Cathedral Building

Another Teaching Blog

Posts tagged classroom management

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I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the reply brought it up, and it’s been bothering me that I didn’t say anything before for fear of potentially insulting someone, but here it goes.

If you don’t think that semantics are important in a classroom, you may consider looking into some additional professional development or education about leading and managing a classroom environment.

Semantics are incredibly important.  And it worries me that anyone at the head of a classroom may not understand that in an educational context, especially when many of those same people may be charged with imparting that lesson onto their students.

I am not trying to start a fight.  I am just stating that commanding your language of choice in a manner that takes into account the affects particular words and phrases will have on your students, or on parents, or on other educational professionals, is what I consider to be a crucial part of being a teacher. 

It’s the difference between a student who needs extra practice with number facts and a student who’s not good at math.  It’s the difference between “You’re making some bad choices today,” and “You’re being really bad today.”  Sometimes it’s the difference between constructive criticism and being a bully.

If you’re in doubt, and you don’t want to look up the many studies confirming the effect that such things have on students, consider how you feel reading this post, and other posts, in #education.  Consider how you’d have reacted differently if I started with, “need to look into professional development,” rather than, “may consider looking into.”   Imagine how you might have felt if I said “shouldn’t be teaching.” 

Everything we say sets a tone.  As a teacher, we are responsible for the tone we set for our students, because that is the tone in which the classroom will function.  Yes, semantics is incredibly important.

Filed under education classroom management preparing for the conflict that might ensue

193 notes

twitter-simplyhayley:

girlwithalessonplan:

teachinglearning:

edunewbie:

girlwithalessonplan:

shapefutures:

monasequeda:

allisonunsupervised:

populationpensive:

teachinglearning:Ta-da! This is a my new classroom management consequence ladder tracking chart that I’m going to implement this year for my 8th graders!  I’m adapting to it because one big problem that I ran into in my classroom management last year was that my students would instantly shut down once they received a writing assignment as a consequence.  This new method enables the student the power to correct their behavior and move out of the negative consequences and back into positive ones by the end of the class period; actually encouraging them to correct their behavior!

Now just 6 more to make and a ton a clothespins to buy!

Comments? Questions?uh I have so many extra clip boards that I should consider doing this

[snipped by GWALP]

Then, my dear, we live in a world of semantics.  Writing is writing.  Authority is authority.  Whether the consequence is overtly related to the material or not, consequences are things that ought not be enjoyed for the sake of doing, but things that ought to lift up a person to a new emotion.  Please, #education, enlighten this bad teacher with your ideas on the context.  I’m truly all ears.  All I ask is that you be civil and not hijack for the sake of stating a message.  I want you to bring something to the table that I can learn from, not bash for it’s insensitiveness.

I didn’t see anyone calling you a bad teacher.

Nor did I see anyone call this insensitive, but in other terms, many of us call this misguided.

As others have said, writing as a form of punishment can instill a dislike of writing, which is the opposite of what we as teachers want.  Someone else made the point that, “I don’t make students do math problems, so why make kids write?”

Shape-futures said she does believe in apology letters, but I don’t even believe in forcing those.  I have *suggested* to students, “I think it would be good of you to write a letter of apology if you can find the the words to say.” I don’t make them do it. Only ONCE have I had a student NOT do it.  I don’t feel you are really fostering a genuine thought process of regret or the act of asking for forgiveness.  

Writing for punishment, or any punishment, often does not “lift a person up to new emotion.”  It can often foster many negative feelings—the opposite of what you want if not administered properly, effectively, or with known consequences. 

I like that you make consequences of actions very, very clear.  You do put student ownership into play there—YOU ARE MAKING THEM THE AUTHORITY by doing this.  You cannot say, “authority is authority” because students need to feel empowered in your class, not overpowered.  And you are giving them clear choices here.

I wonder how it would work if “teachers choice” was actually “student choice” and they had to choose from various tasks or reprimands: loss of lunch with friends, loss of recess, clean boards, or maybe even include the writing as a CHOICE so it’s not the only ultimatum.    

then, after the “student choice” you call home.  I wonder if you should be calling home much sooner.  You have it as the fourth strike, essentially.  

We are a community who wants to help, and when #education sees something we feel strongly about, then we tend to react in a knee-jerk way.

But I was being brutally honest with you:  As a hypothetical parent, I would be furious if you used writing as a punishment for my kid.  You would hear from me.  I would ask for my kid to have after school detention and help clean your room or something.

