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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What's The Best Classroom Management Advice You've Gotten?

What's The Best Classroom Management Advice You've Gotten?

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I thought it might be useful/interesting if people shared the best piece of classroom management advice they've gotten/read/heard... Mine comes from Marvin Marshall, who is my favorite (by far) writer/thinker on positive classroom management. He’s written a question that we as teachers might want to consider asking ourselves regularly. He wrote: Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating? Of course, we’re just human and all of this is far “easier said than done.” But it’s not a bad level to aspire towards…

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Piet Bothma's picture
Piet Bothma
Dean: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Midrand Graduate Institute

Successful classroom management is the product of how educators see themselves and others. How does educators invite learner participation in the learning process is an integral part of inviting discipline into the educational environment. Inviting education is centered on four basic assumptions:
1. People are able, valuable, and capable of self-direction and should be
treaded accordingly.
2. The educational process is a cooperative alliance in which process is
as important as product.
3. People possess relatively untapped potential in all areas of human
4. This potential can best be realized by places, policies, programs and
processes that are intentionally designed to invite development and by
people who consistently seek to realize this potential in themselves
and others, personally and professionally.

The emphasis on the person in the process makes the concept of inviting education a powerful metaphor for teaching. Inviting suggest celebration. Educators that invite learners to be part of the educational process acknowledge students as partners in the educational activities'. Learners feel invited when they are accepted, valued and capable.

The learners self concept is a key focus point for invitational education. How learners view themselves largely determines how they act and how they learn. We can compare the learners self concept with a magnificent but empty filing system which will eventually become their self concept. Every message received is filed in the filing system and the learner's view of self grows accordingly. Many messages are soothing, encouraging and supportive. These messages encourage a positive self concept. On the other hand messages could be critical, discouraging, demeaning. These messages are negative and do not support a positive self concept. Learners respond to these negative messages in a dramatic fashion. They are troubled by them so much that it takes many positive messages to offset the one negative message. When there are many of these positive messages learners view themselves as valuable, able and responsible and proceed to behave accordingly. Invitational education begins with a specific "stance"; define as the theoretical position from which the teacher operates. This stage determines the educators personal and professional functioning. In invitational education the stance of the educator consists of four elements: Trust; Intentionality; Respect and Optimism. The acronym we can use for these four elements is TIRO. When applied to educational discipline, the TIRO stance offers the educator with an attitudinal structure and direction that can be dependably employed to create and maintain a productive educational environment.

Mindy Keller- Kyriakides's picture
Mindy Keller- Kyriakides
High school english teacher and blogger.

TIRO is very powerful, particularly at the secondary level. So many of my students commented to me that "you saw us as people, not just students". All of the elements of TIRO were achieved by doing so. : )

What advice would you give for those educators who are stuck in a negative loop, though? That is, "Students are so disrespectful and out of control that I CAN'T trust them." These teachers can't take step one!

RAHUL J. DESAI's picture
master of businessadministration-MBA

In classroom pls treat your students as friends so they will be free for exchange of views, learning innovative ideas which they(students) will understand & allow them to express their opinions,views in Group Discussion to face personal interview in placements for career improvement.

Rurik Nackerud's picture
Rurik Nackerud
Middle/High Educator & Technologist from Portland, Oregon

I have yet to read every response but one of my favorite interventions to use with a single student is to "Bounce" them. Kids are human beings. They get wound up, nervous, frustrated, angry. Sometimes they just need to cool off or a chance to avoid certain situations.

When this happens I send students on an errand. If you set up agreements with people in the building ahead of time and do it often (even if un-needed) students get used to it and do not realize they are being removed from a "sticky" situation. Sometimes I send them with notes that actually say something. Other times I send them with passwords that other instructors know. Once in a while - when I need a longer break I send someone with a note that says, "Can you give me an easy job for five minutes and rescue Mr. Nackerud from having to send me to the hallway?"

Everyone needs a break once in a while: teachers, students, principals....

Lorraine's picture

Hi, I have taught from kindergarten to grade 11 for 22 years. The best advice I can give about classroom management is this: I only have one rule. Here it is:

"Treat me with the same respect and dignity that you want me to treat you."

What is respect the student asks? AHA!!
REspect is no foul language, wear clothing that covers your private parts, be on time, no hate talk, no use of cell phones while we are supposed to be conversing, and the list can be endless---I always remind them when something is not right: How would you like it if I did that to you? This diffuses so many situations and the other children also look to the offender and ask the same question. It has helped in cases of bullying, and in issues within the class. It is so common sense. It is the best rule I ever had!

Elena's picture
Eighth grade ELA teacher from New York, NY

I have been reading the posts and I realize that some are several years old but I have a question regarding secondary school. Every book I've ever read said that classroom rules and consequences should be created jointly. How do you do that if you teach 4 classes?

LindaC's picture

Fred Jones has the best classroom management program in the land. ANYONE who is teaching or planning to teach or substituting can give themselves a great benefit by reading and practicing Fred's program.
Calm is Strength, Upset is Weakness
It takes one fool to back talk, it takes two fools to make a conversation out of it.
Just two 'Fredisms' that show his sense of humor, Teachers and schools around the nation have had incredible success in lowering discipline problems and raising achievement with Fred Jones. Find out more at fredjones.com You will be so glad you did and your students will succeed right along with you. Search youtube for Fred Jones Tools For Teaching clips to see live classroom examples.

Elizabeth Ramos's picture
Elizabeth Ramos
Lead Teacher Medical Careers Academy at Chatsworth HS

Don't be afraid to call parents. They really are our allies. For every two phone calls that you have to make about a problem that you are dealing with in class, make one positive one to a parent just to say something nice about their child. I teach high school but the advice came from my mom and dad. They both teach elementary school.

Laron's picture

The best advice I got from a long time teacher in a small, remote village in Alaska is "Get the students' respect." I found out that we can do that in many ways. Among others, by respecting our students as people, and being a a person inside and outside of the classroom worthy of respect. We may often fall short, but it's something we should continually aim for, I do believe.

LindaC's picture

Words are easy - gain the respect of your students and you will have good classroom management. Makes sense but when you face a class of 20-30 kids, just HOW do you do that?
To every teacher, old and new, I highly recommend Dr. Fred Jones, Tools For Teaching program. His is a program that works, that has reduced discipline problems and raised achievement all over this country and Canada. Do yourself a favor and get his book - or at least check it out. You will be a better teacher and parent for it.

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