Classroom Management by U3rHqjr

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									                                                                      Christine Malady

                                                                      Classroom Management



Introduction

       When discussing appropriate classroom management practices, it is imperative that one

evaluates every practice against the same standard. In this way, effective and appropriate

practices are distinguished from incorrect methods in a consistent and objective manner.

Therefore, any discussion of classroom management must begin with a statement of purpose—

in other words, a statement of the basic objectives to be achieved through the implementation

of classroom management strategies. In this case, the standard for the effectiveness of a

method is the extent to which that method increases the ability for individual students to reach

their meaningful learning potential.


       Because of the many uses of some of those terms, it is necessary to further define the

terms of this objective in order to make meaning. “Individual” is emphasized in the definition

so as to highlight the fact that the unit of analysis will be the learning of each student, as

opposed to looking at the achievement of the group or of the majority of students. As all

students are in some ways unique, this emphasis on individuality often makes it necessary for a

teacher to employ several different management techniques and, at times, to specialize

management practices for special learning needs. For this reason, many different classroom

management styles will be evaluated in this analysis. Secondly, “meaningful” was highlighted in

the classroom management objective so as to distinguish from rote memorization and

teaching-to-the-test. Meaningful learning, for this discussion, will be defined as a combination
of each of the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy—knowledge, comprehension, application,

analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Therefore, multiple indicators of increased achievement are

necessary to demonstrate meaningful learning, as simply looking at a standardized test score, a

teacher’s testimony or other source independently is rarely reflective of the total picture of

learning at each level. With this standard in mind, individual achievement and meaningful

learning, different classroom management styles presented in research articles and

encountered in my early field experience shall be evaluated in my statement of personal beliefs

about classroom management.


Research


       In a case study of three elementary schools in low-income, urban areas of the Midwest,

it was found that a classroom management style focused on order, obedience to authority, and

externally enforced control over problem behavior did not yield an environment conducive to

meaningful learning. In these schools, the accepted format was 1) clearly defined rules that

students must follow at all times, 2) positive recognition for following the rules and 3)

consequences that are applied to all students that do not follow the rules. Little time was

devoted to explaining the purpose for the rules or their consequences, as the emphasis is

placed on obeying authority rather than critically evaluating behaviors. Consequences were

given to children in a public way so as to serve as a deterrent to other children. Through

analyzing the journals of pre-service teachers placed in those schools, it was found that a

significant number of them believed that this form of punishment did not have lasting effects

on the students. In their opinions, the object of the disciplinary measures was to stop
misbehavior as quickly as possible without considering how to help the children learn more

effective ways to handle situations in the future. It was argued that the public discipline was

ineffective because the ostracism led to students feeling unwelcome in their classroom

community. (Stoughton, 2005)


       To contrast the philosophy of those schools, Arcavi and Isoda found in their research

that truly listening to students may be one of the most important aspects of effective classroom

management. According to their study, listening is not a passive undertaking, but rather

requires that the listener detects and creates opportunities in which students are likely to

engage in discussion. This is done through questioning students in order to uncover the

essence of their ideas, analyzing that which the student says to take on their perspective and,

finally, deciding in which ways the teacher can productively integrate the ideas shared by the

student. In this way, the opinion of the student is acknowledged to be valid, in the hopes that

constructive discourse and openness are achieved between the student and the teacher. The

students should feel a sense of entitlement and responsibility in the classroom environment, in

that their opinions are carefully considered, but, in the end the teacher must be given the

respect and the authority of the classroom manager. (Arcavi & Isoda, 2007)


       According to a management style called “Responsive Classroom,” it is necessary for

students to have consistency in their lives. In this way, the students “grow accustomed to their

environment” and “attain a sense of calm, assurance and familiarity.” (Riley, 2007) There are

six major components to Responsive Classroom: morning meetings, rules with logical

consequences, guided discovery, academic choice, classroom organization and working with
families. Meetings every morning provide consistency and openness of communication for the

students, while the logical consequences to rules give students a sense of fairness in disciplinary

practices. Guided discovery and academic choice allow for a sense of autonomy and provide

the students with the ability to pursue their own interests to an extent. This, hopefully, yields a

greater passion for the learning process. Having a consistent organization of classroom

activities and procedures, in combination with support at home of the same philosophy,

reinforces the principles of effective learning on a daily basis—again providing consistency.

According to the author, this consistency allows students to feel safe—an important

component of providing a positive learning environment. (Riley, 2007)


       However, according to Brian Radcliffe, “poor behavior often originates in boredom, the

result of classroom routines that are too predictable.” This seems to directly contradict the

philosophy of reinforced consistency found in Responsive Classroom. A technique that

Radcliffe advocates to combat the monotony of routine is the use of drama in the classroom.

For example, the instructor might choose to employ a “jump starter” or “bell ringer” activity

that includes the dramatization of a pertinent curriculum concept, term, person, place or thing.

