So how does one move from management defined by style 2 “orchastrater’ to a style 1 “facilitator?”
Begin by creating clarity and “operationalize” desired behavior:
The key thing to keep in mind as you attempt to make the shift from a more teacher-directed to student self-directed set of practices is that it will hinge on the clarity that you can create. It cannot be overemphasized in your thinking and strategy that students cannot know what they do not experience. Concepts like responsible, respectful, cooperative, positive attitude, full-effort, risk taking, being creative are abstractions until they are “operationalized” and made real in one’s experience. The burden is on the teacher to make these ideas concrete and personally meaningful to students (recall the concept attainment exercise where we began with concrete ideas and developed a generalization about the concept “community”).
High expectations are nice. But students cannot rise to a level of behavior that they do not understand (on a real and material level). Unfortunately, for many teachers who want a great deal from their students, having high expectations is just a start. The job of teacher is to teach one’s expectations. This includes accepting accountability for students growing in understanding of the skills necessary to meet them.
Developing Clear Expectations:
Expectations are rooted in the law of cause and effect. Students know if . . ., then . . . For example, if they listen they will know what is going on, and things happen smoothly, and if they do not, they do not know what is going on, and there may be other consequences that the teacher implements as well. However, if the teacher says everything over and over, complains that there is too much talking, and is inconsistent about their consequences or uses illogical punishments, no cause and effect relationship will develop in the minds of the students. Actually there is a cause and effect learned – “when the teacher gets mad, he/she complains.”
If the teacher models and expects a type of behavior – for example respectful interactions, the students will soon see that there is an expectation for such behavior. But the teacher must make the students aware that there is a value to the behavior and a consequence when it does not happen. Lectures, guilt, preaching, chronicling failure seem like action, but they are pretty useless. Take action. Model the behavior deliberately. And over time help the student see the value. And no matter how repetitive it may feel, it is useful to promote mantra-type language. For example, “in this class we all try our best.” Or “this class has only responsible learners.” Or “the great thing about this class is that we always listen to each other and expect to be listened to.”
Keep in mind the difference between 2-style teacher expectations and 1-style teacher expectations relates to what the students are responding to. In 2-style teacher expectations the student is responding to clear and consistent consequences and modeling. The student knows what is going to happen and the teacher follows through. The cause and effect is created in a systematic manner and reinforced each day. With 1-style teacher expectations the clarity is just as evident, but the cause and effect is located (psychologically) in the students’ awareness of the purpose of the behavior. For example, if we all listen to each other, we develop respect and learn more. And it feels right on some intrinsic level.
Who has their hands on the steering wheel of the class?
To shift from 2-style to 1-style management begin to allow the students to take control of the steering wheel of the class. For example, if you have in the past identifies situations that need to change to make for a functional classroom, begin to involve the student in problem solving how to solve collective problems.
To give the students the wheel when they do not know how to drive is more crazy than courageous. And giving students a lack of structure and clarity and expecting them to show some sort of self-regulated behavior is the definition of the ineffective 3-style teacher discussed earlier. So handing the steering wheel (figuratively) to the students needs to be done as recognition for the students showing responsibility (recall the frame development chart in week 2). Make that social frame very clear and deliberate – “when you guys are able to show me . . ., I will let you decide . .” or “Since you were able to . . ., I think you are ready for . . “ And if they fail, do not shame of dwell on the failure, but reduce the amount of freedom and responsibility and then encourage them to do better when you give them the opportunity in the future. This underscores the point that this process takes as long as it takes. It may happen quickly or it may take all year.
Key in Technical Management is to shift from the extrinsic to and intrinsic “awareness of value”
Recall the area of technical management. The goal of good technical management is smoothness, efficiency, safety (emotional and physical) and clear communication. Almost any group of students needs to begin with a 2-style development period to begin the year. Recall the handout, but the key to success is practicing success, recognition of the positive, and an expectation of 100% attention including consequences for anything less.
Shifting from 2-style to 1-style technical management happens as the students begin to see the value of the efficiency and ease of communication. This will happen a great deal more quickly if the teacher helps the students recognize this value. For example, as the class is listening to the speaker the teacher might briefly note how nice it is that people in the class listen and expect to be listened to. This can be done in the form of simple questions (that are somewhat rhetorical and don’t really need to be answered) for example, “how long did it take us to shift from the lab to our seats? About 40 seconds, at the beginning of the year it took a lot longer, how does it feel to be able to trust others will be ready when you get back to your seat? Or “How does it feel to be in a class where you are listened to when you are speaking?” These questions shift the locus of control from the teacher to the student. They create an awareness of the intrinsic value of the behavior. As the behavior takes on its own value and is associated with personal and collective satisfaction, the need for the teacher to maintain an extrinsic reward and consequence structure become less and less necessary. Eventually, the students should feel that they expect to have their hands on the wheel and will likely feel a little insulted that the teacher would need to take control with extrinsic interventions.
Teach the skills necessary:
§ 1. Self-direction (have students problem solve how to work together without the need for the teacher to be referee, and how to work independently without needing to be rewarded)
§ 2. Respect and emotional sensitivity (take time to examine the process of communication as it occurs in your class, have the students recognize what is required for them to feel safe and respected)
§ 3. Cooperation and Other/Team-centeredness (a 1-style classroom is nearly impossible to cultivate without a sense of interdependence and community)
§ 4. Efficiency as a means to higher value outcomes (have them see that being self-directed and collectively efficient enables them to do more and achieve higher quality outcomes)
Make a practical shift in your management style:
Over the course of time, when it comes to processing problems that arise, make a shift from you doing the thinking to letting them do the thinking. The results are that they begin to trust their own ability to solve problems and they will take greater ownership over the solutions that are developed. The sequence might be something like this: early in the year using mostly 1. teacher explanations – then shifting occasionally to 2. teacher-led discussions – then to 3. student-led discussions and finally to – 4. student-initiated problem solving, as they show the ability and the will for self-improvement. This shift will help the students feel confident with the steering wheel in their hands, and build community. You still may need to facilitate the process, but the students will learn to take ownership of “their class” and any problems that arise.