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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

This is the sixth part of a six-part entry. Start with the introduction.

Get help before you start and while you are trying to do the Four-Piece Plan to Peace. Don't wait to ask for help until after you've torn your hair out and started looking for jobs in coffee shops.

Ask your principal for help. Ask him or her if you can receive any outside-of-school help. Observe other teachers in your school (if you see that they have respectful, functioning classrooms), and ask them to observe you and give you feedback. Most first- or second-year teachers have a mentor, a new-teacher coach, or another support provider. So, ask for help! Ask again and again if you're not getting what you need.

And then, of course, there's what's on the Web, which is a whole overwhelming lot. If you want a short, engaging article to start with, try the Teacher Magazine article "Teaching Secrets: Take Charge of Your Classroom." Then, go to this Web site, which lists just about every site out there on classroom management. Or you can do your own Web searches for resources.

Although it may not seem like it now, it is possible to manage a group of thirty to thirty-six small (or-not-so-small) people. It takes time, practice, support, perseverance, and patience, but you can get to the point where the classroom-management aspect becomes almost invisible and you spend 95 percent of your time and energy on instruction.

And now for the missing piece. Here's the thing. I've described four pieces, as in jigsaw pieces, that together make the big picture of classroom management coherent. I have argued that if your students are clear on procedures, and if you have a reward-and-consequence system, and if you've targeted some challenging students for extra attention, you'll have peace. And now I will disagree with myself.

I think I'm missing something here. I'm missing the foundation. I'm missing what you put the pieces on or what kind of frame they settle in. And I have a feeling that in certain frames, the pieces just won't hold together. I have a hunch that I need to explore the qualities that allow the pieces to transform into peace. There's a little more to this story if we're trying to achieve peace. I'm going to think on that. Stay tuned.

Readers, what do you think? Are these pieces enough? What's helped in your classes to bring about peace? What does a teacher or the foundation of a classroom need to be like in order for these pieces to function? Please share your thoughts.

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