This classroom management plan details how I plan to incorporate techniques and best practices into my high school biology classroom one day. Over the past year I have found valuable resources and learned advice from veteran teachers of both urban and rural school-settings. Because Nome, Alaska is a hub town that serves 15 outlying villages and tribes, I will utilize both techniques into my everyday practice. My teaching philosophy is social reform. I will hold all students to high expectations and show my students that they can pave their own paths away from disadvantaged and socially accepted norms of high rates of alcoholism, addiction, domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide. These are things that plague our region and state, and my students will be pushed to be the young leaders who start changing these norms.
Preparation Before the School Year Begins
A. Organizing your Classroom and Materials
Before students are in my classroom, I will make sure it is arranged in a safe way that maximizes learning potential for each student. I will look into the student’s background; whether they have special needs or specific accommodations that enhance their learning style. I will look further into their familial background, and speak with parents before the school year about anything that works for their child when it comes to learning or discipline. Once I have this information I will have seating arrangements according to student strengths paired with another student’s weakness, vice versa. I am arranging student seating this way so students could help each other out over the semester. “The more successful students feel, the more cooperative they’ll be, the more they’ll look forward to the class, the better they’ll do’ (Teaching Channel, Jackie Ancess, 2017).
I like to be prepared for my lessons by ensuring that I have all the materials I need: enough paper, pencils, handouts, visual aids, and stories. I’ve found that working with rural Alaskan students, they appreciate stories. I will find ways to make connections with students that they could relate to. Often times, I find connections through their family tree. This is helpful, because once students realize that I know their relatives, they want to maintain a respectful relationship with me in school.
B. Getting off to a Positive Start
I will teach students how to introduce themselves the traditional way, and then in Inupiaq. I will have each student introduce themselves to me in the same manner. I will listen closely for connections to their family history. Rural Alaska is so deeply rooted in traditional values, and this is a positive start to showing my students that I care about who they are and where they come from. ‘¨’¨I will talk about my expectations of each student, because their families care about how they perform in school. I will do my best to get biology concepts across in a personal way. I will avoid just talking at them, and promise to talk with them about my content area and the larger picture of social reform. Students are the answer to reforming the current norms in society. If we build up young leaders, adults today can look forward to being lead by these future reformers.
A. Explanation of Rules
The rules of my classroom are the following:
1. Raise your hand
2. Expect to work hard and learn
3. Show respect for yourself and others
5. Encourage one another
6. Come to class prepared
7. Try your best
If we have respect in the classroom, then it will be a safe place to learn and grow. We will work on self respect by being prepared before entering my class. Do you have pencil and paper? How is your attitude? Did you bring your homework? We will respect each other by not distracting your peers from learning. Our class motto will be “If my aana was here, would she be proud of how I composed myself in Ms. Otton’s class?’ (aana is the regional’s collective traditional term for “grandma’ and a huge value in our region is to respect our elders)
B. Management at the School Level
Fire Safety: I will follow district procedures. During a fire drill, teachers have a packet with color-coded pages that clearly alert nearby teachers if all students are present (green), or a student is missing (red). During routine fire drills, the class will line up at the door, then I will lead them to the nearest exit where we will reassemble and retake attendance. I will raise the appropriate colored circle for my principal to take note.
Lab Safety: Every student will have a lab coat/apron, gloves, and safety goggles. I will avoid using hazardous chemicals or specimens in biology labs. During any dissecting labs, we will go over how to properly handle the pins, scalpels, and proper glove removal.
C. Beginning and Ending of the Day
We will establish a routine starting the second day of the semester, after introductions and expectations. Students will have to be prepared with a notebook, pencil/eraser, and be physically and mentally prepared to learn when they enter my classroom. This means taking self-responsibility of coming to class well-rested and taking advantage of our free-breakfast program, if necessary. I will not allow bathroom or water breaks during class. They have passing periods to get this completed. If they must go to the restroom during class, they will have the amount in minutes it took them to be away from class to owe back to me on Free-Friday’s. ‘¨’¨Free-Friday’s is the student’s reward to review the week’s lessons and solidify any fuzzy concepts learned earlier in the week. Half the day will be group-discussion review, and the other half is student’s choice of silent reading, homework, or an educational game. If I could collaborate a visit with a community partner, that will take priority for Free-Friday’s. ‘¨’¨The last five minutes of class I will go over their homework assignment, and then announcements for the upcoming week (including community announcements). Students will clear their work spaces and push their chairs in before being dismissed.
D. Transitions, Use of Materials
8:00am-8:10am Bellringers then check offs, and discussion of answer
8:10am-8:15am Review from previous lesson, what more we will learn
8:15am-8:35am Lecture with classroom discussion
8:35am-8:45am Differentiated practice
8:45am-8:50am Homework assignment, community announcements, extra credit
This is the generic structure of each class period. Students will practice this structure daily in order to set up a routine. I will use the smart board, power points, and videos. Differentiated practice will have break out activities that students may choose: reading the text, watching CrashCourse or Kahn Academy channels on YouTube, drawing, or worksheets. Extra credit will be ways students can start getting involved in community events such as listening in on city council, tribal council, and school board meetings.
