Classroom management focuses on three major components: content management, conduct management, and covenant management. According to specialists in the field of education, school and classroom management aims at encouraging and establishing student self-control through a process of promoting positive student achievement and behavior. Thus academic achievement, teacher efficacy, and teacher and student behavior are directly linked with the concept of school and classroom management. Classroom management skills are an integral part of instructional evaluation of both the students and the teachers themselves. Actually, classroom management strategies are a more palatable name for classroom discipline. This paper will discuss the essential components to make classroom management effective.
PART I. BODY LANGUAGE
Body language is an important part of communication, which can constitute 50% or more of what we are communicating. If one wishes to communicate well, then it makes sense to understand how they can (and cannot) use their body to say what they mean. It comes in clusters of signals and postures, depending on the internal emotions and mental states. Recognizing a whole cluster is thus far more reliable than trying to interpret individual elements.
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Body language is a term for communication using body movements or gestures instead of, or in addition to, sounds, verbal language or other communication. It forms part of the category of paralanguage, which describes all forms of human communication that are not verbal language. This includes the most subtle of movements that many people are not aware of, including winking and slight movement of the eyebrows. In addition, body language can also incorporate the use of facial expressions. Although they are generally not aware of it, many people send and receive non-verbal signals all the time. These signals may indicate what they are truly feeling. The technique of reading people is used frequently. For example, the idea of mirroring body language to put people at ease is commonly used in interviews. It sets the person being interviewed at ease. Mirroring the body language of someone else indicates that they are understood. Body language signals may have a goal other than communication. Both people would keep this in mind. Observers limit the weight they place on non-verbal cues. Signalers clarify their signals to indicate the biological origin of their actions.
One of the most basic and powerful body-language signals is when a person crosses his or her arms across the chest. This can indicate that a person is putting up an unconscious barrier between themselves and others. It can also indicate that the person's arms are cold which would be clarified by rubbing the arms or huddling. When the overall situation is amicable, it can mean that a person is thinking deeply about what is being discussed. However, in a serious or confrontational situation, it can mean that a person is expressing opposition. This is especially so if the person is leaning away from the speaker. A harsh or blank facial expression often indicates outright hostility. Such a person is not an ally, and may be considering contentious tactics.
Consistent eye contact can indicate that a person is thinking positively of what the speaker is saying. It can also mean that the other person does not trust the speaker enough to "take his or her eyes off" the speaker. Lack of eye contact can indicate negativity. On the other hand, individuals with anxiety disorders are often unable to make eye contact without discomfort. Eye contact is often a secondary and misleading gesture because we are taught from an early age to make eye contact when speaking. If a person is looking at you but is making the arms-across-chest signal, the eye contact could be indicative that something is bothering the person, and that he or she wants to talk about it. Alternatively, if while making direct eye contact a person is fiddling with something, even while directly looking at you, it could indicate the attention is elsewhere.
Disbelief is often indicated by averted gaze, or by touching the ear or scratching the chin. So is eyestrain, or itchiness. When a person is not being convinced by what someone is saying, the attention invariably wanders, and the eyes will stare away for an extended period.
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Boredom is indicated by the head tilting to one side, or by the eyes looking straight at the speaker but becoming slightly unfocused. A head tilt may also indicate a sore neck, and unfocused eyes may indicate ocular problems in the listener. Interest can be indicated through posture or extended eye contact. Deceit or the act of withholding information can sometimes be indicated by touching the face during conversation.
It should be noted that some people, with certain disabilities, or those on the autistic spectrum, use and understand body language differently, or not at all. Interpreting their gestures and facial expressions, or lack thereof, in the context of normal body language usually leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, especially if body language is given priority over spoken language. It should also be stated that people from different cultures could interpret body language in different ways.
PART II. DISCUSS LEGAL ISSUES IN REGARDS TO SCHOOL DISCIPLINE
School discipline today would be a tougher problem than ever, even without all these changes, because of the nationwide increase of troubled families and disorderly kids. Some schools, especially those in inner cities, have students who are literally violent felons. School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior.
These less dramatic problems may not threaten personal safety, but they still negatively affect the learning environment. Disruptions interrupt lessons for all students, and disruptive students lose even more learning time. Researchers calculate that in many schools, students lost 7,932 instructional days (44 years) in-school and out-of-school suspensions in a single academic year.
The existence of discipline problems in school may contribute to an environment that facilitates school violence and crime. On a daily or weekly occurrence, problems such as student racial tensions, bullying, sexual harassment of other students, verbal abuse of teachers, widespread classroom disorder, and acts of disrespect for teachers in public schools. The occurrence of undesirable gang and cult activities, and due to the severe nature of these incidents, presents all reports of gang and cult activities during the school year.
Secondary school principals across the United States revealed that most administrators felt more rigorous due process procedures should follow in discipline cases than those required by federal regulations and school policies. The principals also tended to believe that corporal punishment should be permitted under certain circumstances and that both inadequate teacher training concerning discipline and a lack of adequate alternative programs for students were the major factors limiting schools' abilities to maintain order.
