I will choose the environment of the middle school classroom. I will do this because I have a strong desire to teach in middle school. The theorists, Marlene and Lee Canter, shape my beliefs and values for working in education. The research on assertive discipline forms the foundation for my personal classroom management plan, which includes strategies for a preventative, supportive and corrective discipline system. I agree with the Canter's, "Assertive teachers' clearly, confidently, and consistently model and express class expectations" (Charles, 2011, pg. 73). Frankly, I agree with most of what the Canter's management system. My discipline plan will be built upon this system. In addition, I will draw from ideas from Barbara Coloroso and William Glasser.
With the assertive discipline system, I have identified core beliefs for creating my classroom discipline plan. The central idea in the assertive discipline model is that the teacher implements negative consequences for misbehavior and positive consequences for appropriate, or good, behavior. I strongly believe this form of discipline can be an effective way to teach students how to behave rather than telling students how they should behave. Since Canter's research is so convincing, the primary part my discipline plan relies on the notion that I am able to shape my students' behavior by implementing consequences.
The Canters point out that for students to want to choose appropriate behavior, and cooperate with you, they need to know that you are concerned about them personally. Students feel most at ease when they are safe both personally and psychologically (McIntyre, n.d.). I believe this statement to be true, with safety is security, with security is trust. As I begin teaching, I want to learn about each student individually. I want the students to know, not through my words, but through my actions and guidance that I do care about them and do care about their successes. In order for me to do this, I have to begin on the first day by finding out something unique and positive about each student and build upon what they have shared with me. Then the student and I can establish some common ground and, this in turn will allow our student-teacher relationship to grow, therefore showing the student that I do truly care about their welfare and academic success.
According to the Canters' assertive discipline model, the teacher should communicate her/his displeasure to students when they exhibit bad behavior and praise them when they are behaving appropriately (Charles, 2011). Through this communication, the teacher is consistent in enforcing classroom rules and procedures. This communication allows the teacher to reinforce good behavior, which provides a model to misbehaving students that shows them how they should be acting (Charles, 2011). This plan also states that the teacher gives explicit directions to misbehaving students so they know exactly how they are expected to behave in the classroom, which is another aspect of the assertive discipline model that requires clear communication (Charles, 2011). By, establishing a clear set of consequences for misbehavior and appropriate behavior and communicating them clearly to my students is another essential aspect of my discipline plan.
Another aspect of the Canter's assertive discipline model that I will implement into my classroom management plan is proximity control. Proximity control is when a teacher stands physically close to a misbehaving student in order to nonverbally communicate to the student that she/he is aware of the student's misbehavior (McIntyre, n.d.). This method is advantageous to the teacher because it allows the teacher to enforce classroom rules without interrupting the lesson. From my experiences working with middle school students, the proximity control method has proven to be a very effective means of establishing strong classroom management (McIntyre, n.d.). Utilizing proximity control is used quite often by many teachers because of its convenience of not interrupting the lesson by verbalizing the misbehavior to the student(s). Proximity control will be utilized in my plan as reinforcement to help shape my students' behavior.
Another effective aspect of the Canters' assertive discipline theory is repetition is essential in shaping student behavior. For a student to behave well in the classroom, the teacher must be consistent when dealing with classroom rules and procedures (Charles, 2011). If the teacher enforces the same consequences for misbehavior each time it occurs, the student is likely to understand that the behavior must be diminish to avoid the negative consequence the next time. Repetition is essential to a strong classroom management plan.
Explaining the classroom rules and procedures at the beginning of the school year guarantees that all students will understand and learn the rules and procedures. One way that is suggested by the Canters to accomplish this goal is to hold a class meeting in the first week of the school year to explain the rules and procedures (McIntyre, n.d.). After holding the class meeting, the Canter's further suggest to have the students write the rules down on a piece of paper to take them home to show their parents and have their parents sign the paper, agreeing that the students should follow the rules (McIntyre, n.d.). Having the rules put in writing by the student allows them to feel that they are obligated to uphold the "classroom contract" they signed between themselves and the teacher. Therefore, they are able to feel responsible for following the rules.
Many discipline theories are somewhat related. In this case, I feel William Glasser's method can be closely linked to the Canter's method. Glasser's believes that it is important for the teacher to develop a strong positive relationship with the students (Charles, 2011). For this to happen, the students must trust the teacher first, and then respect will come (Charles, 2011), If there is a connection between student and teacher, the student will respond better in various discipline situations. Building a strong relationship with my students is key to my personal classroom management plan.
