Week 12: RECAP & Week 13: A Teachers Role in Managing Behaviors

Class began with a refresher of last weeks focus on Minor and Major Behaviors. As a large group we were prompted to describe/remind each other of the following key ideas from last week.

  • Minor behaviors – distracts teaching but doesn’t stop it; however, these minor behaviors do have potential to escalate into major behaviors.
  • Major behaviors – has potential to place students/peers in danger, disturbs whole class
  • Minor behavior solutions: proximity to the problem, a quick verbal remark in which tone and infliction remains constant in which not to disturb the whole class, “teacher look” and removal of distracting item (e.g. pen).
  • Major behavior solutions: *Teachers response to these behaviors can also determine how much time will be taken from lesson and how many other students will be effected and how the misbehaving student responds* relocation of the misbehaving student(s), call to the parent(s), and in extreme cases of safety calling a resource officer for assistance.

This week, we discussed how teachers can use proactive approaches to nip misbehavior before it starts and ways to address them should these behaviors take place in the classroom. We also had the opportunity to take on the ideas of veteran level teachers through text and video.

Here are some lists I made during class that are worth sharing on my blog because I will be using these as “anchor charts” in my classroom. No, not for the students to refer too but for my own personal and professional development. I intend to use the following list in my lesson planning binder that I will refer to and double check to be sure I have included these guidelines in my lessons. If and when (and let’s be honest when will inevitably occur) my lesson plans fail I will make a habit out of referring to this chart and asking where might I have had gaps in my presentation.

Levin & Nolan (2014) refers teachers to a collection of prerequisite behaviors that will help limit misbehaviors. An abbreviated version of the list is as follows:

  1. Be Prepared
  2. Provide Clear and Concise Directions
  3. Set a Purpose/Objective
  4. Be Clear About Evaluation Criteria (Rubrics are a great tool)
  5. Be Consistent
  6. Be Enthusiastic (Encourages Student Engagement Levels)
  7. Foster Caring Relationships/Build Sense of Community

As a class we included a few extra ideas (to the right I’ll identify where I think they fall in to the Levin & Nolan (2014) list from above):

  1. Remain Calm <— Foster caring relationships
  2. Plan For Your Students Needs <— Be prepared
  3. With-it-ness <— EVERYTHING ABOVE AND THEN SOME 🙂
  4. Classroom/Station Design Fits Lesson <— Be prepared
  5. Be Culturally Sensitive <— Be prepared & Foster caring relationships
  6. Create Interesting Lessons <— Be Prepared, Be Clear and Set a purpose

All of these ideas are really connecting to my other courses and texts. From Children’s Psychology where consistency and building trusting relationships can raise ones level of self-efficacy which ultimately results in higher performance levels to Teaching Elementary Mathematics where I’ve learned sparking interest levels is the first step to engage students in problem solving. Everything is beginning to connect and make sense.

In the following class assignment we took a look at the different ways teachers can adjust/monitor behaviors in their classroom. Assuming the ideas from Levin & Nolan’s list fail to work here are a few other approaches. To put concepts into practice, we were grouped and given a task of identifying solutions to each category below:

  1. Change the Pace – If students zone out encourage a quick stretching sessions, use tools and not the same structure of the previous class
  2. Interest Boosting – (see below)
  3. Redirect Behaviors – Remove distractors, “give notice such as – Erica, I’ll be calling on you next”, group reminders
  4. Encourage Appropriate Behaviors – Rewards, Specific Praise, Academic Parties, Calling out Student Models, ClassDojo App
  5. Provide Cues – Walk By, Tapping Desk, Teacher Look

My group was assigned #2 – Interest BoostingTechniques and here is what we came up with:

  • Utilizing technology e.g. Interactive Whiteboards, geoboards.org
  • Incorporate “play” in learning
  • Groups/Classes with rotating roles
  • Field trips as extrinsic motivation

One approach I had not immediately considered was to boost interest levels from daydreamers, distracted students, etc. by acknowledging their work positively (Levin & Nolan, 2014). Once you have the student(s) attention you can encourage him/her to show his work to their shoulder buddy or show us how you got to that solution using the interactive whiteboard. This will be an approach I carry on my tool belt and refer to frequently. While, daydreamers may not have started their work I can refer them to previous work they did well as a way to boost their esteem and in turn raise their level of interest.

Scenarios – What is a verbal cue to help him get start? 

