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Philosophy of classroom management

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  • 1. My philosophy of classroom management Emma Jones 1090025 _____________________________________ My classroom management philosophy this far is a product of 7 weeks practicum experience, one and a half semesters of this teaching course and 5 years of high-school experience. Articulating what I feel is implicit knowledge is incredibly difficult, and has caused me to evaluate how I see my own teaching and what I should be doing to get the best out of my students. My philosophy is by no means complete, but a stepping stone on my way to being the best science teacher possible! An effective teacher must be able to make each student feel like they can succeed in their particular subject and provide them with every possible opportunity to do so. An effective teacher needs to be adaptable in preparing and organizing lesson content so it connects with all types of students at all types of levels. Through the portrayal of personal values and attitudes (as well as enthusiasm for the subject), an effective teacher will positively influence students throughout their lives. Such a teacher seeks to cater lessons to their students’ interests and strengths yet also strives to make every student feel important and valued on a personal level. In my opinion this can only be done through the creation of a warm and engaging teaching environment. After completing my first practicum, I have become aware of my own strengths and limitations so to compare myself against my philosophy will help me on my journey. In regards to classroom management, I believe an effective teacher cannot connect with their students nor connect their students with information unless the learning environment is carefully managed. This means that to be an effective classroom manager, I need to be able to organise the successful transmission of content, ensure engagement of the learners and determine the method of assessing whether the content has been correctly received. What a challenge! The following report aims to show you, the reader, what a well-managed classroom environment looks like through my eyes, as well as strategies I plan to use in order to achieve this vision during my second practicum as an emerging science teacher. I find myself seeing students in three different lights: First of all I see students as teenagers who are still discovering who they are and who they want to be. They are all struggling to juggle the pressures of school, family, friends, self-worth and personal values, their social lives, and maybe extra-cultural activities, jobs, etc. Being a teenager is manic, and I have been one for most of the past ten years so can remember it quite well. With a science degree and major in animal behaviour, I find myself seeing students as, like all animals, responsive to environmental stimuli and interactions with each-other. Teachers can’t blame students for being responsive to their surroundings; they need to take all this into account when creating those surroundings. In line with our most recent tutorial activity, I feel students are like an unworked piece of clay (what a cliché). With the right support they can become their own masterpiece; students can go from lacking public speaking skills to being school captain and making speeches during assemblies, or
  • 2. from knowing nothing about DNA replication to getting an excellence at the end-of-year external exam. As a teacher, my aim is to aid the development of skills and knowledge. A well-managed classroom environment looks like: Malmgren, Trezek & Paul (2005) state that, “teachers have a right to teach in a well-managed classroom,” but I disagree. Yes, it would be nice to have that right but I believe that teachers cannot be given a well-managed classroom because they have a right to it; they have to develop the skill in order to create and maintain such an environment. This skill comes from acknowledging what I believe are the five most important components to any well-managed classroom: 1. Positive and fulfilling student-teacher relationships 2. Accepted and embraced student diversity 3. Production of well-organised lessons 4. Effective management of student behaviour 5. Provision of a ‘warm’ physical learning environment The way I view these components is described below along with ways of enforcing the underlying pedagogical principles. Positive and fulfilling student-teacher relationships: Getting to know my students is crucial to becoming an effective classroom manager. How else will I know how they learn? How to engage them? How to reward them? Students’ getting to know me as their teacher is just as important; how else will they trust me? What motivation is there to learn from me? Why should they listen to me? Palumbo & Sanacore (2007) state that students learn more effectively when the lessons “are well matched with the students’ strengths and needs, ”and getting to know the students as individuals is the only way I’ll find these needs out. During my first practicum I tried hard to get to know my students – the outcomes of this was making content more enjoyable, for example, using pop-culture as a vehicle for improving the application of physics knowledge. Not only this, but by realising I shared common interests with some of my students, myself and another student teacher were able to set up an equestrian team for the school. I believe an effective teacher goes beyond the student-teacher relationship and reaches out to students’ families. Getting the family on board shows you are serious about wanting to help and in doing so, trust and respect is gained as well as an (ideally) strong support system for your student. By incorporating whanaungatanga into my teaching approach, I feel students will respond positively. A warm, family environment is what I have always thrived in and I feel that all students would benefit from this approach. Strategy 1 helps illustrate different ways of developing positive relationships with students, as well as preventing misbehaviour, handling discipline and providing classroom leadership which will be discussed later on. Accepted and embraced student diversity: It is important that I embrace each of my students as “whole people” (Palumbo & Sanacore, 2007) and get to know their whole world as much as I can – home, school, friends, etc. in order to (a) make our lessons best suited to them (b) build a relationship with them and (c) show support and interest in them. By getting to know my students (as mentioned above), I can learn about their values, traditions and language. These things, I feel, should be embraced in all classroom environments. Greeting the students in their own language, popping in an “E tū” to get students standing and
