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Initializing a classroom is the hardest part in teaching. It is a new beginning with the students, parents, and teachers. There is no possible way to start off a classroom by jumping into a lesson plan and expecting the students to learn. Students must be familiar with their surroundings and their classmates in order to establish a comfort level. "An educator must be well-organized and planned. The students must be able to trust the teacher and their peers that the classroom will be a safe place. It is very difficult to establish the right atmosphere with a group of students if it is not there from the first day of school" (Matthews A19). The first six week time period is usually set aside for establishing a climate with the students. There is a method known as, “morning meeting.” This is a daily scheduled routine. Every morning in the beginning of class the students are taught to sit in a circle and talk. They are first told to shake hands with the children next to them and become friendly with one another. Next they go around the circle giving everyone a brief introduction of themselves. For the most part, students are asked their name, age, and their hobbies.
This activity not only gets the children acquainted with each other, but it also produces certain learning skills which need to be present. This teaches social skills, eye contact, self confidence, comfort, etc. The children become focused in others and interested in making friends. Without “ice breaker” events, students often have a hard time interacting with their peers. “A survey was conducted that asked children ‘How much do you like to play with this person in school?’ The lowest three females and males were then focused on for improvement of their social skills. Would you want this to be your child?” (Ladd 172). Student social skills play a large role in initializing an effective classroom setting. Now, since the students are acquainted with one another and their attention is captured, a beneficial prelude to begin teaching is established.
Initializing A Classroom
Teachers have a harder role than what is presumed. “…As ever, the discussion is couched in terms of contrasting the relative strengths and limitations of a whole class and group
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Setting the Goals
Before starting a lesson plan each student should always write down their personal goals to accomplish for the year. Personal goals of the students are just as important as goals the teacher sets out for their class. “Goals of an institution and the goals of individuals cannot be separated. Failure to achieve one results ultimately in the destruction of the other” (Griffiths, Clark, Wynn, & Iannaccone 34). One method of doing so is by writing a critical contract with the students. This is where they write down their goals and map out exactly what they feel is important for them to accomplish. They sign the contract, often leaving the student feeling empowered and special. If a student were to get off track throughout the year the contract always plays a good role in helping the student keep their focus. The contract may also be useful during parent/teacher conferences. This is a good way for the students to feel satisfied with themselves, their work and interim goals that they have accomplished. Another involvement method often used is group-problem solving. Young children, in particular love getting involved in group settings. Rather than yelling at students for a problem they may have, sitting down and figuring out a solution is always the best answer. For instance, if two classmates are involved in an argument rather than separating the students, opt to talking it out and probe the group for possible remedies. If separated most likely the feelings of detest will remain towards each other. Group problem solving incorporates the entire class sitting down as a whole and coming up with a solution to what is happening. Not only will the problem makers learn a lesson and the problem will be fixed, but the entire class will feel as if they helped the problem and also learned from the situation. One last method that most teachers should use would be social conferences. When a child is demonstrating unusual behavior, there is often some underlying problem. If a child that is usually giddy and joyful is falling asleep in class, there is a noticeable problem for the teacher to address. Rather than singling the child out and yelling at them for their mistake, a private conference should be arranged between the student and the teacher. This is one on one time to discuss what is influencing the child’s change in behavior without making the child feel uncomfortable. With every child, if something out of the ordinary occurs in their lives, the teacher must be there to help the child through the transition period. This is what sets aside teachers from mentors.
Classroom Organization does not only mean management among the students. Teachers themselves must have a strong sense of organization when it comes to their working habits. Organization is properly defined as, “To put together into an orderly, functional, structured whole” (Dictionary.com). Teachers must have complete control over organization in order for the students to benefit. If a teacher cannot keep their tests and handouts organized, it demonstrates a poor example for the students. If a teacher does not have their act together, how can he/she assume that the children will? When presented with a nice, clean classroom, children are often enthusiastic about learning. Set-up means a lot. Compare an ordinary plain white classroom with empty walls to a colorful, painted room. The setting is more inviting. The children have more to look at and enjoy. The other room is more boring and put the children in a worse mood with a negative attitude from the beginning. “Add elements of softness in room. Use a variety of colors and textures to create a pleasing environment” (MEA-MFT 1). Appearance matters more than one thinks.
