Classroom Management Plan
by Jonathan Anscher
Rationale for Why I Teach What I Teach
Motivations drive us and guide us in what work we put out into the world. As a teacher, how I manage my class is reflective of what I value and what I wish to pass on. My classroom expectations center around three primary values: fairness and expectations, locus of control, and experiential education.
Fairness and Expectations
Students without the same access to resources are at a disadvantage. If they donʼt have a computer at home, then you limit their ability to do their homework by making it typed. It becomes unfair to require it of them. Well, life is unfair. It is unfair that their financial predicament had nothing to do with their own actions, but more to do with the generations before them. It is unfair that much economic disparity splits along ethnic lines. It is unfair that social mobility is an exception not a rule. It is unfair that some of us live in a society that is already rigged against us. It is unfair, that my students do not have the resources to learn that every student should have. But, to expect less from them, to accept less from them, only discounts them more. I will not allow that. In order to ascend beyond the limitations of our society, they must be unfairly pushed to succeed. Not only must they be pushed to succeed, but they must want to succeed and they must feel that those around them will support them to their success. But, perhaps most of all, they must know that, in the end, it is they alone who have reached that success. And so, I will unfairly expect my students to work harder, to fight the injustice they are faced with, to rise up, up, up and over and out of inequity. I will push them higher and thrust them farther than they ever thought they could go. Because if I didn’t, I would be cheating them of their very potential.
Locus of Control
Locus of control is a concept of where we are motivated from. An internal locus of control indicates an inward motivation. You get your confidence, goals, strength comes from inside you. When you need to make a decision, you look inside of yourself or your group to find an answer. An external locus of control means you are motivated from sources outside of you. You look to others for answers, guidance, or motivation. As a teacher, it is my goal to cultivate within my students, a strong internal locus of control that responds appropriately to outside stimulus and data. In order to build strong learners, you need to build a strong internal locus of control. By being a strong external controlling force, you either take away the studentsʼ internal loci or you will find yourself clashing against their internal loci.
Learning through doing. The best way to learn about something is doing it. So, when doing a unit on science fiction, it makes sense to write a short story in science fiction. When doing a unit on satire and parody perform a satire or parody. When doing group work, do a group initiative to build group dynamics and teach students how to work as a group. In order to build a community, have the students be a part of the process. Let the students be a part of managing the class, collecting and handing back work, and helping their fellow students on assignments. The more you do for the students, the more learning you are stealing away from them. If you give the students a skill, make them use it. Donʼt do that particular skill for them anymore. It is theirs now, and they should be held accountable to do it.
Classroom Rules and Procedures
The “small stuff” policies take on two important roles in my own classroom. First, foremost, and perhaps the most obvious is that in order to enforce the “small stuff” as a school, I as a teacher have to not only enforce it, but be able to enforce it effectively. So, the small rules: 15/10, no electronics, and no hats, are rules that I enforce in my own classroom.
The “small stuff” is also important on a smaller scale in my own classroom management. A perfect example of this is greeting students as they come in. It had never occurred to me that greeting them at the door might be important, but showing them that this classroom is yours, and that they are entering your space can reinforce your own authority. Another example is insubordination. During my student teaching, I let small, insignificant insubordination go. The result was almost losing control of one of my classes. It is important to address issues of insubordination quickly and swiftly. As I discovered from my student teaching, being strict from the get go is important in setting up a healthy classroom environment.
But, the “small stuff” aside, big ideas are also important. Hence, my big four. When something is going wrong, itʼs here that I turn.
- Be Nice. Respect is an overused word in low-income schools. Respect this, respect that. Giving lectures on respect becomes ineffective is used too often. One of my colleagues introduced me to the rule, “be nice.” Being nice encompasses all the issues that lead to respect.
- Do everything with style. I think itʼs important to do things with style. Not just to get it done, but to get it done at your best. This doesnʼt mean perfect or to a certain standard, just that you put a piece of your heart into it. I put my heart into my teaching, my students should put their hearts into their education.
- Donʼt threaten the learning. This is a place of learning, and that is why we are in school. What we learn may be different for each of us, but I expect my students to come in to class ready to learn, wanting to learn, perhaps even excited to learn.
- Donʼt threaten the safety of my classroom. This is the rule that brings on the most immediate consequences from me. If I feel anyoneʼs safety is being threatened, everything stops until that problem is solved. Terrorizing and fighting are unacceptable in my classroom.
These four rules guide all misconduct and off-task behavior.
The big four are what I expect of the students. Classroom management, however, is also about what my students expect of me. Therefore, after explaining my big four, I would ask students to explain what they expect of me as a teacher, and what they expect of this class. I will record these things, and would do my best to respond to them by the next class session. In order to develop a strong teacher-student relationship, the bond needs to go both ways. That means buy in from the beginning.
Part of my method for developing a strong relationship with students is to be real. I try to be as honest about my decisions, my reasons, and my methods as I possibly can. If I am moving a single student, especially if I move them often, I will tell them honestly, “I know that when I move you, people around you will stop talk.” I also play on their own importance by explaining that “I am relying on you to be a role model for others.” Also, if a lesson goes poorly, or students donʼt get it, I am willing to admit that it didnʼt work out and try to move on from there. Often, I will ask students to help me make more sense of a situation, or I will use what a student said or asked to help reframe the activity. For instance, one persuasive paragraph I assigned was “what style of leadership should a certain character be using?” However, a studentʼs question turned out to be a better question. So, the next day, I used her question instead: “what leadership style does the character already use?” This not only sets up an atmosphere of honesty, but also establishes an environment where we are all partners in a learning process.
I have told my students, “it is our job to learn together, and I will teach you all I can, but you probably have more to teach than I do.” I actually do believe this is true. My students teach me, they teach each other, and they take part in self-teaching. That is where an internal locus of control returns. Ultimately, the locus of learning must come from within the student. If I teach them to read, write, and speak good English, that is a benefit, but if I teach them to learn, that is what they truly need.
Every time you do something that a student could have done, you steal the learning. Setting up an environment where you give back as much of the learning as you can is essential to teaching students. We are not in the business of teaching just our subject. We are in the business of teaching people how to exist in society. Therefore, every task I can give out is teaching one more thing to at least one more person.
So, when writing folders and graded work are passed out, students should be doing it. Each week a student can be assigned to one or both of these tasks. It is there job for the week to pass out those items. When you need to record a list on the board, students can be doing the writing. Giving responsibilities to students can improve not only the amount you have to manage, but also the student buy in to the classroom.
Planners are an amazingly useful tool that every student gets. they should have them for hall passes, so why not use them for what they were designed for: assignments? Task and time management is a skill you have to teach students. So, when itʼs time to write down the homework or an assignment or a presentation date, pull out the assignment notebook. As a class, write down the assignment on the date it is due.
Furthermore, I often rely on groups of students and student friendships to manage a classroom. Asking a student to help another student stay on task is not out of line for me. And often I will ask students to move themselves if they cannot stay on task. It is at the point that some students now move automatically, even if I just give them a look. By looking out for their own learning, I donʼt have to be the police and I donʼt even have to be present for them to continue to learn.