CLASSROOM MANAGMENT – PUTTING THE HORSE BEFORE THE CART

ESTABLISHING CLASSROOM PROTOCOLS

a .. CLASS RULES AND DISCIPLINE
A Precursor to Teaching and Learning

One of the issues that may confront teachers is a belief they must teach soon as they take responsibility for a class of children. This may apply at the beginning of a year. the beginning of a semester, the start of a term or whenever a teacher takes responsibility for a new class.

It seems teachers feel the need to jump in from the first bell, beginning to reach in a ‘go, go, go’ manner. Some go for it as if there is no tomorrow. Others may approach the task more slowly but it seems the majority are for making an impact from the first minutes of the first day the class is theirs.

That is areal worry. By c. CHILDREN NEED TRAINING

Without diminishing or in any way tarnishing the intelligence of ‘homo sapiens’, I sometimes think about the development of children in the same way I’d consider dog obedience classes.

I think of a delightful dog with a happy disposition and carefree nature. It is a lolloping, happy, unrequitedly playful yet totsally uncontrolled, undisciplined and range-free canine. in dog-like terms, and basing past the puppy stage, it is now adolescent and possibly past the age of recovery. Untrained as a puppy, its road to rectification of manners, deportment and attitude will be long and tortuous with only minimal change to ingrained behaviour being possible. The dog is set in its ways.

Children go through a period of formulation and formation. During their formative years they are impressionable, responsive to training and development. They are receptive.

Just as young dogs need to be taught dog obedience when they are puppies, children need to be developed while young. very young.It is never too early to start with these necessary developments. But it is easy to leave the commencement of this moulding until it is altogether too late.

One of the things that really rankles, is to hear people say that the nurture of young children can be left at the moment because they are so young. the message put about is there is plenty of time to develop them as they grow older. What sad, ignorant and arrant nonsense. The Catholic Church used to say that the age of impression was up to and including seven years of age. if children were trained in the art of catholic devotion prior to the age of seven, they remained with the church in a steadfast and generally unwavering way for the whole of life. They might drift off from time to time, but inevitably come back to their belief platform.

In educational terms, we would do well to think in the same way. Frazer Mustard made the point that brain malleability – its capacity for development and absorption – declines precipitously from birth to three years of age, continuing in sharp decline until the age of ten. Brain malleability then plateaus and continues a gentle descent that parallels the increasing chronological enhancement of the individual. He makes the point that young and impressionable individuals have less resource put into their development that for those who are older. This I feel follows in educational terms – to the detriment of children.

Educationally speaking, resources tend to be prioritised toward tertiary, senior secondary and junior secondary students in that order. Then come upper middle and finally lower primary children. (There is some recent focus on primary age children but the longevity of this focus is yet to be confirmed.) There seems to be a belief that the older children and students are, the more that has to be devoted to their education because of accountability factors.It often seems the only thing taken into account in measuring educational development, is how well children do in Literacy and Maths.

I worry about the short-sightedness of measurement tools that consider only one developmental domain.

The holistic (I sometimes use the term ‘wholelistic’ for impact) notion notion of development is a much more rational and logical alternative. It takes account of the social, emotional and moral/spiritual development of children.

There is a sad juxtaposition attaching to this issue. On the one hand, we reawd of the desirtes of educxastors vto develop chgildren in a complete, rounded and fulfilled manner. On the other we have acquiescence to ‘narrow gauge’ rather than ‘broadband’ measurement. We focus on academics forgetting or minimising our appreciation of the other elements that should be part of the developmental framework.

Routines and procedures are the linchpins on which sound classroom development is predicated. While much of the reutilisations does not directly impact on academics, processes and procedures help in the development of children as whole people. the process of developing maturing personality has benefits in terms of enhanced attitudes to work and learning. The environment and atmospheric ‘set’ is critical to focussing children and students on work and learning. outcomes are enhanced of procedures are in place to help make things work better.