E. Group Work and Teacher-Led Activities
I definitely plan on incorporating small groups in class lectures. Dr. Jacobsen, professor for the School of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, advised that this is a tried and true way to get those shy students involved in class discussion (personal communication, November 28, 2017). Grouping students based on interest will encourage students to establish a common ground discussion, then be able to branch out to academic topics more easily. For those students who are better self-disciplined in proximity to the teacher, they will stay with my teacher-lead group. There will be consequences if students are off topic in the small groups.
Safety and Legal Requirements
A. Discipline and Consequences
Phones have a 1-2-3 rule: 1st time I catch students with their phones out during class, they get a warning. 2nd time I catch students with their phones in class it will be taken to the office until their parent can come out to the school and sign it back into their child’s possession. 3rd time they may no longer bring their phones to school. This will be clearly discussed with parents, to get them in on this disciplinary practice. ‘¨’¨Parents will understand the bathroom break rule, and know that I tally up minutes students owe me for time students will need to spend at the next community meeting with their parent. A journal entry of what they heard, learned and asked at the meeting will be turned into me. ‘¨’¨Consequences for not following my rules will follow a similar 1-2-3 rule: 1st reminder to follow my rules will be a warning. 2nd time a student deliberately does not follow the rules will be given a detention. If a student serves their detention only to continue breaking rules will require a parent-meeting.
A. Working with Parents
I will introduce myself to parents over the phone before the school year. I will also invite each one to Open House so that they can get to know me and offer advice for my class. I want to be able to partner with parents when it comes to their child’s learning. Here is what they are doing in school, here’s what will help at home. Checklists will be given to parents, and students will treat this checklist as homework. The checklist can look something like this:
1. Be the teacher: teach your parent(s) or sibling(s) what you learned today. Parents-check to see where your child seems fuzzy with concepts. Ask at least ONE question about the subject your child taught you.
2. Check your child’s take-home worksheet, initial that it is complete. Feel free to put notes where you and your child may have been unsure.
3. Go for a 10 minute walk with your child to check in if they are stressed about the school day workload. See where you can help. ‘¨’¨These check-lists will be structured with the parents prior to the school year to encourage teens to start forming their adult relationships with their parents.
B. Community Resources
1. Katirvik Cultural Center: Indigenous Identities and understanding our history
2. Kawerak, Inc.: Job readiness and summer internships
3. Nome Community Center: Volunteer work
4. Bering Straits Native Corporation: Learning about “Native Corporations,’ why they were established, who they serve, what they offer to shareholders/descendants, and their community betterment goals
5. Nome Eskimo Community: Learning about tribes and why they were established, who they serve, what they offer tribal members, and ways to be involved at the youth-level
Planning and Conduction Instruction
A. Teacher-Student Relationships
This is a harder area to discuss, because I think there are some people who aren’t natural in their way with speaking with students. I find that humor is a good way to relate to any student. Be positive, even on days when you just want to go back to bed. My classroom could be the first place a student has been impacted by positivity all day! It is my duty to check in with students, make them feel safe, and model self-responsibility.
B. Differentiation Need and Strategies
I love the idea of assessing students in more than just one way, and giving students options when it comes to learning and practicing new concepts. I plan to utilize technology as much as possible. Because 90% of students in the Bering Strait School District are Alaskan Native, I plan to incorporate strategies from the Alaska Native Knowledge Network and partnering with Community Partners on delivering culturally-based instruction. I also really am not a fan of tests. Test anxiety is real, and student’s shouldn’t be measured on ONE test. There are so many factors that can be attributed to how they scored that ONE day. I like the idea of project-based assessments, as demonstrated in the documentary film Most Likely To Succeed (Dintersmith & Whiteley, 2015). In this innovative documentary, High Tech High in California moves away from the normal school structure and embraces the foundations of personalized learning, differentiation, and project-based assessment.
C. Students with Special Needs
I will follow IEP procedures, and work with the Special Education teacher on how best to modify my lessons to accommodate students with special needs.
D. Withitness and Emotional Objectivity
I will always take time to check in with my students by greeting them at the door as they enter my class. I will walk around the room to be in close proximity to all students, not just the front row. ‘¨’¨I will exhibit emotional objectivity by regularly checking in with how each of my students make me feel. If they make me feel negative in any way, or bring up preconceptions from my personal past, I will take time to reframe my mindset. According to Marzano et al, this can be done by stating what the student did that made you feel negatively towards them, then reframe it in a more positive light (2005). For example, one student could be receptive to the rules and school in general. He may even state that he would rather be working a job making money than be in my class. In that case, I will restructure my thoughts to be grateful he is in my class to learn about why I structure class with these specific rules, and how they will benefit him in the future when he gets a job.
Collaboration and new ideas are invited in my practice, because I am a first year teacher. I am open to working with parents, colleagues, and community partners on educating the children of our community. These are the future leaders of our community, we must start encouraging students practice leadership NOW in order to create steps towards social reform. My classroom is a perfect place to start holding all students to high expectations for learning and overall community improvement.