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This essay is devoted to identify and to describe how I imagine my future classroom. In this paper I will try to describe how I see myself working with children and dealing with classroom management in the future.
In my opinion, the only way to make the world a better place is through education of children, who are to become the ones ruling the world tomorrow. So far, what I've seen working with children is that teachers are faced with different problems every day and it is extremely important for them to be prepared beforehand to be able to deal with them. In my opinion, the most important thing for children to learn a lesson is to try and make them see their mistakes for themselves and correcting them if needed in such a manner that wouldn't hurt their feelings, while still making them understand. We have to treat other people in the way we want to be treated ourselves and children are no exception, so it is important to understand that they deserve the biggest amount of energy one can give them. Understanding that, we can start talking about the practicalities of my future classroom.
The essay is based on the information from course work, studies, and in-class observations to create a classroom management plan that I feel will be most effective
To start off this essay, I need to talk about my own background and experiences. Teaching for sustainability was not the case when I was still a student and all the information I got about sustainable development was only in my later years and out of my own interest. So, education for sustainability is a rather new subject back at home only implemented in cases in university in technical or agricultural sciences.
On the other hand, Sweden is an exactly contrary, sustainability is one of the most important issues in classroom and daily activity. It could be seen that all the daily activities are including a little bit of education for sustainable development. My experience in the International School in Malmo could show it very properly. Teachers talk about food: processing and transporting it, where it comes from, how it is grown, etc. And then all the classroom activities, like reading, writing and others are developing around the topic expressed.
Although Lithuanian schools nowadays try to introduce teaching for sustainability in their curricula, but the very strict structure and teaching methods do not allow proper interdisciplinary involvement and a more open attitude towards sustainability. Democratic issues are introduced on a very low level as well as teaching for democracy. The teacher-student communication is still very vertical, not allowing very much initiative from students and just keeping up with the national curriculum.
Swedish schools have a much freer and open attitude towards pupils and teacher-student communication. Democratic values are included in every aspect of school life, students are allowed to raise questions, develop nice and friendly surroundings around them with teacher as an equal, not a superior.
Lithuanian schools are overbrimmed with the amount of information students have to learn and no importance for developing relationships between students and teachers and trying to find consensus, making school a better place to be. Teachers are loaded with paperwork and over worried about the fact if they manage to give all subjects needed during the school year. Knowing that, it's understandable that teachers have no time for really looking into children's needs and trying to build an equal relationship and implement democratic values.
The school life in Lithuania is very strict and structured from the very beginning. Even very young children have to sit quietly facing blackboard and are not allowed to talk and cooperate. Every look at other child's notebook might be considered as copying and punished. It is very individualistic and people have to work on their own with only rear possibilities to cooperate. I could see an exact opposite in Sweden, where children sit in groups and keep talking and helping each other throughout the day, they can move and roam freely, which would be considered highly inappropriate in Lithuanian school and a teacher allowing that would probably also be looked at as acting wrong.
So Swedish experience was a totally different one from my home country and from what I'm used to as a teacher-student or student-student communication. Sports and outdoor activities are also encouraged in Sweden much more than in Lithuania. Although sports classes have been increased from 2 to 3 per week, the lessons are also very formal and pressure is put on children to reach certain goals, leaving the less capable in the margins. Spending time outside is rearly an option in Lithuanian schools, in some it is even prohibited to leave the building for "safety reasons", meaning that children are exposed to bad behaviour, traffic, etc. The main proble in this case is no proper schoolyards and bad and old infrastructure.
AS you can see, we are still going through a very big transition as 20 years out of Soviet Union is not enough to build a democratic society. So, my essay of me being a future teacher might not include a lot of things we've studied during the course, but I tried to adapt it to Lithuanian surroundings and to try to show you how I could do most to be as democratic as possible, without crossing the thin line into being a trouble maker and inappropriately loose teacher.
According to Debbie Cluff (Debbie Cluff is the owner of Links for Learning, http://www.links-for-learning.com, an online tutoring and instant homework help site), the setup of a classroom is very important to how a classroom is being managed. She argues, that the teacher needs to make sure his/her classroom is arranged for the students to be productive. (http://www.edarticle.com/classroom-management/classroom-arrangement.html)
Famous classroom management theorist Fred Jones (2005) believes that the optimal room arrangement allows teacher to get from any student to any other student with the fewest steps and increases the chance of successful learning and teaching (2005: 8).
The methodical guidelines in how to arrange a classroom space was introduced by Jon Saphier and Robert Gower (1987):
materials used by students should be stored in a visible and accessible place;
there should be no dead space which promotes random or illegitimate activity;
arrange the room so that the teacher can monitor quickly and easily (no blind spots);
use vertical space for display and learning enrichments;
keep active areas distinctly separate from quiet spaces;
keep two active areas distinctly separate to avoid distraction and interference;
have clear and safe traffic paths no matter how your room is arranged.
