Productive science learning involves questioning, tinkering and exploring. Good classroom management creates a positive environment where students feel secure enough to ask questions. It allows smooth transitions between instruction and lab. A good classroom management plan allows more time to be spent exploring versus managing.
I observed Cyndie Beale at West Vally High School in Fairbanks, Alaska. I spent two days in her AP Biology, Honors Biology, and Biology class.
EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES:
OPENING A LESSON: Cyndie Beale would explain (sometimes re-explain) what they needed to do. They were working on looking at cells under the scope so they needed to prepare the slides. She explained that only one person in the group needed to come up to get supplies, how much dye was needed per slide, etc. She even wrote it on the board. On the board was also a weekly schedule so students knew what they would be doing in class throughout the week.
APPLIED DURING THE LESSON: When students started to chit chat or veer off task, Cyndie Beale would get everyone’s attention. She’d remind them what they need to be doing and if they were done, what they could be doing. To get students attach, she’d calmly raise her hand and say “if you can hear me, raise your hand’.
LESSON CLOSURE: She got all the students attention and announced what was expect of lab clean-up such as microscopes put away, slides washed, and when you are done with your clean-up to have a seat at your desk until the bell rings.
NAME 3 COMMON TRANSITIONS YOU OBSERVED AND HOW DID THE TEACHER HANDLE THOSE:
END OF CLASS: A three minute warning with instructions on how lab cleanup would proceed.
SWITCHING TASKS: After the guest speaker, she gave the students direct instructions on what they needed to do for the lab such as get out the dissecting scope and how to look for organisms. Student already knew the groups (lab groups assigned early in the year). Student moved to their stations and began working. Teacher circulated to help and encourage as needed. You could tell that this was a normal routine.
STARTING CLASS: Cyndie Beale gave them a task they could work on for the first few minutes of class while she circulated to check their notebooks for the assignment and took attendance.
DESCRIBE A STRATEGY THAT YOU OBSERVED AND MAY APPLY TO YOUR CLASSROOM: To get their attention when working in groups, she’d raise her hand and calmly say “raise your hand if you can hear me’. The visual cue of students raising their hand would get other student’s attention and quiet the classroom quickly.
VIDEO: How to Maintain Classroom Discipline — Good and Bad Methods Training Education Video
This is a 1947 teacher training video. It starts out with a bad example of classroom management and then shows a positive approach to the same situations. A lot of the points about classroom management made are relevant today. I also enjoyed viewing how much classrooms have changed in 50 years.
This is a blog from a middle school teacher for newer teachers in the hopes to help prevent teacher turnover. Classroom management posts were informative with links to her first day of class handouts and technology use contracts.
WEBSITE: Harvard Education Letters
The articles on this site are on a variety of teaching subjects from class size, school violence, and teacher-student rapport. Unfortunately, you get a limited about of free articles before you have to buy a subscription.
Student-Teacher Rapport: hepg.org/hel-home/issues/27_1/helarticle/five-easy-ways-to-connect-with-students_492
The article by Paul Berg in the Juneau Empire touches on educational issues that face not only Alaska Natives but also the entire education system. Our current system insists that everyone be taught the exact same material. It doesn’t take in the fact that we are not all equal. I feel as people fear pointing out our differences but diversity of skill sets and minds is what makes our society flourish. By trying to force students into one education mold, we are not only loosing culture diversity but creativity and a love of learning. I fully support the idea of moving more toward a place-based education were you explore and learn from the place around you. This helps students find the relevance in their education. However while I think we can learn a lot from our immediate surroundings, we cannot isolate ourselves from the larger world around us. As Alaska Natives must take part in the dominant society, the dominant society also needs to teach their students in Alaska Native practices. Integrating all cultures into our school system is the best way to bridge the divide and learn to appreciate other cultures. Students need to learn about how others live in other parts of the world to realize there is more than one right way.
Another issue that I feel that the article brings up is that students are brought up from kindergarten with the expectation of college. While there is basic knowledge that is needed to help students be an informed member of society at large, the idea of schooling and education is to prepare them for a job after graduation. Not everyone will go to college and it shouldn’t be the only option presented. Students should also have skill training relevant to jobs that are available in their area.
Language is another divide not only in Alaska but in the Unites States. Many Americans feel that if you are in America, you should speak English. This I believe is fueled by our fear of the unknown, by not understanding and fearing other cultures. Many Americans tend to feel that there is only one right way and it is our way. I love the notion of immersion schools and feel that Americans need to be learning languages other than English. I do think it would be great if Alaska Natives could be taught in their native language. The only concern that I have is that this would create a larger divide between the different cultural groups.
I guess my general philosophy or ideas on education and the future of Alaska Native education is a bridge between the different cultural worlds. I support the independence and diversity but I fear complete isolation. I would like to see more Alaska Native culture filter into all schools in Alaska. I think all students would benefit from learning from Alaska Native elders. Alaska Native students should have the option to be taught by Alaska Natives and in their native tongue. The dominant culture though needs to learn about other cultures early and often.
Part of our job as educators is to prepare students for adult life. As we know, being an adult comes with a list of rules and procedures that together help maintain social order. Below are four general rules that I would have in my classroom.
Rule 1: Be responsible.
Rule 2: Be prepared.
Rule 3: Be respectful.
Rule 4: Be engaged.
The website I found had more an entire section on classroom management but had additional information broken down by age group and within age group, subject.
When I clicked on the classroom management tab, I was quite surprised to see that the first few topics were dealing with violent behavior in the classroom and students with criminal records. At first I was a bit taken back but then realized this is probably what I was looking for — classroom management for older students. I found that a lot of the websites dealt with classroom management at the elementary school level. I wasn’t ready to deal with classroom management for violent students so the first article I looked at was “Influence Students by Gaining their Respect’. This article was geared to newer teachers and how to gain students respect. The one advice they gave that I hadn’t read anywhere before but agreed with is look professional. They suggest you can become more casual once you have mastered classroom management but until then, err on the side of caution.
I also read the article on tips to “monitor a student who is being bullied in school’. These articles were a good wakeup call that we are not just there to teach them biology or algebra but to keep students safe and help mold them into productive members of society.
My name is Kyndall Powers and I’m from Fairbanks, Alaska. I have a B.S. and M.S. in biological sciences. After several years working professionally, my favorite aspect of my job is working and interacting with students. I’m looking forward to improving my teaching skills with an end goal of teaching high school science.