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  1. 1. Introduction Classroom management “involves careful monitoring of the total environment, including instruction and student learning, in such a way as to promote an atmosphere where learning can take place” (Synder). It is crucial for teachers to be well aware of how they want and need to manage their classroom (Personal Interview, Teacher 4). A well managed classroom involves motivation from the teacher, set rules and consequences, good communication with parents, routines, and a non-threatening environment for students. This project was compiled, through research, to show an example of how a third grade teacher can maintain a well-rounded classroom environment. The first part of the project starts with a definition of classroom management, moves on to rules and consequences, continues with classroom environment and motivation, and ends with parent and teacher communication. The second part consists of multiple appendices that exemplify the topics discussed in the paper. Some examples include, a listing of classroom rules and consequences, a classroom set-up, and newsletters to parents. This project took a lot of hard work and dedication, showing just how much work goes into creating a first-rate third grade classroom. Classroom Management Classroom management, according to Robert J. Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams, is “defined as a set of techniques and skills that allow a teacher to control students effectively in order to create a positive learning environment for all students,” (Sternberg and Williams, 384). It is important that teachers understand all aspects of
  2. 2. classroom management to ensure the positive learning environment for students that Sternberg and Williams describe. The different aspects that go into classroom management include: parent communication and involvement, establishing classroom rules and consequences, establishing a routine with your class, knowing what cues work with your students, and knowing the wants and needs of the students (Monsour, Lecture). Along with the teacher understanding all the different areas surrounding classroom management, students need to be well aware of what is the basis of their learning environment. This will ensure that the students are in agreement to their responsibilities as well as the teacher’s. As long as both the teacher and the students are committing to their learning environment, all will “…feel valued as individuals, safe to think and explore, and challenged to grow,” (Paper written by teacher 3). The establishment of classroom management is key in creating an effective learning environment for every classroom. Rules Rules are an important aspect to every classroom. They help to establish grounds for behavior and work ethic among students. According to Peggy Pastor, from the article “School Discipline and the Character of Our Schools” rules are key in aiding students to learn to make decent choices and be held responsible for them (Pastor, 2). There is a very unique method teacher 1 uses to obtain classroom rules. She calls it the “RIGHT” stuff model; respect, integrity, generosity, honesty, and trust. She stated, “As a class, we create rules and expectations for the class. We agree on respecting each individual and his/her property. We agree to ensure that each person can be an active part of the
  3. 3. learning community.” (Personal Interview). Teacher 1 says they get together as a class creating a big list of classroom and school rules and then group them into five basic rules to be put to use (Personal Interview). This method of congregating as a classroom and creating a master list of rules tends to be commonly used, as teacher 4 does this as well. This teacher makes sure the rules follow the guidelines created not only by the students, but also the school (Personal Interview). The “rules for rules,” documented by Chuck LaBounty aids teachers in the succession of establishing classroom rules. LaBounty’s list includes: 1. Keep only a few rules, if possible no more than five. It is harder for students, especially young ones, to follow and abide by numerous rules. The more basic and few the rules are, the easier it will be for the students to remember them. 2. Express the rules positively. Making rules sound like commands helps the students from thinking negatively about following them. Such an example could be, “Please listen when others are speaking,” instead of “Don’t interrupt,” (Monsour, Lecture). 3. Post the rules where they can be seen. Students are most likely to know and follow the rules if they are constantly reminded of them. A good way of doing this is by posting them at eye level, and having them be bold and very noticeable. Pictures and bright colors help to attract attention and aid younger students in understanding them better. 4. Occasionally reward for rule following.