Teacher organization is a huge role in classroom management. In order to become a teacher, skills must be taught on how to control and maintain children under any circumstance. Children often have tendencies to get out of hand and show off to other students while other children may tend this example. “In the classroom, the teacher and students not only influence one another in a didactic fashion, but are also subject to pressures of public performance. For instance, students with low self-esteem are far more likely to yield to group pressure than those with high self-esteem” (McCafferty 214). In the classroom setting, there is always one student who needs to act out and be the center of attention. This often sets other children off in the same direction. If one student acts out and sees they are able to get away with no punishment, there will soon be numerous amounts of children acting in the same manner. Students follow other students. However, from day one if the teacher sends a clear message to their class who is boss and who is in charge, this negative behavior often decreases. The teacher must know when to step up and stop the situation immediately before it turns into a bigger problem. For example, if one student refuses to do their homework and gets away with it, other students will feel no need to do their homework either. They will point out, “Well he doesn’t have to do it, why should I?” The problem is now not only focused on one child, it has the classroom involved and their interest in learning is slowly diminishing. This is where the teacher needs to be taught certain management skills before entering the classroom as an effective teacher.
Another factor that plays a role in classroom organization is discipline techniques. “Many disruptive behaviors in the classroom can be alleviated before they become serious discipline problems. Such behaviors can be reduced by the teacher's ability to employ effective organizational practices. Such practices are at the heart of the teaching process and are essential to establishing and maintaining classroom control” (Murphy 1). When a student acts out of line, the teacher must not be hesitant in stepping up and showing the student who is boss. Discipline levels may vary according to the situation. For instance, if a fight between two students occurs, the teacher must not be hesitant with breaking up the fight, sitting down and hearing each side, trying to resolve the conflict between the students, and enforcing the proper disciplinary actions for each student. Teachers must keep in mind they are not the child’s parent and they may not act in any way they please towards the child. However, the teacher is the closest thing to the child’s day-time parent. This means that the teacher should not be too lenient with their students. The teacher must use logical consequences. When the rules are broken, the teacher must follow the punishment and make no exceptions. Teachers who go back on their word set a poor example for the children. “Successful classroom management involves not only responding effectively when problems occur, but preventing the frequent occurrence of problems. The most effective decisions in classroom management are based on a clear concept of the goals and intended outcomes that a teacher wishes to accomplish” (FL Depart. of Edu.1). If teachers let their students get away with everything, of course the students will love the teacher. The teacher wants his/her students to love them, but respecting them is also a key issue. “Classroom discipline is also eased when teachers and students connect. There is no need to misbehave to get attention because it is already being given, and no need to rebel against a teacher who students feel is already on their side” (Yarber 4). From experience, students tend to take advantage of teachers who are lenient. From the beginning, students get a good feel for how much the teacher can take. Students know their limitations, but they also know how much they can get away with. If a teacher shows they can be stepped all over, they will be. If a teacher shows they mean business, they will not get messed around with. There is a common ground between both extremes. Many teachers want control over their classroom, but also want respect and fondness from their students. Teachers do not have to physically discipline a child in order to get their attention. Simple words of disappointment often get through the child’s mind. Personally, when I do something wrong, it is more hurtful to hear that someone is disappointed with my actions than to be physically punished for my actions. Once someone has been let down by you, it takes much more to build the respect and trust that was once there, rather than taking something valuable away from me knowing it will soon be returned. Children do not often learn from their mistakes. They blow them off and are often angry that they have been caught. Instead of accepting their wrong-doings and taking responsibility for what they have done, they focus on the disciplinarian as evil and wish they were not caught. Words are often more painful than punishment. Starting small is a key factor. When a student makes a mistake or steps out of line, it needs to be corrected. Explaining their faults to the students may work in some cases. If it happens again, more drastic measures should be taken such as a time-out or negative reinforcement. Taking something meaningful away from a child for a certain time period may send a clear message. The punishment should fit the offense. Some students take longer to comprehend when things are wrong. Every student will eventually learn if given the chance by the teacher. The teacher will accomplish their goals as well by receiving the respect of the child as a teacher and mentor, and the care as a person and friend. “Instead of merely reacting to bad behavior, we must create classrooms that eliminate the need for disciplinary action. This is not totally possible. But certainly, some environments, some teacher attitudes, some assignments generate more cooperation than others” (Metzger 77).
