Mr. Rauscher's Classroom Management Plan
As a teacher my philosophy of teaching is a combination of Essentialism and Progressivism. I feel that there is a level of key (essential) material and skills that should be learned in order for students to be successful in college and employment in the modern high-tech world. But I also recognize that there are multiple pathways to learning and classrooms should be flexible to utilize a variety of methods to ensure all students are given the opportunity to master complex and difficult subjects.
My classroom management reflects this teaching style as well. There are a handful of key rules that I expect all students to honor: 1. Be respectful at all times, 2. Come to class prepared, 3. Minimize distractions, 4. Give your best effort, and 5. Do not cheat or lie. I believe that most of the issues that may come up in the classroom can be addressed within these main topics. We will work as a class team to refine and expand upon specific policies and procedures to ensure our time together is productive and enjoyable. In particular, if we can all respect one another then our class will be a fun and interesting learning experience.
Villa, Thousand and Nevin (2010) created the Self-Discipline Pyramid to help guide classroom management (Figure 1) and provide the tools and skills for students to have the self-discipline needed to be productive members of the classroom. The base of the pyramid represents the areas where most energy is focused to support positive behavior and interactions. The upper levels are areas to support students when they fail to act responsibly and respectively, and need additional supports outside of the classroom.
Below are specific strategies at each of the pyramid levels that I use to manage the classroom and support my students to ensure we have a healthy and dynamic place to learn.
Creating a Caring Community:
The most important step in promoting positive classroom behavior is creating a place where students can feel safe and comfortable. The teacher does some of that, but the students themselves will do some as well. For that to happen we need to ensure that all students are invested in the process. Following my teaching philosophy I like to promote opportunities for collaborative and creative work. This is supported by creating teams of four students who both work together on projects and classwork, as well as support each other to promote proper behavior.
· Colorful, dynamic and fascinating artifacts and decorations will cover the walls and surround the students in a place that is clearly made for science. This “stuff” not only sets the tone for learning, but provides “eye candy” to draw interest and create a level of comfort. (Kohn, 1996)
· Much of the first few days of class are spent getting to know one another, with name learning games and sharing of background, interests and goals. I like to start by having students introduce themselves to the class and share personal information, responding to a series of cues I provide. Personally, I work hard to quickly learn my students’ names.
· During the first few days we will also establish specific rules and procedures as a group, under the 5 main headings described above. The agreed upon rules are displayed on a poster in my classroom to ensure students can recall them easily (Villa, Thousand, and Nevin, 2010)
· Classroom layout will facilitate teamwork, with tables spread around the room seating small groups of students in teams facing each other.
· Students will work collaboratively in their teams at their tables, while getting to know one another and supporting each other.
· Scorecards for teams are used to track positive behaviors and classroom participation. Friendly competition will lead to team accountability, helping to facilitate self-led management of classroom expectations (Muilenburg, 2014)
· Seating assignments are periodically shuffled to provide opportunities to work with other students.
· Director roles allow students to take ownership of management elements (Albert, 1996). Each team has a Team Leader who is responsible for collecting materials and ensuring that instructions are heard and understood. They also have a Scorekeeper who is responsible for maintaining the scorecards and keeping track of team points.
Recovery with Accountability:
The Recovery section describes actions I will take to help students who step out of bounds. I believe that most students can self-regulate their behavior but every now and then they need a little reminder without being heavy handed.
· I move around the classroom allowing my proximity to remind students to behave properly (Albert, 1996)
· Catch them being good - I point out and reward good behavior with team points, reinforcing the desired classroom actions (Albert, 1996)
· Team points are lost for clear violations, reminding students they are accountable to their teammates.
· Team leaders are reminded to keep their team on task.
· I use the look to give individuals a clear reminder when they need to get back on task.
· If bad behavior escalates I will give the student a choice to self-regulate or be prepared for the next step, usually being asked to leave the room.
· I may ask the student to remain after class for a follow-up conversation to discuss their issues and attempt to find a pathway to better behavior for next time. (Villa, Thousand, and Nevin, 2010)
This section describes actions and strategies I use to help students learn the skills they need to maintain self-discipline and grow into emotionally and socially healthy adults. I believe that school should provide more than just scholastic knowledge, but also prepare students for life in an increasingly complex and global society. Interpersonal and self-management skills are of key importance.
· Team interactions help students learn cooperative discussion skills. I provide activities with specific instruction for how some discussions are to be practiced, with team members taking on roles to practice proper behavior in social and teamwork situations.
· Teach respect for self, for others and for the natural and man-made world we live in. We may not always agree with people and institutions, but change can only come from showing respect and learning to articulate your concerns in a thoughtful way. I explicitly teach respect and protection of the natural environment, using examples from our personal lives to demonstrate how we each impact the world around us and how we might change our behaviors. Environmental protection not only enhances our own lives but brings up issues of social justice, empathy and respect for other cultures.
· Self-control scripts are a way for students to have specific prompts that can help them to think through their actions when struggling with expectations (Villa, Thousand, and Nevin, 2010). STOMA is an acronym for a useful step-by-step thought process when a student starts to lose control and needs help problem solving. It stands for:
Stop before you do anything.
Take a breath; think about what happened and what you want to do.
Options: What are the consequences of each choice?
Move on it (make a choice).
Appreciate yourself (for not losing control and doing your best).
I review these steps with my students and keep a poster in my room as a reminder.
· Time management skills are also important for students to learn in order to succeed in completing their class- and homework. Knowing the difference between what is “Urgent” and “Important”, and how to can help to keep students stay on task and minimize distractions. Websites like www.skillsyouneed.com provide a wide array of self-assessments and strategies to assist students (and adults) improve their abilities to succeed. A great example of a tool I use is the Priority Matrix, helping students to think clearly about their activities.
Somewhere Else Plan:
Those few students who are unable to maintain self-discipline in the classroom may need an opportunity to remove themselves so they can have time to think about how to properly behave and to settle their emotions.
· Classrooms are often tightly packed with little space to allow for disruptive students to cool down in the room. I typically ask these students to step outside the class and stand or sit quietly, and I will step out myself to discuss the issue at an appropriate time. I feel it is important for them to have a chance to settle down and pull their thoughts together. (Villa, Thousand, and Nevin, 2010)
· Rather than immediately punishing a student for infractions I may work with them on a Personal Behavior Contract to layout specific expectations and repercussions for violating them. A contract allows the student to hold himself accountable and makes clear what needs to be done in order to succeed in my class.
· Continued disruptions are unfair and disrespectful to classmates and will result in a referral to allow administrators to work with the student.
This level provides strong levels of support for those students who continue to struggle with behavior issues and need alternative plans to help them make better decisions. I strongly prefer that students remain in the classroom to ensure they don’t fall behind academically. I will look to support systems already in place
· Many of these students may have 504 or IEP plans, which have been thoughtfully created to support that particular individual. By familiarizing myself with those plans, following their recommendations and consulting with the student’s counselors I can go a long way towards helping the student’s efforts at self-discipline.
· Family support is critical at this point, and we want students to know they are loved, but that they need to work hard to live up to expectations. I may contact family members to try to understand what issues the student is dealing with outside of the classroom and work with them to create an agreeable plan to help the student accept responsibility for their actions.
· For students who need ongoing support from multiple levels I can work with administrators, counselors and parents to develop a Positive Behavior Support (PBS) plan for the student (Bombara & Kern, 2004). This is called for when the student’s behavior is chronically impacting their ability to learn, and requires a support team to work with the student to determine the driving forces behind the bad behavior and develop a plan with accountability for all.