However, today principals lack the tools they used to have for dealing even with the unruliest kids. Formerly, they could expel such kids permanently or send them to special schools for the hard-to-discipline. The special schools have largely vanished, and state education laws usually do not allow for permanent expulsion. So at best, a school might manage to transfer a student felon elsewhere in the same district.
Educators today also find their hands tied when dealing with another disruptive and much larger group of students, those covered by the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law, which mandates that schools provide a "free and appropriate education" for children regardless of disability and provide it, moreover, within regular classrooms whenever humanly possible effectively strips educators of the authority to transfer or to suspend for long periods any student classified as needing special education.
This would not matter if special education included mainly the wheelchair-bound or deaf students whom we ordinarily think of as disabled. However, it does not. Over the past several decades, the number of children classified under the vaguely defined disability categories of "learning disability" and "emotional disturbance" has exploded. Many of these kids are those once just called "unmanageable" or "antisocial": part of the legal definition of emotional disturbance is "an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers, " in other words, to be part of an orderly community. Prosecutors indicates that disproportionate numbers of the juvenile criminals they now see are special education students.
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With IDEA restrictions hampering them, school officials cannot respond forcefully when these kids get into fights, curse teachers, or even put students and staff at serious risk, as too often happens. One example captures the law's absurdity. School officials in Connecticut caught one student passing a gun to another on school premises. One, a regular student, received a yearlong suspension, as federal law requires. The other, disabled (he stuttered), received just a 45-day suspension and special, individualized services, as IDEA requires. Most times, though, schools cannot get even a 45-day respite from the chaos these kids can unleash.
It is important to keep the ultimate goal in mind while working to improve school discipline. As education researcher's points out, "the goal of good behavior is necessary, but not sufficient to ensure academic growth." Effective school discipline strategies seek to encourage responsible behavior and to provide all students with a satisfying school experience as well as to discourage misconduct.
PART III. CONVENANT AND CONDUCT MANAGEMENT
Conduct management is centered on one's beliefs about the nature of people. By integrating knowledge about human diversity (and individuality, at the same time) into a particular instructional philosophy, teachers could manage their classrooms in a better, more effective way.
Researchers have pointed out the importance of assisting students in positive behaviors. In planning classroom management, teachers should consider using an assertive communication style and behavior. In addition, they should always know what they want their students to do and involve them in the respective learning activities, under the general conditions of clearly and explicitly stated school wide and classroom rules. According to Iverson and Froyen, conduct management is essential to the creation of a foundation for "an orderly, task-oriented approach to teaching and learning", thus leading to granting student's greater independence and autonomy through socialization.
An effective conduct management plan should also refer to teacher control and administration of consequences. The following components of such a plan are focused on in this summary: acknowledging responsible behaviors, correcting irresponsible and inappropriate behavior, ignoring, proximity control, gentle verbal reprimands, delaying, preferential seating, time owed, time-out, notification of parents/guardians, written behavioral contract, setting limits outside the classroom, and reinforcement systems. All of these components are presented so they can be identified in examples of best teaching practices.
Covenant management stresses the classroom group as a social system. Teacher and student roles and expectations shape the classroom into an environment conducive to learning. In other words, the culture of any given school is unique to that school. However, it is directly influenced by the culture of the larger community whose educational goals are to be met. A strong connection between school and community must be constantly revised and modified according to the requirements of societal dynamism. As schools become very diverse, teachers and students should become aware of how to use diversity to strengthen the school/classroom social group.
Quality schools are defined by teacher effectiveness and student achievement under the auspices of building strong interpersonal skills. In this light, teacher and student relationships are essential to ensuring a positive school and classroom atmosphere. Classroom management discipline problems can be dealt with either on an individual basis (between teacher and student) or by group problem solving (class meetings). As mutual trust builds up between teacher and students, the latter are gradually released from teacher supervision by becoming individually responsible. This is how both "educators and students become co-participants in the teaching-learning process, striving to make the most of themselves and their collective experience."
PART IV. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT PLAN
Classroom management and classroom organization are intertwined. High school students possess sophisticated social skills and generally feel that teachers need to earn their respect before they are fully willing to cooperate. In order to get reluctant students on their side, teachers need to present a clear classroom management plan that creates a positive learning environment and exhibits consistency, clarity, fairness, foresight, and the sharing of a classroom management plan.
Consistency is teachers tell students what to expect and then deliver. This applies to all aspects of the high school classroom ranging from identifying test days to delivering instruction. Starting every English class, for example, by posing a question for discussion or written response, helps establish a routine that students can expect.
Clarity is being clearly explicated their learning objectives for the course as well their expectations for student behavior. Discuss these topics with students during the first week of class and provide specific examples of what students are expected to accomplish and how they are expected to behave. Practicing classroom rules is not solely reserved for elementary school. By illustrating through role-play with students what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior, teachers leave no room for student interpretation on these important points.
Fairness relates to treating students equally, administering both praise and consequences based on behavior not on the student. It also applies to showing respect for your students by setting realistic expectations and offering guidance and support to help students achieve those goals.
