SNOW DAY!! perfect time for blogging as I am wearing my fuzzy slippers...
A little backstory to my current experiementation in classroom management: Last year (my first) felt like an incredible disaster. I know you are saying "duh, EVERYONE'S first year is a train wreck." (And WHY that is, is a topic for another day!) However I can honestly say that I was challenged each day morally, emotionally, mentally and on occasion physically. But I also felt like I continued to grow, lurchingly, and learned about my environment and my students. Each new semester, I try new organizational methods, let go of old ones, try new management techniques, talk to older teachers and take it all in. Assimilating this information led me to last semester, adopting some methods that seemed, at first appearances, to work. Other teachers told me things like..."YOU are the adult. It is YOUR classroom. Students need to know that they are NOT adults. They don't run this. They need to know that you can go THERE." At the end of last semester, I determined that that is not me as a person or an educator. I do not have the energy to put students in their place over and over again. I believe the above sentiments were borne from a perceived understanding of the lives many students lead... So many middle school aged students are living the lives of adults at home-raising siblings, cousins, making dinner, doing laundry, etc. At school it becomes difficult to act like children. ("What do you mean I can't go to the bathroom now?")
My feeling has become that trying to force child-like roles and interactions upon such students is like trying to beat my head up against a wall or bury my head in the sand. Many students DO react positively to strong authority figures but at what cost? I don't want students that simply obey me...I want to assist students to become free thinking analytical responsive adults. SOOO...that leads to this semester. I am taking steps to listen to my instincts as to how I would want to be treated at that age AND to current classroom management methodology beyond anecdote.
This means balancing consistent reasonable discipline with openly caring for students. This led me to apologize to a class for losing my temper with a student the day before who refused to follow dress code. I felt a little embarrassed but asked for suggestions for ways I could have handled the situation differently. I felt rewarded as students left and kindly offered ideas. It IS my job to run my classroom, but I can do it with love and dignity.
Classroom Rules (summarized from suggestions made by students on post-it notes)
1. Speak Kindly- no matter who says what first
2. Handle with Care- yourself, artwork, others' feelings
3. Take care of You- don't boss others, do your own work, clean up after yourself
4. Listen to others- when teacher/classmates are speaking and when they ask you to stop a negative behavior