Most of us are familiar with the basic functioning of banks. In other words what you put into the bank (invest), you can withdraw. The same concept applies to classroom management. The more you have stored in your “bank” of knowledge, the more you will have to withdraw in those needed classroom situations. Often times, as with banks, if a customer has no money, they may borrow from other bank sources. The same can also be said with classroom management. Sometimes as educators we must “borrow” ideas from colleagues, books, consultants, and staff development. After reading Comprehensive Classroom Management (Jones & Jones, 1995), I was able to invest a wealth of insight for my classroom management. Since then, my experiences have provided me with even more wealth to share and invest for later usage.
Many things have changed since my first year of teaching over a decade ago. Each year as I approach a new year of students, my mind begins to reflect. Some of those problems and fears that I once encountered have now come back so vividly. Will I be faced with those same problems? How can I face them more confidently? I must adapt. I am no longer a first-year teacher searching for answers and expected to learn from those little “firsts.” Now I am an experienced educator expected to face these problems, and handle them..
Classroom management can cause many educators to feel fear and anxiety. Many question their ability to effectively handle the problems they will face as an educator. However, educators have to face their fears concerning relationships with their students. Educators need to ensure their classrooms elicit an environment where students enjoy their learning processes. To accomplish this, educators must make learning relevant for students, provide consistent feedback, and continuously encourage success.
Make Learning Relevant
To begin with, learning needs to have relevancy in the students’ lives. For starters, have students write down their goals. They will need to write what they expect from the class, from the teacher, and from themselves. Thus, they will take some ownership in their learning process. It is important that students feel that they need to live up to the expectations of not only their parents and teachers, but also the expectations they have established for themselves.
These expectations include socialization, academics, and behavior. The best method is to model what is expected. Praise students who exemplify what is expected. When expectations are not met, consequences must be delegated- and done so on a consistent basis.
Next, provide immediate and consistent feedback to students. As an educator, I refuse to allow students to perform weeks of work on a project or assignment, only to have it marked with an unsatisfactory grade. Although it is important to allow students some responsibility and independence when working on assignments, I also offer daily class time to make myself available to monitor progress, give suggestions, and offer assistance. I also do not want students to waste time if they do not have a clear understanding of instructions or expectations. Lack of understanding often leads to acting-out and refusal. If students are left idle, many will scrape through with minimal effort, just to say the assignment was completed. However, they did not learn anything in the process, nor can they explain or comprehend what they read or wrote. When students know they will be consistently checked, graded, corrected, and redirected, they will rise to the challenge. Students will soon learn they can achieve their learning objectives; they will learn they will be held accountable for seeing that those objectives are carried out.
Classroom environments should allow students to be challenged with a good possibility of being successful. Therefore, educators must encourage student success. To ensure this, set realistic expectations on a student-by-student basis. All students will not be able to be held to the same expectations. Also, promote positive self-concepts; uphold no toleration for refusal, put-downs, and failure. Students should not feel ashamed or intimidated to make mistakes. Student will be more apt to succeed if they have positive self-esteem. Students need to be made to feel that they matter. They will begin to feel that they can learn and have the power to control their success in the classroom.
Furthermore, I do not attest to have all the answers concerning full proof classroom management. I do attest that it needs to be a two-sided relationship, in that, students will expect as much from you as you expect from them. If you put forth little, they will put forth less. By following the simple suggestions outlined, I am better prepared to handle the reality of the problems that can and will occur. Therefore I use my competence as an educator to resist my fears, not give in to failure, and know when my methods need to be changed or modified.