Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Philosophy of Classroom Management

About a month ago, I was pulled from my classroom to attend a full day department meeting. Behavior problems in my room are almost non-existent (or at least as non-existent as possible for middle school), so I’m never too worried about having a substitute cover for me when I have to be out. But when I returned, I found a note on my desk explaining that all of my classes were excellent, with the exception of one student who was disruptive and disrespectful.

This particular boy has a good relationship with me and has never been a problem in my room, although is occasionally trouble for other teachers. The next day when I saw him, I pulled him in the hall, read him the sub’s note, and promptly assigned him a week of lunch detentions.

Here’s my philosophy on classroom management:
I’m pretty loose with what students can and cannot do in class. I don’t have lists of rules posted around the room, and I certainly know the importance of choosing my battles. But my kids know that there is a very clear line drawn in the sand. They quickly learn to stay behind that line. If it is crossed, there is consistent and immediate consequence.

Yesterday I called in to work to help my wife take care of our brood of sick children. It was an unplanned absence but I emailed lesson plans and work in for the sub so I was not anticipating problems. This morning, I arrived to find a familiar note on my desk. It was a different sub, but the same boy, and same defiant, disruptive behavior.

When I pulled him in the hall, he said he knew why he was in trouble and he was aware of the consequence for his actions. He’ll again be enjoying my company as lunch partner for the next week.

But this got me thinking. I always assume that clear and consistent consequence is the way to deal with behavior problems. But if that’s the case, then why did he act up again when he saw a substitute sitting in my chair? Is punitive consequence ineffective, or is he just a little too impulsive and thick-skulled for it to work after only one instance?

What is your philosophy for effective classroom management?

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2 Responses:

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment that you made regarding the student who acts up while you were gone. If I read this correctly, he ends up spending lunch time with you after these events. Think he's looking for attention from you and has found a way to obtain it without disrupting class when you're teaching? Just a thought. Maybe he's one of those children the billboard mentioned: Those needing quality time with a dad. Don't know the entire situation; just a hunch.

John said...

@Anonymous - You're half right. I don't believe this student has a father figure at home, and he does tend to behave better for male teachers than female. This could be why he is generally a good kid in my classroom I suppose - is he looking for a role model?

As for the detention - It wasn't actually one-on-one quality time. During his lunch period, I have a group of kids for SSR reading in my room. The boy actually spent his consequence away from the others, and away from me.

Thanks for reading my blog! I love the insight!