Within the classroom I am pretty confident in my abilities to create engaging, meaningful language experiences. However, one of the challenges that I often face within my classroom is classroom management. Personally, I think that teacher education courses often forget about classroom management. In my undergraduate program I did take a classroom management class, but after the first few classes I felt the course did not focus much on classroom management.
Jon Cowart, a language teacher from Memphis, Tennessee has long been an outspoken force for classroom management in language classrooms. Specifically in urban settings. Before this session, I thought that maybe I was just bad at classroom management, but Jon brought to my attention that there are outside forces at play too. Things that we do not see in the classroom can cause issues in the classroom.
Mr. Cowart also walked participants of the presentations through some actual scenarios that can happen in the classroom. He did demonstrations how he would use the target language to positively narrate the class, providing students with more input in a non-threatening way. He said that when doing positive narration, try to avoid personal feelings, only state what you see.
During the session, Jon also emphasized the importance of positive relationships. He shared some stories of having positive relationships with students and keeping their stakeholders involved in their education. I plan on setting aside a day, or at least half a class, a week to hold some individual conferences with students to try to better establish those relationships so that I can show them they have a positive adult role model, and to help maximize their investment in my class.
Some other quick tips that Jon gave us were to:
Make directions SOC(Specific, observable, concise). Jon helped us practice this, and reaffirmed that we “cannot punish students because we are unclear”.
positively narrate classroom actions
make sure that everyone is paying attention when you are giving directions
use the phrase “When I say go…” when giving directions allowing students to hear all of the directions before attempting to work on an assignment
create concise, positive instructions “No blurting” becomes “Respond when I signal you”.
Not redirect actions until after positive narration is done to give students one more opportunity to hear the directions
Positively frame consequences, eg. “I’m moving your seat so that you can learn more”
End hallway conversations with “What can I do to help you more?”