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CHAPTER -8 MANAGING THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

8.1 THE GOALS OF CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

The aim of classroom management is to maintain a positive, productive learning environment. But order for its own sake is an empty goal. It is unethical to use classroom management techniques just to keep students docile and quiet. What, then, is the point of working so hard to m classrooms? There are at least three reasons.

1.More Time for Learning:

As a child, I once used a stopwatch to time the commercials during a TV quiz show. I was amazed to find that half of the program was devoted to commercials. Actually, very little quizzing took place. If you used a similar approach in classrooms, timing all the different activities throughout the day, you might be surprised by how little actual teaching takes place. Many minutes each day are lost through interruptions, disruptions, late starts, and rough transitions

Obviously, students can only learn what they encounter. Almost every study examining time and learning has found a significant relationship between time spent on content and student learning. In fact, the correlations between content studied and student learning are usually larger than the correlations between specific teacher behaviors and student learning. Thus one important goal of classroom management is to expand the sheer number of minutes available for learning. This is sometimes called allocated time.

Simply making more time for learning will not automatically lead to achievement. To be valuable, time must be used effectively. The way students process information is a central factor in what they learn and remember. Basically, students will learn what they practice and think about. Time spent actively involved in specific learning tasks is often called engaged time, or sometimes time on task.

Again, however, engaged time doesn’t guarantee learning. Students may be struggling with material that is too difficult or using the wrong learning strategies. When students are working with a high rate of success really learning and understanding we call the time spent academic learning time. A second goal of class management is to increase academic learning time by keeping students actively engaged in worthwhile, appropriate learning activities the 1,000+ hours of time mandated for school became only about 353 hours of quality academic learning time for a typical student.

2.Access to Learning:

Each classroom activity has its own rules for participation. Sometimes these rules are clearly stated by the teacher, but often they are implicit and unstated. Teacher and students may not even be aware that they are following different rules for different activities. For example, in a reading group, students may have to raise their hands to make a comment, but in a show-and-tell circle in the same class, they may simply have to catch the teacher’s eye.

The rules defining who can. talk, what they can talk about, and when, to whom, and how long they can talk are often called participation structures. In order to participate successfully in a given activity, students must understand the participation structure. Some students, however, seem to come to school less able to participate than others. The participation structures they learn at home in interactions with siblings, parents, and other adults do not match the participation structures of school activities. But teachers are not necessarily aware of this conflict. Instead, the teachers see that a child doesn’t quite fit in, always seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or is very reluctant to participate, and they are not sure why.

To reach the second goal of good classroom management-giving all students access to learning-you must make sure everyone knows how to participate in class activities. The key is awareness. What are your rules and expectations? Are they understandable, given your students’ cultural backgrounds and home’ experiences? What unspoken rules or values may be operating? Are you clearly signaling appropriate ways to participate? For some students, particularly those with behavioral and emotional challenges, direct teaching and practicing of the important behaviors may be required.

3. Management for Self-Management:

The third goal of any management system is to help students become better able to manage themselves. The movement from demanding obedience, to teaching self- regulation and self-control is a fundamental shift in discussions of classroom management today. Tom Savage (1999) says. simply, “the most fundamental purpose of discipline is the development of self-control. Academic knowledge and technological skill will be of little consequence if those who possess them lack self-control”. Through self-control, students demonstrate responsibility-the ability to fulfill their own needs without interfering with the rights and needs of others. Students learn self-control by making choices and dealing with the consequences, setting goals and priorities, managing time, collaborating to learn, mediating disputes and making peace, and developing trusting relations with trustworthy teachers and classmates.

Encouraging self-management requires extra time, but teaching students how to take responsibility is an investment well worth the effort. When elementary and secondary teachers have very, effective class management systems but neglect to set student self-management as a goal, their students often find that they have trouble working independently after they graduate from these “well-managed” classes.

4.Creating a Positive Learning Environment:

The problems are prevented when individual variations, are taken into account in instructional planning. Sometimes students become disruptive because the work assigned is too difficult. And students who are bored by lessons well below their ability levels may be interested in finding more exciting activities to fill their time.

In one sense, teachers prevent discipline problems whenever they make an effort to motivate students. A student involved in learning is usually not involved in a clash with the teacher or other students at the same time. All plans for motivating students are steps toward preventing problems.

5.Movement Management:

Movement management means keeping lessons and the group moving at an appropriate (and flexible) pace, with smooth transitions and variety. The effective teacher avoids abrupt transitions, such as announcing a new activity before gaining the students’ attention or starting a new activity in the middle of something else. In these situations, one-third of the class will be doing the new activity, many will be working on the old lesson, several will be asking other students what to do, some will be taking the opportunity to have a little fun, and most will be confused.

Another transition problem is the slowdown, or taking too much time to start a new activity. Sometimes teachers give too many directions. Problems also arise when teachers have students work one at a time while the rest of the class waits and watches.

A teacher who successfully demonstrates withitness, overlapping activities, group focus, and movement management tends to have a class filled with actively engaged students who do not escape his or her all-seeing eye. This need not be a grim classroom. It is more likely a busy place where students are actively learning and gaining a sense of self-worth rather than misbehaving in order to get attention and achieve status.

6.Maintain activity flow:

In an analysis of classrooms, Jacob Kounin (1970) studied teachers’ ability to initiate and maintain the flow of activity. Then he searched for links between activity flow and students’ engagement and misbehavior. He found that some ineffective managers engaged in “flip-flopping”-terminating an activity, starting another, and then returning to the first one. Other ineffective managers were distracted from an ongoing activity by a small event that really did not need attention. For example, in one situation a teacher who was explaining a math problem at the board noticed a student leaning on his left elbow while working on the problem. The teacher went over to the student and told him to sit up straight, interrupting the flow of the class. Some ineffective managers “over dwell” on something that students already understand or go on at length about appropriate behavior. All of these situations-flip- flopping, responding to distractions, and over dwelling-can interrupt the classroom’s flow.

7.Minimize transition time:

In transitions from one activity to another, there is more room for disruptive behavior to occur. In one study of 50 classes, disruptions such as hitting, yelling, and using obscene gestures occurred twice as often during transitions between activities than during activities. Teachers can decrease the potential for disruption during transitions by preparing students for forthcoming transitions, establishing transition routines, and clearly defining the boundaries of lessons.

8.Hold students accountable:

Cognition and Development If students know they will be held accountable for their work they are more likely to make good use of class time. Clearly communicating assignments and requirements encourages student accountability. Explain to students what they will be doing and why, how long they will be working on the activity, how to obtain help if they need it, and what to do when they are finished. Helping students establish goals, plan, and monitor their progress also increases students’ accountability. And maintaining, good records can help you hold students accountable for their performance.

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