Saturday, October 20, 2012

Classroom Management Plan

Oscar Wilde once said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” I believe in this philosophy and aspire to establish a synergetic and democratic classroom. I think planning for classroom management is always a work in progress. Although I believe that different approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages, I closely identify with positive, non-coercive, inner discipline in the class. I think that classroom management needs to be addressed at three levels – academic, social and emotional. I will strive to create an environment that nurtures creativity, inner code of ethics, trust and deep sense of community for my students. 
A synergetic and democratic classroom can be established through engaging instruction, positive discipline and intrinsic motivation. There are several strategies that I identify with and will incorporate in my management plan.

Preventive Approach
The synergetic classroom, that I aspire, is based on the concept of creating an environment that prevents misbehavior and is conducive for learning and development.
·       Curriculum is the most important component of education. A curriculum that is based on the interests and needs of the students is one of the most effective ways to keep students engaged, challenged and hence, away from disruptive behavior. I will try my best to include my students’ choice and interests while planning my lessons. The students must have control on their learning and they should be allowed to choose what they want to learn (Kohn, 1996).
·       Change gears every 10 – 15 minutes while teaching in the class. This is the mantra given to me by many teachers I have observed. The young students tend to get bored and fade away from any given environment. To get them back to the task, they need to get moving or change activity. This again is a preventive measure to keep them interested and engaged in learning rather than being disruptive. This is one skill that I will keep practicing to become an interesting teacher.
·       Check for learning routinely and several times during the lesson. This gives the students opportunity to assess their own learning and hence, a direction to work for.
·       Preventive discipline through I – messages instead of You – messages is a great strategy in un-controlling environment (Gordon, 1989). I have seen through my experience that messages like, “I feel distracted by…..” are far more effective in laying down the expectations in a classroom than the messages like, “You are doing…..”, which immediately put the students on defensive. I will keep working to make this my habit to frame my messages with “I” instead of “You”.
·       Proactive approach to dealing with problems and behavior is necessary to keep the students motivated (Canter, 1976). I will lay high expectations and specific rules in the beginning of the class. I think it is very important to maintain a healthy and nurturing environment in the classroom. Trust the capability of students (Albert, 1996).
Supportive Approach
I believe the most effective way to motivate students is to support and praise positive behavior of students. I have learned from my cooperating teacher in clinical practice that frequently identifying and praising the positive behavior sets good example for the whole class and motivates students.
·       Collaboration with colleagues, parents and students is the key to develop thorough and differentiated instructional strategy, which caters to the students who need to be challenged as well as those who are challenged. A curriculum that has questions to be answered (Kohn, 2001) goes a long way to keep students in learning. I will make sure to develop such a curriculum that can inculcate creativity and synergy in my classroom.
·       Co-operative/group activities (Kagan et al., 1996) must be included in the lessons as much as possible. I agree with this strategy because from my experience in the classrooms, I have observed that students not only learn but also share the responsibility for their peers’ learning when they work in groups. They also respect each other more when they work cooperatively than when they work independently.
·       Collaborative measures must be taken to ensure the students that all are on the same side (Kagan et al., 1996). This calls for sharing the responsibility of maintaining intrinsic discipline between the students and the teacher. Besides, the students feel entrusted rather than hostile and do not get defensive.
·       Positive recognition (Canter, 1976) is a practice that assertive teachers follow to motivate their students. Honor the students and build respectful relationships with them (Kohn, 1996). I will strive to make personal connections with my students through meetings, discussions and activities and games in the class. I have noticed many teachers have created a positive learning atmosphere this way and their students are connected by acceptance, attention, affection and appreciation (Albert, 1996).
·       Preemptive environment where students feel safe and respected provides them intrinsic motivation. I will strive to keep my classroom environment calm and conducive for learning and democratic discussions. Assertive teachers keep a warm atmosphere that meets the needs of students as well as teachers (Canter, 1976).

Corrective Approach
                 Correcting a misbehavior is the most necessary and perhaps the most difficult skill to master. The way students treat their teacher depends largely upon how the teacher manages the class, disciplines them and deals with disrupting behavior and unpleasing events.
·       Confronting skills are necessary to master. The focus should be on the behavior rather than students (Albert, 1996). I can’t agree more to the idea that teachers should always address the unacceptable behavior while stay positive towards the student so that he/she can focus on correcting rather than feeling hostile.
·       The misbehavior that can disrupt teaching and learning must be addressed immediately, firmly and compassionately. However, I believe that identifying and dealing with the cause of misbehavior is equally important. I would incorporate the practice of asking questions like, “What can we do to help you fix this problem?”
·       I have seen from my experiences in different classrooms as well as my own life that the issues are much effectively resolved after the anger has calmed down. If a student is engaged in disruptive behavior during the class, the teacher should end the disruption quickly and get back to the lesson (Kagan et al., 1996). Wait out the anger and respond to the situation calmly (Albert, 1996).
·       The teacher and students should agree upon and decide the reasonable consequences for dealing with misbehaviors in the long term. For example, a class can device a progressive sequence of punishments like a warning for first time, a written apology the second time, pulling out of class one on one talk with the teacher, and so on. In this way the students are more likely to make better choice in future and correct their behavior before the punishment gets to the next level.
·       Support structure is necessary to re-establish expectations and identify the replacement behavior (Kagan et al., 1996). This is important in order to maintain discipline in the classroom for long term. I will definitely adopt this strategy in case of a repeated disruptive behavior, since it is evident that the student needs to be reminded of specific replacement behavior that is expected of him/her.

I believe a synergetic classroom promotes creativity and creates healthy atmosphere for learning. When students are academically challenged, feel safe and respected and share responsibility, they will more likely be motivated to keep away from disruptive behavior. I believe, with this management plan, I will be able to create a democratic classroom, where students can choose what to learn and be responsible for their learning.

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