Classroom management is not about discipline. It’s about creating an environment that encourages learning. If I am able to manage the learning well, I will not need to resort to discipline. By keeping my students actively engaged, they will not have the time to misbehave. My classroom management strategies will incorporate the educational philosophies of experimentalism (progressivism) and perennialism. Experimentalism refers to the educational philosophy that encourages students to test ideas by active experimentation. In other words, learn by doing. The perennialistic philosophy on the other hand, focuses on seeking enduring truths which are constant and unchanging. Great works of art, literature and science are emphasized in this philosophy. I hope to bring my two dominant philosophical styles and create a classroom management plan that is student-centered, fair but firm and cooperative. I am interested in incorporating the classroom management ideas of Kohn (1996), Kagan (2002), Glasser (1985) and Nelson (2006) into my plan. I like that these classroom management styles are all very positive and student-centered.
When students are misbehaving, the entire classroom suffers. Teachers struggle to teach and students are unable to learn. Problems in the classroom are prevented when classroom management plans include proactive options, accountability, and choices for students (Kyle and Rogien, 2004). Glasser (1985) suggests that teaching a quality curriculum leads to good discipline. Nelson and Lott (2006) identify mutual respect and cooperation as key elements for reducing most discipline issues. By preventing the opportunity for misbehavior, the likelihood that students will misbehave is decreased.
- Encourage positive student/student and teacher/student relationships.
- Give attention for positive and responsible behaviors, positive reinforcement.
- Assign classroom responsibilities and directorships.
- Involve students in the decision-making process (student-centered approach). This strategy is especially aligned with the experimentalist philosophy (Kohn, 1996).
- Model good behavior.
- Create a learner-centered environment: Desk arrangement facilitate interaction; walls display students’ work; teacher is engaged, respectful, genuine and warm; differentiated instruction (Kohn, 1996).
- “Start where the kids are” (Towbin, 2010)
All students need some support at one time or another. The supportive approach focuses on positive behavior, which leads to less disciplinary action. If the teacher give the student the support they need, students will choose the appropriate behavior. The Kagan discipline philosophy emphasizes that the teacher and student work together to find solutions to behavioral problems (2002). A positive learning environment and helping students to feel confident about their learning will lead to a successful academic outcome. Sometimes students are disengaged and express their anger towards school with words and inaction (Towbin, 2010). For these students, the reason for being in the classroom is nonexistent. Help these students find meaning in their education by understanding where they are coming from and what is important to them (Towbin, 2010).
- Promote student involvement and responsible behavior.
- Make students feel capable. Making mistakes is a learning opportunity.
- Give examples of past successes and then focus on the present.
- Encourage parent involvement. Parent involvement has been shown to have an effect on a student’s academic success (Chen, 2008). It is tried and true and aligns with the perennialistic point of view.
- Validate accomplishments and strengths.
- Nurture the teacher/student relationship - respect your students, give them a voice and listen to what they are saying, don’t just hear them (Kohn, 1996).
- Know your students by name, show them that you are interested.
- The school environment is welcoming and everything is in good condition (Kohn, 1996)
Proactive prevention measures as described above can prevent many of the problems in the classroom from developing. However, there will be instances where the preventative approach to classroom management is ineffective. Being prepared with strategies to address student misbehavior can reduce the amount of time and energy needed to get the classroom back on track.
- Establish a conflict resolution plan.
- Take care of any disciplinary issues instantly.
- Use body language - eye contact or pause, proximity, signals and gestures.
- Getting the student’s attention - calling out the student’s name, changing your tone or volume of voice.
- Let the student know that you can discuss that matter at the later time, not during class.
- Have a plan for angry or violent behaviors from students.
- Have the volatile student go somewhere to calm down and reflect on their inappropriate behavior.
As a first year teacher, I would incorporate a variety of classroom management strategies to (1) teach my students effectively, (2) minimize disruptions in the classroom, and (3) create a positive learning environment. Classroom management is more than just management and discipline. It’s about creating an environment that encourages learning.
Chen, G. (2008) Parental involvement is key to student success. Public School Review. Retrieved from: http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/12
Glasser, W. (1985) Noncoercive Discipline. Retrieved from: https://docs.google.com/a/cougars.csusm.edu/file/d/0B5qgdWNJfUFiaC1yTGN3YnhBRE0/edit
Kohn, A. (1996) Beyond Discipline Education Week. Retrieved from: http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/discipline.htm
Kyle, P. and Rogien, L. (2004) Opportunities and options in classroom management. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN: 0205324134
Kyle, P., Kagan, S. and Scott, S. (2002) Win-Win Discipline in Building Classroom Discipline. Boston MA: Allyn & Bacon. Retrieved from: http://www.kaganonline.com/free_articles/dr_spencer_kagan/ASK15.php
Nelson, J. and Lott, L. (2000) Encouragement and Support in Positive Discipline in the Classroom. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/a/cougars.csusm.edu/file/d/0B5qgdWNJfUFiOUdRMlNQWmZncTg/edit
Kohn, A. (1996) What to look for in a classroom. Educational Leadership 54 (1) 54-55 Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept96/vol54/num01/What-to-Look-for-in-a-Classroom.aspx
Towbin, J. (2010) When students don’t play the game. Educational Leadership 67 (5) 42-45. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb10/vol67/num05/When-Students-Don't-Play-the-Game.aspx