In this way, students’ creative energies are given an outlet in a productive manner, as opposed

to disruptive side chatter, the passing of notes or other expressions that do not contribute to

the meaningful learning. (Radcliffe, 2007)


       According to Boles and Troen, a major change in our current school cultures is necessary

for teachers to be truly effective classroom managers. In what are called “Millennium Schools,”

teachers are encouraged to teach in teams and collaborate with one another to achieve
integrated, performance-based accountability. (Boles & Troen, 2007) In the collaborative

model, teachers work together by exchanging ideas and theories in front of the learners.

Additionally, teachers are more highly specialized on a multi-tier hierarchy of coordinating

instruction and disciplinary practices. In fact, teacher’s pay would be directly related to their

students’ successes on standardized tests. In this way, it is hoped that the teachers with the

best classroom management and instructional skills are rewarded. (Boles & Troen, 2007)


       As described by Charlotte Laws, instructors have been corrupted by “nun with the ruler

syndrome,” in that they are overly obsessed with controlling the behavior of their students. In

her opinion, teachers focus on grades and conduct to such an extent that they construct rules

that encourage uniformity. Those practices, she believes, “hamper mastery of subject matter,

creativity, and personal responsibility, and groom students to be obedient workers and

followers rather than executives and leaders.” She argues further, “Teachers should not coddle

students” or “drown them in rules.” (Laws, 2007) It should be noted, however, that Laws is

speaking primarily of higher education students; therefore, a greater measure of autonomy and

personal accountability are probably more reasonable for them than would, for example, be

appropriate in a middle school classroom.


       To present an alternative perspective to Laws, Sue Cowley, the educational author,

emphasizes the importance of “taking control of” one’s classroom with the use of militia and

battle metaphors to describe a teacher’s classroom management “war.” According to Cowley,

who advises that teachers “patrol the class like a sergeant major,” teachers must combat the

tendency to stay in the front of the classroom where, stereotypically, the well-mannered
students usually sit, while the misbehaving students lay claim to the back. For example, she

recommends implementing a seating plan, greeting students at the door, and hovering over

students as they work. Finally, she believes a teacher should say how and when pupils are

allowed to leave depending on the state of cleanliness of the room. (Cowley, 2007)


My Experience

       Having gone through thirteen years of public school and four years of undergraduate

education, I certainly held many preconceptions and assumptions about classroom

management before beginning my master’s study of education. As a student, I would have told

you that I prefer teachers that allow students to talk to one another, pass notes and generally

be lenient and flexible with regards to classroom management. However, subconsciously I truly

did value teachers that created structured, curriculum-centered learning environments. This

becomes clear when one considers that all of my favorite courses have taken place in rigorous,

focused environments where each student was constantly held accountable for being on top of

the requirements of the class.


       Over this last semester, I was able to carefully observe the classroom management

practices of my cooperating teacher from a non-student perspective. This new angle yielded

significant insight in to the complexities of maintaining the balance between providing

supportive, flexible direction and maintaining student focus and respectful behavior. I have

found that this line is a difficult one to traverse while still maximizing the meaningful learning

potential of your students. For example, one would not wish to be so accommodating with the

students as to cause them to no longer put forth the requisite effort to master the material.

My cooperating teacher strictly adheres to her “no late work” submission policy with her
regular education students. At first, many of the students seemed bewildered and unsettled by

the fact that late work was not acceptable. A common theme of her civics class room is, “You

are in eighth grade now, and you will be in high school next year. Things are different and for

good reason.” The majority of students have been able to adapt to this new paradigm of

accountability.


        Similarly, it is not advisable to be so rigid as to stifle earnest efforts through adherence

to policies that discourage meaningful learning. In the case of my cooperating teacher’s

management style, she will bend her late work policy for some of the struggling students,

especially those identified as having learning disabilities. Her expectations for the children are

low enough, that she is pleased to receive any work at all from those students. In her mind,

holding special education students to the same standard as the rest of the class with regards to

submission dates does not encourage meaningful learning, but rather deters the struggling

students from put forth any effort at all.


       With regards to maintaining acceptable student behavior during class time, she admits

that she has really struggled with this particular group of eighth graders. The first few weeks it

was a battle every fifth period to have the students come in the room and sit at their seats

directly. At one point, my cooperating teacher decided to have a “practice entrance,” in which

all students were asked to leave the room and re-enter appropriately, as “eighth graders are

expected to.” The activity took away precious instructional time, but proved to be fruitful in

that the students have been better behaved since that point.
       Additionally, she will not respond to two things: 1) questions or comments during

instruction time that are not preceded by a raised hand and being called on and 2) being

addressed as anything but “Ms. Levinson.” With one attention-starved student, this has been a

particular struggle, as he constantly blurts out his feelings at any given moment, prefaced by

“Hey!” or “Guess what?” I was surprised and pleased that my cooperating teacher was so

relentless in sticking to her guns on this issue, as I believe it to be fundamentally important to

maintaining appropriate student-teacher relationships.