  4. 4. Rewards can reverse their original intent if used too often. Students like receiving rewards because it makes them feel like they have accomplished something important. When rewards are given randomly, students follow the rules anxiously waiting for when the next reward will come. 5. Let students help in deciding the classroom rules. By allowing the students to help in establishing the classroom rules, they are better able to understand and know that they are capable of following them. Students feel important when they are involved in important classroom matters. Teacher 4 stated that having the students arrange the rules with her helps “support the student handbook and school behavior guidelines,” (Personal Interview). (Monsour, Lecture). Many classrooms contain a general set of rules, which abide by these standards. Such rules could include: 1. Respect Others 2. Use Time Wisely 3. Act Responsibly 4. Behave in a Safe Manner These rules are excellent in not only the classroom, but also for when students are outside of the classroom. The more the students are exposed to these rules, the better chance they have of making them habit. Such rules work well with middle level elementary school students. These types of rules are very common in many classrooms, including those
  5. 5. from observation sites. It is very apparent that LaBounty’s guidelines are met because the rules are concise and few. Consequences Consequences are a very important part of discipline. If a child doesn’t follow the rules and expectations, he or she must be given a consequence to show them that the rules must be followed. Cooperating teacher 2 says that consequences “come after a student has been warned verbally and still doesn’t comply” (Personal Interview). There are several helpful guidelines for consequences that have been found from several resources. “Assertive discipline” utilizes several guidelines. There should be a maximum of five consequences. In case the student severely disrupts the class, there should be a “severe clause” where the student is immediately sent to the principal. The principal should always be the last resort in the consequence plan. Before the plan is utilized, the principal must approve it and a copy should be sent to the parents. The principal and the teacher should determine what will happen when the student is sent to the office. This plan applies to all students. If a teacher uses the name and checks system, all names and checks should be erased at the end of the day. Never erase a name or check as a reward for a student’s improved behavior! If after three days the plan isn’t working with more than one student, the teacher should make the plan stricter. Also, the teacher should share changes in the plan with the principal (Monsour, Lecture). Consequences are often seen as punishment. A teacher should be careful when he/she goes about creating consequences. There are harmful side effects to punishment according to Chuck LaBounty. First, punishment generates unhappiness and resentment
  6. 6. that could last a long time. It encourages lateness coming to class and dropping out of school to avoid and escape punishment. It presents the teacher as an undesirable role model; those who are punished often punish others. Finally, punishment can lead to escalation; the punished may retaliate (Monsour, Lecture). LaBounty also states that there are some effective ways of using punishment. Use it immediately after the undesired behavior occurs and punish each occurrence. Indicate to the child which behavior is being punished to avoid confusion. Unless an undesired behavior violates a clearly set rule, a teacher should warn the student once before punishing him/her. Avoid punishing emotional behavior. Let the student calm down first. The punishment will go a lot smoother this way. Don’t punish with extra school work. This will result in the student hating homework and will avoid doing it in the future. Finally, avoid following punishment with a reward. The punishment might not be that bad and the student could learn that if he/she does this behavior, he/she goes through a mild punishment and then gets a good reward (Monsour, Lecture). There are four methods of humane punishment, again stated from Chuck LaBounty. The first is positive practice, when the student is showed an alternate desired behavior instead of the one he/she is being punished for and then he/she must practice it. For example, a student who was running in the hall is told to go back and walk. The second method is overcorrection where the student does a behavior over and over again. An example would be if a child colored on his/her desk, then he/she cleans the desks and all the other desks. Third is time out. Choose a place for time out that is isolated from the other students. Tell the student that you are punishing the behavior, not him/her. Show that you expect better behavior after time out is over. Do not place a student in
  7. 7. time out any longer than ten minutes. Finally, there is soft reprimand. This is quietly telling a student to get back on task. Only the student you are reprimanding should hear it. Be firm but not severe. Combine this with frequent praise for proper behavior (Monsour, Lecture). Lee Canter believes that a teacher should choose consequences with which he/she is comfortable. They should be appropriate for students’ needs and they should be in their best interests. “Students should never be made to stand in front of the class as objects of ridicule or be degraded in any way” (Canter, 58). Canter designed the assertive discipline method; the method that uses names and checks on the board as well as marbles in a jar. He believes that names and checks are a good way of disciplining children without interrupting the teaching. Recently, however, parents and some educators have seen this method as a way of humiliating students. So instead Canter suggests that teachers should write the students name on a clipboard or in the attendance book and tell the student that he/she broke a rule and that they have a warning or a check (Canter, 59). Some tips for preventive disciplining from Scott Halverson are very basic. 1. Be consistent and prompt in enforcing your consequences. 2. Enforce calmly, slowly using lots of eye contact and proximity control. 3. Use logical consequences which teach, not punish. 4. Never lose control of your emotions. How can we expect students to control themselves if we cannot control ourselves? 5. Avoid disciplining in front of an audience. Students do not back down very easily when they are on stage.