This training needs to precede learning. Rules outlined in an earlier article translate into positive attitudes, quality routines and a wholesome classroom operational manner. This is on a day-to-day not an ‘occasional’ or ‘sometimes’ basis. Procedures in place become operational precepts which in turn become ingrained as practised habits. Good habits. Children’s attitudes in terms of classroom care, property management and respect for resources, builds atmosphere and promotes harmony within the learning environment.

Part of sound routine and procedure are the working habits developed with and for children. these habits (go) beyond classroom rules and procedures because they are about individual training. These habits and work attributes include the following.

1. desk habits including pencil hold, paper position and writing posture.
2. Use of loose sheets of paper including storage in books and files.
3. Gluing paper (right places) and fixing into work books.
4. Using cloth for wiping up spills. The teacher may rinse the cloth every so often with children trained to use it automatically to wipe up spills.
5. Correct school bag and lunch box storage with bags and boxes stowed by habit at the start of the school day or vat the end of lunch eating periods. Included is refrigerator opening and closing procedures, recess and lunch eating habits, rubbish and wrapper disposal.
6. Movement habits in and around school buildings including places for walking, running and playing. Hats on and off depending on the area of play. Lining up and readying procedures at the end of recess and lunchtime are part of the ‘movement and motion’ strategy.

I maintain that training, the establishment of routines and procedures MUST be the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY in any classroom at the start of
the school year. Once these processes are in place, then learning can occur. Habits are important. I have read that it takes twenty-two days for a habit, good or bad, to establish. Once established, practice and adherence ensures they stay in place.

While it takes time to set these strategies in place, it is time well spent. Good classroom habits and practices, that sit aside and in a complimentary way to class rules and procedures, ensure through their practice that things go smoothly. The time initially spent on this ordering returns tenfold in benefit terms because interruptions and disruptions are avoided. Boundaries are established. Expectations that have been discussed and programmed, unfold in a practical day-by-day manner in support of the class, teaching, learning and development.

[The pity is that as children move up the grades or experience different teachers on rotation, the training can lapse and attitudes can deteriorate. reinforcement and gentle reminder are necessary. The most important is the need for the school A principal or delegate to ensure that incoming teachers are aware of the need to establish procedures with the class in the ways already discussed. Each teacher has to develop his or her set of overall routines, procedures and expectations. They are not inherited and don’t pass by right from one teacher to the next.]

Teaching is spoiled and learning diminished if management devices are not in place and practised. Teachers can be too busy in valiantly attempting to control, manage and discipline, to teach. They wear themselves to frazzles and finish up with a group of students who range from the very disruptive (those setting the class social agenda) to the very frustrated (those who want to learn but are not taught because the teacher is too preoccupied to teach).

Process, procedure, rules and regulations can be reinforcing and satisfying. That satisfaction embraces students, teachers, the class as a community of learners and the school as a whole. over the top with teaching a class, it can be that teachers lose the group. it is ever so important that the initial time teachers spend with a new class is a ‘steady as she goes’ period.

Set the Scene with the Children

A losing strategy for any teacher can be an attempt to set the classroom scene without involving the children. ironclad rules and tight procedures will quickly lose their impact of they are set without the involvement of the class. It is essential that class rules and procedures are established by teacher and children in concert. The class needs to own its governance. Rules won’t work if they are dictatorially set then maritally announced. collectivity, the group contributing to and therefore owning governance is the smart way to formulate procedures.

‘Us shaping’ rather than ‘me saying’ and ‘you doing’ is essential. Groupship is empowering. Without having the right approach to classroom management, a teacher can become an awfully isolated and almost unappreciated individual. No teacher wants to be overbearing to the point of being ‘sent to Coventry’ by her or his class.