So, according to the above mentioned basic a classroom spacing guidelines, I introduce my future classroom arrangement model.
The desks in my classroom will be set up so that all of them will face the blackboard, the children would sit in pairs. It is important that all the children will be able to see me teaching, so I would move the desks in a way that they don't overlap each other. The teacher's, i.e. my own, desk will be located in the front of the classroom, near the windows. By having the desk located in the front of the classroom I'll have full sight of the entire classroom at all times.
I would like to introduce some sort of "centres" in my classroom too; such places should reinforce children learning independently as well as in the group. The reading centre, would be one of those and I would like it to have a big carpet, four chairs, a table and many books. This area will provide a "home" feeling and help the students feel relaxed when they are in this area. The books in the reading centre could be brought in by kids as well as by myself. As it would be allowed to take books home, children should know the rules of taking care of the books beforehand and it is important for them to understand that it is their responsibility to follow those rules. The reading centre would be available for students deciding to spend their time solitary and there should be no book shortage at all times as reading should be embraced at all times in my classroom. (http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/final.paper.pub/_final2/00000009.htm)
The listening centre and computer station will be placed at the edge of the classroom. The centres will be facing the walls because the students will be rotating to the various centres within the classroom. Plus, while students are at their centres they will need to be able to concentrate on their work.
â€žThere is no 'best method' of dealing with discipline in the classroom; rather there are many different methods for different children in different circumstances". Fred Jones (www.msu.edu/user/lasterjo/fredjones.ppt)
"Once a teacher loses control of their classroom, it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to regain that control". (Moskowitz & Hayman, 1976:Â 283)
Most important things in classroom management are motivation, discipline and respect. Despite that, there are a variety of methodologies to be chosen from and many teachers argue about the right approach, which can depend mostly on the beliefs one has on educational psychology. Behaviour modification is the main approach of traditional classroom management, but most of the teachers nowadays see that use of behavioural approach only is too simple for the complex everyday life in school. It is quite important for teachers to set up rules in the very beginning of the school year. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classroom_management).
My future classroom arrangement model is introduced below.
The most important idea I have of handling a classroom is that a teacher has to approach them in a firm, fair, and consistent manner. I believe that the biggest regard a teacher has to have for their students is students' efficiency. While students are concentrated on the task they are doing, they have much less of a chance to act in an inappropriate manner, disturb others or leave their job unfinished. In most cases, a student that is able to stay focused and fulfil assignments, that student will succeed in my classroom. (http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/final.paper.pub/_pwfsfp/00000173.htm) The management of my future classroom consists from: the classroom rules and the classroom procedures.
The most important thing, when starting a classroom management plan is to set basic classroom rules. Specific classroom rules are the actual guidelines, standards, and expectations for work and behaviour in the classroom. (Charles, 2005: 59). In my classroom, the basic general rules would be mostly broad concepts used everywhere, some of them would include treating other people and property with respect and doing your best. Such rules have to be set up with all the children participating in the process of making them. It is essential that children participate in making of the basic general rules as it makes it easier for them to adapt to them when they feel some sort of ownership. The process of discussing and making those rules are of great help for children to understand what kind of environment they want and what is wanted from them and as such it can work as a boost for acting up to those rules created.
Specific rules are of no less of importance. Such rules can be brought about in two ways. There will be help from children to generate part of the specific rules, where they will discuss and decide what should and should not be done by a student. Afterwards a list will be made of things that students should and would do and this list will be of great importance when setting up specific rules. Other rules from the specific part will be made by teacher, but nonetheless, the students will have the right to have a discussion about them. Specific rules should be very practical, like do your homework and bring it on time, obey hallway, bathroom, and classroom routine, and do the work in classroom. The students may come up with the ideas like: listen to the teacher, do your homework, and study for assessments.
Classroom procedures are also extremely important. There will be a basket of completed work by teacher's desk for the students to turn in their work. The basket can not only be used for homework, but also for the work done during the day. Such practice of students turning in their work by themselves would be a cut on management problems, as there would be no distractions for children trying to finish up their works as there won't be someone trying to get their work too early plus there won't be accusations of copying someone's work. Personal perspective on turning in finished work can also help to minimize unneeded interactions between children, which can be a cause of problems at times. As soon as they have finished their work, the students will have to put it in the basket with no hassle and move to next job they are to do. The basket has to be put in such a place where everybody could see and reach it without a problem. Such management should work for all grade levels.
