by Raphael Choi
Positive Reinforcement in Classroom Management
Being a classroom teacher involves many aspects, such as developing and delivering units and lessons, implementing classroom management strategies, building a sense of school community, and assessing students for academic and social-emotional growth. During my practicum, I developed a list of virtues that I wanted my students to think about and hopefully pursue. The list includes the following four qualities: to be respectful, proactive, cooperative and kind. By setting these guidelines for behaviour and attitude towards one another, I was able to approach classroom management in a more positive manner. Rather than asking students to simply stop chatting while I speak, I redirected the focus to the respect we should all have for each other. As with any lessons or activities, setting the expectations beforehand immensely helped managing the classroom.
Above: students during team-building exercise
Holding the Same Standards To Myself
It is important to keep these standards applied to myself as much as I ask of my students. I must model for them by honouring the virtues myself. I will make decisions with a great deal of care and consideration, because every action I make can be seen as a teaching moment. The openness to talk about and acknowledge, for example, having a bad day and how I plan to cope with it would be. The strength of the relationships I build with students will determine how engaged students will be with school. It is about students who “learn best from teachers they like” (Gossen, 2007, p. 18). I will build the classroom environment to mirror my focus on social emotional learning. There will be implementations of various SEL devices, such as social and emotional learning.
Social and Emotional Learning in Cross-curricular Approach
Another common tool for creating a safe environment for students is to hold regular class meetings. Weekly class meetings should be something that students look forward to, as they address problems, brainstorm solutions, share gratitude for one another, and build the sense of community. Open and honest conversations will take place, backed with security of confidentiality. Flexibility is extremely required to be a successful teacher. A teacher must make the best use of the given resource and support. With the limited amount of time and increasing expectations on teachers, it is inevitable to implement creative ways in which different subjects and learning outcomes are combined in a cross-curricular manner. For instance, weekly activity, quote of the week, will not only be tied to grammar lessons but also reflect SEL elements. More focus on group-based work will also have its benefits, not only in terms of building “social and cooperational skills” in students but also in regards to “maximizing given time and resource” (Noddings, 2006, p. 18). Assessment should be clearly laid out for students to easily identify expectations and goals for projects and coursework. I am a strong believer of using student-generated criteria. By doing so, not only will it emphasize the collaborative nature the classroom but also more thoughts to be completed here soon.
Above: a letter of apology from a primary student.
Flexibility and Creativity
My training involved assuming the role of a TTOC in a variety of classrooms, where I learned that flexibility and creativity are the most valuable qualities to succeed. A TTOC should quickly identify the needs of students, assess the classroom climate, and deliver engaging lessons, while providing positive energy and effective classroom management. Not only will I faithfully follow the homeroom teacher’s day plan, but I will also provide thorough feedback and ideas for future lessons. My background in visual art, drama and filmmaking will reach all types of learners, as I incorporate multi-modal approaches. I believe it is possible to make meaningful connections with students, even over a short time.
Gossen, D. (2007). Student behavior. International Journal of Reality Therapy, 27, 17-20.
Noddings, N. (2006). Handle with care. Greater Good, 3(1), 18-21.