Teachers need to find a balance between the authority they dictate in their classrooms, with the freedom they allow their students to exercise. A teacher that presents herself as a “pushover” when it comes to upholding and enforcing rules will risk facing many interruptions during class. These interruptions subtract from the total teaching time, which is already scarce. On the other hand, a teacher that comes off as an army sergeant, risks facing interruptions by those “dare-devils” who constantly challenge authority. According to the text Comprehensive Classroom Management (Jones & Jones, 1995), teachers should take time early on to form a dialogue with students concerning classroom rules and expectations, and allow them an opportunity to provide input. This ultimately will help establish teacher credibility, reduce the students’ tendencies to challenge teacher authority, and give everyone involved a sense of classroom ownership.
Children are faced with so many rules in their everyday lives. Most of the time, they have no input in the development of these rules. The last thing many students want is to be bogged with another list of “do’s and don’ts”. Students should be allowed to have some role in the regulations of the classroom. This will help the individual to feel more comfortable in their learning environment. A classroom that encourages mutual respect and cooperation provides opportunities for students to make choices regarding their behavior, and provides an optimal learning environment.
As educators, it is important not to get caught up in old traditions and practices. Times change, students change, and education practices need to follow suite. Jean Todd (1997) author of the article “Working With Children Who Learn Differently,” refers to teaching single mindedly as “canned teaching.” The author states, “Canned teaching” can be as crippling to the child as poorly fitted shoes. Lack of response to such instruction
often brings charges that the child is lazy, stupid, or indifferent. Such accusations can cause a defeated attitude toward learning. The result is a tragic waste of human potential and productivity (p. 27).
Educators must, also, individualize instruction to meet the diverse learning needs of each student. This requires the teacher to take a personal interest in what will best benefit their students. What the teacher is comfortable with may not meet the needs of the students. In general, we want to create an emotional environment that elicits trust. To ensure this set expectations that are short, positively stated, clear, consistent, and obtainable.
There are many factors that increase the likelihood that students will accept and consistently follow the rules and curriculum established in their classrooms. When we as educators begin to realize that it is our personal approach that creates the climate in the classroom, we will begin to establish more positive environments for our students. Then, we will have students that will look forward to the upcoming school year experiences in our classrooms.
Jones, L., & Jones, V. (1995). Creating positive learning environments for all students. Comprehensive Classroom Strategies, Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Todd, J. (1997). Working with children who learn differently. Chronicle Guidance Publications, Winter, 27-30.