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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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A Different Look at Classroom Management


Classroom management styles can greatly differ. Some rule with an iron hand; others are fairly lax. Most teachers are somewhere in between.

It wasn't until I met one of my early mentors~ Rafe Esquith~ the nationally recognized teacher based in Los Angeles~ that I began to look at my management styledifferently.

He told me that~ at the start of each school year~ he mentally divides his students into three categories. The "ones" are those students that totally get it and love everything you do. The "twos" are those that kind of like you and can go either way. And the "threes" are those students that will never buy intowhat your selling~ no matter how hard you work.

The trick~ Esquith said~ is to move the "twos" over to the "ones" side. What happens then is that the majority of your class totally buys into your lessons~ your lectures~ whatever you're teaching. The "threes" ~ being in the minority~ may not do their best work for you~ but they will let the others do it and not interfere with the positive culture of your classroom.

How do I persuade the "twos" to join the "ones?" I asked him.

He told me it's the way you treat themand interact with them. No matter how tired he may be or bad he feels~ he said he will approach a student during class and compliment them and be totally positive with them. He said the secret is to make them feel good~ then they want to be around you because they like that positive energy.

As an interesting experiment~why not mentally divide your students right now to see where they would fall? If for some reason you have fewer "ones~" this could explain some of the challenges you might be facing. Then~ you could focus your efforts on those students that sit on the fence~ with the goal of moving them to the "ones" side.

Finally~ if you haven't read any of Esquith's books~ you might want to look him up and read one or all of them. I don't believe he has actually written this philosophy in any of his books~ but you will find an incredible amount of ideas for all subjects and areas of teaching.