 How would you deal with me, as a parent, if I said no to your form of punishment (regardless of what that punishment is)?


I love this idea! If the child thinks that writing is a punishment, he/she is probably not the best writer and could use some improvement anyhow. Don’t get in trouble, and you won’t have to write. Simple as that.

But they will have to write.  They’ll have to write every day.  They’ll have to write for almost every subject.  They’ll have to write for tests, for assignments, for expression, for labs, for just about everything.

Students have to write. Writing is not a negative consequence that can be removed if they do well and avoid negative behaviors.

If a student has trouble with writing, forcing them to practice because they did something they shouldn’t have isn’t going to help them.  It’s going to make them hate something that they likely already hate because they’re not good at it.  If you lack confidence and skill in something and someone forces you to do it as a punishment and justifies it because you need practice, how would that make you feel?  Would it help your confidence?

(via simplyhayley)

Filed under education writing classroom management behavior management

193 notes

teachinglearning:

edunewbie:

girlwithalessonplan:

shapefutures:

monasequeda:

allisonunsupervised:

populationpensive:

teachinglearning:

Ta-da! This is a my new classroom management consequence ladder tracking chart that I’m going to implement this year for my 8th graders!  I’m adapting to it because one big problem that I ran into in my classroom management last year was that my students would instantly shut down once they received a writing assignment as a consequence.  This new method enables the student the power to correct their behavior and move out of the negative consequences and back into positive ones by the end of the class period; actually encouraging them to correct their behavior!

Now just 6 more to make and a ton a clothespins to buy!

Comments? Questions?

uh I have so many extra clip boards that I should consider doing this

I beg all teachers who use writing as a consequence for negative behavior to think that through, and then stop it. 

I second this emotion.

What kind of “writing assignment” is it?  If it’s something contextually relevant and not just punishment, is there something else to call it?

The closest I’ve come personally to assigning writing is making a student write a letter of apology.  It’s in our take-one bucket for negative consequences as “Apology Letter.”  I’ve also seen some interesting consequence sheets in some of the schools I’ve worked at where the student has to write what they did, why it was a bad decision, and what they think they could have done instead.  I’m assuming those are for use in supervised situations where the teacher or whoever was directly involved isn’t available to talk it over — a main office, detention, etc. — which, on one hand, might offer interesting insight into the student’s view of the situation if it’s given to the teacher later, but on the other hand, if no one is talking it through with the student, might not necessarily help them learn anything or change whatever behavior led to it in the first place.

If my child ever kids a writing assignment as punishment, s/he won’t be doing it.  I’ll be more than happy to work with the teacher on some other punishment, but writing won’t be it.  

Dear God, writing should not be a punishment.  I can see doing an “apology letter” but that’s how it should be labeled.  Putting a negative connotation on writing ultimately does a lot more harm than good.

Then, my dear, we live in a world of semantics.  Writing is writing.  Authority is authority.  Whether the consequence is overtly related to the material or not, consequences are things that ought not be enjoyed for the sake of doing, but things that ought to lift up a person to a new emotion.  Please, #education, enlighten this bad teacher with your ideas on the context.  I’m truly all ears.  All I ask is that you be civil and not hijack for the sake of stating a message.  I want you to bring something to the table that I can learn from, not bash for it’s insensitiveness.

Treading lightly (I hope) so that I don’t step on toes when raising my concerns, the chief issue here is that of making a “writing assignment” associated with punishment.

We want our students to enjoy writing, right?  Or at least, we don’t want them to see a writing assignment as punitive so much as it is an opportunity.  Some students may see it as punishment no matter what — students who have trouble expressing themselves through the written word or students who have trouble with reading and writing period, especially.  But speaking as someone in both education and psychology, if you pair a writing assignment with punishment enough times, a student who might even enjoy writing otherwise will start associating it strongly with negative consequence.

Writing is not just writing. Authority is not just authority.  Semantics can be very important, especially when we’re teaching about language.  Context is key.  There is writing for pleasure, writing for information, writing for communication.  If we make a certain kind of writing into a punishment, it’s going to taint that assignment in such a way that students will learn to hate it.

This isn’t a touchy-feely, “students should be happy all the time,” anti-authority, anti-discipline claim.  This is conditioning.  This is science.

(Technically, it’s the same reason why we generally avoid food as reward, though candy is slightly different.  That, and in some schools we aren’t allowed to use candy so we use other things.  My program has a prize closet — which does have candy in it, which is of course the first thing the kids go for.  But we also have a few rather nice books and art books, which kids save up for, as well as small toys, pencils and erasers, etc.)