I will have a list of jobs for students to do each week and I will rotate the people doing them so that each student gets a chance to do everything. The names will be rotated through alphabetically. By giving students jobs, classroom management issues will decrease because, then students are excited and involved in learning, there are fewer discipline problems (Charles, 2005:n 25).
Students need procedures for these morning activities because, "without clear, specific class-running routines, these activities can consume a significant part of the school day," (Mignano Jr. & Weinstein, 2003: 65). In this context, attendance will have to be taken at the time in the morning, when students are occupied with fulfilling their tasks. One student could be assigned a job of taking the attendance results to the office. This is a great help for classroom management as students will be occupied, while the teacher is taking attendance and that will reduce the amount of trouble caused by students while being unoccupied. It is also a positive thing as students will be already seated when the teacher will be taking attendance and thus it will be much easier to see who is in and who is not. The teacher should prepare attendance sheet and seating plan, so it is all very quick and convenient for her to check where everyone is supposed to be. Such management should work for all grade levels, apart that the youngest students shouldn't be taking the results to the office.
Type of learning
Before the every single lesson in my future classroom I will:
check in with main ideas of the unit;
articulate mastery objectives for myself after digging deeply into content;
decide how to communicate objectives to the students;
decide what evidence would demonstrate mastery of this lesson objective;
analyse evidence about previous student learning (perhaps yesterday's quiz or homework) so they know where to focus;
plan pacing and sub-grouping;
pick materials, models, examples, stories, and cases to use;
anticipate confusions, especially language and vocabulary meanings, and identify requisite prior knowledge students might not have;
design and use learning experiences;
check that learning experiences are logically linked to the intended learning;
decide how to collect evidence of learning during or concluding this lesson;
plan how students will make their thinking visible and public;
plan how to get student summarize.
(Saphier, Haley-Speca and Robert Gower, 2008: 395-396)
Besides, there are plenty of reading and writing activities that can be used in the classroom. One of those activities would be an activity named "This Day In History", which would be held in the mornings. In the course of this activity students will have to rewrite text from the blackboard about historical events that happened on that day. The events could be significant worldwide or just for the local community, thus making children understand their place in the world. The sections of text from this activity will have to be written in a particular notebook and kept at school. Another activity related to the previous one will be written in the same notebook would be "Problem Of The Day". Students will have to copy the text from the blackboard into their notebooks and will have to solve it until a particular set time of the day. Afterwards, there can be a discussion in the classroom about both topics and their relatedness. (http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/final.paper.pub/_pwfsfp/00000173.htm)
After mentioning some writing activities, I would like to talk about some reading instructional strategies. One of them is "Drop Everything and Read" or D.E.A.R., during which teacher and children read a book of their choice silently for a certain period of time. In my opinion, invoking this thirty-minute continuous reading time is passing an important message for children and the teacher that reading should be enjoyed every day.
Being a teacher is never an easy task and especially for people exposed to different possibilities and options and then being back to initial place, which does not allow so much freedom and interaction. The children need to learn respect not only for each other but also for teachers, which is only possible if teachers learn respect for their pupils. I hope to implement these values and never forget that there is always a place for change.
By introducing understanding of the world, of each other, history and other common things, I can little by little introduce education for sustainable development and I believe it would be very much needed as children are so open for a change and something new, something better. By helping each other they can understand that there are ways to help others and the Earth itself.
There is only hope lying for us in the future and I hope next generations can learn to be better than the previous ones and understand the change they need to make and the mistakes done that should not be repeated. Only education is capable of translating these issues to children and teachers are the ones dealing with it face to face. Although in some cases teachers are not left much freedom to chose it, they are still the main actors of education scene.
Charles, C. M., Senter G. W. (2005) Building Classroom Discipline. 8th ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc.
Mignano, A., Weinstein C. (2003) Elementary Classroom Management. Boston: McGraw.
Saphier J., Gower R. (1987) The skillful teacher - Building your teaching skills. Carlisle, Massachusetts: Research for Better Teaching.
Saphier J., Haley-Speca M. A., Gower R. (2008) The skillfull teacher. Building your teching skills. 6th edition. Carlisle, Massachusetts: Research for Better Teaching.
Friedman K. (2000) My future classroom. http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/final.paper.pub/_final2/00000009.htm (2011-02-15)
Patrick Jones, Fredric H. Jones. Study group activity guide, 2005. http://www.fredjones.com/fhjstudyguide.pdf (2011-01-07)
Karaska J. (1999) Designing my future classroom. (http://ematusov.soe.udel.edu/final.paper.pub/_pwfsfp/00000173.htm) (2011-02-15)
www.msu.edu/user/lasterjo/fredjones.ppt ( 2011-01-07)