An enormous factor in beginning a classroom and initially catching the attention of the students begins with motivation. It takes a lot to keep children’s attention. Motivation is the key term. “The role of the teacher is to facilitate the learning process as much as possible, but not to assume control over it” (Hanson 86). Although teachers can help students in learning, they cannot produce motivation in every individual. Students must be motivated in order to enjoy and understand what they are learning. Of course students find themselves doing better in areas that they are more interested. The teacher’s job is to take those specific areas in which students may lack in, and make it fun and exciting so the students look at the subject in a new perspective. Students must be motivated in order to be willing to learn. Intrinsic motivation must begin with the student before extrinsic motivation can be possible. “Let the student’s determine their own behavior and have control over their own lives. Using logical consequences and "free choice" aids the need for autonomy” (Strategies 1). If a student is uninterested in what is being taught, the information will never be comprehended. Motivation begins with the teacher connecting with the students on a level that is interesting. The teacher must learn how to keep the student’s attention. Once the student’s attention starts to drift, the student is lost and is often hard to receive their undivided attention again. Teachers try different learning techniques and repeat what they feel is successful. In the past if the teacher uses a game for instance to teach the lesson and the children get involved, the teacher sees that the student’s are enjoying what they are learning. “…Effective teachers have been found to use a varied teaching approach to keep the pupils engaged, and to vary both content and presentation of lessons” (Reynolds & Muijs 277). Classroom competitions are often another way of drawing student’s attention. When competing against others everyone wants to be the winner, even in academics. Students will study more, pay closer attention, and be more focused if there is a prize or reward involved. In Math for example, if competitions were held every week to see who could complete 100 problems correctly the fastest, every student would try their best. Whichever student won, their name would be posted on the wall. Every time after that they won, they would receive a sticker next to their name. Even though it is not a huge prize, children still become interested because they do not want to be the only one left out or the worst in the class. A rewarded student often shows pride in academic achievement, particularly when their name is posted on the wall. Simple techniques such as that provide easy, interesting ways of learning. If the motivation to learn is not demonstrated by the student, the teacher must know ways to work around that in order to capture the student. Teachers have a hard time in certain areas. They must know each and every individual student and their learning needs. Different methods work for different children. Some students are visual learners, while others work best with group work. It all depends on the individual. The teacher’s job is to find out this crucial information in the beginning and expand on their techniques early on. If the students get the idea that they have a fun, interesting teacher, they will give the teacher a chance and often learn more from them than expected. Teachers may need to switch off and on with certain teaching skills to keep the entire class motivated. Because every student varies, the teacher must be aware of every individual’s strengths and weaknesses and work with them to improve where they are lacking. If the teacher is willing to give their students a chance, the students will often give an equal effort back.
Classroom organization is difficult to accomplish. Once certain goals are made by the teacher and students, a classroom setting will run smoothly. Many factors come into play when establishing and maintaining a positive setting. Teachers and students need to connect on a certain level of trust. Teachers need to be the role model and boss of the classroom. Cooperation from the children needs to be established early on in the classroom setting. Certain techniques work better than others. Experimenting with those is an essential part of progressing as a teacher. Organization is a key role in the learning process when it comes to benefiting students.
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