Filed under education classroom management behavior management

193 notes

monasequeda:

allisonunsupervised:

populationpensive:

teachinglearning:

Ta-da! This is a my new classroom management consequence ladder tracking chart that I’m going to implement this year for my 8th graders!  I’m adapting to it because one big problem that I ran into in my classroom management last year was that my students would instantly shut down once they received a writing assignment as a consequence.  This new method enables the student the power to correct their behavior and move out of the negative consequences and back into positive ones by the end of the class period; actually encouraging them to correct their behavior!

Now just 6 more to make and a ton a clothespins to buy!

Comments? Questions?

uh I have so many extra clip boards that I should consider doing this

I beg all teachers who use writing as a consequence for negative behavior to think that through, and then stop it. 

I second this emotion.

What kind of “writing assignment” is it?  If it’s something contextually relevant and not just punishment, is there something else to call it?

The closest I’ve come personally to assigning writing is making a student write a letter of apology.  It’s in our take-one bucket for negative consequences as “Apology Letter.”  I’ve also seen some interesting consequence sheets in some of the schools I’ve worked at where the student has to write what they did, why it was a bad decision, and what they think they could have done instead.  I’m assuming those are for use in supervised situations where the teacher or whoever was directly involved isn’t available to talk it over — a main office, detention, etc. — which, on one hand, might offer interesting insight into the student’s view of the situation if it’s given to the teacher later, but on the other hand, if no one is talking it through with the student, might not necessarily help them learn anything or change whatever behavior led to it in the first place.

Filed under education behavior management classroom management

25 notes

A note on Classroom Management:

Yes, having an arsenal of good techniques is key.

Yes, order and routine are important in heading off problems before they start.

Yes, setting clear expectations and having clear consequences are absolutely necessary.

But one of the things I don’t see cropping up a lot, whether it’s in books or in discussion, is something that’s probably hard to articulate in a follow-these-steps method and even harder to do:

Know your students.

Not every method is going to work for every student.  Some students may seem to buck everything you try.  It doesn’t mean that you’re not doing the right thing by the rest of your class — it just means that it doesn’t work for that student (and in that case the test is how you respond to it to keep the rest of the class from falling to the wayside).  But if you have some kind of personal relationship with your students, you’ll be able to figure out what works for who and why.  You’ll be able to figure out who you can reach on a personal level with consequences and who just needs a time-out, so-to-speak. 

You’ll be able to learn how to stop some problems before they start: that Marie has a bit of a gossip issue and may or may not misread and conflate things others say that leads to drama, how to redirect Tony and recognize when he might not have taken his medication, how Glory’s need for personal space turns into a fight if someone invades her bubble, that D’Ray gets frustrated when he doesn’t understand something and may need some techniques for managing it (putting his head down for a second, moving on to the next problem, taking deep breaths, thinking of puppies) to avoid throwing things.

No classroom management technique will solve every problem, and none will work if you don’t know your students.  If your students know you care, know that you know their names, know that they’re people, they’ll be more likely to work with you than against you.

And even then, even if they LOVE you, they will test the heck out of you sometimes.  Because they need to KNOW you’ll stick around.  Because they may not trust you yet.  Because they had a bad day.  Because growing up is hard.  Because the gym teacher made them run laps.  Maybe just because they can.  Don’t take it personally, and don’t assume that you’re failing.  Do your best, breathe, maybe cry a little in the car or the teacher’s lounge, and try again.

It took me three months to get to a point with the kids I’m working with now (in an out-of-school-time program, multiple grade levels and ages, little structure) where I don’t feel like I’m fighting with them to get things done.  But it’s worth it.

Filed under education classroom management

23 notes

Yikes! Summer book reading

positivelypersistentteach:

novicephoenix:

Teaching with Love and Logic

àLet’s come up with your punishment together (Teacher and Student)

This idea makes me so uncomfortable. I feel that perhaps a master teacher would be able to do this, but I am not ready to give that baton of control to my students. I don’t think it would be effective because I am sooooo uncomfortable with this idea. I think that if a teacher is comfortable and confident with a technique/idea/whatever then 90% of the time it’ll work otherwise it just won’t.

What are your thoughts?

I think your phrasing of it is a lot different than the author’s intent.

Obviously, it would depend on the age, situation, and the kind.

