Managing a class properly is a challenge for any teacher. Students often get bored, feel sleepy, create indiscipline. But the atmosphere of a class, largely, depends on the skill of a teacher. If you are a teacher, what do you think? Write about your opinions.
Just a couple of quick notes. All the comments above have been great. Sense of humor is valuable, and being in front of a class is, in part, a performance. I'm an introvert outside of the classroom, but an extrovert inside it. I do put on a bit of a show each day. But for someone who is in a situation in which the students are unmanageable, humor can be dangerous, too. An unmanageable class may take a joke as a signal to act out, blurt out jokes themselves, etc. You have to be in a class that has been taught and has learned to handle humor before you can use it. I use no humor the first day of class, for instance. I'm all business, and the classroom atmosphere is one of all business. The class has not yet been taught by the present teacher (me) to handle humor, and the serious nature of the class must be established first. Then, later, humor works well.
I agree with the teachers above who mention that at the middle or high school level classes do exist that can't be managed. This is a district-wide problem. If violence is an issue and the teacher feels threatened, problems exist that cannot be handled by the teacher alone. Negative behavior is the number one detriment to student learning, and violence and threats are problems that are institutional problems and are largely beyond a teacher's control.
I base my philosophy of classroom management on three main ideas:
1) Teach bell to bell - plan more than you need, and allow yourself a little flexibility in how and what you teach so that you can consistently fill the minutes of a class period with things for the students to learn, think and write about.
2) Use Sense of Humor - almost everyone has one, so let the classroom atmosphere reflect your own sense of humor. Students tend to pay more attention when they think they are being entertained, and incidentally, it's more enjoyable for you too.
3) Avoid the "Us and Them" scenarios - Many teachers make the mistake of thinking classroom management depends on setting rules and enforcing them. While every class needs some basic rules, of course, if the classroom environment continually pits teacher against student, their natural tendency is to rebel.
I have mixed feelings. As a teacher I certainly feel a big responsibility to create a positive atmosphere in my class. Most of the time I think I'm pretty good at it. One year, however, I had an inordinately large number of really difficult students...a class that was actually more difficult (for me) than the class just ahead of them in which 10% of the students had probation officers. It was very difficult to teach when students exhibited violent behavior. I'm not sure what I could have done to create a more positive atmosphere. Somebody else may have been able to handle it better, but it was beyond my skills and training.
I used to agree completely with the original post, but now agree "almost" completely with it. It is certainly true that the teacher establishes the atmosphere of his or her classroom and that the teacher must be interested in what he is teaching if he expects his students to be interested. I teach in a high school setting with 90-minute periods and know that it is impossible to do the same thing for the entire class period if I expect to keep my students engaged and learning. Dividing the class period into 30 minute sections helps or simply mixing up the type of activities I do each day helps me stay engaged and also my students.
The only part of the post with which I disagree is that sometimes (at least in a public school high school setting) elements are out of a teacher's control. For example, several months ago, I filled in for a teacher who went home sick. While I knew her to be an experienced, structured, engaging teacher (from observing her before and from comments made by her students and administrators), her last period class that I "supervised" was shocking in its unruliness. I had never felt unsafe in the classroom before that day, and I've taught some rough groups before, but her class had been set up by others (not herself) to contain all the ingredients for a disaster. It was an all-male 9th grade elective reading class; so the students knew that they did not have to pass the class to move on. It was scheduled for the last period of the day, and the students' ages ranged from 13-17. No matter what I did, nothing settled down the students. Even when and administrator came, they did not behave. The teacher of that class later told me that the atmosphere of that period was like that every day. So, in some situations, varying style, incorporating competition, making parent contacts, etc., will not create the optimum atmosphere, especially if a teacher does not have administrative support.
In the military the saying "attitude reflects leadership," has proven true in the classroom as well. I have seen teachers use a wide variety of instructional methods, but if they truly care about what they are doing, and are competent enough to take that leadership role, they are mostly successful. Teachers who approach the seemingly unruly class with an "us vs. them" mentality are immediately shut-down and forced to endure a school-year's worth of behavior problems and apathy toward instruction. It is a rare case for negative behaviors when the instructor is exited about what they are teaching and attempts to engage the students. Even a new teacher with an underdeveloped skill-set will see immediate results.
