The Story of Classroom Transformation to Inspire and Empower Learners
Part 1 of 4 in the series on Transforming Classroom Management
It’s story time. Please sit down, make yourself a coffee or tea, and enjoy this hopefully relatable story about the road to successful classroom management.
Once upon a time, there was a teacher. This teacher was so excited to begin a career doing what they had always wanted to do – teach. They had learned in teacher training all the ways to use classroom management strategies. The classroom would be where students listened to the teacher. Students would follow the rules and routines, raise their hands to speak or answer questions and complete the assigned work. The teacher used fun teaching methods and it almost felt like a TV performance each day. Teaching was exhausting! (Who was really doing all the work here??)
Despite all of this effort, some of the students struggled to follow the rules. Some talked out of turn. Other students either did not complete the tasks or did not put much effort into it. It was usually these students that would “upset the apple cart”. This caused the rest of the students to get distracted. While the teacher knew that some of this was just a regular classroom full of students, they also knew that it could be better. The students could be learning so much more. The teacher should not be this tired and often anxious about the next day.
What is wrong with my classroom management strategies?
The teacher was very good. They were strong in pedagogy, strong in lesson planning and they were also a very nice teacher. Despite this, the behaviour of several of the students caused a lot of disruption. It was becoming increasingly difficult to teach a full lesson without being interrupted or distracted. Sometimes this would happen right when an administrator walked in or an evaluation was taking place. What luck!
The teacher thought, “Why are my management strategies not working?”
They noticed that it was often different students on different days who were causing this disruption. This made it hard to pinpoint and pull from the classroom management strategy ideas. This caused the teacher much distress. Like many teachers who got into the field of education, they wanted to make a difference. Why was it so hard to direct the learning of their students? How could they possibly make a difference when they didn’t feel the classroom was running the way it should? This filled the teacher with self-doubt.
Extrinsic Versus Intrinsic Motivation
The teacher began trying more new things like group prizes and incentives for good behaviour. (They knew that punishing students with “no recess” was not right. Those kids needed recess the most!)
Oh yes, some days went smoothly but they just chalked it up to luck or an absent student perhaps. The incentives began to work! Students were so responsive to the incentives at first. Then they noticed that were only responsive when the teacher was looking. Or, the students were attentive only when the teacher was at the whiteboard with the expo marker out about to give out some points!
Unfortunately, when the teacher was absent or not on top of the constant points, things started to break down. It wasn’t long before the teacher began to feel very disillusioned with teaching.
A New Way to Look at Directing the Learning
But there was hope! The teacher went to a professional development session and learned about student identity, mindfulness and self-regulation. There was a presentation all about social skills and they started putting it all together. There was more to classroom management than classroom management strategies. Maybe it wasn’t about classroom “management“ ” at all!
Could it be that it was more about the classroom environment and the individual students that made up the class? Maybe this was why even when they were doing the same strong routines and using the same classroom management strategies year after year, each year was so different and many strategies that were so successful the year before didn’t work the following year!
This is not the end of the story…
How do I know this? Because this story is real. It shares some of the experiences I had in my first 5 years and some of the experiences that colleagues or teachers I have worked with have told me. It’s about me and maybe it’s about you too or a teacher you know.
I am sure you can relate to much of this. You can probably relate and often feel a bit powerless due to classroom composition, the demands of the district or administration and just the sheer changing of the world. Kids are different now. I see you and I understand.
So let’s fast forward just a bit to learning about mindfulness and my ah-ha moment of the importance of student self-awareness. It was a long while ago but since then, I’ve developed more thinking and practical ideas on this.
I originally wrote about my plight when I first started teaching kids about mindfulness and the need for teaching students self-awareness and social awareness. This is every bit about me doing my own reflections for growth in my teaching as it is about learning more about my students. I wanted them to be the best they can be.
Over the next 4 weeks, we are going to dive deep into a refreshed look at classroom management. It involves personalizing your methods and the environment in your classroom so that your students feel free and empowered to learn. The best learning starts with knowing your students fully and using that as a launchpad for some of the most amazing learning your students will do.
There is no perfect time to make some changes in your classroom and teaching. While it may be easier when the school year starts, I always recommend dabbling as you go through the year to see what works and what needs tweaking. That way the new changes can be fully made beginning the next year. Some of these changes are so EASY! The beauty of it is that they are evergreen or generic changes that allow you to personalize things for your students based on their needs.
In the meantime, you can check out the social awareness post here and grab the free download. If you want to be reminded when a new post drops, sign up for emails with the popup on the screen. You will receive even more free tips and ideas in upcoming emails. Are you ready to transform your classroom management through simple tweaks to all the great things you are already doing? Leave a comment if you would like to ask questions, share ideas or suggest classroom management topics.
Until next week…this story is
To Be Continued…
You can look forward to the continued story and some great ideas that will help you transform your teaching and your students’ learning in the rest of the series. If you are on the email list you will be notified and be able to follow along without missing anything. Be prepared for some email surprises.
Classroom Management Series:
- Successful Classroom Management: the Back Story
- Successful Classroom Management: Transforming the Environment
- Successful Classroom Management: Student-centred Learning
- Successful Classroom Management: Elevate Learning