"The most important action an effective teacher takes at the beginning of the year is creating a climate for learning."
-- Mary Beth Blegan, former U.S. Department of Education teacher-in-residence
Included: Twelve teacher-tested tips for behavior management!
According to Fred Jones' Positive Classroom Discipline, "The most widespread management technique at home and in the classroom is nag, nag, nag." "It's also probably the least effective."
How can you avoid making that technique your own and create a "climate for learning"? This week, Education World looks to the experts -- teachers who've "been there, done that" and found a better way -- for answers.
Howard Miller, Associate Professor of Education at Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Missouri) suggests 12 steps teachers can take at the beginning of the year to promote effective classroom management.
A PARENT/STUDENT/TEACHER COMPACT
John Sipp, a Title 1 Specialist at Rocky Heights Elementary School in Hermiston, Oregon, says teachers there have found that rules are most effective when teachers, parents, and students are equally committed to upholding them. At the start of each school year, a compact spelling out their specific responsibilities is signed by each of the parties involved. Sipp has been kind enough to share that compact with Education World. The text of the compact follows.
As a parent/guardian, I will:
As a student, I will:
As a teacher, I will:
Now, hand in hand, we will work together to carry out this contract.
REWARDS AND CONSEQUENCES
But once you've established rules and procedures, how do you avoid nagging? Many experts recommend a system of rewards and consequences to encourage students to stay on task and on their best behavior. Here are some ideas that have been tried successfully -- straight from the teachers who use them. These ideas were posted over the last year on a variety of listservs; all posters were contacted for permission to use their ideas.
Of course, the most frequently used management techniques are those that prevent small problems from escalating into big ones. Many classroom incidents can be prevented by a simple technique suggested by Hartford, Connecticut, teacher Robert Bencker. Bencker, who teaches at an inner city alternative high school program, suggests that teachers set the tone for the day by greeting each student personally as he or she enters the classroom. Use the opportunity, he says, to establish rapport, and to deal with such minor problems as gum chewing, boisterous behavior, bad moods, or unwanted materials, quietly and discretely -- before they can erupt into public confrontations that threaten control and disrupt the class.
But don't stop there. Once students are in the classroom, you'll want to continue with some of these teacher-recommended techniques for maintaining control without confrontation:
And, when all else fails, try something else!
Creating a climate for learning is probably the most important -- and most difficult -- task a teacher faces, but it can be even more difficult for beginning teachers. As former U.S. Department of Education teacher-in-residence Mary Beth Blegan says, "Setting the classroom environment is key. For a new teacher that means pretending that you know what you're doing."
RESOURCES YOU CAN USE
The 12 teacher ideas posted above were originally posted to one of the three educational listservs below. An attempt was made to contact each teacher who posted an idea.
Article by Linda Starr
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