  8. 8. 6. Consequences should relate to the rules. 7. Have a range of alternatives, as not all consequences work with all students [Halverson, 1]. There are many different consequences that a teacher can use. A teacher can talk to the student, remove him/her from the classroom, call the parents, have the student fill out a behavior plan, or lose a class privilege such as recess or computer time. Cooperating teacher 1 says, “We do have a discipline policy at [our school]. Five discipline slips result in an hour of detention on Thursday afternoons. A child receives a discipline slip for being disrespectful (verbally, physically), being disruptive in class and on school grounds, coming to school unprepared, etc. There is no physical aggression allowed on school grounds. This sort of behavior results in suspension” (Personal Interview). The consequences determined for a third grade classroom are as follows: 1. A verbal warning is given. 2. The student has a talk with the teacher either before lunch, during recess, after school, or during school, depending on when the behavior occurred. 3. Ten minutes taken from recess, during which time the student fills out a behavioral plan. 4. A call to the parents is made. 5. A parent/teacher conference; where a plan/solution is created. A contract will be filled out at this time as well. Consequences, if used properly and firmly, can help students understand why the rules are important to follow and why the behavior they did is inappropriate.
  9. 9. Classroom Environment A positive, warm classroom environment is a key element in a successful year. It is important that the classroom is safe and comfortable for the students. It should be inviting. The physical layout is essential in creating this environment. There are six factors to a great physical layout according to Good and Brophy. 1. Security and environment: Add elements of softness to the room. Create a “retreat” area that is free from interference for the students. 2. Social contact: Decide on the amount of interaction you want among the students. Think about whether you are making contact with all your students. 3. Symbolic identification: Personalize your classroom space so that it communicates information about you and your students. 4. Task instrumentality: Make sure frequently used materials are accessible to students. Plan pathways around the room to avoid congestion and distraction. Offer students a personal space in which to keep belongings. 5. Pleasure: Use a variety of colors and textures all around the room to create an aesthetically pleasing environment. 6. Growth: Stock your room with a variety of materials and create a library corner so the students can grow in their reading and other subjects [Good and Brophy, 445-446]. A good seating arrangement is important in classroom environment. The students should all be able to see the board properly. Avoid distractions by splitting up students who disrupt the class repeatedly by talking to each other. A horseshoe arrangement lets
  10. 10. the students all face each other. It encourages whole group learning. Placing the students in groups of two is a good way of developing friendships. The students can bond with the person they are sitting next to. Another type of seating arrangement is in groups of four or six. Groups encourage group interaction. They can develop skills in working as a team. Cooperating teacher 2 likes the students to “sit in a number of different arrangements throughout the year. I often find one arrangement works better than others. When I find one that seems to work, I stick with it and make changes if needed” (Personal Interview). Routines in the classroom give it structure for a more smoothly running environment. A teacher should have many routines throughout the day. This includes how to line up before the class goes somewhere, how to behave in the hallways, what to do when they come into the classroom before school and when they leave for the day. There should be a daily schedule and a weekly schedule. Rules and consequences should be clearly posted in the room where everyone can see them. The children can have assignment planners that both the teacher and the child’s parents or guardians can sign every day or week. There should be specific passes placed in a good position for the children to take when appropriate. A substitute file for when the teacher is gone should include a seating chart, lesson plans, a daily schedule, etc. All of these routines and more should be planned out before school begins; although, the class can be involved in creating some of the routines. If a teacher keeps all these factors in mind, he or she can create a wonderful classroom environment.
