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Suggestion Box
Solves Problems

If you hold a class meeting once each week, you might set up a Suggestion Box that gives students a say in the agenda for that meeting. Students can drop into the box notes about issues they would like the class to discuss during the weekly class meeting. Typically, students write about a problem involving one or more people or a problem or issue that affects the whole class.

When discussing these classroom issues during the weekly class meeting, the teacher should let students carry the conversation. The teacher serves as a coach -- providing guidance, only when necessary. Otherwise, he or she fulfills the role of secretary and acts as any other group member -- offering information only when needed and making comments only when necessary to keep the tone positive and helpful.

When students choose solutions to problems, they have a stake in seeing that the consequences are followed, says Donna Styles, author of Class Meetings: Building Leadership, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making Skills in the Respectful Classroom. Problems in the classroom are no longer just the teachers problems to solve -- they become the classs problems. Students become excellent problem-solvers, coming up with fair and effective methods of helping classmates improve and change behaviors that interfere with others or with their learning.

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Class Meetings: A Democratic Approach to Classroom Management

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