Classroom Management

First of all – thank you for participating in the latest poll!

The Results:

What word comes to mind when you hear the words Classroom Management?

60% Procedures

30% Relationships

5% Rules

5% Discipline

I attended a Learning Forward Conference this past week and went to a session on classroom management and new teachers.  The session was led by Tracey Garrett who is a professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Rider University in New Jersey.  She shared three Key Points that I would like to share with you.

Key Point #1

Common Misconceptions

  • Classroom management is synonymous with discipline.
  • A well-managed classroom is a quiet classroom.
  • An effective classroom management plan relies on rewards and punishments.
  • Engaging instruction is classroom management.

Reflect on these misconceptions briefly by answering which of the four misconceptions has influenced your beliefs about classroom management?

For me at the beginning of my career I was wrapped up in misconception 3 – rewards and punishments.  I learned that rewarding students for doing things they are already intrinsically motivated to do was a practice that I could let go of and hold on to more of my own money for those treasure chest items!  *However, I am also not saying rewarding students unexpectedly is always a bad thing.  Moderation and intentional are the words to remember.

Key Point #2

Goal of Classroom Management

  • Develop an environment conducive to academic and social learning.

Key Point #3

  • Classroom management is a strategic, ongoing process consisting of key actions that teachers must address to create an environment for learning.

She shared a model with us that she uses with her entry year teachers in New Jersey:

Prevention = Physical Design, Establishing Rules and Routines, Develop relationships, and Implement Engaging Instruction

Response = Addressing Discipline

One part of the model is not sufficient.  You can’t just build relationships and have classroom management without considering the other preventive pieces of the model.  It is not easy and it is an ongoing process so have faith and keep working on your strategies!

December 10th Poll

Holidays in the Classroom

As a new teacher and really every year after that I would get so excited about this time of year in my classroom and school.  Everything seemed so festive and classrooms were decorated with student crafts and lights. However, I did learn to be mindful of all celebrations this time of year and not just the one my family celebrated.  This often led to Holidays Around the World themes such as celebrating and learning about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, St Lucia Day, Ramadan, and so many more.

This can be a tricky path for any teacher not just a new teacher.  Each year as different students entered my classroom with different backgrounds and celebrations I faced new questions on what to do during this month of celebrations.  Should I just not do anything at all and pretend it isn’t happening or should I find symbols and stories of every celebration to share with my students?

So the first thing I would recommend you do is talk to your school principal and be sure you understand the policy of your school related to holidays.  This can often determine your path.  Another recommendation is to talk to your media specialist and see what materials are available to you and your students.  And finally I recommend you take a look at your classroom community and honor those celebrations for sure and then include others if possible.  Ask your families to come in the classroom and talk about their celebrations and create festive art related to different holidays.  Remember though you will have some families who do not celebrate the Holidays at all so that is something else to consider and discuss with your principal.

I will tell you that each year as I decorate our Christmas Tree at home my favorite ornaments are the sweet ones my children made for me when they were in Elementary school.  Help your families make those memories no matter which Holiday or Celebration is appropriate for them and enjoy all your students and the unique gifts they bring to your classroom community.

Have a wonderful Winter Break and take some time to reflect on the first part of your school year as you prepare for the remaining months of the year.

Be Safe in your Travels,

Susan