My Classroom Management Theory

“A teacher takes a Hand, opens a Mind and touches a Heart”

I think that practicing good classroom management skills starts by creating a physical learning environment that is inviting and inspiring. I envision my ideal classroom to have a Feng shui architecture. An architecture that uses energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. Ideally one of this room’s most visible feature would be windows reaching from top to bottom thus allowing for lots of natural light. An indoor water wall positioned on the back of the room would send out soothing sounds of falling water, thus promoting relaxation and calmness and naturally purifying the air. Ergonomic designed furniture would allow the students to adapt the working conditions to their individual needs, and to compensate for differences in height and weights. The most important feature would be a patio door leading to an outdoor classroom where the students and I could escape the indoor settings in order to draw from natures energies. There would be clusters of tables inviting students to work in groups while listening to some relaxing music playing in the background.

My vision of being a teacher is someone who walks ‘beside’ each student and who supports them on their journey of discovering of who they are. My goal is to create meaningful relationships with my students, but like any other relationship, forming a trust-based relationship takes time and is a process that requires constant engagement from both sides; the students and me the teacher.  I feel that in order to reach my vision, I probably will have to start with a more teacher-centered approach in the beginning and over time move to a more leadership centered teaching style. As I see it, sharing my vision with the students is essential for it to be successful.  I think that it will help the students to look at where we are as a group today and where I want us to be for instance two months down the road. Rome was not built in one day and nor will our classroom culture. It will require us to keep an open mind, to learn new skills, to continually be engaged and to work on our relationships, thus building trust and mutual respect.

Great Attitude

I believe that ‘mind over matter’ can be a potent tool to improve the way we feel and the way we look at the world. Is the glass half full or half empty? A great attitude can be learned. Humans can take charge of their thoughts and can pick their attitude for the day! No doubt that there may be days when picking a great attitude is more difficult than on others, but I am confident that we will work on those skills together as a group or as individuals. I believe that teachers’ attitude will set the atmosphere in the classroom. We have so much to be thankful for and sometimes we seem to forget that in all the hustle and bustle.

Mindfulness

Being mindful is essential as a teacher because I think that students these days need more than ever before the undivided attention of an adult. Lives are so busy, with both parents working, and weeknights packed with after-school activities do not leave much one-on-one time for parents to spend with their children. In my mind, the reason why mindfulness is so important today is that many children are starting at an early age being entertained by digital LeapFrog or FisherPrice laughs & Learn devices. In short, digital everything replaces quality times with parents or caregivers.  The teacher’s role today is to fill that void.

Make their day

It does not take much to make someone else’s day, and the same is true for students. A little touch on the shoulder, a smile, a small discrete note, eye contact or a nod across the classroom for approval, will touch every student.  My goal is to build relationships with my students, where we value each other, have clear expectations work hard, but also celebrate the little successes along the way.

Clear Rules & Standards

Rules are essential when dealing with bodies of people because they avoid chaos. Rules establish a clear standard of conduct, instill a sense of respect and offer a sense of community belonging. I will have our rules visible, and I will go over our classroom rules with my students on more than one occasion, to ensure, that my students understand what they mean, why they are essential to our classroom culture and what the consequences might be should they show undesirable behaviors.

Classroom Routines

I believe that well-established classroom routines are essential for daily classroom management. They create order and security and make transitions more manageable. Most importantly, classroom routines free up time for teaching and learning because classroom management jobs do not take as long.  I believe that classroom routines convey confidence in the teacher because students see him/her as a well-organized person.

Diversity

There are many reasons why diversity is essential for the success in today’s classrooms. With so many students coming from diver’s socioeconomic background, it is critical to meet every student specific need for learning.  A teacher can help overcome those differences, by incorporating visual, aural and kinesthetic elements in your teaching. When students have success in learning and are engaged, they feel that they can contribute to the classroom culture, and thus they feel that they belong. Building great relationships and learning about cultural differences is essential to make everyone feel accepted.

Good Time Management

There is no doubt in my mind that every teacher needs to have excellent time management skills to be successful. I believe that I have good time management skills already but starting a new career and having to use new methods, will force me to sharpen up mine and to adopt new ones as well. Work smarter not harder. Students deserve a teacher who comes to class well organized and well prepared. If we want my students to hand in their work on time, I must lead with a good example.  And walk the walk and talk the talk. Be the role model that you want them to be!

Parent-Teacher Relationships

I look forward to meeting the parents of all my students. My goal is to form mutual positive supportive and open relationships with the parents, caregivers or guardians of my students.  I feel that they are a vital link between home and the school, and if I can get the support of the parents, then the child’s learning experience will be so much better.  I also believe that sometimes meeting the parents or never meeting the parents as the case might be, will help me understand the situation of the student at home. I think the real challenge for me will be the students who need the support, but whose parents never show up to any parent-teacher meetings.  Being the person who I am, I can almost guarantee that I will be knocking on their front door for an after-school visit.

Hopefully, I will never have to go to such extremes, and my goal, for now, is to reach out to the parents early with positive remarks about the student, send home little things that I had noticed about them, in short, communicate that I only have the best interest of the student in mind.

Educational Assistants

Having the support of an EA or Volunteer in your classroom can make a significant contribution to meet the diverse learning needs of your students and may aid with classroom management.  Clear communication, modeling and working as a team is essential for success.

Circle of Courage

I will share the Circle of Courage as part of my holistic teaching approach. The circle of courage is a great life vision because it teaches valuable lessons about generosity, independence, mastery, and belonging. In addition, I want to invite support workers from the community to our Friday discussion groups, make school trips to those locations, have pamphlets in the classroom and really emphasize that my students get to know the staff, know about their services and hopefully this will encourage them to reach out for help if they need it.

