learning to "blum"

A blog about my time in the education department at Luther College.

My Classroom Management Philosophy

This week we have been assigned to write about what our philosophy on classroom management is. As I think back to my J-Term experience, I can think of many aspects of classroom management that weren’t there. There were not rules established or posted anywhere in the classroom, the rules sometimes changed, there were too many punishments, there wasn’t much praise, and students had no sense of order or structure to their day whatsoever. When I think of these things, a lot of ideas come to mind with regard to classroom management. So how can I establish my own classroom management philosophy with my students?

First and foremost, I feel it is important to have an inviting environment that students will enjoy. This will contribute to many things later on. I feel the room should be easy to navigate and students should know where everything is. They should feel comfortable and safe in the room. Classroom management can also affect environment. If there is strong classroom management, the classroom will have a much better environment.

Once students walk into the room, and even before school begins for the year, it is crucial to establish relationships. I know that without the relationships I developed with students during my J-Term practicum, my experience with classroom management would have been much worse. Students thrive when they have good relationships with the adults and children in their classroom and school. These relationships help to build a sense of community in which everyone is working toward common goals and respects one another. This can quickly clear up some classroom management issues without even establishing rules. I know, however, that within my philosophy of classroom management there must be some rules.

With this being said, I feel there are several ways to incorporate rules into the classroom. The first being a mission statement. This is something that can be developed by the students and teacher, signed by all, and posted in the classroom for all to see. I think this is important as it gives students some ownership in their own goals and classroom management throughout the year. I also think it is important to create rules that students can see throughout the classroom. I would allow students to help me come up with these ideas and choose 4 or 5 to post. There are some unspoken rules/expectations that will be taught during the first few weeks of school as well, such as daily routines like lining up. I think an important part of all of these rules is the discussion that takes place with students. Students need to take ownership of the rules and their effort in making the classroom a fun place to be. Talking with students about rules will allow them to do this.

As a pre-service teacher pursuing an early childhood endorsement I know that there will have to be a lot of practice. This practice is crucial to my philosophy on classroom management. How will students know what is expected if they don’t know what the expectations look, feel, and sound like? The answer is simple: they won’t. They can be told the rules many times, but without practicing and talking about the rules, they won’t fully understand why rules are in place and what the rules mean. With younger ages, I would most likely implement some form of reward for the whole class as well as individuals with regard to classroom management. I think this would depend on the class and how they respond to certain rewards, as sometimes students begin to become too dependent on rewards. There has to be a balance in place that allows students to see they aren’t just in it for the reward.

Finally,  I would have to communicate my classroom management philosophy with my students’ parents/guardians. Many schools have parent nights or “meet the teacher” nights in which the teacher can meet students and their guardians before beginning the school year. I think it is important to talk with parents or get some information from parents with regard to classroom management during this time. This establishes relationships and respect right away and will directly benefit students, as parents can see what is expected. Obviously the rules will not be created yet fully because there will not have been school yet, so I would outline some basic rules and ask parents what goals they have for their own children. After establishing rules with the class and the mission statement, I will be sure to send a copy of each home and talk about the process the class went through the develop these items. I also think there could be fun ways for students to interact with their parent/guardian such as working to create a picture of themselves following a rule and writing a sentence or two about the picture. This could then be made into a classroom management book that can be sent home for students to look through with their parents/guardians.

Obviously there is much, much more I could write about my philosophy on classroom management. However, really what it all comes down to when you look at each section is the students. Everything I will do as a teacher is dependent upon my commitment to my students. Whether it be developing relationships, developing classroom community, making rules with one another, role playing rules together, and communicating with parents, classroom management is put in place to ensure that students are having a positive experience in the classroom.

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Classroom Management as a Subject

During the month of January I spent my time in a third grade classroom in Dubuque, Iowa. One of the aspects of teaching I struggled with the most during my time there was classroom management. My students often exhibited less than acceptable behavior and I had difficulty finding a way to reestablish a sense of order in the classroom. I know that there was not much I could do to use my own classroom management style in the classroom, as there was not much management even when I wasn’t teaching. This definitely was a learning experience for me. In a way, I was happy to have had this experience because I don’t feel I would have learned as much from a perfectly behaved classroom. Since arriving back at Luther, we have been focusing on classroom management in my Social Studies Methods class. Thus, bringing me into the topic of this blog: Can classroom management be a “subject”?

I don’t think classroom management can be a subject in the school day, but I do believe it can be incorporated as a “subject” within a subject. It is certainly a topic that needs to be addressed right away at the beginning of the school year as well as being reinforced throughout the school year. Classroom management provides structure and a predictable environment. From my January experience, I can conclude that this “security” aspect of classroom management is vital for students – especially those who do not have the necessary structure in their home life. I would definitely incorporate the subject of classroom management into a social studies unit at the beginning of the year. First and foremost, many of the aspects of classroom management (goals, rules, etc.) are vital to understanding much of the social studies content. The Iowa CORE states that students will “Understand the rights and responsibilities of an individual to his/her social group” (www.educateiowa.gov). This directly correlates with classroom management, as students are using their responsibilities with regard to classroom management to benefit the social group (peers and teacher). There are also parts of the Iowa CORE social studies standards, such as Political Science/Civic Literacy, that connect to classroom management aspects.

Overall, I feel connecting work with classroom management to social studies content can be beneficial to students. The topic of classroom management can be taught through this lens because it can help students to see why social studies is relevant to them and how it will impact their future in different classrooms and in society. I also feel it can be taught through incorporating the ideas of voting and democracy into the classroom. Students should come up with the rules and vote on which rules they feel are the most important. In elementary grades, this can truly help students relate to what we do in the United Sates, thus connecting what is being done in the classroom to the “real world.” Going back to this throughout the year can help students to see the impact it has had on the classroom and can help them to see the importance of community that is emphasized in social studies.

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