I believe in a progressive classroom where management and learning is student centered. My role as a teacher is to be a leader, not an authoritarian or dictator. A classroom environment needs to be supportive and must be able to meet a student’s basic needs in order for learning to take place. The foundation of a good management plan must be built on the following essential elements: positivity, consistency, and most important of all, respect. I believe in a management plan that avoids any form of punishment at all costs. Students work much harder for rewards than to avoid punishment. Instead, with student input, I plan to implement a system of logical consequences for when students break classroom rules. It is very important for students to contribute and have some control over their classroom environment because they want power and freedom. Students need to see a cause and effect relationship in order to understand the consequences of their actions. These consequences will be enforced in a fair and consistent manner throughout the year.
Students also need recognition. They take pride in their work, but without recognition they easily lose motivation. Part of my role as a teacher is to provide positive feedback and recognition for work and effort. Providing recognition gives students a sense of accomplishment, which helps to promote intrinsic motivation. Students are mostly motivated at this age by extrinsic forces. They do things for rewards or to avoid punishment. I believe in using rewards at certain times to motivate students, but in the long run students need to be intrinsically motivated so they will do things for themselves. Overuse of rewards will not promote intrinsic motivation and those rewards will lose effectiveness. By using rewards sparingly, I can keep my students motivated on the short term while helping them to develop intrinsic motivation.
Organization is also a key component of a good management plan. Part of my role as a teacher is to plan and present the curriculum in such a way as to keep students engaged and to maximize student participation. Student engagement minimizes student misbehavior. Also, if students get bored, then they stop paying attention which means they’re not learning. Students want and need to have fun to remain engaged. I plan to teach using as many hands-on activities with real life applications as possible. By minimizing traditional lectures and using a variety of different interactive activities, my students will be too busy and be having too much fun to misbehave. Another important part of keeping students engaged and creating a fun atmosphere is being enthusiastic about what you’re teaching. Enthusiasm will rub off on students (and so will boredom). Students are also extremely social creatures. They want to fit in and be a part of a group. I will promote social interactions between my students by providing them with a variety of opportunities to work in groups. Flexibility, diversity in activities, and good assessment techniques are other important organizational and instructional components of a good management plan.
The theorists that best support my philosophy of classroom management are Gordon, Kounin, and Glasser. Gordon believes that the best learning and classroom environment happens when students are able to use their inner sense of self-control. Gordon has come up with “helping skills” that prevent misbehaviors and he is against the use of a discipline system based on rewards and punishment. In his theory, Gordon discusses the use of helping skills. Gordon says that teachers should avoid communication roadblocks such as criticism, orders, and lectures. These roadblocks lead to a break down in communication between students and their teacher, which in turn can lead to misbehaviors. I believe its very important to keep an open line of communication with your students so they know exactly where you stand on issues and so they can feel like they can talk to you. Gordon also discusses the use of preventive skills, which include rule setting, participative problem solving, use of I-messages and decision-making. I think these techniques are all good ways to prevent problems before they ever start, which is much easier than dealing with a problem once it happens. Gordon is also against the use of a discipline program based on rewards. While rewards here and there can help to motivate students, when you use rewards all of the time the effect soon wears off. A teacher needs to help students become intrinsically motivated in order for motivation to last and for students who will continue to want to learn.
Kounin uses various methods that promote student involvement in learning and he attempts to minimize misbehaviors through various techniques that emphasize teacher organization and student responsibility. In Kounin’s theory there were different techniques for effective classroom management. “Withitness”, where a teacher knows what is going on in the whole classroom, is extremely important in good management. A teacher needs to be able to identify a problem right when it begins in order to prevent it from escalating. Students are also less likely to misbehave if they think you’ll catch them. Another idea of Kounin’s is that you have to keep the momentum of your class going. Any downtime or abrupt transitions allow time for student misbehavior. A teacher must be well organized in order to keep a good momentum going. Kounin also discusses the importance of keeping students accountable for their work. This is especially important because students won’t try that hard if they know that their work isn’t counting towards their grade. Accountability promotes responsibility. Another good point Kounin has is that a teacher needs to show a lot of enthusiasm for whatever they are teaching. Enthusiasm will rub off onto your students and inspire them. He also says you should challenge your students.
