Classroom Management: What is it and why do I need it?

Classroom management is something I would have loved to have known about before I walked into my classroom on the first day. As a first-year teacher last year, I walked into my job with no experience except for what I had gleaned from correcting my husband’s education homework. Luckily, my school had a process in place, so I didn’t have to worry about discipline in my room, or discipline variations across classrooms.

Our district has a system called the Responsible Thinking Process, which is a system of classroom management that allows students full responsibility for their actions, both during and after the disruption. After two disruptions, students make a plan in a separate classroom that shows how they will avoid disrupting in that way again.

When a student disrupts, he is asked a few simple questions:

  • What are you doing? (Breaking pencils)
  • What are the rules? (Respect the classroom)
  • What will happen next time you disrupt/break the rules? (I will go to the Responsible Thinking Classroom/RTC)

The second time a student disrupts, he gets asked another set of questions:

  • What are you doing? (Poking Robert)
  • What are the rules? (Respect my classmates)
  • What did you say would happen next time? (Go to the RTC)

The student then is written a referral by the teacher including his name, what he did both times, and what time he can make up the work he is going to miss while he is in the RTC.   While he’s in the RTC, he will write up a plan that details what he did wrong, if it matches the teacher’s description, how he can avoid doing that again, and what might go wrong (like if a student distracts him or he gets angry) the next time.

When the student gets back to the classroom, he must wait at a predesignated table for the teacher to be ready let him back into the class forum. When the teacher is ready, the student tells the teacher his plan, the teacher can either sign the plan in agreement or send the student back to the RTC for more work on the plan, and then class moves on. The plan gets filed in the RTC, and the next time the same student disrupts, the file is pulled and they look at previous plans to avoid past mistakes.

This process makes the teacher’s life so much easier – you just pull the kid out of class, another teacher deals with it, and the child comes back calm, collected, and ready to learn. By using the process, we are able to keep full control of our class and remove the problem instead of having to deal with an out-of-control student.

Students are also given the opportunity to use Chill Passes, which allow them a pass to the RTC to avoid a referral due to an angry outburst or falling asleep. They are rarely abused, and students use them infrequently enough that it’s a non-issue. All in all, the system here in our district is very helpful, useful, and a great tool for new teachers.

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