  • Student won’t get started with desk work – First class reminder: “Is everyone clear on what the expectations are?” – Then student specific reminder: Repeat of question with students name first
  • Student barrels through to the front of the line – “Name, I know you know better, please be a good role model to your friends and go back to your desk and start again.”
  • Student blurts out to another student across the classroom while teacher is providing the class a lesson – “Really?” “Okay, that’s fine you and you keep talking..the rest of us will wait”

In the scenarios above I’m reminded of how the littlest response to behavior has the potential to make the greatest difference in the overall environment and outcome.

The BIGGEST take-away I had from today was when my professor said “I think for the next MAT cohort I will have observations begin with MAT students shadowing elementary students in order to gain their perspective”. My professor has 10+ years of teaching experience at various levels and it wasn’t until she came across the blog/article “A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Shadows 2 Students for 2 Days — A Sobering Lesson Learned” that she was inspired to try something new (Wiggins, 2014). Why is this revelation so valuable to me? I am reassured that I will make mistakes and that things will still work out okay. I am confident that I will be open to learn from colleagues and other education professionals who may have a different perspective then what I currently can see. I am aware that one of the biggest mistakes a teacher (or individual for that matter) can make is being afraid to change; especially when change is brought about by scientific and academic research. As a teacher, my goal is to not only to encourage students to develop the skills needed to become higher order thinkers and learners but to also not let myself fall into a “stuck in my ways” mentality. Thanks for the unintentional life/professional lesson 🙂

My next blog will not be until the first week of December and will be the last blog I write until my second semester. I look forward to rereading these and seeing how my thoughts grow and change!

Until next week,

Erica

References

Wiggins, A. (2014). A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Shadows 2 Students for 2 Days — A Sobering Lesson Learned. Retrieved       from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/24/teacher-spends-two-days-as-a-student-and-is-shocked-at-what-she-learned/

Levin, J. & Nolan, J. (2014). Principles of Classroom Management: A Professional Decision-Making Model. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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Week 11: Discipline Theories….Round 3

Week 11: Kohn’s Beyond Discipline Theory & 3-Part Venn Diagram

As we are nearing the end of our first semester of the MAT program classroom management theories are really beginning to take shape. The more approaches or behaviors I learn of and witness in real time the more I am able to start recognizing what my teaching style will look like. Hypothetically, of course, because teaching behaviors and practices are circumstantial but just as many theorist provide “visions” of ideal classroom environments my own images are becoming more clear. Well, before I get to into my personal preferences let me honor my promise from last week and review the third discipline approach.

This week we analyzed Alfie Kohn’s vision of discipline in the classroom. Below you will find the graphic organizer I used to to analyze Kohn’s Beyond Discipline theory.

Kohn's Beyond Discipline Theory

Kohn’s Beyond Discipline Theory

Do you remember my “light bulb” moment from last week? I described the reality check I had when I was “forced” to use a graphic organizer that became too distracting for my thought processes to focus on the task of analyzing Albert’s Cooperative Discipline Theory. I vowed that as a teacher I would provide many “tools” to my students because all minds do not organize and process information in the same way. This week I was quite pleased when I was advised to complete Kohn’s theory in ANY organizational style I desired. As it turns out I still felt limited in my layout because I would’ve preferred to use more color (ink or highlighters) to help me recognize ideas that fell into multiple columns. Honestly, its likely I’m overthinking it a bit because I was able to pull out main ideas but if given the chance I would create all of my organizers on poster boards using all different colors and fonts as I’m a visual learner.

Okay…I’m getting carried away but let’s check out what ideas Kohn brings to the management world. For me, the name alone immediately differentiates Kohn from Canter and Albert’s theory; Beyond Discipline. Kohn has criticized discipline practices deeming them counterproductive (especially reward and consequence systems). He claims they do things to students rather then involve students in the processes of classroom management and behavior regulations. Kohn’s approach is built upon the theory of Constructivism in which learning is identified as the cognitive experience of building on ideas and experiences. Kohn feels strongly that classrooms should reflect a community of engaged and self-regulated individuals who choose their behaviors and choose to learn as a collective. While his approach to management reminds me of how my graduate level classes are conducted part of me feels that it would be unlikely to succeed in elementary grade levels. One difference is the fact that I (and my cohorts) are willingly attending classes (that for some of us will take 5+ years to pay off financially) and are deeply passionate about the knowledge we are accruing. Students in k-6 classes might not all feel this way as school tends to feel more mandatory then seen as a privilege. However, I choose to hold on to my possibly naive view of how I will manage my classroom and say its possible to foster an environment that Kohn envisions in his theory.