  11. 11. Motivation Being able to motivate students in a classroom is not an easy task for most teachers; having the knowledge of the different types and theories of motivation helps this task become easier. A reason to incorporate motivation into your classroom is due to the direct correlation of motivation to academic achievement. Studies have proven that with better motivation in the classroom, students have a higher chance of staying in school and performing better on tests. Attribution theory and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are two theories of motivation. (Sternberg and Williams, 347). Motivating students with rewards is extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is when a student does something because someone else wants them to or they will get something out of it. In their classroom teachers can have a reward menu for students. When a student displays “super star” behavior they get to choose the reward they prefer off the menu. Rewards will include: 1. Praise 2. Positive note home 3. Privilege coupon-the student will receive a coupon for good behavior and a coupon is good for one of the items that follow: a. Piece of candy b. Extra computer time c. Stickers/small rewards d. First in line e. Class party-for good class behavior
  12. 12. Also, as a teacher, you can give out award certificates as a form of external rewards. Awards certificates are a good way to make the student and their parents feel proud about what they have accomplished. The problem with external rewards is that students become convinced that the reason they do the work is for the reward. Then when the reward is gone, they do not do the work. (Lynch, 155). Studies show that the use of external rewards may damage intrinsic motivation. For example, if a student knows that every time they get a math problem right they get a piece of candy; the candy will soon start to be their only motivation to get the problem right. This is not teaching the student to be motivated because they understand the problem or get it right, it motivates them to get the candy. Extrinsic motivation works well at a younger level so they want to please their teachers and impress their parents, but as students get older they realize their sense of accomplishment is a big enough reward. Intrinsic motivation is where a student completes something because they want to complete it. The self-fulfilling prophecy is a type of intrinsic motivation; it is a prophecy that is a prediction that, if accepted, works to make itself come true (Good and Brophy, 379). For example, if the student has an older sibling that was a troublemaker, the teacher may have an expected behavior for the student to be a troublemaker also. The self-esteem of a student is affected by a self-fulfilling prophecy because it causes changes in a student’s behavior. If a negative expectation is portrayed, a student will adapt to this expectation and perform at a lower level. This performance will cause a drop in self- concept, confidence and self-esteem. If there is a positive expectation of the student, the student will perform better and become more confident about him or herself, therefore,
  13. 13. the student’s self-esteem grows. Douglas Lynch describes four good ways to enhance internal motivation (Lynch, 156). 1. Provide success and closure a. The work that the students do should be moderately difficult to encourage curiosity and challenge and build toward a “concrete accomplishment.” 2. Positive introductions a. Teachers should tell their students that the vocabulary words they are learning are words they’ll be using in every day life. The student will be more interested in learning them if they have value. 3. Helpful feedback a. Teachers need to give more feedback besides “right or wrong” to their students to allow the students to learn from their mistakes. 4. Choices with responsibility a. This need is met when teachers give students choices coupled with responsibilities. For example, letting them choose any book from the library as long as they read one. The beliefs children have about why they succeeded or failed are called attributions and they are influenced by teacher comments and the environment the student is put in. There are two types of attributions: effort attributions and ability attributions. Students who acquire effort attributions have self-discipline where as students who acquire ability attributions have no self-discipline and are unconcerned. Internal
  14. 14. motivation is highly influenced by effort attributions, where the student believes that how well they do in school is under their control. (Lynch, 156). Locus of control is an example of the differences between effort and ability attributions. Students with effort attributions will look at their performances as being caused by external factors such as ability and effort. (Good and Brophy, 356). For example, if they failed a test they would say, “I didn’t study hard enough for the test,” using effort to explain their behavior and “I’m good/bad in science,” using ability to explain their behavior. A student with ability attributions will look at their performances as being caused by internal factors such as task difficulty and luck. For example, if the student passed a test they would say, “I guessed right,” using luck to explain their behavior and they would say, “The test was easy,” using task difficulty to explain their behavior. (Monsour, Lecture). Every student has his or her own motivation for grades. Students with an internal locus of control tend to get higher grades due to the time spent in intellectual activity compared to the students with an external locus of control who only study to pass the test. (Good and Brophy, 356). Motivated students will succeed. “Highly motivated people can accomplish remarkable feats, and regardless of how brilliant they may be, poorly motivated people tend to go nowhere” (Sternberg and Williams, 347). So an average student who is highly motivated by their teachers can succeed in the classroom, and with a lack of motivation even a talented student can fail.