First and Second Level Ownership

The way classroom procedures are developed confers first or second level ownership. Children who feel a fart of the ownership stratagem are more likely to be compliant and act in accord with agreed procedures than otherwise would be the case.(There will be exceptions but aberrance may not be tolerated and therefore quickly corrected in a ‘recalcitrant’ by the collective.) Rules break down and lose impact when there is little commitment and scant adherence on the part of children.

1. Developing rules ‘with’ children rather than ‘for’ children is essential.
2. Expectations need to be encouragingly rather than punitively worded.
3. It follows that if children are participants is creating classroom procedures they will regard them in a prime way rather than with a secondary sense.

All this points back to the need for teachers with new classes to spend time in a ‘getting to know and understand you’ phase with children and students.

Part of this will be (or should be) development of the class environment through shared shaping of agreed procedures. Several essential precepts come to mind. They are simple. based on common sense and easily overlooked.

1. Children and students need to be organised
2. Children and students are best predisposed toward being organised if they share in creating organising structures, including classroom rules and procedures.
3. Routines established should be based on fair and predictable management and administration. There is a need for impartiality and even-handedness in all situations.
4. teachers can’t teach control but should teach in a way that gains control. This happens best in classrooms where the principles included in this paper are applied.

Rules, organisation, routines and procedures are important. They need to be established by teachers working in away that sees the first days and weeks being spent on getting to know and understand children and students in classrooms. Students and their teacher need to get to know each other. This is ever so important and ought not to be overlooked.

Once this has happened and once ground rules are in place, teachers will be able to teach with the confidence that underpins successful teaching and learning strategies.

Teachers who go full on from day one and ignore the need to establish management strategies with children may well set themselves up for along period of tiring and frustrating teaching effort.

b. CLASS RULES AND PROCEDURES

I have pointed out that teaching is more effective once controlling devices are locked into place. It’s not a case of irrevocable ‘locking’ because circumstances may dictate the necessity of change. Fluidity is essential. However the general precept stands. If there are controlling and managing measures place to underpin classroom operations, teaching will be more effective and learning more meaningful than would otherwise be the case.

Rules and procedures are best developed via memorandums of understanding. That happens when those with stake and interest in a learning domain contribute to their formulation. Creating is but the beginning. Outcome and consequence, the way in which those involved adhere to statements and precepts, will be based largely on the shape and wording of documents. all need to feel ownership of the process.

To indulge in lots of ‘dont’s’ and ‘cant’s’ is negative overkill. Children will look. They may shudder but one can bet they won’t comply, at least not willingly, with forceful and aggressively worded edicts. ‘Softly, softly catchee monkey’ is the smart way to go.

I have pointed out that to establish procedures facilitating class management and control needs to come before teaching. That process is best developed when the whole class feels ownership what is put in place. Dictatorship is definitely not the best way forward. Classroom teachers should never be educational Idi Amin’s.

EXAMPLES OF EXCELLENCE IN SHAPING CLASS PROCESSES

In developing this article I have drawn on some very good examples of teaching practitionership. I want to highlight some educators who had and have the goods when it comes to setting up procedures and routines upon which classroom organisation is excellently underpinned.

Louise Wright and the Golden Rule

Louise wright was a teacher at Leanyer school for a period during my principalship. As an ex-Milingimbi educator she had gained insights into classroom management in away that portrayed her class as one within which democracy reigned. That was truly obvious.

Ms Wright,s class had the following as its mission statement :

” Remember the Golden Rule and choose to help each other.
1. Choose to help each other.
2. Choose to respect each other.
3. Choose to be kind and caring.
4. Choose to work and learn ‘together as one’.
5. Choose to be happy.”

Curious, I asked Ms Wright for a small text explaining the class and its operational precepts. She responded to me in the following terms.

” I asked the children what sort of classroom they would like to have. They all said, “a happy one”. Then the question ‘how do we make a happy classroom’ was brainstormed. We talked about choices and being responsible for the choices we make.

