All Quiet on the Education Front - 3 Principles of Classroom Managemen
Sep 10, 2011 Classroom Management 3401 Views
I've never been a particularly fearsome teacher in spite of occasional temper tantrums in the classroom. The only results they achieved, though, were that awkward silence and underlying resentment from those who deserved the blast and the fearful, confused disappointment from those who were innocent. The fun part is where you try to continue with the lesson as if nothing had happened. There's nowhere to hide when you're in front of a class full of teenagers.
How can you remain calm and loving in front of a class without being walked all over?
There is a Bible reference that says, "Let your gentleness be evident to all." It comes straight after, "Rejoice in the Lord always!" It can be intimidating being both gentle and thankful in the middle of a lesson but I found, especially in the latter part of my 30-year career, that kindness, patience and unconditional love were, for the most part, amazingly well received and reciprocated by the teenagers I taught.
These qualities in themselves are not necessarily rare but it's their application to classroom management that is.
I suppose it's because we're human that nothing works 100% of the time but I was astonished by the response of the kids when I exchanged what little authoritarianism I had for the kind, compassionate approach. As one senior student wrote in a thank you note, "...the relief when you were our sub turned a bad day into a good day. You had a positive impact on us all, Mr b."
Kindness is seeing the best in the kids, being prepared to listen more than you talk. This didn't always come easily to me. Having worked in nine different schools I've had plenty of opportunity to see a whole range of students at their best and their worst. It was more in the latter stages of my career that I began to consciously apply this principle. While at this school,
I was farewelled a few times after having taught for extended periods while a teacher was on leave. One of the farewell speeches was given by the Year 12 coordinator who, having interviewed all the school leavers, mentioned that one of the main things the kids remembered about my classes was kindness.
When students are treated kindly there is no need for them to misbehave. One senior student summed it up by saying, "Bakey, you're the most amazing teacher I've ever had. You always saw the best in me so I never mucked up on you." A junior student once told me that because I was kind to them, saw the best in them, that the class worked well for me.
What I found was that treating my students with respect and kindness dramatically reduced the need for discipline.
Sometimes things don't work overnight. You have be patient before you see changes taking place in the lives of the teenagers you teach. My last full time appointment was in what could be termed a tough school. The English coordinator was impressed with me just because I kept turning up each day and the kids mostly stayed in the classroom during lessons.
I was particularly having difficulty with some junior students and found that anger and detentions wasn't working, in fact they only made matters worse. So I began to patiently and calmly apply the school discipline system. It took a little while but the students gradually got the idea.
The calm, gentle, patient approach was much more effective.
The last school I taught at was a Catholic college. As a sub, I took many Religious Education classes and during some of these the concept of God's unconditional love came up.
I began to pray that I would be filled with God's love for these kids (Romans 5:5). Changes began to take place - in me! It became obvious that I really enjoyed being in the classroom, I smiled a lot more, encouraged a lot more and generally had a lot more fun and a lot less need for correcting kids.
When kids know that they are loved and accepted, that you are firm but fair, patient and kind, you will find the classroom a truly positive place to be.