  15. 15. Parent Communication “Parents are the most important people in a child’s life. Their love, affection, support and approval are a fundamental need of all children. And because parents are #1 in importance, they are also #1 in the ability to influence and motivate their children” (Canter and Canter, 3). This quote describes why parent communication and involvement is an essential part to any successful classroom. Students do better in school when they feel supported and motivated by their parents at home. For teachers, it is important to work as a team with the students and parents so that each child can reach his/her potential. In order to communicate and involve parents, however, the teacher must first address any barriers that may be present. Some of these barriers include a lack of time on both the parents’ and teacher’s part, uncertainty on the parents’ behalf concerning how they should help, cultural differences which can affect how teachers are able to communicate and how parents interpret or view what the teacher says, parents’ previous negative experiences with school, and also the socioeconomic status of the students’ families (Monsour, Lecture). By recognizing these barriers and working individually with each family, it is possible for teachers to eliminate the barriers, thus creating an environment where parents want to be involved. There are many different ways teachers can communicate with parents. One of the most effective ways to start a good communication system is to make contact with parents before the school year begins. Teacher 3 says, “Making a connection early is key” (Personal Interview). Sending a letter to welcome students and introduce the teacher to the parents is a great way to motivate everyone for the upcoming year. Also, having a
  16. 16. back-to-school night will allow the teacher to meet the parents and establish involvement. During the back-to-school night the teacher can talk to parents about the classroom rules and expectations, discipline plans, homework policies, events that will take place during the year, and parent volunteer opportunities. The teacher can also give out his/her contact information, get parental input, gain support, and express confidence and enthusiasm for the year ahead. Once a teacher has started communicating with parents it is important to communicate on a regular basis to keep parents involved. One form of regular communication that is frequently used is a weekly newsletter. A newsletter can inform parents of what is going on in the classroom, special events for the week, spelling words, and any other topics the teacher would like to address. Another way a teacher can communicate regularly with parents is through the students’ assignment notebooks. By having parents look over their child’s notebook each night it automatically makes them aware of what their child is learning and since the teacher also checks notebooks daily it gives parents the opportunity to write a note to the teacher and communicate on a daily basis. Finally, one of the best forms of regular communication is a parent-teacher conference in the fall and spring of each year. If the teacher is prepared for the conference, a lot can be accomplished. Canter and Canter recommend filling out a conference form for each student before hand outlining all of the issues to be discussed including the strengths and weaknesses of the student academically and socially, documentation of any problems, samples of the student’s work, grades, and a spot to write down any parent input (196-197). Teacher 3 said she even tries to anticipate what the parents will want to know and thinks about any past experiences she has had when
  17. 17. dealing with the parents in order to prepare (Personal Interview). During the conference it is important for the teacher to be well organized and to be in an appropriate environment. Teacher 3, for example, has calming music playing quietly in the background, keeps a folder for each child containing all of the discussion material, sits at the same level as the parents, and tries to sit close to the parents rather than across a table so as not to define parent-teacher space (Personal Observation). With careful planning, parent-teacher conferences can help to keep parents involved all year long. Along with communication being regular, it should also be positive so that parents look forward to their involvement and stay supportive of the teacher. Positive communication shows parents that the teacher is concerned for their child and wants to see him/her excel. Some of the ways a teacher can communicate positively with parents is through phone calls or notes regarding good behavior, student birthday cards or get- well cards, thank you notes to students and parents, e-mails, and even home visits (as long as the teacher is accompanied by another faculty member). Positive communication is important, though, the teacher needs to know that it takes time and effort. The teacher will need to make a conscious effort to do it. During an interview, teacher #1 said she spends about 1 1/2 hours each week outside of the classroom communicating with parents. “I try to make about three calls each night to parents. Reinforcing positive behavior is important too!” (Personal Interview). Recognizing a student’s accomplishments and good behavior will motivate the student as well as the parents. It is worth the extra effort because it will make it much easier to communicate if a problem should arise.