Preventative Discipline Plan

It seems to me that instead of waiting for undesirable behavior to occur, proactive techniques implemented successfully will decrease the likelihood of them happening. I think that a good start is to have clear classroom rules and expectations shared with the students.  But we cannot stop there. We cannot expect the students to follow the rules just because they are written up and visible for everyone to read. I think quite often we assume that students know what is expected of them, how to walk in the hallway, hand in papers or how to line up. I believe that students need direct instructions to learn and master those behaviors. They need reinforcements and opportunities to practice desired behaviors.  A positive classroom culture where students feel safe and develop an understanding of those rules will be helpful in preventing undesirable behaviors as well.

One of my aims is to have my students discover together why rules are essential for the wellbeing of the entire group, and hopefully, they will act out of insight and not out of fear of consequences. Our Friday discussion groups and Dropbox will be an effective way to involve students in setting expectations about proper behavior, goals, and participate in peaceful conflict resolutions. Students of all ages can participate in these discussion groups. When dealing with younger students, I could use puppets and role-playing for demonstrating purposes. I think by offering challenging and engaging learning materials some of the undesired, boredom-based behaviors can be prevented as well.

Furthermore, I think this cannot be an all or nothing attitude. Students need to explore their limits in more than one way, and those could be “corrected” by merely making eye contact, shaking your head or physically reposition yourself in the classroom.

Finally, I think that it is imperative that every preventative discipline plan explains what will happen when students choose to misbehave. Consequences must be discussed and explained clearly to the students from day one so that everyone knows what the consequences are.  In the case that a teacher must punish a student, the teacher must react immediately when a discipline situation presents itself to ensure that students connect the consequences with their immediate misbehavior, thus showing the students what is to occur each time when they misbehave.

Corrective Discipline Plan

It is never easy for neither the teacher nor the student if corrective discipline must be discussed. Depending on the severity of the incidence, a verbal reminder to the student of the expected appropriate behaviors might be all that was needed. I think that it is also important to consider if it was the first incidence or if the student had many such incidents already. However, when dealing with a more serious conflict, a verbal reminder may not be enough, and a note to the parents may have to be the first step of taking it outside the classroom.

In some cases, even a referral to administration, social worker or school counselor involvement, suspension, or calling the police might be necessary.  I assume that once those behaviors pass a certain degree, there are school policies in place and a support team that would help me deal with situations as such.

Evidently, when dealing with a significant infraction, the misbehavior must be stopped and cannot be ignored. I think it is essential that you remain calm and speak in a matter-of-fact manner, document the incidence well, involve the parents. I believe it is imperative for building good relationships, that a teacher does not hold grouches. I therefore firmly think that everyone deserves a fresh new start every morning, and should be greeted with a smile, a handshake or a simple how do you do?

Minor Incident Example

I would consider a minor incident if little Johnny, for instance, was asked to come to the carpet and he would openly defy me by saying that I could not tell him what to do. My reaction would probably be to remind him again that I need him to come and sit down and to join his friends so that we can go on with learning. I believe that the chances are very high that he indeed will come and join his friends so that that we can go on with our tasks at hand.

However, if little Johnny would be defiant on a regular basis, I would take more severe measures such as asking him to sit alone at the desk, or even alone in the hallway. Both these incidences would require me to discuss his misbehavior with Johnny.  I would ask Johnny to tell me his reasoning for not wanting to do what he was told, and his thoughts on how he thinks that the other students must feel about the interruption, whether he thought they were still feeling safe, or whether they enjoy the interruptions?

I believe that students usually have a reason for misbehaving and that they may not even be aware of it themselves. I think that is it imperative for students to learn to understand their reasons for misbehaving and learn to articulate what they would need in order to be able to learn and to participate.

I would probably send a report home to the parents and start documenting his undesired behaviors.  I find it challenging to describe hypothetical scenarios, but in general, the minor incidence would include modeling expected behavior, verbal reminders, re-teach the expected behavior, offer choices and consequences, advise homeroom teacher, restitution or monitor behavior.

Major Incident Example

When dealing with a significant incident, such as fistfights or bullying, we are talking about a different severity, and those cases cannot be handled by yourself.  I believe that most of these major incidents need to be referred immediately to administration and I would have a support team at the school to help me deal with them.

Although it makes sense that at the site of action, the adult making the initial contact with the student(s) will intervene to stop the behavior using utmost safety precautions for himself and others, however, once order is established, major interventions need to follow such as skill building, restitution, referral to school counsellor, detention, parent/school conference, restoratives justice, consultation with behavior support specialist, police involvement, suspension and even extended suspension.

Conclusion

In conclusion, effective classroom management strategies are important because it enables teachers to focus on teaching and free up time to engage in students learning. However, I firmly believe, that classroom rules should not be indoctrinated into the students but moreover should be developed, explored, reasoned and understood, thus enabling the student to act on insight and not out of fear for punishment.

No doubt, there are many reasons why schools use punishment to correct students’ behavior, but I believe that punishment promotes aggression and is a response by someone with more power over someone with less power.

Furthermore, I think that it is human nature to feel angry or frustrated when someone has power over us, and I imagine that a student might learn from being punished that in order to get your way you ought to use power. When someone punishes us, we have little empathy for the person who executes the punishment nor the victim. We usually turn inward and become even more self-interested. So I must wonder, if our response to aggression is more aggression, then what message do we send to the bullies?