Glasser’s theory involves the fulfillment of students’ needs. These needs are belonging, power, fun, and freedom. It is when these needs aren’t met that misbehaviors occur and student work will not be of the highest quality. The need of belonging can be met by being involved in the class during activities and discussions. Receiving attention or recognition from the teacher can also satisfy this need. Students will feel that they have power and freedom when they are allowed to give input and make choices within the classroom. Allowing student input on things like classroom rules and classroom environment (i.e. let them decorate the walls or bulletin boards) will give them a sense of power and freedom. A student’s need for fun can be met by using interesting, hands-on activities, to teach instead of traditional lecture-style teaching. Sharing student success will also promote a fun atmosphere within a classroom. Glasser sees a teacher’s role as being a leader who is responsible for providing a warm and supportive atmosphere.
1. Expectations of students:
I expect my students to act with the utmost respect towards one another and myself at all times. Disrespect of any kind will not be tolerated in my classroom. I expect my students to come to class ready and willing to learn. This means that they will come prepared with the required supplies and completed homework assignments. I expect 100% participation from my students. This means that they are all listening when someone else is speaking and that during activities everyone participates and does the work. I expect my students to follow the rules on their own (without always being reminded) so learning can take place. I expect my students to work cooperatively as a class and in groups and provide help and support for one another. Lastly, I do not expect students to be perfect. I understand that things happen and people have bad days. I will be understanding as long as students always try to do their best.
2. Expectations of classroom climate:
My classroom atmosphere will be positive and supportive where students will feel safe and welcome. Students will be responsible for keeping the classroom clean and will also help to decorate walls and bulletin boards. I plan on displaying student expectations, rules and consequences on the wall so students have an easy reminder for what is expected of them. This also makes for a useful reference when someone breaks a rule. I also plan to display student work to help promote a sense of accomplishment and to give students the recognition they deserve. I will use cues in my classroom (not a loud voice) to get students’ attention. I will stay positive and consistent when enforcing consequences with students. I will arrange desks to allow easy movement in between them so I can have easy access to each student whenever someone needs helps. I will use supportive language that is neither derogatory, nor condescending.
3. Rules and Policies:
I will develop classroom rules and policies with the help of my students. I will teach them the difference between a punishment and a consequence and together we will come up with reasonable consequences for violations of each rule. Students will copy each rule into their notebook and will have both themselves and their parents sign it so everyone knows what is expected. When a student breaks a rule I will remind them of which rule they broke by pointing it out on the display. Then I will remind them that we agreed as a class not to break that rule and I will then issue the consequence. I will do this in a positive and consistent matter throughout the year. The most important rules that I will make sure are a part of the class rules are:
Once I’ve provided for my student’s basic needs of belonging, power, freedom, and fun, learning needs to take place. I will structure my curriculum around the California State Content Standards for Biology and Life Science. I will communicate my very high expectations to my class. Students respond directly to a teacher’s level of expectation. If they know that you don’t expect much, they won’t try as hard. I will design my lessons to be as engaging and fun as possible. I will try and make the curriculum as relevant to real life as possible so students understand why it is important to learn. Students are more willing to learn when they know that the knowledge will be useful later in life. I will also try to work creativity into activities and assignments. Students take more pride in their work when allowed a creative outlet.
I plan to have my lessons very well organized in order to prevent students’ need to act out. Kounin states that maintaining smoothness and momentum throughout the lesson is essential in minimizing misbehavior. Any downtime in a lesson is a chance for students to socialize or misbehave. Downtime happens when the lesson is dragging, during transitions, and if students finish work early. Flexibility is an important tool in combating down time. If I sense my students getting restless with something we’ve been working on for awhile, I’ll simply move on to something else and go back to it later. Or, I’ll try a different way of teaching the same thing (ex. instead of lecturing have students present the material to the class in groups). By breaking up lessons into different activities you don’t give students the time to get bored with what they are doing. I plan on giving my students adequate warning before a transition is going to happen (ex. “In five minutes you need to begin cleaning up so we can go over you homework.”). Then I will give them a time limit for the transition (ex. “You have two minutes to clean up and get your homework out.”). If the students don’t make the time limit I’ll have them practice until they do. When students finish work early I’ll either have them start that evenings homework or assign them to help another student who hasn’t finished.
