Thursday, October 11, 2012

Classroom Management Plan

Classroom Management Plan

Since my educational philosophy is postmodernism, I will be designing a classroom management plan that includes strategies which support my philosophy, which is Postmodernist. Although I found myself resonating with other philosophies other than Postmodernism, I feel that the overall idea describes myself and what kind of educator I hope to be. The philosophy believes that teachers should examine their classroom practices and how they are politically, legally, culturally, institutionally, artistically, or intellectually benefitting some groups of students more than others. It strives to expose students to multiple interpretations and communities of knowledge. Also, a Postmodernists curriculum comes in part from local narratives of everyday life events, and is considered partial, fluid and messy. Although all teaching philosophies have their conceptions about classroom management, there are some strategies that I feel will support a successful classroom, including Assertive Discipline, Discipline with Dignity, Discipline with Self Control, Noncoercive Discipline, and Beyond Discipline. I am happy to have researched so many strategies to help me with classroom discipline, and while I hope I do not have a problem with disruptive behavior, I feel equipped with an arsenal of techniques to support my future classrooms.

Preventative Approach
When I think of strategies that will be preventative towards management problems in the classroom while still upholding Postmodern philosophies, I immediately think of ground rules and attitudes towards the classroom. These need to be addressed within the first week of school. So, what can I do as the teacher to lead my classroom to success by setting the stage early?
1. Alfie Kohn suggests that teachers should convert their classrooms into communities where students support each other and the teacher (Kohn, 1993). For example, in my Academic Success class, students with IEP’s work in a sheltered classroom where they have an entire class period to learn important study techniques, and to work on their homework assignments. During the first week of school, the teacher had us all line up and play a game called bumpity-bump. Students would form a circle and had to memorize the names of the person to their right and left. A student in the center would ‘call out’ one of their peers and say left or right and they had to shout out the students name to the left or right of them. If the student did not know, they were the new person in the center. Building a community in the classroom where students can use each other as resources is key in classroom management. If students get to know each others names and interests, they can use each others knowledge to help each other with classwork, assignments and projects.
2. Teachers are to establish the classroom upon the basis of dignity and hope (Curwin and Mendler, 1983). In this strategy is important that teachers let students know that they will, essentially, punish themselves. Students know themselves the best, therefore, if they are off task it might be for a legitimate reason. Maybe they have problems at home, or forgot to take their medicine to control their hyperactivity. This strategy states that if a student is misbehaving, the teacher is to send them outside of the classroom, and tell the student that they can return when they are ready to be on task.
3. Employ the belief that every student is worth effort and treat them the way adults should be treated (Coloroso, 1994). I cannot agree with this statement any more. My biggest pet peeve is when teachers treat their students like children. How can we expect them to be ready for the real world when we are constantly holding their hand with classwork, assignments and exams. My Cooperating Teacher and I are currently practicing this strategy. For example, my Spanish students have their first exam on Monday. Their homework over the weekend was to use online resources (previously provided), to play study games. However, we are not requiring they turn anything in, or showing proof that they played these games. The proof will be in their performance on their exams. By treating them like adults, and enforcing self advocacy, we are effectively implementing this preventative technique.
4. Always ask students to do the best they can (Glasser, 1985). I feel this is extremely important in any class, but especially a foreign language class. We want students to realize that they will not be penalized for their imperfections. Very rarely will they be graded on exact things that they need to have said or memorized. In fact, language classes are about building a foundation that allows for improvisation.
5. Focus on meeting student needs as the key element of teaching and discipline (Glasser, 1975). To me this means more than just providing an interesting curriculum, it means differentiating material for students who are more proficient in the content area, and those students with learning disabilities. Scaffolding in the classroom is important. For presentations, we always provide a ‘simple’ example, an average example, and ways that students can go above and beyond in creativity so that any assignment meets the needs of students.
6. By creating a “Working with” classroom, students play an active role in decisions, teachers work with students rather than doing things to them, and the learners' interests and questions drive much of the curriculum (Kohn, 1996). The environment supports children's desire to find out about things, facilitates the process of discovery, and, in general, meets children's needs. The alternative: A “doing to” classroom, the adults tend to focus on students' behavior in order to elicit compliance; the preferred methods are punishments and rewards. In a "working with" environment, the focus is on students' underlying motives in order to help them develop positive values and a love of learning; the preferred methods include the creation of a caring community and a genuinely engaging curriculum