I told the children The Golden Rule. “Do unto others, or treat them as you would like to be treated.” They reckoned that was pretty fair so we decided to make the choice to be a happy bunch be developing the above attitudes. They saw that those attitudes and behaviours were embracing of the school motto (Together as One) and so it all just came together. It is working.”

Fran’s Wisdom Rubs Off

Mrs Fran Selvadurai was (and is) the Early Childhood Senior Teacher at Leanyer School. With her Year Three class she developed the following Belief statement. The group saw it as their Statement of Purpose.

” In Year 3 Selvadurai, we choose to be
RESPECTFUL
SAFE
POLITE AND ENCOURAGING

And to complete ALL our work to
THE BEST OF OUR ABILITY.”

The class has a posting of positive consequences and outcomes that flow naturally from adherence to this statement of purpose:
1. Praise
2. Good comments
3. Stickers, stamps and visible rewards
4. Merit awards
5. Invitation to share good work with other teachers and (then) Mr Gray.
6. Free activities.

Evidence revealed that these statements of purpose and anticipation of cooperating, caring and sharing process were working very well.

Mrs Quinn’s precepts

Mrs Bev Quinn was a teacher at Nakara School. A practitioner for many years, she displayed the following precepts and principles in her classroom. These simple, effective and ever so wise statements were on display as reminders to children of agreed class principles.

1. Everyone in this class is special.
2. Everyone in this class is important.
3. Everyone in this class is valued
4. A smile is free.

(And in the ‘time out area’, a timely reminder)
5. Everyone has the right to learn and to be safe and happy.

Application

For each and every class there is a new beginning. These teachers and others do not carry forward exhortorary statements from year to year as a matter of passage. Each year they work with their ‘new’. class in a way that causes these precepts to be developed in a fresh, meaningful and ‘owned’ way. Although the wording may vary from year to year the principles are the same. Children and teacher work together to develop their class platforms. owning these principles and precepts as they go forward into the excitement that learning underpins their forty weeks of togetherness.

The Best Rules

The best class rules – invoked as precepts and procedures – are those co-created by teacher and students. cooperation in creation confirms this co-ownership and guarantees an adherence that does not come with imposition. if children are involved in the development of class rules, this shared ownership will validate their relevance and meaning to all class members.

The best expectations are those designed to add to classroom comfort because of the consideration children have for each other. Quality classroom environments have a powerfully positive impact on children’s learning.

Flexibility in application should be inherent in the rules that are put into place. To make everything absolute and inviolate can be too unbending because on occasions there may be exceptions that should be considered. An example might be a child who has to leave the room suddenly and without gaining permission because he or she is about to vomit, has diarrhoea and so on.

Rules apply in normal circumstances. If there are special circumstances affecting some class members, empathy and understanding should imbue the thinking of the group as a whole. Children accept special circumstances as part of the accord embracing the group as a whole.

Conclusion

Rules, regulations and procedures c are not ‘nailed onto’ classrooms as restrictive devices. they need to be considered and embraced as cv part of the operational and cooperative thesis upon which good classrooms are predicated.

Appreciation:

Thanks to Ms Louise Wright, Mrs Fran Selvadurai, Ms Bev Quinn and my wife Margo Gray for source material, thoughts and ideas.

c. CHILDREN NEED TRAINING

Without diminishing or in any way tarnishing the intelligence of ‘homo sapiens’, I sometimes think about the development of children in the same way I’d consider dog obedience classes.

I think of a delightful dog with a happy disposition and carefree nature. It is a lolloping, happy, unrequitedly playful yet totsally uncontrolled, undisciplined and range-free canine. in dog-like terms, and basing past the puppy stage, it is now adolescent and possibly past the age of recovery. Untrained as a puppy, its road to rectification of manners, deportment and attitude will be long and tortuous with only minimal change to ingrained behaviour being possible. The dog is set in its ways.

Children go through a period of formulation and formation. During their formative years they are impressionable, responsive to training and development. They are receptive.

