 1938
Utah Education Network. Writing a Classroom Constitution. http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/preview.cgi?LPid=499
Goodman, Paul. "Compulsory Mis-Education and the Community of Scholars." New York: Random House, 1964.
A moral education was once the dominion of the parents and churches. Today, neither institution can be trusted or expected to teach such values. A disciplined, respectful and responsible community is essential to the function of a thorough and objective democracy. The ideas of democracy in a classroom cannot be implemented on a larger scale of the school. It needs to be implemented in the smaller, more intimate scale of the classroom to instill to the virtues that are lacking in our current society. Employing a referent power base and adopting a student-directed management theory will not only impart to the student the qualities wanted in the future, but introduce them to those qualities to use in the present.
Have class write down what they believe are rules that the classroom can follow, keeping in mind that they must create an atmosphere of respect and spell out the rights and responsibilities of the students and teacher. After writing, students meet in small groups and discuss what they've written
Each rule from each student is assessed and approved or rejected
Group discusses Additional rule and approved or reject them
Group will create a list of approved rules to be presented to entire class
Deciding on Rules
Groups will meet as class and present their approved rules
Each rule is discussed (Why does it exist? Will it infringe on anyone else's rights?, etc.) and voted on in class
Class adopts final draft of rules by majority vote
Teacher presents his rules to class, noting that the rules voted on in class either reflect his rules or that there are some rules that are necessary to protect his rights (that is, to function as a teacher) . He will "sign" or "veto" the rules.
Class will "sign off" on the rules through a contract signed by teacher, student and parents.
Finalizing Rules
Teacher introduces idea of a "classroom meeting", where grievances are presented to and resolved by the class
Rules for the classroom meeting are presented by the teacher, who will arbitrate the meeting:
Grievance is presented to class by student who was violated or another student
Violator will explain why he did or didn't do it.
Teacher decides of violator is guilty
If violator is guilty, the class will explain to him why what he di was wrong
Violator will apologize to the violated and the class. This serves as a warning to the student and will not go beyond the meeting.
Implementing Rules: 1st Tier
Student will fill out a behavior journal that will explain:
The Rule that the stdent broke
Why he chose to break this rule
What he could have done instead
What he plans to do to make it right
Student and teacher will sign the journal, with the understanding that the parents will be notified and that a third violation will result in being sent to the office.
Implementing Rules
2nd Tier
Administration becomes involved and those procedures and reccomendations will be followed.
Implementing Rules
3rd Tier
John Sizemore
Widener University
Discipline Philosophy
& Management Plan
Neill, Alexander Sutherland. Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing. New York: Hart,1960
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