Now we have three ideas and many different ways to apply them to practice. Lets first compare and contrast the theories. In class, we completed a Venn Diagram of the three theories (see below) and that helps me recognize how many characteristics are shared between each approach. Oh yeah, this is the fourth graphic organizer used to conceptualize these management styles and I liked this style better then my own but nothing is without flaws. For me, the Venn Diagram definitely made comparisons easier to visualize but contrasts (in this case, not necessarily in every case) were a little more challenging because the ideas were not black and white. Speaking of black and white, the fact that the organizer was color coded definitely helped me process the ideas more effectively.

Venn Diagram - Discipline Theories

Venn Diagram – Discipline Theories

Now that we have touched on the three different discipline theories discussed in class I want to pick out a strength from each and suggest how I will apply one or more approach in my own vision of teaching.

Canter’s Assertive Discipline: Expectations of behaviors are clear and consistent

Albert’s Cooperative Discipline: Uses misbehaviors as an opportunity to learn

Kohn’s Beyond Discipline: Provides a “least” restrictive environment for learners

I have to say the three strengths listed above are exactly how I want to manage my learners. As I discussed in my first post, I want to foster an environment where students feel safe and secure and learning takes place with little to no unnecessary interruptions. My ideal approach will be a cooperative community in which expectations of rules, procedures, learning and self are clear and consistent and set and agreed upon from day one. Misbehaviors and challenges that go against the agreed upon behaviors will be used as a tool to encourage higher level thinking and self-regulation that will allow learners to feel less restricted and more available to learning. I cannot state that one model above is the “right” model for me but I do believe having resources that back up your teaching style is important for administrators and parents so if I had to choose it would be Albert’s Cooperative Discipline but with more time and experience I’m sure I can find a theory or merge the theories to defend my ways. Also, it does all matter who my students are so I cannot definitively give my answer but I feel my foundation has been laid 🙂

Wow! Only four more classes left this semester! What will the future weeks hold? Stay tuned!

Erica

Charles, C.M. (2002). Building Classroom Discipline. Allyn and Bacon: Boston.

Weeks 9 & 10: Discipline Theories

Topic: Discipline Theories

For the past few weeks our class has been analyzing discipline methods and considering when and where application may be most effective. I find myself reflecting back to my own experience as a student and what methods most encouraged productive behaviors and ultimately allowing more time for learning experiences. I can pinpoint certain teacher behaviors that I was naturally more receptive and responsive towards. As a result of my own personal schooling experiences I came into this program confident that I would model the behaviors my ‘favorite’ teachers showed me. However, more then half way through this semester I find myself realizing what worked for me will NOT work for all and this means I will have to consider strategies and behaviors I never would have thought twice about. Now, you may be thinking wait a minute..I thought we were going to hear about discipline theories?! Don’t worry you will but the biggest takeaway or “light bulb” moment was what I realized during the strategically designed lesson of the discipline methods.

During a two day analysis of Canter’s Assertive Discipline method and Albert’s Cooperative Discipline method our professor strategically planned an activity that taught me more then just the methods. On the first day we broke down Lee and Marlene Canter’s theory of Assertive Discipline. We were given two graphic organizers to choose from and then in a pair-and-share we filled in the blanks. I was unfamiliar with both of these organizers but one appealed to me more then the other and I selected it and finished applying the information into it. (See below)

Fish Design - Canter's Discipline Theory

Fish Design – Canter’s Discipline Theory

Then, on day two we were thrown a curve ball. On the back side of our initial graphic organizer we were instructed to do the same thing for Albert’s Cooperative Discipline Theory (see below) only we had to use the organizer that we had not selected the prior week. While I can’t speak for everyone I did hear plenty of groans and moans about why we had to use the second organizer.

Albert's Cooperative Discipline - Graphic Organizer

Albert’s Cooperative Discipline – Graphic Organizer

Once time was up for the assignment our professor explained her intentions of the assignment. By forcing us to use the graphic organizer we had likely not preferred, we were reminded of how important it is for teachers not to stifle their students learning and creativity by forcing upon them one method that works well for some but NOT all. Another irony was in hearing the class discuss why they choose one method or another. It seems to have all boiled down to how they visualized the information and processed it in one graphic organizer over the other. Some felt option one was too confusing and the others thought the same of the second. Bottom line this is one of those lessons that I felt the weight of personally and therefore I’ll remember it and be more cautious of the tools I supply my students in the future.