Supportive Approach
Setting an example for positive reinforcement is a key element in classroom management and the Postmodern philosophy. I want my students to know that even if a student makes a mistake, it is important to always support them. I want to be my students biggest support system, and I can achieve that by using these techniques.
1. Involve students in the process (Kohn, 1993). Kohn suggests that traditional discipline does things to students rather than involving them them in the process. In this management technique, teachers are meant to ask students what they want to learn about. Or, if the teacher chooses the topic, the essential questions should be open ended and unbiased. This applies directly to the postmodernist philosophy which upholds different viewpoints and multiple ideas about topics. Since there is so much diversity in the classroom, it is difficult to know about their ideas and interests. If we have a more open classroom, where students have more say, it is said that classroom management will not be an issue.
2. Reinforce the ‘rights’ within the classroom. That is, the right for students to have teachers help them learn, and the rights of teachers to teach without disruptions (Canter and Canter, 2003). It is important to note that while teachers have the right to teach, students also have the right to learn. We can help achieve this by setting classroom rules that are followed by all. If you allow a student to be on their cell phone during class, it is not only distracting for them, but for those peers near the device as well. The same thing goes for students talking while the teacher is talking, or being disruptive. It not only is disrespectful for the teachers, but chances are there are other students who are missing out on their right to a proper education.
3. Teachers take charge in the classroom by interacting with students in a calm, consistent manner (Canter and Canter, 2003). I think it is important that students have teachers that are constantly positive, calm, and level headed. Of course people have their off days, but it is not a comfortable environment for students if they think their teacher is going to explode for no reason. I also feel like there must be a good balance because you don’t want your students to think you are a pushover.
4. Students need and want limits that assist their proper conduct and that it is the teachers responsibility to set and enforce these limits (Canter and Canter, 2003). I think it is noteworthy that students actually want and like structure. Of course some classes do not need assignments or activities that are so structured, which is where the flexibility of postmodernists comes through. For example, last year when I was working at Metropolitan High School, there were two periods of Spanish I, one period did really well with a conversational type of environment, they thrived in this environment. On the other hand, the next period needed structure like grammar drills, worksheets, and book work in order to be focused and on task. The key is being flexible and giving support to each individual class. You cannot assume that because you have two period one classes that they will both learn the same way.
5. Focus on helping the students make good behavior choices that will lead to success in the classroom and elsewhere (Glasser, 1985). What I get out of the strategy is that students need to be set up for success both inside and outside of the classroom. This ideology relates to the treating students like adults. If you teach students to be independent learners, you are setting them up for success in college and their careers. In college, your assignments are usually implicit and up for interpretation. We want students to know that they can think independently about assignments and can even modify assignments as long as they get our approval. Supporting students so they are successful in the future is a key element for postmodernists and needs to be a focal point for educators.
6. Any behavior that students use to acquire the knowledge and skills important to your class functions as currency. (Jackson, 2010) For instance, if we teachers value student engagement, we take time and expend effort to make our lessons interesting to students. In exchange for our efforts, students give us their attention, curiosity, and participation. If students value adult approval, they work hard to abide by classroom rules and do well on assignments. In exchange for their efforts, we show them our approval in the form of praise, special classroom assignments, and attention.