Just as young dogs need to be taught dog obedience when they are puppies, children need to be developed while young. very young.It is never too early to start with these necessary developments. But it is easy to leave the commencement of this moulding until it is altogether too late.

One of the things that really rankles, is to hear people say that the nurture of young children can be left at the moment because they are so young. the message put about is there is plenty of time to develop them as they grow older. What sad, ignorant and arrant nonsense. The Catholic Church used to say that the age of impression was up to and including seven years of age. if children were trained in the art of catholic devotion prior to the age of seven, they remained with the church in a steadfast and generally unwavering way for the whole of life. They might drift off from time to time, but inevitably come back to their belief platform.

In educational terms, we would do well to think in the same way. Frazer Mustard made the point that brain malleability – its capacity for development and absorption – declines precipitously from birth to three years of age, continuing in sharp decline until the age of ten. Brain malleability then plateaus and continues a gentle descent that parallels the increasing chronological enhancement of the individual. He makes the point that young and impressionable individuals have less resource put into their development that for those who are older. This I feel follows in educational terms – to the detriment of children.

Educationally speaking, resources tend to be prioritised toward tertiary, senior secondary and junior secondary students in that order. Then come upper middle and finally lower primary children. (There is some recent focus on primary age children but the longevity of this focus is yet to be confirmed.) There seems to be a belief that the older children and students are, the more that has to be devoted to their education because of accountability factors.It often seems the only thing taken into account in measuring educational development, is how well children do in Literacy and Maths.

I worry about the short-sightedness of measurement tools that consider only one developmental domain.

The holistic (I sometimes use the term ‘wholelistic’ for impact) notion notion of development is a much more rational and logical alternative. It takes account of the social, emotional and moral/spiritual development of children.

There is a sad juxtaposition attaching to this issue. On the one hand, we reawd of the desirtes of educxastors vto develop chgildren in a complete, rounded and fulfilled manner. On the other we have acquiescence to ‘narrow gauge’ rather than ‘broadband’ measurement. We focus on academics forgetting or minimising our appreciation of the other elements that should be part of the developmental framework.

Routines and procedures are the linchpins on which sound classroom development is predicated. While much of the reutilisations does not directly impact on academics, processes and procedures help in the development of children as whole people. the process of developing maturing personality has benefits in terms of enhanced attitudes to work and learning. The environment and atmospheric ‘set’ is critical to focussing children and students on work and learning. outcomes are enhanced of procedures are in place to help make things work better.

This training needs to precede learning. Rules outlined in an earlier article translate into positive attitudes, quality routines and a wholesome classroom operational manner. This is on a day-to-day not an ‘occasional’ or ‘sometimes’ basis. Procedures in place become operational precepts which in turn become ingrained as practised habits. Good habits. Children’s attitudes in terms of classroom care, property management and respect for resources, builds atmosphere and promotes harmony within the learning environment.

Part of sound routine and procedure are the working habits developed with and for children. these habits (go) beyond classroom rules and procedures because they are about individual training. These habits and work attributes include the following.

1. desk habits including pencil hold, paper position and writing posture.
2. Use of loose sheets of paper including storage in books and files.
3. Gluing paper (right places) and fixing into work books.
4. Using cloth for wiping up spills. The teacher may rinse the cloth every so often with children trained to use it automatically to wipe up spills.
5. Correct school bag and lunch box storage with bags and boxes stowed by habit at the start of the school day or vat the end of lunch eating periods. Included is refrigerator opening and closing procedures, recess and lunch eating habits, rubbish and wrapper disposal.
6. Movement habits in and around school buildings including places for walking, running and playing. Hats on and off depending on the area of play. Lining up and readying procedures at the end of recess and lunchtime are part of the ‘movement and motion’ strategy.

I maintain that training, the establishment of routines and procedures MUST be the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY in any classroom at the start of
the school year. Once these processes are in place, then learning can occur. Habits are important. I have read that it takes twenty-two days for a habit, good or bad, to establish. Once established, practice and adherence ensures they stay in place.