  18. 18. Major or minor, problems will inevitably arise each year and during these problems parent communication becomes increasingly important. In order to be involved, parents need to be made aware of any problems that their child is having at school. Many times parents can give the teacher helpful input as to why the problem started and/or how it can best be solved. In the video “Confident Parent Conferences,” by Carter and Associates, the following outline is given for conducting a problem-solving conference: 1. Start with a statement of concern. Use “I” statements and be specific. 2. Describe the problem/behavior and show documentation. 3. Describe what you have done at school. 4. Get parental input on the problem. 5. Get parental input on the solution. 6. Describe what you’ll do as the teacher. 7. Explain what the parents must do. 8. Tell parents about a follow-up. 9. Re-cap the conference. 10. Show confidence that the problem can be worked out. By following these steps a teacher should be able to work with the parents as a team to find a solution to the problem. However, in some cases the conference is not enough and then the teacher should consider a home-school contract. “A home-school contract is a written agreement between teachers, students, and parents” (Canter and Canter, 164). The contract sets down specific guidelines for home and school to help solve the problem. The following is what should be included in a home-school contract (Montour, lecture): 1. Introduce the concept of the contract.
  19. 19. 2. Determine how the student should behave. 3. Determine the teacher’s positive consequences at school. 4. Determine the parents’ positive consequences at home. 5. Determine the teacher’s negative consequences at school. 6. Determine the parents’ negative consequences at home. 7. Determine the length of the contract. 8. Review the terms of the contract. 9. Sign the contract (teacher, parents and student). Once the contract has been made, frequent communication should continue for the length of the contract. As stated previously, parent communication and involvement is key to a successful classroom. It is a teacher’s responsibility to work to break down barriers and involve parents in their child’s education through communicating. Regular, positive communication as well as problem-solving communication is needed to ensure on going involvement and awareness on the parents’ part. It is a well-known fact that a stool is sturdy with three legs, but falls with only two and likewise a student needs both the teacher and parents to act as the other legs in his/her education in order to grow and excel in the classroom. Conclusion/Reflection This project took a lot of hard work on behalf of every group member. Due to all of our dedication, the project was completed efficiently and successfully. Working on this project opened our eyes to how difficult, yet rewarding, our job as an educator will
  20. 20. be. We feel we will now be better prepared and knowledgeable with managing our future classrooms. By working in a group we were able to see the various ideas and different perspectives, which enabled us to be more open-minded and realize there are many ways to accomplish the same task. “Effective classroom management is an essential part of every learning community” (Paper written by teacher 3).
  21. 21. Works Cited Canter, Lee. “Assertive Discipline – More Than Names on the Board and Marbles in a Jar.” Educational Psychology Packet. Canter, Lee and Marlene Canter. Parents On Your Side. Santa Monica: Lee Canter and Associates, 1991. Good, Thomas, and Jere Brophy. Contemporary Educational Psychology. New York: Longman Publishers, 1995. Halverson, Scott. “Tips for Preventive Discipline.” Educational Psychology Packet. Lynch, Douglus. “Teaching Students to be Internally Motivated.” Educational Psychology Packet. Monsour, Florence. Educational Psychology Lecture Notes. Pastor, Peggy. “School Discipline and the Character of our Schools.” Phi Delta Kappan. 83.9 (2002): 658-661. Personal Interviews. Dael Hunnicutt-4th grade (1), Mary Romsos-3rd grade (2), Heather Thoe-5th grade (3), Alison Svendsen-3rd grade (4).
  22. 22. Sternberg, Robert, and Wendy Williams. Educational Psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002. Synder, David. “Classroom Management for Student Teachers.” Music Educators Journal. 84.4 (1998): 37-40.