Chapter 4- Classroom Management
The first section in this chapter focuses on Classroom Meetings. Classroom meeting allow for students to become problem solvers. It also helps them to learn the necessary social-emotional skills needed to navigate the world in a safe and caring environment. There are 8 essentials for holding an effective classroom meeting that are listed on page 125. During the learning of these skills, students practice their brainstorming, problem solving skills. One teacher even noticed that classroom meetings helped to build some empathy between their students.
In the second section on Class
Guidelines, teachers are encouraged to make class rules and regulations with the students. This helps to build a sense of community within the classroom and gives the students some ownership. This is something I have practiced even in my small groups. Creating a visual of “their” rules, allows me to give them quick reminders of what they chose for rules and we are able to move on within their constraints. This section also invites teachers to get the whole class involved in forming some of the daily routines in the classroom as well. Having the students discuss what steps they need to take to get ready for recess or when they come in from outside would help them to feel in control and give them some ownership of these processes. Setting up these expectations could be done within the classroom meeting.
Section three is all about Compliments. Giving compliments is not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes, students give really superficial compliments, “I like your shirt,” thinking that this will make someone feel better. It is important that the art of giving, and receiving, compliments is taught. Ensuring that we are giving a compliment, rather than praise, is also very important. “I have noticed that you are working very hard at raising your hand in class,” rather than saying, “Good job! You raised your hand!” gives the child a sense of accomplishment rather than just living up to your expectation to get the praise. On page 138, there is an activity outlined in order to show how comments can make people feel. Research shows that student behaviour improves by 80% just by letting them know what they are doing correctly, imagine how getting regular compliments could change the atmosphere of the classroom!
Parent-Teacher-Student Conferences are the subect of the fourth section of Chapter 4. Three-way conferences eliminate the fear students had about what what being said about them by their teachers and parents. They allow the student to showcase their strengths and discuss or problem solve their difficulties. Students can really add to the conversations about their work while at the same time allowing encouragement from both the parents and teacher. At my school, the primary teachers use three-way conferences for each of the three reporting periods. As a parent of a child going through this process, I learned a lot more about my child’s learning. He was able to show the work that he was proud of and we were able to discuss some of the areas in which he was struggling. Together we came up with some appropriate goals he could focus on for the next term. We left the conference feeling as though we learned something about our son, while at the same time helped to support his further development. I am sad that this process is not continued in the intermediate classes at our school, but I do look forward to having my youngest son move in to the grade 1 class next year, where we will begin this once again.
The fifth section of this chapter discusses classroom jobs. I am sure that most classrooms have classroom jobs, from handing out papers to turning off the lights when they leave the classroom. The authors suggest having the class brainstorm job possibilities, allowing students to feel ownership over these jobs. Classroom jobs teach students responsibility and give them a sense of capability and belonging to a community.
Contributing is the subject of section six. Research has shown that people are born with a desire to contribute but often children are discouraged by their parents from doing so-typically because the parents believe that the child can’t do it correctly or because they are in a hurry. When children are not required to contribute, they become entitled, expecting everything to be done for them and this will often transfer into the classroom as well. It has been shown that those who contribute more also have a greater mental health.
Avoiding Rewards is the final section in Chapter 4. Although students love rewards, and they are quick and effective, they do not encourage long-term behaviour changes. Children need to feel that they are making a difference in order for their behaviours to change. Giving rewards may work in the short term, but when the reward is no longer desireable, or no longer there, they may resort back to the original behaviours. We need to encourage children to look for the inner satisfaction of their actions, this is where the real pay-off comes from and the real behaviour-changer. Not gonna lie, I have been encouraging my son’s teacher to use a sticker-type reward system to encourage him to come inside from recess. He is really struggling with his time in Kindergarten. He tells me constantly that he hates school, that it is boring and all he wants to do is play. I think the real reason he does not like school and that he is having some behaviour challenges is due to the fact that he does not have a connection with the adults in the building. Since he went to the same building for day care, where he also had some behavioural dfficulties, the staff already had preconceived notions about my son. He is living up to these notions for them. I am hoping that these external rewards will get him through his time in Kindergarten so that he can start over when he transitions to his new school for Grade 1. I know that this is not the best solution, but I am not sure that I can change the teachers at his school 🙁
How can you implement these ideas into your classroom?
Do you already use any of the strategies in your classroom? How doe they work for you? Do you have any stories that might inspire others?