While it takes time to set these strategies in place, it is time well spent. Good classroom habits and practices, that sit aside and in a complimentary way to class rules and procedures, ensure through their practice that things go smoothly. The time initially spent on this ordering returns tenfold in benefit terms because interruptions and disruptions are avoided. Boundaries are established. Expectations that have been discussed and programmed, unfold in a practical day-by-day manner in support of the class, teaching, learning and development.

[The pity is that as children move up the grades or experience different teachers on rotation, the training can lapse and attitudes can deteriorate. reinforcement and gentle reminder are necessary. The most important is the need for the school A principal or delegate to ensure that incoming teachers are aware of the need to establish procedures with the class in the ways already discussed. Each teacher has to develop his or her set of overall routines, procedures and expectations. They are not inherited and don’t pass by right from one teacher to the next.]

Teaching is spoiled and learning diminished if management devices are not in place and practised. Teachers can be too busy in valiantly attempting to control, manage and discipline, to teach. They wear themselves to frazzles and finish up with a group of students who range from the very disruptive (those setting the class social agenda) to the very frustrated (those who want to learn but are not taught because the teacher is too preoccupied to teach).

Process, procedure, rules and regulations can be reinforcing and satisfying. That satisfaction embraces students, teachers, the class as a community of learners and the school as a whole.

3 thoughts on “CLASSROOM MANAGMENT – PUTTING THE HORSE BEFORE THE CART

  1. Hi Henry,

    All of these suggestions and initiatives are eminently sensible and potentially very useful and productive. However – and this is a big “however” – our school administrators and senior school staff for the most part do not create the right conditions for teachers – individually or collectively – to be able to implement these strategies.

    In fact let me go even further out on the limb here – either through sins of omission or commission – far too often they are actually part of the problem to begin with. Until we get a collective recognition of that one simple fact they will never be part of the solution. At the moment, they have their heads firmly buried in the sand on this one.

    Whilst I applaud your ideas and suggestions – and in an ideal world I feel sure would be very effective in addressing the issues at the heart of the classroom management problem, I don’t have as seemingly a benign or sanguine view of the school administrators and their laissez faire approach to the management of the student behaviour issue – whether it is inside or outside the classroom.

    And don’t even get me started on the higher ups in the bureaucracy or their political masters whose hubris is more than matched by their hypocrisy on the issue – or for that matter, the teachers’ unions, the latter of whom, have completely dropped the ball in respect of how they have allowed the situation to get to this point. The touchy-feely, namby-pamby, hold-me-handy approach to student behaviour management in our public schools – and the draconian, punitive response from education departments towards teachers trying to deal with the problems at the chalkface passed its UBD years ago. And it will take even more years to correct it even if we somehow managed by some miracle to collectively recognise this and begin the process now.

    For further no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners elucidation of this issue and related issues, check out our latest blog post, the first in a three part series on this vexed problem, one that is the root of the system’s increasing dysfunction.

    http://ozedreform.wordpress.com/

    http://ozedreform.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/blackboard-jungle-or-blackboard-bungle-you-decide-part-one/

    Greg Maybury (Dip. Sec. Educ.; Grad. Dip. Bus.)

    Education Reform Advocate

    publisher/editor/founder: the ozedreform forum aka “ozedreform”

    t: @ozedreform

    e: ozedreform@gmail.com

    e: mayburyg@gmail.com

  2. Pingback: Blackboard Jungle or Blackboard Bungle? You Decide – Part One | ozedreform

  3. It іs appropriate time to make somе plans for the future and it is time to bbe happy.
    I’ve rеad this post and if I could I wish to suցgest yoou
    sоme intereѕting things oг tips. Maybе you can ԝritе next articles referring tо tɦis article.
    I wish to read moгe things about it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s