Standard C:Manages Classroom ClimateTeacher Candidate: Jill CameronDigital Pictures which Demonstrate Classroom ManagementReflective Essay No. 3Observation No. 3 (PDF file)
Digital Pictures which Demonstrate Classroom Management:The Room:The large picture is a shot of my supervising practitioner’s beginning of year graphic that celebrates her students’ names.Starting on the bottom left and moving to the right and upwards you’ll see: the sign on the door announcing her classroomand the yellow folder with the weekly passwords (always new word wall words), to the right of this is an anchor chartshowing descriptive words to support student writing. The blue chart next to it is the workboard, it announces studentgroups and the order in which they’ll follow the weekly workboard assignments. In the corner of the collage is a pictureshowing the student job chart, this changes weekly. Above the job chart is the daily schedule, morning message, and lunchselections. The remaining two pictures show the monthly literacy theme books (March is Dr. Seuss) and the Just RightReading book bins with leveled books for the students’ choosing.
The Tools:This collage displays the tools used to encourage and enforce classroom management goals. The primary picture is ofthe class goals, or agreed upon set of rules created and signed by the entire class. At the bottom left you’ll see abehavioral chart used to document the behavior of a student who could be on an IEP the following year, it includes goalsand rewards. To the right of this is a red piece of paper which is used to report destructive or dangerous behavior toparents. The Friendship pledge is next to it and it is another class contract of sorts that sets rules of engagementbetween students. Next to this is the weekly reading graph that tracks and rewards students who read at home. Thekindness goals I discuss in my reflection can be seen in the corner of this graphic. Above the goals is the behavioraltraffic light and the final three pictures show documents that reward and encourage good behavior.
Good classroom management is essential to creating an environment conducive to student achievement, and I wasvery fortunate to witness and learn wonderful skills during my practicum thanks to the unbelievable organization of mysupervising practitioner. Mrs. Hurley’s management style is noticeable before you enter her room: the hall is bedeckedwith student profiles and kindness goals and the door adorned in seasonally appropriate student artwork. When you enter the room you see a prominent job board, a word wall, student work, a behavior managementchart which looks much like a stop light, a string of student names dubbed the “kindness chain” and plenty of anchorcharts for math and ELA. The student’s desks are arranged in groups of four to promote cooperation and to ease the shareof materials. There is a reading nook, a writing corner, an art station, a science and math corner, cubbies and mailboxes.The level of organization is amazing and because of its intuitiveness, it induces a sense of calm; when you walk throughthe room you know exactly what things are and where they belong. This structure and consistency greatly enhancesstudent experience and enables the flow of traffic throughout the day. Incidentally, the ability of students to travelbetween stations is of huge importance because both Mrs. Hurley and I include a lot of movement in our lessons. Mrs. Hurley espouses positive reinforcement and holds high expectations her students, herself and for me. Thefirst thing I noticed about the efficacy of her style was how well it worked on me: I wanted to live up to her expectationsand consequently the expectations her students have developed with her as their teacher. As a result, I found that the mosteffective and proactive classroom management practice was this: set your expectations high (this may mean differentthings for different students), and use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior. Perhaps it’s because of where thestudents are in their development that strategies which capitalize on intrinsic motivation work best. That said, it followsthat I found negative, reactionary management exacerbated the problem I was trying to mitigate while simultaneouslyleading to whole class behavioral problems.The following represents a sampling of the “reactionary” or negative reinforcement classroom management strategies thatI attempted to use during my practicum and their value: the stop light, warning tickets, and removal either of the studentor the removal of the object at the center of the distraction. The stop light,