As I said before, I think putting the responsibility on the kid to help make things right is very powerful.  I think consequences where the kid has to think about what they did and come up with a solution (that the teacher agrees is fitting) teaches them a lot more than dealing out a punishment does.    Outside of school walls, they will need to know problem-solving skills and what taking responsibility for your actions means.

I know there are at least two other teachers not participating in book club because they’ve already read the book.  They use this techniques.  I’d love to hear their thoughts on the issue.

I haven’t read the book (couldn’t make it work this time around — my summer schedule is full-day) but I do use this technique with some kids, especially at my program where discipline is sometimes lax or almost random when left to the supervisor.

It doesn’t mean that the student is crafting their own punishment, per se.  It’s, for me, just another way to get them to think about what they did, what the consequences were that were out of their hands, what the further consequences should be, etc.  They think about what’s “right,” and what might rectify a situation.  They also think about the scale of what they’ve done and what might be appropriate as punishment.

When I use this technique with a student I ask them, “What did you do wrong?  Why do you think that was wrong?”  And let’s be honest — many students tune that out and answer with a tone that is the equivalent of an eye roll.  They tell you what you want to hear.  But then, try saying, “Alright — what do you think should happen now?” or “What do you think you could do to make it right?”

It catches most of my students off-guard the first time.  And sometimes the second time.  And it tends to reduce their negative behaviors later, because it makes them really think about why what they did was wrong and what the consequences are going to be.  I try to avoid ever saying “What do you think your punishment should be,” because to my students a punishment is something menial and annoying that they dislike but which has little or no connection to what they did that got them there.

(I hoped that was useful — because I’m not reading the book right now it might be completely irrelevant, but those are my two cents on the technique.)

(via positivelypersistentteach)

Filed under education classroom management summer book club teaching with love and logic

54 notes

Educated to Death: 0162: An insidious idea behind classroom management.

educatedtodeath:

am not yet a classroom management historian, perhaps I’ll become one, but I am quite certain that there are certain insidious motives behind it. While many classroom management techniques are necessary, I submit that their genesis has roots in behaviorist techniques based in social control. This certainly should be an almost redundant statement as some might understand public schooling was born out of the intention of managing and separating certain populations. I hope to spend some of the summer organizing these suspicions into some proper research. And, I hope my research proves my speculations wrong beyond doubt. I hope to uncover the benevolence of our current system of education and behavioral management and be made an utter fool. But, until then, I’ll remain a fool in waiting with my somewhat conspiratorial and alarmist beliefs. I most certainly believe, because I’ve seen in numerous arenas, that children in poverty and, more saliently, children of color are treated more harshly. This may not be consistent across the entire nation, but it is in my experience and the extended experiences of colleagues.

 I’d be interested to see what your research turns up, but I caution you this: If you go into any research with preconceived notions of what you do and do not want to see, you will inadvertently turn up whatever it is that you are looking for.  You may be more likely to find experiences similar to yours and your colleagues’ and more likely to find fault with (or not find) research that corroborates the opposite if you seek out information with the frame of mind you’re currently (and presently?) working in.  For the sake of getting the most of your research perhaps you should consider taking it on in partnership with someone who holds opposing views.

But that is not the point I am trying to make. Classroom management is successful only when the following is true in some form:

“The ideas of crime and punishment must be strongly linked and ‘follow one another without interruption… When you have thus formed the chain of ideas in the heads of your citizens, you will then be able to pride yourselves on guiding them and being their masters. A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly by the chain of their own ideas; it is at the stable point of reason that he secures the end of the chain; the link is all the stronger in that we do not know of what it is made and we believe it to be our own work; despair and time eat away the bonds of iron and steel, but they are powerless against the union of ideas, they can only tighten it still more; and on the soft fibres of the brain is founded the unshakable base of the soundest Empires’” (Foucault quoting Servan in Discipline and Punish)

Classroom management is a beginning. The roots spread into other realms of existence as the child grows. Is there another way? A better way? I’m not sure exactly what. But, surely there’s something more freeing than silently imprinting allegiance and respect to one’s masters through subtle and consistent enculturation practices. Please prove that my speculations are deeply incorrect. Please show me that my experiences have simply been rare exceptions, and have driven me down a path of cynicism. Please.

This isn’t necessarily an answer to the original question — I could write a thesis paper to answer it and I’ll do my best to respond on another day more thoroughly — but what I would like to know is why many people consistently group all techniques of classroom management into one mental category.

I put to you an analogy with a similar word - discipline - from a parental perspective, which may have the potential for more universal agreement. 