Along with Glasser, I feel there is another relative theorist that falls in line with the Canter's method - Barbara Coloroso. Coloroso states that, "Teachers should never treat students in ways they, the teachers, would not want to be treated" (Charles, 2011, pg. 75). There are four things Coloroso references that appropriate discipline can do that "punishment" cannot:
1. Show students what they have done wrong,
2. Give them ownership of the problems involved,
3. Provides strategies for solving the problems,
4. Leave dignity of the student intact (Charles, 2011, pg. 75).
Classroom rules should always be clearly displayed in the classroom where all students can see them and be reminded of them. The students should be able to see the rules regardless of their location in the classroom, which will eliminate some misbehavior if the student's are able to see and think about the rules before braking one of them. The placement of the classroom rules is another means of effective discipline because the chance of student misbehavior can be lessened.
Procedures and Routines:
1. Material Distribution: Assignments will be distributed on each student's desk before the class begins, so it is ready for them to begin working on their assignments when they sit down. Positive and appropriate behavior will be recognized by the teacher to particular students by asking them to help pass out other materials during the classroom period.
2. Completed Work: Each day student work will be turned in to a tray labeled completed. Assignments that is not finished must be turned in to another tray labeled in progress - any assignments in this particular tray will be available for students to work on if there is any available free time during the classroom period.
3. Recognition: Starting the first day of the school year, the teacher will place nametags on each student's desk before class starts. This allows the teacher to see each student's name clearly. This is a helpful tool for the teacher to get to know who each student is.
4. Signaling: The teacher will use signals to get the classroom's attention. The teacher will stand at the front of the room and raise their hand in the air. This means, that it is time to pay attention and please be quiet. With repetition, the students will learn this signal and it means time for class to start with all eyes on the teacher waiting for further instruction.
5. Attendance/Tardiness: The teacher will have a clipboard hanging on the wall next to the door that lists with each student's name. As each student walks in for class, they will check off the square beside their name. This method will be used take attendance daily. Once the bell rings, the sheet of listed names will come off the clipboard, therefore, when tardy students come into the classroom, they will be unable to check their name.
6. Utensils: The pencil sharpener is available at the beginning and end of each classroom period. If a new pencil is needed during the middle of the lesson, there will be freshly sharpened pencils available at the front of the classroom where they may retrieve one quietly and return to their seats. The pencils will be replaced back into the pencil basket at the end of the class period for the next period students to use.
Implementation of Classroom Management Practices:
The first day of school will be an informal one, where the teacher will conduct a classroom meeting. For the classroom meeting, the students and teacher will gather in a circular desk arrangement and all will discuss the classroom rules, procedures, and expectations. This is an open forum for all to discuss or address questions in regards to the rules, procedures, and expectation for the school year. The classroom rules will be achieved through collaboration from the students. Each student writes down five rules that they feel will guide them in their behavior within the classroom during the school year. The teacher will already have two set classroom rules chosen and non-negotiable. All classroom rule suggestions from the students will then be written on the whiteboard, the class will vote, the top five classroom rules chosen by majority vote will be written down with the set two teacher chosen rules, and the rules will be proudly displayed in the classroom where each student can see them. The following day, a classroom contract will be handed out to each student to sign along with his or her parents to return to the teacher. Within the contract, the rules will be addressed as well as the consequences.
Non-Negotiable Teacher Rules:
1. Be respectful
a. In words
b. In actions and gestures
d. Do not threaten anyone
6. Be a good citizen
a. Obey rules and laws in and out of the classroom
b. Always do your best, the best you can
c. Be a leader
Engaging students in instruction is essential to prevent negative behavior. The teacher will prepare lessons that will encourage questions and discussion and analysis. In doing so, the student's curiosity will be piqued and allowing for them to be active in parts of the lesson so they can exert their creative, verbal, social, and sometimes physical energy during the learning process.
To develop a preventative, supportive and corrective management style, I will establish rules and consequences with my students collaboratively the first day of school. There will be consistent review of each rule and established consequences. I will establish consequences for both negative and positive behavior. The use of these consequences will help shape students overall classroom behavior. I will be creating lesson plans that involve the whole student body and encourage them to use their mind creatively and analytically. Also, I lessons will encourage communication that will encourage each student to vocalize their thoughts throughout the lesson. I will build positive and caring relationships with each student, which will allow them to trust me to guide them for success. Furthermore, I will share my classroom management plan with the parents and school administration via a formal letter. The letter will be in explicit detail of the classroom rules, procedures, and expectations of the classroom body as a whole.