Earlier this semester I read a principle of classroom management by Levin & Nolan (2014) that states, “For effective teaching to take place, teachers must be competent in influencing appropriate student behavior…” (P.  19). When I first read this I felt very much competent I would easily achieve this level of student respect and subsequent appropriate behavior. Today, I still feel competent I will achieve this but now I’m learning so many more views and approaches that I almost want to laugh at how confident I was in the beginning.

This ties back in to my realization that I may have a classroom of students who won’t be responsive to the same methods and strategies that I felt so strongly about. Of course I’ve known as human beings we are all different and have unique needs but I still had not flipped the switch in my head that allowed me to really apply the concept. Luckily, I do now!

It is my understanding that we will be tying in another discipline method next week so I will wait until then until I share which method or mixture of methods I will attempt in my classroom. I will also include a bullet point comparison of these theories as bullet points have always helped me cognitively organize ideas. I wonder..what kind of disciplinarian I will be in the classroom? I look forward to getting this question answered over the next few weeks. Of course…no matter what stance I take in this pre-service level I know it will all boil down to the school I’m in and the students I have but I’m still looking forward to building a strong foundation of what kind of teacher I’ll be!

Until next week,

Erica

Charles, C. M. (2002). Linda Albert’s ‘Cooperative Discipline’. In Building classroom discipline. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Levin, J. & Nolan, J. F. (2014). Principles of classroom management: A professional decision-making model, (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Wolfgang, C. H. (1995). Solving discipline problems: Methods and models for today’s teachers, (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Week 7: Reflection Paper on Ethical Dilemma

Week 7: Reflection Paper on Ethical Dilemma

For this I will be sharing a paper I wrote describing an ethical dilemma that many teachers will inevitably face. My presentation was done with the same team who I also held our Morning Meeting with and the conversation on appropriate teacher behaviors was further discussed. The paper will inform you of what the dilemma is, how FEAPS plays a role in my rationale and how challenging defining ethics can be. While you may be typing in the term “ethics” to Google to prove me otherwise; I will explain. Defining ethics broadly is one thing but applying it circumstantially in an environment with multiple ages, genders, religions, nationalities, beliefs, etc. is completely different. Please review my paper below which provides a scenario in which proves this troubling and challenging dilemma.

Educators are prone to ethical dilemmas in the classroom. One likely cause contributing to these ethical binds would be the nature of diverse classroom populations. Political, religious, cultural and gender-based differences (among numerous others) can lead to much debate about appropriate teacher behaviors. Typically, because with each group and individual comes a unique view and attitude towards everything and I use the word everything in the most literal sense. As a result of these differences having systems in place such as FEAPS can protect teachers and students.

The Florida Educator Accomplished Practices, commonly referred to as FEAPs, provides a set of guidelines and standards that identify and promote instructional practices which promote effective teaching in the classroom (fldoe.com). This paper will review and discuss one of the  Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida. Per the fldoe.org (2014) number 3e states, “Obligation to the student requires that the individual: Shall not intentionally expose a student to unnecessary embarrassment or disparagement”. Whether the result of punishment or regular teacher behavior FEAPS is in place to encourage emotional and physical safety to encourage environments to be a secure place for learning and participation.

An article from the National Education Association, Shut-up and Other No-No’s (Jehlen, 2008) was presented and provided short tips from teachers on how to practice ethical behaviors.  During the discussion several differences were made by the audience with varying degrees of what constitutes appropriate teacher behaviors. While no one voiced that unnecessary embarrassment of students was acceptable a few suggestions were made in which fell in to a grey area of appropriateness. For example, one suggestion was made regarding a hypothetical situation in which one student was distracted and not engaged in a class reading out of a literature book. Knowing he was not following the material, a preservice teacher thought it would be a good idea to call on the student to read next. A few interjections were made discussing how that might embarrass the student. On one hand, it could make the student aware that they were not paying attention. On the other hand, it could embarrass him and possibly result in prolonging the time learning is not taking place by other laughing and the teacher reestablishing order.