Discipline could be as simple and healthy as requiring a child to deal with the negative consequences of a bad choice rather than making those consequences go away.  For example, a parent sets a bedtime for a child and has talked with them about the importance of sleep, especially when it comes to performing well in school.  The night before a test that parent studies with the child before and/or after dinner.  After they go to bed, the child then stays up late reading or sneaking in computer time or what have you; because they aren’t well-rested they do poorly on the test.  If the child is honest with the parent about what happened and the parent then demands of the teacher that the child be allowed a retest (or lies and says there was some traumatic reason the child did poorly so that they can have a retest) so that the child gets a better grade, what is that child learning?  Nothing.  It might generally be agreed upon that allowing the child to face the consequences of their actions is healthy. Maybe they will not make the same mistake again.

Beating the child mercilessly may well also result in the child not making that mistake again, but it’s obviously neither healthy for the child nor teaching them what it is that you supposedly want them to learn (to make responsible decisions).

Would the same people who vilify all classroom management do the same of discipline because of the latter example, ignoring the first?  Would the first, because it is healthy, not be counted under the label of discipline?  (The same can be said of course of someone who finds shock treatments to be as worthy in a classroom as free homework passes, but I think I can honestly say I do not personally know anyone with that view).

I ask because the more I see on the classroom management discussion, dating back awhile in the #education community, the more I feel that there’s simply a linguistic barrier here: if it’s good and healthy, if it can’t be construed as indoctrination, it isn’t ‘classroom management’.  And if it is in fact a matter of language and we can clear that hurdle, I wonder if some of our discussions will have turned out to be about very different, or very similar, things without some of us having realized.

(via teachinglearning)

Filed under education classroom management

3 notes

Defusing a bomb.

"What’s going on, what happened?"

H is seething and storming off, a stocky middle schooler with self-proclaimed “issues” who can swing from role model to swearing, furniture-punching walkout in a heartbeat.

Some words are on the strict “no” list (no use, no argument - just discipline).  But when I know who’s shouting well enough, I know how seriously to approach what they say.

So when H fires back with “Because he’s a queer!” …the procedure’s a little different, and it isn’t a word I ever expected to stray over.

Read more …

Filed under education lgbtq discipline classroom management

83 notes

We've Got A Diem to Carpe: Today.

adiemtocarpe:

I started off bright, cheery and excited. I greeted my students at the door with a pencil and a plastic bag filled with cut up sentence strip that when put together was a short letter from me to them expressing my excitement for the year. Then, it just went downhill.

We tried playing a name game,…

When I’m dealing with a “tough crowd” I try to make it a two-way conversation while still being firm.  It might sound pessimistic, but my goal for the first day is, before having fun, to lay down the ground rules and start off a relationship with strict guidelines for mutual respect.

You can still be fun, but if the students see that your primary objective is to be fun they’re going to walk all over you.

I find it’s most effective if I make it clear right off that bat that they’re going to have a certain responsibility for their own education; that I have faith in them; and that I am to a certain degree responsible to them as well.  Once they hear that they have a role in the way the classroom is going to be run they pay more attention.  Instead of laying down rules, I tell them my expectations for them, and then I ask them about their expectations for me — and I tell them that we’re going to talk about them, that I take their input seriously, and so to please take the activity seriously because this is our classroom, not mine.

I don’t know if any of that will help you, but I hope it might give you some ideas.  Don’t be afraid, either, to ask people at school for help, to talk to some of their previous teachers, etc.; it isn’t a show of weakness or lack of competence, it’s a recognition that someone has worked with these students before you, and that they may have some advice that can help you work with their behavior so that you CAN get to all the awesome, fun activities you had planned.

And above all, don’t lose the cheerfulness.  It will show your students that you’re resilient, that you’re not giving up, and maybe it will make some of them back down when they realize they’re not going to chase you off.

Filed under behavior management disruptive behavior classroom management classroom environment education teaching

2 notes

Something I really look forward to writing about when I have my brain back.

In response to adventuresinlearning’s conversation-stirring post about rewarding positive behavior, there are a few points I’d really like to hit:

  • Skinnerian philosophy, animals vs. children, and correcting vs. conditioning
  • Moral development: ages, stages, and why it matters in behavior management
  • Reward vs. Reinforcement
  • Individual behavior vs. behavior in groups

If I don’t make note of this here, I’ll lose my train of thought and forget about the whole thing completely, because it’s likely by the time I can sit down and write it the debate on tumblr will have died down.

Filed under education psychology behavior management classroom management