  • 3. having different music playing for particular activities can create a positive learning environment that is inclusive of all students. Production of well-organised lessons: Lessons are more effective when they encourage student interaction with one another, with relevant resources, and give students the opportunity to summarize what they have learned. (Malmgren Trezek & Paul, 2005; Pedota 2007; Palumbo & Sanacore, 2007; Freiberg & Lamb, 2009;). The journey from where students began at the start of the lesson to where they ended up at the finish is more important than everyone being able to answer an excellence-grade question at the end of the lesson, in my opinion. Work by Cassidy & Cassidy’s work (2012) support this idea, and explains teaching in terms of a metaphor that I have illustrated in Strategy 2. I believe the best way to encourage student achievement is to have them learn through a student- centred approach where students exhibit self-discipline leadership and co-operative skills on a daily basis (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999; Freiberg & Lamb, 2009). I believe time management also plays a key factor in lesson effectiveness. Effective teachers make the most out of each period in the day to teach their students; they don’t, for example, waste time waiting for students to be silent before marking the roll, they do it during the lesson while the students are working (Pedota, 2007). Effective time management is something I struggled with last practicum. Effective management of student behaviour: Ideally, a well-planned lesson should diminish the likelihood of students misbehaving however sometimes this is not the case. By investigating the literature surrounding student behaviour, I have found two approaches I believe will help me in the future. Assertive discipline (Canter, 1989), or having a “systematic discipline plan,” (Malmgren, Trezek & Paul, 2005) gives students consistency and fair treatment when dealing with misbehaviours. The plan is made up of expectations and consequences which are communicated to the students. Canter (1989) emphasises the importance of also “catching students being good” and reinforcing that behaviour. My own personal approach, although similar to this, would include co-constructing a list of expectations and consequences, as well as a list of rewards, with my students. Although student- centred lessons would ideally encourage self-discipline and intrinsic motivation on the students’ behalf this is not always the case, hence the rewards. Logical consequences (Malmgren, Trezek & Paul, 2005) is an approach based on the idea that that student misbehaviour is “an outgrowth of their unmet needs” or “mistaken goals” and emphasises the prevention of misbehaviour in the first place. By detecting the reason for the student’s behaviour, effective teachers can find ways to re-focus that behaviour (e.g. swinging on chairs for attention) on a positive task (such as giving them a leadership role for that lesson). Strategy 3 is a compilation of student behaviours and consequences based on the above approaches that I would use in the classroom. As a teacher I feel it is important to look for cues to signify student disengagement. This was something I was regretfully made aware of very late during my first practicum. It is important to be
  • 4. able to tell when the students are disengaged, then the activity can be altered/changed to regain the students’ attention. Provision a ‘warm’ physical learning environment: As mentioned earlier in this report, I see students as responsive to their surrounding environment. An effective teacher would make sure this environment is optimised for successful learning. Desks should be arranged appropriately (depending on tasks) and should be clean and tidy. Having dirty or broken resources just illustrates to the students that no-one else cares for the resources so why should they? I am a sucker for inspirational quotes, so I feel by having walls of colour and inspiration in my classroom, students can work on improving their attitudes not only towards work but other aspects of their life. A display of student work is also important and I would have them be dominant in regards to overall classroom displays. This is a brief overview of my philosophy and I found it very hard to be concise. The embedded files aim to show more of my attitude and philosophy regarding effective classroom management.
  • 5. Reference list: Behaviour Needs. (2011). Needs-focused interventions. Retrieved from www.behaviourneeds.com on 1/8/2013. Brainard, E. (2001). Classroom management: seventy-three suggestions for secondary school teachers. The Clearing House. 74(4):207-209. Canter, L. (1989). Assertive discipline: more than names on the board and marbles in a jar. Phi Delta Kappan. 71:57-61. Canter, L. & Canter, M. (2001). Assertive discipline: positive behaviour management for today’s classroom. 3rd ed. Sal Beach, CA: Canter. Cassidy, T. & Cassidy, C. (2012). Mastering the basics of great teaching: using the ‘9x4’ framework. A Practical Philosophy. Freiberg H. J. & Lamb, S. M. (2009). Dimensions of person-centred classroom management. Theory Into Practice. 48:99-105. Kearsley, G. & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: a framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm on 7/8/2013 Malmgren, K. W., Trezek, B. J. & Paul, P, V. (2005). Models of classroom management as applied to the secondary classroom. The Clearing House. 79(1):36-39. Palumbo, A. & Sanacore, J. (2007). Classroom management: help for the beginning secondary school teacher. The Clearing House. (81)2: 67-70. Pedota, P. (2007). Strategies for effective classroom management in the secondary setting. The Clearing House. 80(4):163-166.