It is important to note that the suggestion made by the preservice teacher did not come from a malicious intent to embarrass the student. FEAPS number 3e includes the term intentionally in its wording to differentiate the source of harm. Of course, another debate includes how to determine if the action(s) were taken with intent or not but we will save that for another paper. The proposed solution of “calling the student out” has been practiced in classrooms and can come across as a logical approach to refocus attention to the material. This is how easily an educator can find themselves in an ethical bind. A violation of ethics does not always have to come with an intent to harm or to embarrass a student. A violation of ethics can easily occur as a result of differences in interpreting actions and results. In the above scenario, one might interpret the suggested action as an effective punishment and another as potentially harmful choice. The challenge for every teacher will be in deciphering how their behaviors and actions will be decoded and interpreted by the students, parents and administrators.

With so many differences in opinion, how can a teacher ensure that he/she does not violate ethical practices as required in FEAPS? A few suggestions would be to practice reflective behaviors, understand varying dispositions and use proactive thinking over reactive actions. Understanding that one approach might be right for some students or classes but not right for all can also make a difference. As educators it is important to realize that every action taken can be modeled by students and therefore should be conduct in a manner one would like to see in students.

References

Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida. Retrieved from http://www.fldoe.org/edstandards/code_of_ethics.asp

Jehlen, A. (2008). ‘Shut up!’ and other no-nos. Retrieved from

http://www.nea.org/home/10996.htm

Thank you for reviewing my paper. As I stated above what is important is to be reflective of ones own beliefs and respectful to others. If you live your life or in this case practice your profession in such a manner you will surely be able to work through dilemmas dealing with ethics.

Well until next week,

Erica

Week 6: Morning Meeting: A New Perspective

Week 6 was the day my group led our first Morning Meeting. All of the information I shared during my first post was finally put into practice! The majority of the preparation time was spent determining who would lead which portion and how we could fit all of the material into a 15 minute timeframe. To ensure that each of us stuck to our allotted amount of time we decided to have two timers. The first began as soon as we called students to the circle and the second timer was to make sure that each student only spoke for 30 (or less) seconds during the sharing sessions. In total we spent about two hours preplanning for our Morning Meeting. For the most part our planning was effective but in the end we did run Morning Meeting five minutes beyond the preferred 15 minutes.

We wrote out our agenda for Morning Meeting and made sure each of us had a copy to help keep us running on time and on the same page. Throughout the three Morning Meetings led by our professor(s) and the two student/peer led meetings it became very apparent how easily time can exceed the budget. In every Morning Meeting the number one time killer was not a lack of structure but because of the in-depth and rich conversations our class of almost 25 students engaged in. Of course, the first couple meetings time was consumed in teaching practices and introducing us to what we should expect as participants of Morning Meeting but as our lessons and activities get more involved in class we do not have the same time flexibility.

Our detailed, step-by-step plan can be seen in the picture below:

Morning Meeting Plan Week 6

My co-leaders and I selected a theme of student punishment that caused unnecessary shame and/or embarrassment by the teacher. We decided to move forward with this idea because it is addressed in Florida’s Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida (http://www.fldoe.org/edstandards/code_of_ethics.asp)

We began our meeting with one leader sharing a time in which she felt personally shamed by a teacher. She then informed the students that we would each have 30 seconds to share a time when they either personally experienced shaming and/or observed it in a classroom. I followed by informing them of the topic we would be addressing so they could connect the experiences they shared and more easily understand the potential emotional/psychological effects of these poor teacher behaviors. I then introduced an article from listverse.com that complied 10 instances where educators practiced harsh and emotionally disturbing punishments on students to bring to light what a serious concern this can be. The article can be viewed here: http://listverse.com/2014/02/04/10-insanely-bizarre-school-punishments/ . With time constraints we briefly provided a summary of numbers 9, 7, and 3. As the timer went off at fifteen minutes I acknowledged we had exceeded our limit and wrapped up the conversation allowing only three student responses from the article. With that my first co-led Morning Meeting came to an end.

This was immediately followed by our professor leading an open class discussion on what our group did well and what we could improve on.

What we did well

  • Tie in one theme to all sections
  • Called order to the meeting by gradually calling all students to the floor by birth month and then returned them to their seats by favorite color to avoid any unnecessary disruptions during transition
  • Addressed and updated time limits so no one was surprised on felt as if they had been cut off
  • Recognized and acknowledge that we were grateful the students felt safe and comfortable to open open to the class about their experiences

Where we could improve

  • Time management – a good practice may be to have neighbors pair and share their stories instead of going around the circle individually to save time
  • Information overload – maybe next time only discuss one of the three mentioned stories from the article
  • Non-verbal signal – Our non-verbal signal (hand and arm raised up) to indicate their 30 seconds had passed was not accessible to all students
  • Missing component (news and announcement) – again a result of time management

