This semester has provided me with a large learning curve. Nothing compares to hands on experience with teaching. This semester taught me about how I really respond to students when in the classroom.
For one, I figured out that I am more like a permissive instructor than I am authoritative. Last semester, I thought that I would be an authoritative educator when it came to behaviors but I noticed that I would give students many reminders and warnings but would rarely implement a consequence. This is definitely one skill that I need to work on. I really need to examine what I shall do when students are going against classroom rules. I also need to know that there is a difference between threatening a students and reminding students of consequences. I often do not remind students of what the consequences of misbehaviors since I am afraid that it will adopt too much of a threatening tone.
The one strategy that I try to use to help with classroom behaviors is follow Albert’s Three C’s. When the class is in whole group discussion, I try to value everyone’s contribution by verbally thanking them for their thoughts and I try not to tell the students that they are wrong. In other words, I want to show them that I value their thinking and them. To support this, I will pause a student who is sharing when I hear other students talking. Then, I remind those who are not paying attention that (blank) is sharing a very important thought and that we should all be listening respectfully. I also fully believe that students have the most control over their behavior and that I am there to support and guide them to making wise decisions (Charles, 2002).
Non-verbal cues have seem to become my friend when I am teaching and I only need to address one behavior. I often walk around the class when I am doing a read aloud since the book is a chapter book. That allows me to look around and interact with those who are not paying attention. This might mean that I stand by their chair while I read or I will tap their desk. Tapping their desk lets them know that they need to focus and sometimes reminds the students that they are off-task. Non-verbal cues help to minimize interruptions to a lesson (Levin & Nolan, 2004). Only the student any maybe a few surrounding students will notice the cue and the lesson can continue on without you forgetting your thought or embarrassing the student. I do believe this is especially good for those students that are reprimanded too often and for those who are very nervous about how their peers perceive them.
Finally, I learned that you can become very attached to your students. Time spent with the students allows you to learn much about them and they are so willing to let you into their lives. I know that I have much that needs to grow when thinking about my teaching but I do believe that I have learned much about myself and I can begin to work on my weaknesses and improve my strengths.
Charles, C. (2002). Linda Albert’s ‘Cooperative Discipline’ In Building classroom discipline (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Levin, J., & Nolan, J. F. (2004). Principles of classroom management: A professional decision-making model. Pearson Higher Ed.