Classroom Management

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I have just read an interesting take on classroom management on leadertalk by Scott Elias and it is well worth a read. All the articles I have read in regards to classroom management have a common thread in that ‘relationships’ are crucial to effective classroom management. A word that is commonly used at Magdalene is an underlying core value RESPECT and I think it plays a very important role in establishing ‘relationships’ and a learning environment that enables students to work to their potential.

An interesting take on respect that I heard at the PDHPE Teachers Conference is that Gen Y do not automatically respect people due to position as has been the case to a much larger extent in the past. When I was brought up we had it belted into us that we respect our teachers and other adults. Gen Y are more likely to require you to earn their repect and if it isn’t reciprocated then you may have a difficult time trying to gain that respect. Respect is most certainly a two way street and if students do not feel they are being repected by the teacher then there is a recipe for disaster in the classroom. Teachers that demand respect but do not show any to their students will invariably have trouble with students eventually.

I learnt my lessons the hard way in regards to classroom management. My first post was overseas in London at a pretty easy school by London standards. I had a 6 week block for a PE teacher who was recovering from surgery and couldn’t believe my luck when I turned up for the first few days. Students did as they were told, generally worked well and it seemed as though I was on easy street. With that feeling I relaxed a little and started to let a few things slide with students, probably trying to be a teacher they liked and trying to develop good relationships with them. While my intentions were good, my judgement was poor and this snowballed a little and I suddenly found myself having trouble with a few of my classes.

I quickly learnt that students will behave as badly as you let them behave and if you drop your standards then there will be students in the class who will behave down to that level. Students will always push to see what they can get away with and the longer you let it slide the more trouble you have bringing it back. While relationships are crucial in teaching I learnt that it needs to be a ‘professional’ relationship and that students don’t really want another friend. They want a teacher who sets clear boundaries for them and is fair and consistent in the application of rules. Just because you are the teacher does not mean you cannot have fun and relate to students but I think there needs to be that clear distinction between friend and teacher for effective classroom management.

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