More on time: In my observations of three different grade level elementary classrooms the idea that there is almost never enough time to do everything a teacher desires has also been made clear. As a result of these understandings I did find myself with a main focus of time. Not to imply that time management is a “bad” concept but it did leave me feeling slightly unfulfilled of the bonding and learning experience Morning Meeting has been suggested to incorporate to the unit. According to Kriete, “Teachers and administrators must model the social and academic skills that they wish to teach their students,” (2002). Given the value society places on timeliness in terms of social and professional settings as well as in academic fields (testing, reports, due dates, etc.) my concerns are probably very similar to what students experience and therefore it is important I model how to appropriately juggle tight schedules. So while my first run did not live up to some expectations it certainly opened my eyes to unexpected results.

Overall, I was proud of our Morning Meeting but like all things, practice and experience are needed 🙂 I wish I would have recorded it to review myself. I know I need to work on time management and think about different ways I can incorporate the improvements listed above.

More to come next week when I dig deeper into our Florida Standards and acceptable forms of “punishment”!

Erica

Reference List

(2013) Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida, §6A-10.081.

Retrieved from http://www.fldoe.org/edstandards/code_of_ethics.asp

Hoebee, Shelby (2014, February 4). 10 Insanely Bizarre School Punishments. Listverse.

Retrieved from http://listverse.com/2014/02/04/10-insanely-bizarre-school-punishments/

Kriete, R. (2002). The morning meeting book. Thunder Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation, Inc.

Week 5: Rules & Procedures

Week 5: Rules & Procedures

Why do classrooms have rules? What about procedures? Who creates, implements and enforces these? These are some questions I came across during class and throughout our assigned readings. Below, I will tackle a few answers and provide what/how they will impact my future teaching styles.

Week after week I’m recognizing how important security and safety is to effective classroom management so it comes as no surprise that the foundation for rules and procedures rest on these two concepts. Rules and procedures establish classroom norms that regulate behaviors, lessening the opportunities for misconduct, while also creating stability by providing explicit expectations for students.

In order to establish rules it is imperative that the leader of the classroom, the teacher, determine which rules and procedures must be included to avoid hindering learning and that abide the school/district rules. Once those are identified it is up to the teacher to decide how to come up with the rest of the rules. According to DeVries & Zan (2003), “Rules in schools have traditionally been made by teachers and given to children. Today, many teachers see the benefits of allowing children to have a voice in developing classroom rules” (pp. 64).  As with the shift from an individual to a more collaborative approach to education has occurred there is also research that reflects the value of allowing students to participate in making the rules. “We define rules as a formal agreements among teachers and children” (DeVries & Zan, 2003, pp. 65). From my own personal experience I firmly believe that when two parties contribute to forming an idea or concept to agree upon it becomes something to take pride and ownership in versus an obligatory act. While rules tend to refer to behavioral norms procedures involve more of the daily tasks or activities. Like rules, procedures can be invented as a group.

In Class Activity: Our class constructed a t-chart of rules and procedures; those that the teacher must establish and those that could be established in a collaborative effort with the teachers and students. It was agreed upon that most rules could be established collaboratively except for those that involved safety such as fire drill procedures.

I look forward to giving this collaboration of rules/procedures a chance in my future classroom. I do not expect it to be flawless but I know with practice there lies potential to reach an effective level of classroom management. I do wonder what events or incidents will occur and cause on the spot mandated rules to be established but for now not knowing (due to lack of experience) will help me relate to the students more in the sense that I can explain why some rules are nonnegotiable.

Once established, rules and procedures must be observed and enforced in order to maintain levels of safety in the classroom essentially producing more time for learning to take place. According to Weinstein & Romano (2011), Effective classroom managers constantly monitored students’ behavior…so that there was little opportunity for students to become inattentive and disruptive“ (pp.89). When behaviors that deviate these norms go undetected by the teacher there is a greater potential for negative consequences such as physical injury and/or learning interruptions. This leads me to wonder what types of consequences will I implement in my class? I also have to take in to consideration why the rules are being broken. Are there too many? Are they there for safety and learning or just to let the children know who is the boss? Prior to these readings and class I had no clue what went into the formation of rules and procedures but I know now they have there place in the classroom and must be given devoted thought.

In Class Activity: I want to briefly touch on the second activity we did in class. We were provided scenarios that involved “opportunities for behavior to interfere with learning time”. What I learned from this exercise is that it is imperative that I establish clear expectations of my students and that I provide them with clear directions not only for an assignment but for after completion or “incase of” situations.