a tool made of poster board, was used primarily during the start of the school year, but which had to be reintroduced afterthe holiday break. The idea behind it is that students recognize that green symbolizes “go” or “good”, yellow means “slowdown”, and red is “stop and think”. Clothespins with the students’ names on them were pinned along the sides, allstarting on “green”. When a child became disruptive, they would be asked to move their clothespin to yellow or reddepending on the severity of the disruption (for example, dangerous or destructive behavior would go straight to red).Initially, I liked the idea behind this; asking the student to move their own clothespin brings them in direct contact withthe consequence of their actions. In theory, the deterrent is the idea that your pin would move to the dreaded red zone.However, in practice, that idea didn’t have much impact on future behavior on the part of the offending student. In keeping with the traffic theme, I also tried a ticket system. In this system, a bunch of little yellow tickets wereprinted, laminated and handed to whoever needed to stop and think about the choices they were making. If a studentreceived three tickets during the day, they would lose recess time. This was motivation enough for some, but didn’t workas well with others. One of the problems that I found is that the small size of the ticket did not match well with all of themovement going on in the room. Students often forgot about their tickets or lost them and so the visual queue didn’t havethe desired impact. As a last resort, I would remove a child if he or she was being either damaging or destructive, in which case theywere removed for their own safety as well as the safety of others, or if a child was having too difficult a time controllingtheir impulses and distracting the rest of the class. Thankfully this didn’t happen often, but when it did, it was a cause forself-reflection. I think that this strategy exemplifies my dislike of negative reinforcement: as soon as you use it you are ina position of reacting to a situation. I believe that proactive planning yields much better results. Somewhere between the reactionary and preemptive management skills, are strategies that I consider to beneutral. These include redirection, giving a child space for “quiet time”, and ongoing communication with families. Moststudents will need redirection from time to time, and sometimes, students will provide it for the teacher when he or she
gets off track. It’s no more than a benign reminder which can be innocuously and quickly delivered by simply saying“Please start working on ___” and walking away. I noticed that in most cases, when I employed this strategy, studentsrefocused and finished their work. Another neutral strategy which I used with a few students was providing space, and bythis I mean acknowledging their frustrations and giving them a few minutes to sort their frustrations out on their ownbefore I added anything further. This strategy worked particularly well with one student in particular who faceddifficulties due to emotional immaturity. The key to keep this strategy “neutral” is to be aware of your own biases, if Iapproached this student with anything that could be construed as judgmental, my strategy would have fallen intonegative/reactionary territory. One of the last items of classroom management that I will include in this category iscommunication with students’ families. One of my students had a folder that was filled with daily tracking sheets thatdetailed the kind of day he had, if he had any struggles and how they were resolved. Every day I wrote in it and sent ithome with him, each morning it came back with a signature or comment from his mother. It was a nice, nonintrusive wayto keep his family aware of how he was doing in the classroom and for them to let us know how he was doing at home. Italso provided documentation in the event he needed an IEP. Beyond the negative and the neutral, was the positive. Personally, positive reinforcement worked best for the classduring my takeover. Under the umbrella of positive reinforcement strategies I am including a variety of tactics such as;direct praise, comparative praise, rewards and goal setting. I mentioned using two types of praise, direct and comparative.Direct praise is simply noticing a child working hard or simply trying and acknowledging it. When I use the term“comparative praise”, I mean that I freely used positive reinforcement when I noticed specific students or groups were ontask, while many or a majority were not. Comparative praise lets me redirect an entire group by drawing their attention tothe outcome I’d like to see. The idea behind this is that because first graders do so want to please, they will adjust theirbehavior so that they too will receive the same good words as their peers. This was a very effective tool, thought it didn’twork for all students. For those who needed an extra push, I used a reward system based on clear goals agreed uponbetween the teacher and student.
The student with the goal card would receive a check whenever he or she achieved on of the goals on his or her list. Ifthey filled up their entire card, they would receive a reward based on something that interested them. For one student, itwas computer time, but another just wanted to take his completed card home to show his father. During January and February, the children in Mrs. Hurley’s first grade taught me the value of highlighting thegood rather than focusing on the bad. Mrs. Hurley set high expectations for good behavior, applied it consistently, andcelebrated it in and out of the classroom. I focused on following her lead and found that it enabled me to maximizeinstructional time while maintaining a light and fun class environment.