       With regards to discipline, she usually utilizes the seat-switch tactic for common

malfeasance, such as side chatter or inattentiveness. For more severe problems, she usually

chooses not to deal with the problems herself, as she is often pressed for time as it is and feels

that it is unfair to her other students to detract from their learning time to address the

misbehavior of one student. Instead, the disruptive student is either sent out of the room or

sent to an administrator. In her mind, that student loses his or her right to the lesson for that

day if he or she chooses to act in a manner that is not only disrespectful to her as the teacher,

but also to the fellow classmates.


My Beliefs

       In the introduction, I explained my standard for effective classroom management

tactics. I believe that all management strategies should be focused on creating a learning

environment in which the individual student can best achieve meaningful learning of desired

content and skill objectives. For this reason, I believe it is important to use a variety of

strategies so that all learning needs might be addressed. However, one theme underlies all

effective management strategies—that being, cultivating an environment of respect. This is
primarily established by being absolutely clear and benevolent in communicating the

appropriate procedures for my classroom—a strategy outlined by Harry & Rosemary Wong in

The First Days of School.


       It is my opinion that meaningful learning can not take place in a climate of disrespect.

Respect is a universal, in that every person, regardless of special needs, is entitled to it and

operates best in an environment that contains it. By respect, it is meant that a person should

be treated as one would wish to be treated: with consideration for their feelings, with

recognition of their rights, and with a general tone of amiability. This is true with respect to

both the teacher and the student—both should be afforded the respect they deserve as

defined by a combination of their actions and their inherent self-worth. In other words,

individuals are due a greater or lesser degree of respect due to the extent to which they

reciprocate that respect to others, but a certain level of respect is due every person regardless

of actions. For example, if a student chooses to bully another student, that student should not

be afforded the same privileges and amiable tone for a certain period of time as a consequence

of having perpetrated a disrespectful act. At the same time, the student does not completely

lose his or her entitlement to respect, as all persons should always be afforded such basic

considerations as respect for their person. For example, it is never appropriate to purposefully

attempt to hurt, belittle or negatively impact a student beyond the fair punishment of the

misconduct.


       In my own experience in front of the classroom, I found two things to be most effective

in maintaining a productive and respectful learning environment: 1) calling on students by
name to participate or discontinue unacceptable behavior and 2) requiring students to raise

their hands and be called on before their comments will be permitted or responded to. In my

studies I have come to believe that placing an emphasis on classroom procedures instead of

rules makes the most sense for creating and maintaining an orderly yet respectful environment.

These were found to be most important when I was lecturing in front of the regular class, as it

ensured that the student’s remained focused, the noise level remained appropriate and that I

could address the needs of individual students instead of being unable to sift through multiple

comments at once. When working with the much smaller special education group, I found that

the most useful tactics were individualized attention, the use of the student’s name in

addressing him or her, the use of respectful language (such as “please” and “thank you”) and

maintaining a relationship with the students where my role was to help them, as opposed to

unnecessarily using force.


       Inappropriate behavior should be treated as the breaking of a contract—the terms and

purpose of which should have been clearly laid out for the student at the beginning of the year.

Students should understand why a rule or procedure is in place and how that rule serves their

best interest. The importance of fostering empathy between students should be equally

emphasized, so as to prevent maliciousness and unwarranted dislike. It is necessary for

students to see reason and purpose in disciplinary actions, so that they do not feel that

teachers are unjust or “out to get them.” Rather, it should be clear that the aim of rules and

regulations are to create positive, supportive, respectful and productive learning environments

to the betterment of each student.
       In sum, respect is the underlying foundation of achieving the most effective classroom

management in that it best yields a learning environment where individual student

achievement of meaningful learning is maximized.



Works Cited


Arcavi, A., & Isoda, M. (2007). Learning to Listen: From Historical Sources to Classroom Practice.
Educational Studies in Mathematics, 111-131.

Boles, K., & Troen, V. (2007). How to Improve Professional Practice. Principal, 50-53.

Cowley, S. (2007). Now here's the drill... The Times Educational Supplement, 7.

Laws, C. (2007). Danger in the Classroom: the 'Nun With the Ruler' Syndrome is Rampant.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 73.

Radcliffe, B. (2007). Inside the Fence. The Times Educational Supplement, 48.

Riley, B. (2007). The Library Media Center and Responsive Classroom Practices. Library Media
Connection, 22-25.

Stoughton, E. (2005). "How will I get them to behave?": Pre-service teachers reflect on
classroom management. Teaching and Teacher Education, 1024-1030.

Wong, H. & Wong, R. (2005) How To Be An Effective Teacher: The First Days of School.
Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc.

								
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