Classroom Management vs. Classroom Culture

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classroom management cartoon

Walking into your classroom on the first day of school can be extremely nerve-wracking. You have done your research on good classroom management skills, because let’s face it, no one is a classroom management expert and therefore you have to pull skills from many teachers. However, there is no real way to know how to manage your classroom until you that first day, right after the morning bell rings and you meet your students for the first time.

Classroom management can be defined as being “able to create and maintain a positive learning environment and successfully resolve classroom discipline issues” (TeachOntario). As a teacher, if you are not able to control your classroom, your students will not respect you and you will not be able to teach the material because you will spend all of your educational time trying to handle them. It is very important that as a new teacher, you establish your classroom management skills on the first day of class so that the students know that you mean business, but still know how to have a good time. As I have seen firsthand in the classroom, this balance between strictness and fun will lead to a greater respect for the teacher.

There are “legal rights and duties of teachers [that] have implications for teachers’ conduct […] in school” (Dean and Kitchen, 89). It is their legal duty to teach the students the curriculum and if this is not done, the teacher is not doing their job. Along with this, teachers also have ethical implications that they must follow in their classroom and bestow upon their students. For example, if there is a student in your classroom who constantly speaks out without raising their hand, if you do not address the situation immediately, they, among others, will believe that it is okay to speak out without having raised their hand. This will lead to students not respecting others right to talk not only in the classroom but possibly outside of it.

There is also the viewpoint of the parent when it comes to classroom management. If a student is constantly going home at night and talking about how crazy their classroom is, then the parents are going to start questioning the professionalism of the teacher and whether they are effectively teaching their child. This could lead to many problems for teachers.

I have witnessed firsthand as well as researched these strategies listed below. The best way to learn classroom management skills is through experience. Learn what makes your class tick and what strategies they respond to. There is no reason for you to continue using strategies that they do not follow or pick up on.

Tips for Effective Classroom Management

  •          Use hand signals and non-verbal communication

o   Hand clapping, rain stick, flicking the lights on and off

  •          Make your lessons engaging and hands-on to keep student interest

o   Try to incorporate student interests into your lessons as to grab and keep their attention

  •          Give classroom jobs

o   This allows students to feel a sense of responsibility in the classroom

  •          Create a set of classroom rules and consequences together

o   This gives the students something to follow that they created themselves – not something they were forced to do

o   You as the teacher should also follow these rules and suffer the consequences should you break them – by modeling good behaviour, the students will pick up on it

  •          Create and keep routines

o   Line up outside the classroom before entering after recess

o   Only allowed to sharpen pencils during work periods and not lessons

o   When the teacher is teaching a lesson, ask to go to the washroom by raising your hand with one finger up and wait for a nod as to not interrupt

  •          Constantly monitor students while working either independently or in a group

o   If you simply sit at your desk the whole time, you will never know who is on task and who isn’t and who needs help

  •          Be prepared

o   By being prepared, you omit the possibility of having students lose focus and begin acting by having forgotten to photocopy a worksheet or what pages the math homework is on, etc

  •          Give clear instructions

o   If students get confused, they very easily get off topic and will disrupt your lesson or their work period

classroom-management-mantra-poster

There are many videos on YouTube that explain different classroom management strategies. I have found this one very helpful, and I have even seen this technique in action and it does work very well.

Classroom management can be linked in with creating a positive classroom culture. With your classroom management techniques, you will create a classroom culture which inspires students to have a positive outlook on school. In Teach Like a Champion, Doug Lemov defines classroom culture as “making your room, a place where students work hard, behave, model strong character, and do their best” (Lemov). It is very important that you create this classroom culture the first week that you are in your classroom and that it stays that way throughout the rest of the year. If you have created a successful classroom culture within your first few weeks with your students, they will begin to feel a sense of comfort with you and the others as well as feel as though they actually belong to the classroom and to something important. Lemov gives the following topics as a basis for the creation of your classroom culture.

Topics Important to the Creation of a Good Classroom Culture

  •          Discipline

o   “Great teachers teach their students how to be students” – how to work hard and stay on task

o   Think about why students are misbehaving and then take the time to correct it

  •          Management

o   It is important to reinforce good and bad behaviour by the use of rewards and consequences

  •          Control

o   Instead of raising your voice, it is important for you to always stay calm and to use a nice, indoor voice when speaking with your students; therefore, creating a positive, comfortable environment

  •          Influence

o   Model good behaviour yourself – students will follow

  •          Engagement

o   Have the students create a classroom motto, this way they have something to refer back to and something they can reference when needed:

 Together Everyone Achieves More Success

o   If students are engaged in your lessons and teachings, they will be excited to learn and willing to participate and be the best they possibly can be

o   Do not give them time to waste

classroom-culture

Additional Links

Here are a few links to websites that will be useful in your research

http://heartandart.ca/

This website is based off of a book called “The Heart and Art of Teaching: Practical Ideas and Resources for Beginning Teachers”. This book provides tips and ideas for anything and everything that a new teacher will need to know about. Not only is the book useful, but the website also has a blog that real teachers use to post their ideas and tips for other teachers. They will let you know some strategies that work and what doesn’t work. This book is a must for new teachers.

https://www.greaterteachers.com/

This website is from ETFO and representing teachers with the Greater Essex County District School Board. It provides you with links to important ETFO websites, but also provides resources for teachers to use. For example, one of the links that they provide is to A to Z Teacher Stuff which will provide you with lesson plans, unit plans, teacher blogs that can help you with classroom management, and literally everything else.

References

Dean, Christopher and Julian Kitchen. Professionalism, Law, and the Ontario Educator. St.

Davids: Highland Press, 2010. Print.

http://www.educ.queensu.ca/sites/webpublish.queensu.ca.educwww/files/files/Services/ClassManagementStrategiesCOQ.pdf

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/classroom-management-tips-novice-teachers-rebecca-alber

http://heartandart.ca/?p=2244

http://www.honorlevel.com/techniques.xml

Lemov, Doug. The Complete Teach Like A Champion, Interactive Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2010. Web.

http://sundayresources.net/neil/2010/10/01/the-classroom-culture-of-great-teachers/

http://www.teachinontario.ca/employment/resources/Participant_Handbook.pdf

— Ms. Purdy

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