Tag Archives: classroom management

Michael Grinder and ENVoY

Dan Dundon introduced me to Michael Grinder this past Friday.  His web page has a video about “Six Wrong Ways to Make the Right First Impression (paper, PDF)”. 

Amazon lists some books by Grinder (as author or co-author).

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Product Details

SPU Library (or affiliates – WorldCat) has a few more in addition to the above.

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“Classroom Management” Due Oct 26

Assignment from Syllabus

Classroom Management (1 class period, not Mentor teacher)

You should observe one entire class period. You should not observe your mentor teacher. Prior to the observation, you should discuss with the teacher their classroom management plan. Describe the observation period. What techniques for classroom management were used? Based on your pre-observation conference, was the classroom management observation what you expected? What techniques were effective? Ineffective? What could have been done differently?

I observed Mr. L.’s class on Monday 10/25 from 11:30 to 12:15 for some perspective on classroom management.  I have spent some time in this class before and am familiar with the students and some of their behaviors.

What’s the plan?

Prior to class I asked Mr. L. what his classroom management plan was.  Mr. L. has the following A B C D poster in his room (reproduced below from here)

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He described his approach as mostly organic, especially at this point in the year.  Like many teachers, Mr. L. had started off strict and as successes or problems have arisen he has either relaxed or adjusted his approach, respectively.  I have seen him ask students pointedly during infractions which level of participation they were demonstrating from Anarchy to Democracy and achieved the desired affect which was the student being able to label their current behavior, and acknowledge that is it at variance to the standard the class was striving towards. 

Observations.

The class (a groups of approx. 17 freshman) was discussing a plan for their Exhibitions (a review / assessment of their work done 3 times a year).  As Mr. L. was discussing with students a student Jo. came into the classroom.  Mr. L. immediately expressed his disapproval that the student should be coming into class 10 minutes late.  Mr. L. verbal comments, tone, and facial expression were succinct and to the point, namely that he expected the student to be on time in the future and to start participating.

The class was arranged in a circle and Mr. L. was doing most of the talking.  He later asked a student JuF. to read a couple paragraphs for him.

Most of the students were engaged in the discussion, but one student JuM. was slinking away from the group to get back to a workstation (along the walls) and start fiddling with the mouse and keyboard.  This student was located in close proximity to Mr. L. (normally a good approach to keep someone on task), but was also located in Mr. L.’s blind spot, i.e. not in Mr. L.’s direct line-of-sight.  Mr. L. was completely aware of JuM. was doing, gave a few stern looks of disapproval, which did not deter the student to correct their lack of participation.

As the discussion part of the class ended Mr. L. put the students into groups to work on a worksheet that would form the basis of a plan towards each student’s Exhibition in 2-3 short weeks.  Mr. L. sat with a group of female students that are quite close in the class, while I sat with a student who seemed to be stressed out, and another instructional aide sat with some other students.  That arrangement seemed to keep most easily-distracted students on task and allow for more progress to be made by more students.

Expected vs. Unexpected?

I found the actions of Mr. L. consistent with his plan.  He didn’t call out the late student unnecessarily, and his words/tone/glance of disapproval does communicate without too much disruption of class flow, namely that he has higher expectations of that student.

It was unexpected to me that the student slipping away to get back on the computer was allowed to do so.  I think, based on my other experiences in the classroom, that this student’s lack of motivation and participation are a challenge for Mr. L.  I did hear this student contribute verbally to the group discussion this period, something I hadn’t seen in all my prior observations in that class.

Effective vs. Ineffective?

I think Mr. L.’s communication with the late student was effective, in communicating that lateness was unacceptable.  However, I think this student was perhaps not fully integrated into the group’s circle upon arrival, and thus I don’t believe he contributed for the remainder of the class.

I noted above that although Mr. L. was sitting right next to the student that was slowly retreating from the circle time to get back on the computer, that this physical proximity did not deter the unacceptable behavior.  I might have expected Mr. L. to call that out, and I think in not doing so, either the proximity or the prior agreement to not be on the computer during circle time was undermined.

Differently?

I realize as I write this that there is a lot of context around even the most subtle interchanges of classroom management.  Only the teacher and the student have full context on any given incident that an outsider observes, and even then what the teacher may say and students perceives or understands can vary, and vice versa.

However, I am still a disciplinarian at heart and would be more strict with the lack of attention I was picking up on.  This runs the risk, of course, of causing disaffectation in the student and could sour our working relationship, but I think I keep coming back to the standards I hold for the other students need to be consistently and compassionately communicated to the offending student each and every time.


Not immediately related to this assignment, I have been reflecting on classroom management based on interactions with two other teachers this past week.

Teacher A takes a more coaching approach to their classroom management.  In an Algebra Support class, the teacher had noticed that students were not engaged.  Despite reminders and “focusing activities”, they persisted in disengagement.  This prompted Teacher A to give a speech (sermon? harangue?) on the lack of focus that he was observing in the classroom at the present time.  He reminded the students that they were in that specialized class because of their inability to focus, and that this did not reflect on their ability or intelligence.  He warned them that this lack of focus did have potential to impair their performance on an upcoming test.  He said that if they could focus, they would reap the benefits of proficiency and be able to move on, in life, and in that class.

To me I think that is the ultimate real-world application, in other words, their behavior in class is a strong indicator of their ability to engage in activities that are challenging to them in life.  Sure there are always some that have “made it an art to fail in the typical classroom”, but Teacher A makes it clear that there is more at stake here than just some classroom, and a boring lesson-of-the-day.  He communicates two essential truths, that he believes they can do better, and that he has a pretty good idea what their challenging behavior comes down to.  One can’t help but sense that Teacher A cares, and that he has high expectations.  Delivered with compassion and honesty, I see the power of the motivational digression, and especially if punctuated with energy and emotion.

Teacher B has a student in her class who is extremely challenging.  She has sought out help and advice from more veteran teachers, but has been unable to get any advice from them to get traction on the problem.  The student regularly is the only and loudest voice/distraction as the rest of the class is quieting down.  This student disregards verbal instructions, including those which would remove him from the room.  Head banging or strange noises are the norm for this student.  Teacher B fears that the principal will not back her up in her attempts to connect to the student.  She has sent him out of the room.  She has called a parent on-the-spot to address deviant behavior.  She has documented instances, but all to no avail.  She has also observed similar behavior in the student when the parents are physically present on the occasion of a parent-teacher night.  What should this teacher do?

I heard this story during a union-sponsored mentorship night.  And there were some veterans at our table that shared some ideas.  My take on the behavior is that it was coming from a place of frustration at the students inability to communicate.  All of us at the table suggested that there be a tighter loop of communication with the parent if there are medications in play that may or may not be producing the desired effect.  We also thought that the principal should be confronted with the facts in the case, and asked to intervene despite their reluctances for the sake of the other students (and their parents) that want/deserve a classroom conducive to education.  Teacher B fears being the troublemaker or making waves (as a first year teacher), but our main advice was that there are staff and resources available to help in this situation, and that she needs to avail herself of those.  It is what she has in her heart, to help and educate all children and she needs to be true to that.

Is confrontation a love language?

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