George Lucas Educational Foundation
Student Engagement

Should We Redefine Classroom Management?

January 7, 2010

We've been very impressed with the collaborative movement that's happening on Twitter, where you can find a weekly open forum discussion called #edchat. Each week, educators from around the world debate, ruminate, and brainstorm on the top issues of the day.

We'd like to bring a bit of these discussions to you. Every Thursday, you'll hear from a guest blogger from #edchat -- and if you'd like to join in on the #edchat fun, here's a post from our first guest blogger, Shelly Terrell, on how to to get involved.

Shelly is a technology teacher trainer and social-media consultant from Stuttgart, Germany. On Twitter, she's known as @ShellTerrell and is an #edchat coordinator. One of this week's topics was classroom management, a lively discussion with a lot of insights and ideas. Here's Shelly's take.

--Betty Ray, Community Manager (@EdutopiaBetty) and Elana Leoni, Online Membership Coordinator (@elanaleoni)

During Tuesday's #edchat (January 5), educators discussed what works and doesn't work when managing student conduct in the classroom. I remember feeling nervous when my principal observed my classes. My students and I would try to model the ideal class.

The students were silent, sat straight in old wooden desks too small for them, and raised their hands while I lectured. Every other day, students scattered all over the room, working in groups on their various projects. Some shared our one computer. Other groups stood by the whiteboard, brainstorming ideas. Some students worked silently at their desks. I walked around the room and facilitated.

This is not the ideal way of teaching for most, but my English-language learners' high test scores and incredible achievements motivated me to continue teaching this way.

After #edchat, I was anxious to read my colleagues' thoughts. Many of them did not believe the best way to manage students is to keep them busy and silent. Here were a few of the ideas shared:

@Readtoday: There is no such thing as an "I don't care student" -- only an "I don't know what you are interested in" teacher.

@Andycinek: An active/engaged student is always well behaved.

@NicolRHoward: Are silent classes really better managed, or are they "controlled" better? Classroom management requires balance and student engagement.

@Elanaleoni: Mixing up your teaching styles is a good way to keep students involved.

@Evab200l: Sometimes I prefer the noisy ones; a lot of good work is produced then.

@Msmithpds: Then why do we expect children to sit still all day and expect proper behavior with 100 percent attention?

@Bedellj: Setting up stations might be helpful. A computer would be one of several activities.

@Awksome: Completely agree. Not championing lecture style. I'm not really a fan. It certainly has a time and a place, though.

@Hoprea: Some noise is our friend, and it's very necessary. But noise is different from talk and discussions, in my view.

@Doctorjeff: Class management needs to reflect the human experience of learning. Learning is a joy!! A classroom needs to be joyful.

@Parentella: A joyful experience to me would be one where the students are engaged and discussing the subject they are interested in.

@Morsemusings: Teach children how to manage conflict.

I am excited other educators have redefined what a well-managed classroom looks like. Perhaps it is not a bunch of silent students busy with textbook work? Perhaps it is one where students share ideas, test them in various ways, and collaborate with their peers?

Perhaps it is one where students are engaged and so excited about the material they are speaking to each other or helping each other with projects? Perhaps it is a teacher walking, around helping students draw conclusions? What do you think?

Check out the rest of the #edchat transcript here. If you have never participated in an #edchat conversation, please join us on Twitter every Tuesday at 12 p.m. EST/6 p.m. CET or at 7 p.m. EST/1 a.m. CET.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a technology teacher trainer and social-media consultant for language institutes, schools, and educational organizations worldwide. She focuses on providing professional development for developing countries and teachers English in Germany to students of various ages.

She also is the director of educator outreach for Parentella. Explore her Teacher Reboot Camp blog for tips on professional development and integrating technology effectively into the classroom. She can be reached via Twitter: @shellterrell.

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