Classroom Management

This week in our ECS350 class we discussed rules in the classroom, and how many and what rules are appropriate. It made me think of when I was in school, and what kind of rules I had in my classroom. Except for a few teachers in high school who had a “no food or drink” rule, I don’t remember having explicit rules in the classrooms.

As for myself when I am a teacher, I haven’t thoroughly thought about what kind of rules I will want to implement. I think that having one general rule that can apply to more than one situation would be good to have, such as “respect others”, or “treat those as you would want to be treated”. I think addressing your classroom at the beginning of the year with your expectations can be very beneficial to all.

My creative writing teacher in grade 12 was a young teacher and it was her first 3rd or 4th year of teaching. At the beginning of the year she told us she was going to treat us like adults and allow us to take our learning into our own hands and allow us to use her coffee pot for coffee and tea whenever we would like, but she also said that if we couldn’t handle the expectations that she had laid out for us, then she would have to take away some of the responsibilities. We all respected that, and I especially had a lot of respect for her, and realized that this was going to be a tough class that I would have to put effort into, but I ended up really enjoying it because she did treat us with respect because we did the same to her.

Although this isn’t necessarily about rules, my grandfather (who I call Gido) sent me a letter today, giving me advice on teaching. He was a teacher for 35 years, and I really value his advice. The letter he sent to me I will keep forever. It ties in with the theme of classroom management because some classroom management skills are age old – but are still used in classrooms today.

Me, my Gido and older sister
Me, my Gido and older sister

My Gido retired from teaching in 1984, so obviously there had been SO much change since he retired, but I think that some teaching advice is always applicable. He started by saying he could try to give me advice but he knows that actual experience is the best teacher, and I agree. The list of advice my Gido gave me was:

  1. Always be prepared and know what you want to accomplish on that particular day.
  2. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your intended lesson if an unexpected, useful teaching opportunity arises.
  3. Try to be in your classroom before the students arrive if at all possible
  4. If you don’t know the answer to some item that comes up, admit it and promise to find the answer and do it. This builds trust.
  5. A bulletin board in your room can be a useful communication item but keep it up to date.
  6. A “thought for the day” written on the blackboard can start the day with a short discussion. (Maybe from Shakespeare)
  7. Try to keep a sense of humor – kids love a happy face J.

I love that my Gido gave me this list of advice; I will always remember what he said. I think that a lot of these skills he mentioned above can still be really useful in our schools and will be implemented in my future classroom. I think my favorite piece of advice he gave me was the last one, where he said to always keep a sense of humor. I think so many of us take ourselves too seriously in many aspects in life, especially us as pre-interns. What I take away from that is that not every lesson is going to go how I want, not every student is going to respond how I want. There are going to be times when the stress of teaching is going to be so unbelievably overwhelming, but I think its important to take a step back and breathe and pick out all the positives.

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