Other techniques of Kounin’s I’ll use to prevent misbehaviors are “withitness” and overlapping. “Withitness” simply means I’ll be aware of everything going on in my classroom so I can catch things early before any situation escalates. Over lapping is the ability to handle more than one situation at a time. I will also use some of Gordon’s techniques to prevent communication roadblocks. By keeping an open line of communication with my students they will feel comfortable and won’t need to act out as much. Per haps the most important thing I can do to prevent students from acting out is to give them the attention they want and need.
My assessment promotes my management goals in a number of ways. My assessment is going to focus just as much on the learning process as on the final product. This makes students more accountable for all the work they do and helps to promote intrinsic motivation because they are rewarded just as much for their effort as for their quality of work. This helps prevent students from giving up if they think something is too hard. My assessments will be authentic and will determine whether students have developed a meaningful understanding of the subject. This encourages students to look at how information fits into the “big picture” which in turn makes the learning more relevant which is motivating. I will always hand out rubrics before an assignment so students understand exactly what is expected of them and so they have a goal to work towards. Rubrics can be very motivating as well because students can self or peer-evaluate their work and then improve upon it.
Flexibility and awareness are the two most important factors in allowing for the various learning styles, cultures, and diversity in your classroom. I plan on using as many different techniques as possible when teaching to account for different learning styles. For example, some students are more visual learners where others are more tactile. For a given subject I would give a power point lecture (visual and verbal) and then follow it with a hands-on lab or group activity that demonstrated the same thing (tactile). By mixing up each lesson with various techniques each learning style is going to benefit from instruction. Whenever possible I will adapt my curriculum to meet student’s special needs. When this is not possible I will try and give those students extra help and make sure they understand what is going on. One way I plan on doing this is through peer helpers. I will always try to be aware of any cultural differences that may affect learning styles in my class and will take those into account.
I’ve found that students are generally extrinsically motivated. They usually work for rewards (good grades, prizes, candy, awards, praise etc.) and avoid punishment. Using some type of a rewards system for good work and behavior is definitely motivating to students in the short-term. For example, I had a teacher who used to reward us with fake money (or punish us by taking it away). The money could later be used to buy grade points, gift certificates, candy and more. While extrinsic motivation works fine for the short-term, students need to develop intrinsic motivation to do well in the long-term.
Intrinsic motivation is doing something just for sense of accomplishment, or because even though you might not enjoy it, you know you’ll benefit from it in the long run. Intrinsic motivation is what helps students work towards their goals. Feeling a sense of accomplishment and achieving or working towards one’s goals is what motivates students in the long term.
I plan on using rewards sparingly (when overused they become less effective) to help keep students motivated for the short-term. I will do this by praising and giving recognition for good work. I will also surprise my students from time to time with tactile rewards like candy for good work and behavior. I will use a variable ratio enforcement schedule so my students don’t know when to expect their rewards. This means that I will randomly reward good work, not every time it happens but on occasion. This motivates them to work hard all of the time, not just when they know they will be rewarded. This way the rewards remain effective because you’re only doing it some of the time. I will not punish my students but I will enforce consequences when they break a rule. I will do this consistently, which will motivate students to behave and follow the rules.
To motivate students for the long-term I will have them keep a portfolio of their work where they can track their progress and accomplishments throughout the year. I will also display good work on classroom walls so students have a visual reminder of accomplishment. I will have students set academic goals and list the steps they need to take to accomplish them. I will do everything I can to help my students meet those goals.
I would characterize this approach as a mixture of behaviorism and a humanistic approach. The short-term motivation technique of random rewards utilizes part of Skinners theory of behaviorism. The techniques to foster intrinsic motivation would be better characterized by Gordon’s or Kounin’s theories where rewards and punishment systems are avoided and student’s inner sense of control and power are promoted. They both strongly believed that only through intrinsic motivation would students continue on their quest for knowledge.
I’m here today to observe Miss Allen’s class for teacher reviews. I sit in the back of the class and gaze in amazement at the walls and ceiling. There are bright posters on the walls showing everything from cell parts to nutrient cycles. Student work is displayed on bulletin boards around the room. There is a life-size model of a human torso with removable organs in the back and Jerry, a real skeleton, hangs out next to Miss Allen’s desk. There are shark, fish, and whale models hanging from the ceiling, which gives the effect of being underwater in the ocean. There is an aquarium with colorful fish as well. The atmosphere is fun and warm, you can tell the students and Miss Allen take extreme pride in the classroom decorations. The desks are actually lab benches arranged in wide rows with plenty of room for movement between them.