A foresight map out classes in advance with students. Spend the first few days of class discussing an overview of what you hope to accomplish as far as content, skill development, and student behavior and class format. If a student does not abide by class expectations, they know in advance what repercussions they will face.
The sharing of classroom management plan is to embody these characteristics and high school teachers need to master classroom organization. By presenting a detailed classroom management plan in writing, teachers set the tone for an organized high school classroom. A classroom management plan includes course objectives, class expectations, assignment calendar, and student information. Course Objectives identifies the general topics your course will cover as well as skills your students will develop over the course of a semester or school year. Class Expectations, or class rules, include coming to class prepared, turning in assignments on time and behaving in a way that fosters student learning. Be specific in expectations and be clear about the repercussions students will face if they do not adhere to these rules. Assignment Calendars should identify topics covered for one quarter. Important days such as introductions to new units, tests, assignment due dates and exam reviews should be clearly marked. School holidays and teacher workdays should be outlined as well. Student Information should be completed by students during the first week of school. In the event that you want to update parents on a major accomplishment or severe difficulty their child has encountered in your class, you will have the necessary contact information available to expedite parent communication.
PART V. RESEARCH ARTICLE
In a article written by Sherry H. Brown, School Discipline: What Works and What Doesn't , it doesn't take a lot of research to tell us that school discipline is different today than it was in the 1950s. This article discussed various studies that showed students who misbehave in school express a variety of reasons for doing so:
- Some think that teachers do not care about them.
- Others do not want to be in school at all.
- They do not consider success in school important anymore.
- Students are unaware that bad behavior will result in punishment they will not like.
- Discipline enforcers have to go through long procedures of due process: hearings, specific charges, witnesses, and appeals.
I read this article to my class, despite these hurdles; students of Inkster High School agreed that discipline is needed in schools. One student stated, "If there were no discipline, the school would not be distinguished from the street."
This article pointed out areas that cause disciplinary problems in school.
- • Denial: In many schools, their students intimidate teachers. Out of fear of retaliation, they fail to report problems or ignore them hoping that the students responsible will quit the bad behavior by themselves.
- • Troubled Students: State and Federal laws require that some special needs students receive special attention. Many adults and school systems believe that "troubled students" are not responsible for their actions, thus they are not punished as severely as other students are.
- • Legal Procedures: Because of the raised awareness of the civil rights of children, the law requires adults to go through expensive, time-consuming and confusing procedures in regards to school discipline. These legal procedures do protect the rights of children, but make it very difficult to stop school discipline problems.
- • Modeling: Many adults fail to model the behaviors they want from students. Modeling the rules that students are to follow should be required of all adults. All adults in a community, especially parents and teachers, need to model integrity, honesty, respect and self-control.
- • Enforcement; Because of internal administrative problems or lack of procedures, many school officials fail to enforce the rules or punish students for infractions. Some fear lawsuits from parents; others just do not care, or they are "burned out."
- • Time-out and Detention: In-school suspensions, time-out and detention have been age-old solutions for troubled students. Yet today, many students do not mind detention, preferring it to going home to an empty or abusive household. Many consider time-out a quiet place to work. Detention lets them socialize after school. In addition, both time-out and detention get them attention from caring adults.
- • Fuzzy Rules: Studies have shown that many rules are not strictly enforced. Many school and classroom rules do not make sense to students. Some discipline codes are "fuzzy" and not clear on expectations and punishments. Some disruptive students are labeled with codes like ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) or Emotional Impairment. This leads some school staff assume that they cannot enforce positive behavior and instead must resort to asking parents to "medicate" them.
- • Self Esteem: Many schools have emphasized self-esteem over and above everything else. Some teachers are afraid to discipline or demand good behavior because it will hurt the child's self-esteem.
School discipline has become lax over the years, as our relationships have weakened. Consolidated school systems and mega schools have made the separation between family and school wider than ever. These mega schools have largely ignored the local community. In addition, some parents have lost touch with their children for many different reasons. For school discipline to be successful, we need to restore those relationships. Parents and schools need to work together to instill the importance of education into children of all ages. Finding discipline procedures that work is a job for students, parents, and teachers to explore together. In today's society, working together within the school and community will help teach children that working as a team can effectively solve the problem.
PART VI. REFERENCE
Cipani, Ennio: Classroom Management for All teachers: 12 Plans For Evidence-Base Practice. Pearson Custom Printing, 2003
Cohen, David; Body Language, What You Need To Know, 2007
Froyen, L. A., & Iverson, A. M.; School-Wide and Classroom Management: The Reflective Educator-Leader (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1999
Iverson, Annette M. Building Competence in Classroom Management and Discipline. Pearson Custom Printing, 2003.
Livingston, Drs. Sharon and Glen; How to Use Body Language. Psy Tech Inc., 2004
Brodinsky, Ben. Student Discipline: Problems and Solutions. American Association of School Administrators Critical Issues Report. Sacramento, California: Education News Service, 1980.
Moles, Oliver C. Strategies to Reduce Student Misbehavior. Washington, D.C.: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, 1989.
Hymowitz, Kay S.: Who Killed School Discipline? City Journal, 2000