As a result of all of the above I want to test myself in observing multiple behaviors in the classroom while trying to teach, read or hold a one on one meeting with a student. In my weekly observation I will make a greater effort to try an monitor all students behavior at once. This is especially important when they rotate in groups and are spread out across the classroom. (I reflect back to my classroom arrangement/organization post and realize just how important placement is.) Things are really falling into place. Classroom management is a 1,000+ piece puzzle and I’m starting to connect the corners 🙂

DeVries, R. & Zan, B. (2003). When children make rules. Educational Leadership, 61(1), 64-67.

Weinstein, C. & Romano, M. (2011). Managing classrooms to nurture students, build self-discipline, and promote learning.  Elementary classroom management: Lessons from research and practice (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Week 3 & 4: Classroom Management: Structural Layouts and Student Arrangements

What are the components of a highly functioning classroom? How does the placement of students within a classroom contribute to (or reduce) the learning of the collective? How has my understanding of classroom management changed? These are a few questions I was able to answer after readings and in class activities but before I jump into the answers let me explain how I discovered them!

For the past two weeks our focus has been on how to create a physical environment that is conducive to learning for students. The main concern is how to incorporate varying degrees of personality, academic and personal/physical struggles with the layout of a classroom. The goal is to construct an environment where students work as a cohesive unit with the least amount of interruption and the highest amount of security and safety as possible.

In Class Activity: I received a wake up call during week three when we were placed in groups of six and were told we would be modeling teachers who were meeting at the end of the year to determine how the students would be placed in the our grade level classrooms. Each of us were dealt cards that became symbolic representations of our students. We received the following sheet informing us what each card suite and number represented in terms of student demographics. Please see below:

Card Representation

Card Representation

After assessing each student and their attributes I quickly realized I would not be able to operate my classroom one dimensionally if I really wanted to be an effective educator. With so many different and sometimes competing needs of the twenty-five students I knew I would not be able to approach them all with the same practices. My classroom was pretty evenly divide by suite sets and gender. Five students had reading levels below third grade and eight were ELL but only two of those were not proficient in English. I also had three in need of strong emotional support, one with a learning disability, one with ADD/ADHD.

I heard sounds of frustration and relief as our class begun sorting through the students who made up their classroom and I sadly realized some students are poised to enter classrooms being labeled as “undesirable” or “problems” or “ideal”. That does not sit well with me as it inevitably leads to stereotypes and generalizations being made and possibly preventing the student(s) from receiving the most out of my classroom.  I will have to make a conscientious effort to avoid labeling students. I want to view students who deviate from the preferred norm as opportunities rather then struggles.

Fast-forward to week four: Our class activity was to design our physical vision of our future classroom. We were given a list of required features that had to be placed in the classroom. The picture below shows my initial vision:

Initial Classroom LAyout

As you can see, I was able to include the features that were discussed in chapter two of Elementary Classroom Management (Weinstein and Romano, 2011, page 27). “All physical settings serve six basic functions: security and shelter, social contact, symbolic identification, task instrumentality, pleasure and growth,” (Weinstein and Romano, 2011, page 27). I made sure students were placed far away from distractors like the pencil sharpener and that entryways and passageways were easily accessible to avoid unnecessary conflicts and accidents. I also choose to arrange students in pods to encourage group activities and lessons. Honestly, I felt like we nailed our layout!

While I thought of the students in my design my greatest determinant of placement was on the above mentioned functions. Then we were thrown a curveball! We were instructed to arrange the students from last weeks activity into the layout we had just designed. So the students I had described earlier now had to be factored into my layout design. We were only allowed to make three adjustments to our initial design in order to accommodate our set of students. Below is my revised vision with my students labeled by suite and number.

Revised Classroom Layout

My physical changes included moving the bookshelf to create a more cozy section of the classroom that was still accessible to my eye line but could help students “block out” the world to focus on reading. I thought this would be great for my ELL students who could be pulled back for mini lessons and reading circles. My most noticeable change was to the desk arrangements. For easier viewing, desk outlined in red indicated a red colored suite and those not outline reflect black colored suites. I tried to arrange students mixing gender evenly but placing similar academic levels near each other and ELL’s near those closest to each others academic level. I took one pod and separated them to provide students who need more attention or who prone to distracting others in the back to avoid these disturbances. However, by doing so I was technically labeling students so moving forward I will allow students to choose seats and I will rearrange on an as needed basis. My goal will be to create a safe, easily accessible environment where classroom boards and displays are equally shown to all students.

