Classroom Management Trends– What is it? Where does it start? What is the Purpose? And what are some tips?
If we hold awareness of the whole as we study the part, and understand the part in its relationship to the whole, profound new insights become available…. It is a framework by which one can investigate and/or describe any group of objects that work in concert to produce some result. (Margaret Wheatley, p. 143)
Today, we explore one small part – the concept of classroom management from the perspective of student and instructor accountability – in order to understand its relationship to the whole engaged learning experience. I hope you will join me!
As I reflected on my learning theories essay it was easy to see how different management techniques could apply to the different theories of teaching. Basic management techniques changed as instructors organized in rows, or in circles; and whether student participation was important – from talking and sharing in class to sitting and absorbing content. Between these two diverse management techniques there are a myriad of others that can be applied depending on the situation.
I believe the common thread is respect for the students and respect for the instructor. Easy words, but how does one set this in motion? The first article I reviewed gave a definition to classroom management that I believe sets the tone for a respectful learning environment.
This article defined classroom management as an ability to maintain an environment where instruction and learning can occur. I appreciate this proactive and positive approach to the classroom. There are no behavioral contracts or classroom expectations as the students arrive for their first class. I agree with the author that it is most appealing because it is proactive and positive and does not attempt to control the students or the environment in which they learn. Maybe a good start would be an instructor who models respectful behavior, and welcomes all the students to class. As I reflect on this I can remember instructors who did not look up or welcome me as I entered the class as they were too busy on their cell phone, reading their notes, or setting up the classroom.
Respect requires a student to show up ready to learn and an instructor to be organized and able to share what the students should expect from the class. Since I believe an organized instructor is paramount to creating an environment where instruction and learning occur I researched the following article on syllabus development as a management technique.
This article states that incivility is on the rise with common problems ranging from disrespect to dangerous behaviors. Again, this article is also proactive in its drive to prevent the behaviors rather than dealing with the behaviors once they have occurred.
This article focuses on the syllabus as a way to maintain respect and control without alienating students. The syllabus sets clear expectations for behavior as well as expectations for a supportive learning experience. As stated in the article these expectations can include being late for class, use of cell phones, learning outcomes, grading and late assignments. The article did mention the importance of explaining specific points to avoid misunderstandings and I also think this is the time to invite student participation and dialogue. Students generally appreciate being involved in conversations around different marking strategies or cell phone emergency use. I have always found that by including students in the final development of the syllabus creates a natural buy in for the maintenance of the organized environment. Having an open dialogue can also address the articles suggestion that we sometimes create rules around things that bother us but don’t necessarily affect the learning. And finally, something that has been reinforced as a mother over a number of years – do not have rules that you can’t enforce.
My last article for this blog recognizes the importance of the first class. Generally I think it is fair to say that as a human race we tend to have a hair trigger that makes up our minds as we meet new people or situations. The article reminds us that students are the same and that first class can leave an impression for the entire course.
Instructors must inspire confidence in their abilities and set the tone for the semester. Rules must be clear and expectations must be high. More importantly the instructor must find ways to engage diverse learners in a warm and inviting way. Additionally I would like to see ‘authentic ‘and ‘inclusive’ as verbs to describe the community of learners.
I really appreciated the “Today We Will” list to be put up on the whiteboard for the duration of the class. It is very similar to an agenda – but a very visible reminder of what the take aways are for the class and time management for the instructor. “Today we will” is something the students are aware of from the very first day and is a continuous reminder of the expectations of the class.