chapter  20
6 Pages

Managing the Classroom

Friday Focus! January 7 Teachers have tremendous power to inspire and encourage stu-

dents, to become strong role models, and to make a decisive differ-

ence in students’ lives. They also have the power to alienate stu-

dents. (Spitalli, 2004) Thoughtful teachers typically have two overall goals. One is to pro-

vide a productive climate for student learning and for academic

achievement. The second is to foster student satisfaction with

schooling. Both are critical aspects of a suitable classroom atmo-

sphere. (Brainard, 2001) As we begin a new calendar year and a new semester here at school, I wanted to take a moment to revisit the issue of student discipline and classroom management at Otwell Middle School. First off, thank you so much for making this an ongoing point of emphasis throughout the first semester. Through a collective team effort, we have made prodigious strides in improving student behavior and addressing student misbehavior. Obviously, we will never eliminate student behavior indiscretions at the middle school level. However, we must continue to insist that all students adhere to conduct expectations each and every day while at school. Let’s all keep in mind some classroom management basics as we embark upon another semester of schooling. Like most dedicated teachers, I firmly believe that engaging and challenging instruction is the best deterrent to misbehavior. Even our students will tell us that they do not misbehave when the work provided is challenging and interesting. Students also behave better when there is a classroom routine that everyone follows consistently. A well-planned, well-paced lesson will give students little time for disruptive behavior. Plan activities in smaller blocks of time. Set clear limits for your stu-

dents. Decide what constitutes behavior and adhere to these expectations firmly, a friendly manner. Be consistent in enforcing consequences and communicate regularly with parents regarding their child’s behavior. Avoid reacting with anger to student misbehavior. Remember Todd Whitaker’s (2004) advice to never argue, never yell, and never use sarcasm in dealing with a middle school student. Remember that student misbehavior generally has some underlying reason. Try to identify and address the cause for the behavior. This lets students know you care for them and gives them a chance to explain and improve their actions. No one-including students themselves-likes classrooms that are characterized by disruptive behavior. Needless to say, such classrooms are also characterized by low-achieving students. At OMS, our students are blessed in that they receive quality instruction on a daily basis in safe and orderly classrooms. I came across a survey over the holidays that I thought might be an effective way for us to reflect on our individual and collective discipline practices. You might respond with a 1-4 ranking, with 4 indicating “almost always,” 3 indicating “frequently,” 2 indicating “occasionally,” and 1 indicating “almost never.” I predict that our teachers will respond with primarily 3s and 4s; thanks again for taking the time to make classroom management an ongoing point of emphasis. I am friendly but firm with my students. I treat each student with kindness and respect. When a student or students act inappropriately, I remain calm and

composed. I display enthusiasm and a sense of humor with my students. During each passing period between classes, I am at the doorway

to greet and chat with students. I insist that students treat me with dignity and respect. I interact with all students, not just a few. I give my students a pleasing greeting each day and wish them a

pleasant weekend. During each passing period between classes, I am at the doorway

so I can supervise both the hallway and my classroom. So that I know what is going on in my classroom, I generally spend

my class time on my feet.