What I’ve learned overall:  There is no layout that ensures a flawless classroom but it is my responsibility to try and accommodate all students and meet their needs to the best of my abilities. All of the preparation in the world does not guarantee a perfectly functioning classroom. I must be flexible and quick to accomodate changes in my student roster or changes that can unexpectedly come up throughout the year such as a broken leg or a new student.

Weinstein, C. & Romano, M. (2015). Managing classrooms to nurture students, build self-discipline, and promote learning.  Elementary Classroom Management: Lessons from Research and Practice (Sixth ed., pp. 2-23). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Catch you next week!

Erica

Day 1: What Classroom Management Means To Me

Course: EDE 6506 – Creating & Differentiating the Learning Environments in Elementary Schools (Classroom Management)

Week 1 Recap: Prior to class we read “It Mattered that I Came” and “Morning Meeting”, two chapters out of The Morning Meeting Book (Kriete, 2002). In the reading, Kriete recalls the moment she realized the importance of student/teacher greetings and conversation. As a former student was dropping out of school, Kriete received a letter thanking her for the way she greeted the student every morning and left her feeling as if her presence in class was valued. “It touched and pained me that something which seemed so small to me…had meant so much to her,” (Kreite, 2002, pg. 1). Vowing to learn something out of the situation she would make a habit of greeting and welcoming students to class. We are then introduced to the concept of Morning Meeting. Per Kreite, approximately thirty minutes should be spent every morning (or at a specific time throughout the day) in which the whole classroom gathers together in a circle for a greeting and sharing time. Morning Meeting should include these four components to be most effectual: Greeting, sharing, group activity and news and announcements (Kriete, 2002, pg. 3). In the next chapter “Morning Meeting”, Kriete discusses the purposes of Morning Meeting, provides implementation ideas and troubleshooting advice.

After the Reading: I was definitely moved by the emotional appeals Kriete had made to encourage teachers to implement Morning Meeting into their routine. I visualized what my classroom might look like, how many students I might have and how I wanted to include Morning Meeting with my teaching style. The idea of a safe place where all students are given a platform to speak and engage with their peers and teacher(s) is important to me. When I decided to take the journey to become a teacher it was my goal to create a classroom that would not only encourage academic achievements but also to encourage personal growth and development. My experiences have led me to believe that it takes growth in multiple areas to develop the confidence needed to reach ones maximum abilities.  I feel strongly that the Morning Meeting concept will definitely be applied in my future classroom and will help to set the expectations of how we will operate as one unit.

In Class Activities: The following day I entered class and was soon directed to gather on the floor with my classmates. In my first Morning Meeting I was one of the students and my professor and TA were running the meeting. We went through the steps as suggested in “Morning Meeting,” (Kriete, 2002). I learned names, background information of my peers and professors, and received a brief snapshot of what I could expect throughout this course. We then returned to our seats and as I felt more relaxed and comfortable as we moved on to other tasks.

For the next assignment we were given five minutes to “free write” about what Classroom Management means to us. I described an environment in which students feel free to express themselves without the fear of judgement from others. I described how learning should feel comfortable even when challenging because outside factors such as a cultural, social and academic differences are not holding anyone back.  Following the free write we were then instructed to “mold” our concept of Classroom Management as we had written down. Then as a class we circled the room and checked out everyones interpretations leaving small notes to the left (see below). For the most part the message was clear to my peers.

Below, is what I came up with. A circle with the words “Safe Zone” inside. I chose as it reminded me of the setup of Morning Meeting and that during these meetings and throughout the day I wanted a place where learning would not be hinder by a lack of safe feelings.

 

My Play-Doh vision of classroom management

My Play-Doh vision of classroom management

 

Implementation Goals: The combination of reading about Morning Meeting, engaging in a Morning Meeting and creating my definition of classroom management has led me to new concepts that I look forward to embracing in the future. I imagine that many of my naive beliefs or visions I have of teaching will change throughout the MAT program and teaching experiences but my concept of classroom management will not. I will make sure that students feel safe, welcomed and feel supported enough to choose to learn. My goal is to learn creative ways of conducting and participating in Morning Meetings so that I can be a more effectual teacher.

 

Text covered:

Kriete, R. (2002). The morning meeting book. Thunder Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation, Inc.

 

 

Until next week,

Erica