Corrective Approach
Although I feel that reading and researching effective classroom management is a great step toward coming up with a plan in my prospective classroom, I feel that hands on experience is where I will get the most benefit. You really cannot know how to tackle a situation or a disruptive student until you are in the moment. My current Cooperating Teacher likes to single out the disruptive child and call attention to their bad behaviors. While this strategy is effective, I do feel a little bad for the student who probably feel humiliated and that it goes against the Postmodern theory which instills that no one is above another. The readings on classroom management strategies gives me examples and other ideas that seem just as effective.
1. Through Assertive Discipline, the teacher shares responsibility with the students and let them know that they ‘have chosen’ their fate by being disruptive (Canter and Canter, 2003). This strategy gives the student plenty of warning until administration gets involved. The first offense is a warning, the second offense is a time out, and anything beyond this gets the parents involved. If the parents get involved and it is still an issue, the administration gets involved. As teachers, you really do not want to involve admin because they you have to have a paper trail, and the student will probably lash out at you as a teacher. Hopefully, a calm warning will be the end of disruptive behavior.
2. According to the Discipline with Self Control strategy, students may only be lashing out because they are not being treated like adults, or the curriculum is irrelevant. This strategy suggest that teachers apply the RSVP checklist. Is what I am teaching Reasonable, Simple, Valuable, and Practical (Coloroso, 1994)? If you cannot answer yes to each of these components, you may want to reconsider the objective of the lesson. As a note, students will always ask ‘Why are we doing this?’, and as a teacher, I hope to always have a justified answer.
3. Noncoercive Discipline has other strong points than simply supporting a warm climate in the classroom. The strategy also ensures that teachers have students evaluate their own work and how they can improve it (Glasser, 1985). We currently employ this strategy in my Academic Success class. At the end of the class period, students rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 regarding their performance in class that day. If a student scores themselves modestly, the teacher will say “Actually you were working really diligently, so I’m going to give you a 10 instead of a 9”. On the contrary, if a student scores themselves an 8 and they were disruptive and off task, the teacher will tell the students “I am going to give you a 7 because you had your cell phone out and did not get back to work after the break”. In doing this process, students are aware of what they did that had positive results, and how they can fix their behaviors to score higher next class.
4. In the strategy, Discipline with Dignity, teachers are recommended to wait until the situation diffuses to address a student's behavior (Curwin and Mendler, 1983). I think it is a great idea to wait until a student has calmed down to tell him why his behaviors are unacceptable. First of all, you may have a student that only gets more rowdy when they are provoked or singled out by a teacher. We use this tactic in class now. For example, a student left to use the restroom when the class period had only started 30 minutes prior. He then was gone from class for more than 20 minutes. Rather than creating a scene in the class, our teacher simply wrote the students name on the board and told him he needed to stay after class to speak with the teacher. The student became upset and was asking “why?”, but rather than argue with a 14 year old boy, she just told him “We’ll talk about this later”.
5. Another important addition to classroom management is talking about what types of consequences students will have for their behaviors. Are the consequences reasonable (Coloroso, 1994)? Students with IEP’s that also have behavioral problems are sometimes put on Behavioral Action Plans. During a student's annual IEP meeting they are talked to about repeat behavioral problems that they frequently commit and the best ways to encourage them to break these habits. Some students are given incentives, “If Chuck does not leave the class for more than 10 minutes while out to the restroom, he will get to leave class 3 minutes early”. While the teacher admits that it is a little excessive, students with severe behavioral problems can benefit from incentives like this.

In my opinion, if I were grounded in the Essentialist teaching philosophy, students would know that the teacher is serious and by the book and expects students to know the cold hard facts. Postmodernism is meant to be a messy, flexible, learning experience which might mean that I will face problems with behavior in the classroom. While classroom management is one of the things I am most anxious about, I think that if you treat students with respect and like adults they will appreciate it, and in return will be on your side with classroom disruptions. Last year when I was working at Metropolitan High, if I led a class discussion, and my students were being disruptive, I had some students who would say “You guys be quiet, you are being really disrespectful to Ms. L”. Since I do not like yelling, and like maintain a calm and warm classroom environment I appreciated having the students on my side. I believe that with experience, and by employing these strategies, I will have a smooth classroom management plan that can be implemented successfully to foster an equal learning environment for all students.

Works Cited

Canter, L., & Canter, M. (2003). Discipline through assertive tactics . Retrieved from

Coloroso, B. (2003). Inner discipline. Retrieved from

Curwin, R., & Mendler, A. (1983). Discipline through dignity. Retrieved from

Glasser, W. (1985). Noncoercive discipline. Retrieved from

Jackson, R. (2010, February). Start where your students are. Educational Leadership, 67(5), Retrieved from

Kohn, A. (1996, September). What to look for in a classroom. Educational Leadership, 54(1), 54-55. Retrieved from

Kohn, A. (2001). Beyond discipline. Retrieved from

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