Miss Allen greets each student as they begin to trickle into her classroom. She takes the time to ask the students questions about their lives like how the football team did at the game last night. She is very warm and encouraging in the way she speaks and the students feel very comfortable talking with her. You can tell they know she truly cares about them as a person and this makes them feel important, like they really belong in this class. As the minute hand clicks closer to the hour students begin to settle down into their desks and they get out their supplies that they will need for the day. By the time the bell rings each student is ready for class and has already begun working on the vocabulary words they need to know for the unit’s lesson. Miss Allen puts a starter activity on the board each morning for the students to work on the first five minutes of class. Miss Allen uses this time to silently take roll. Next to the starter activity is the day’s schedule so students already know what is in store for them today. A student strolls in two minutes late. Miss Allen does not say anything she simply notes it in her roll book and the student sits down and begins working knowing that it is useless to give her an excuse. Students are allowed two “freebie” tardies for the semester and after that they lose participation points. Miss Allen notifies students of their tardies, participation points, and grades periodically throughout the semester or whenever a student asks.
“We have about one minute left before we move on to the next activity so start wrapping it up,” Miss Allen warns her students of the upcoming transition. I see some students talking but on closer inspection I realize that those students that have already finished are actually helping those students who haven’t, kind of like they are all one big team. After one minute Miss Allen cues the students by turning the lights off for a second. When they come back on everyone is looking at her except two students who are finishing up. Miss Allen waits a few seconds and the two students get nudged by their classmates and they also turn their attention to Miss Allen.
“What did one mushroom say to the other mushroom?” Miss Allen asks her class with a grin. After a pause, “Hey, you’re a pretty fun guy (i.e. fungi)!) The students groan in laughter at the cheesy joke. “Today we are going to begin studying the Kingdom Fungi. We’ll go over the vocab words you just wrote down and I’ll give a power point presentation showing different types of fungi and the different parts of a mushroom. Then we’ll divide up into our lab groups and we’ll be finishing our plant dissections from yesterday and we’ll also dissect and label mushrooms.” While reviewing the vocabulary words Miss Allen randomly calls on students for answers. She asks if there are any questions and students say no. Just to make sure she randomly calls on a few students and asks them about what they just went over. Satisfied that everyone understands she begins the power point presentation.
Students take notes and label diagrams on handouts that correlate to each power point slide. The lights are turned down low for the presentation. Two students take advantage of this by passing a note to each other while another student begins doodling. Without missing a beat Miss Allen walks over to the note passers (while still giving the presentation) and sticks out her hand. The students hand the note over blushing and get back to their work. Miss Allen then walks to the other side of the classroom and taps the doodler on the shoulder to get him back on task. During the presentation Miss Allen asks questions to ensure that her students are understanding everything. “What do you think this part of the mushroom is called?” She pauses a good three to five seconds even though five hands immediately shot into the air. “Bobby? That’s right, this part of the mushroom is the cap.” She rewards Bobby with a smile.
After the presentation is complete, the students quickly get together with their lab groups without any direction from Miss Allen. When I asked her about this amazing feat she told me that they had to practice this transition numerous times at the beginning of the year but now the students are very efficient. The students work very well in their groups, everyone is participating and helping each other out and they need little if any guidance from Miss Allen who circulates between groups to monitor student progress.
As the hour is almost to a close, Miss Allen tells students they need to begin clean up which should take five minutes. Students clean up and sit back down at their desks. Miss Allen gives them their homework assignments and goes over it thoroughly, asking questions to make sure students know exactly what is expected of them. There are a few minutes left in class so they do the first problem together as a class. The bell rings and Miss Allen excuses the students who leave to go to their next class.
She pulls aside the two note passers and speaks to them privately in her office. In a calm quiet tone Miss Allen states, “I don’t appreciate it when students pass notes when I am giving a presentation. It shows a lack of respect towards me, which is our number one class rule. This is the second time I have had to speak with you about this so I will have to deduct points from your participation grades. I don’t like doing this because you are such good students most of the time but that is the consequence we decided on as a class. Is there a reason why you were passing notes?” The students reply no and they apologize. “I accept your apology and please remember that if this happens again I’m going to have to call your parents (consequence for third violation), which I really don’t want to do.” The students promise it won’t happen again and Miss Allen excuses them to go to their next class. She moves back into her classroom to great her next class.