It’s March in Maine and, despite just having had a week’s break, none of us is at our best.
We know we are at the beginning of a LONG 7 week stretch with few bright spots on the horizon. Spring is two weeks away on the calendar but in reality, it’s light years ahead of us.
We are focused on getting kids caught up, moving ahead, and into a space in which they’ll be able to complete the LT’s and MT’s still left to go. Classroom management becomes a bit more difficult as the pressure brings out latent behaviors in our students. Behavior referrals go up- the disorganized become more so, and some reluctant learners just give up.
Many of us try to control the situation with seating plans, phone calls home, conferences with parents, threats of after-school learning and the like. I’m not suggesting those aren’t worthwhile endeavors, but what would happen if we changed our thinking a bit, from tightening classroom management to changing classroom culture?
Our goal in a personalized, student-centered environment is to help students develop agency and independence. As a “teacher with some time in the system” (ok, I’m old and grey), it’s taken a mind-shift from being in control of my classroom to thinking about developing a classroom culture where students hold the control.
Take an objective look at your classroom. Walk through your door and imagine you are a new student. Hear yourself speak. What would your “inner child” think about being there? If I’m honest, here’s what that kid would say to me when I had a classroom:
- I know what I’m supposed to learn, but all we do is content.
- I am a chair holder in this room, not a shareholder.
- In here, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
- I don’t have to contribute. I just have to do my work.
I had pretty good classroom management, meaning I could control most student behavior. What I couldn’t do well was influence students to manage their own behavior. I attribute this to my ignorance of my own classroom culture. If I could go back, I’d work harder at making my classroom a community of learners rather than a gathering of students.
How? Easier said than done- but doable. Change can come at any time. There are tons of articles out there on creating positive classroom environments. This article gives a ton of small ideas that can help bring your class back together. Give it a try- you’ve got this.