For the purpose of anonymity I will refer to the teacher that I observed as Mr. Positive. He is a resource teacher at Homer High School. The class that I sat in was comprised of students in grade levels 9-11.
1). Mr. Positive began the lesson checking in with the students seeing how they were doing. (I believe getting a feel for the climate of the class is good way to start.) Next, he discussed what they were going to be working on essentially providing an outline for the class period. Third, he checked to make sure the students had everything they needed in order to begin task discussed.
2.) The class that I observed was a resource class so it did not have traditional transitions. The students were doing their work independently. When students completed their work they would raise their hand or walk up to Mr. Positive. Mr. Positive would review their work and begin each conversation with one to two positive points about the assignment and then review any changes that needed to be made. Mr. Positive would then wrap up the conversation by describing more positive attributes about the task.
3.) The one thing that stood out the most to me in Mr. Positive’s classroom management style was that he clearly had established relationships with the students. When I walked into the room I had a lanyard from the University of Oregon. One of his students asked me a question about the sports teams in Oregon and Mr. Positive contributed to the conversation acknowledging that the student had family in Oregon. Mr. Positive also used humor often when talking with the students.
This is not to be confused with sarcasm, which I believe can be very destructive to the student-teacher relationship.
Instead Mr. Positive would use play on words for example he was being silly when a student misspelled orca in their paragraph as okra. He teased about how the vegetable would fit into the content of the paragraph as if it were intentional by the student. The student understood that they spelled the word wrong, but it was done in a fun manner. (You may have had to have been there) Then he made sure to follow-up with something that was very strong about the paragraph. I don’t think joking with students in this manner could be administered effectively without having laid the ground work to positive student-teacher relationships.
The quality of relationship was also noticeable as the students exited the classroom. Mr. Positive wished them a good day, but in response almost all of the students thanked him. The ones that did not thank him said they would see him tomorrow or gave some kind of acknowledgement. I was pretty impressed by this small gesture from the students especially from high schoolers. They genuinely respected Mr. Positive and looked forward to seeing him again. I believe this was built off the respect that he shows the students and his investment into getting to know the students as individuals as well as he positive demeanor.