As a teacher, I have that problem quite often! I've learned that when I start losing the majority of my students, I know it's time for a change. So, I try to vary an intense subject like Math, History, or Grammar with something fun. We push the desks to the back of the room and "play"! They love to compete with each and the clock and with educational type games, we're learning as we play.
It's amazing what 20-30 minutes of a relaxing subject does to their energy, focus, and creativity! They're all smiling, laughing, and raring to go again! It makes the day go much faster, smoother, and more productive.
I completely agree. Classroom management is the toughest thing to master, and the most important. For me, it boils down to: 1. Clear expectations that the students understand, and consistent rewards/consequences. 2. Never raise your voice in anger. 3. Over plan--if you think you have enough material for two class periods when you need to teach one, you're probably OK.
I'm a change of career educator, and went through a certification curriculum designed for, and populated by, people who were already working as teaching assistants. We had a pretty good feel for what classrooms were really like. We occasionally had people who were not experienced in the classes. One time, we had a young woman who proudly announced that she was not going to have to worry about classroom management because her lessons were going to be so interesting that the kids would behave simply because they wouldn't want to miss anything. We tried to keep straight faces, but there were several audible giggles. She ran out of the room in tears...I'm not sure she was ready for the reality of teaching.
I once knew an instructor who could keep students' attention for the full hour. He was loud, and he mixed his lecturing with stories and occasional profanities just to scandalize the students - he was a real showman. But I can't attest to how substantive the lectures were.
Anyway, I've had some classes that generally paid attention and stayed on task and some classes that were somewhat unruly. You can't always get a class to do what you want, but you can encourage them to want to pay attention.
I find that being organized in my presentation helps: going into each day with a few points I want to make and expanding on those points is key. Keeping focused. Also, I try to spend the last part of each class having a discussion or group activity, so there is interaction between the students and the ideas in class. And finally, I avoid ever feeling the need to "fill" time with something. When prepping a class, I write down my goals for the day, and if I meet those goals 5-10 miniutes before the official end of class, then I let the students go. I realize this doesn't quite work for high school classes where there are set times, but the main idea is to have an indea in mind what the purpose of each class session will be.
I agree with this completely.
No teacher will ever have all the students interested and behaving properly all of the time. But a teacher who has the right skills and personality will have a class that is less bored and better disciplined.
In my opinion, the relevant skills are:
- Lesson planning -- making sure your lesson has enough changes of pace to break up the monotony.
- Dealing with students who aren't interested -- being able to push students to behave and pay attention without just making them angry at you.
- Being able to sound like you are interested in the lesson.
here are some more quotations that didn't fit in the previous post...
A teacher's purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image.
What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.
Teaching should be full of ideas instead of stuffed with facts.
Teaching is leaving a vestige of one self in the development of another. And surely the student is a bank where you can deposit your most precious treasures.
A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity,knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils.
Teachers who inspire know that teaching is like cultivating a garden, and those who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers.
Teachers who inspire realize there will always be rocks in the road ahead of us. They will be stumbling blocks or stepping stones; it all depends on how we use them.
Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.
The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people.
Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.
A teacher should have maximal authority, and minimal power.
To teach is to learn twice.
i am a student and here are some quotations that you may consider....
I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.
The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau,sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth."
In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.
Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.
Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.
A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others.
The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. He inspires self-distrust. He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him. He will have no disciple.
A good teacher is a master of simplification and an enemy of simplism.
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.
What a teacher should do is to act as a friend and aid as well as controller, and must keep it in mind that, his or her students can not be judged on the basis of the same yardstick that he or she can judge himself or herself, and also that, students are junior to the teacher in most cases, if not in term of age, but in term of experience. If the teachers neglect their own roles, thinking that they have a little to do sometimes when things are out of control, this is unexpected, unfair and childish, ya?