Classroom management is an important aspect of teaching, especially in the elementary grades. Students rely on adults to give them a sense of routine and safety which are essential for learning to occur. When a classroom is out of control or extremely disorganized, student learning suffers dramatically.

One important aspect of classroom management are routines that students can count on. As a student teacher, it was my responsibility to continue and reinforce routines students were accustomed to in their classroom. One of my early lessons was a refresher on the procedure for "Read to Someone" in our classroom. My cooperating teacher and I had noticed that this routine, introduced in the fall, was not operating smoothly and quietly by February. Students were arguing over what books to read, not reading their books and just talking instead, or reading so loudly that they could be heard clearly from across the classroom. After my refresher lesson, students resumed following the rules: reading quietly, helping their partner gently when needed, and sharing their books.


CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE
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The "Clip Chart"

Throughout my student teaching experience, I used the discipline system already in place in my classroom. Students would begin each day at "Ready to Learn." Throughout the day, students would "clip up" for good behavior and "clip down" for breaking rules. Students were rewarded with a prize if they clipped up to "Outstanding" 3 days in one week and received "bling" on their clips if they clipped past Outstanding at all. When students "clipped down," they would record their action in a logbook at the front of the classroom and indicate which rule they had broken. Each day at recess, students missed 5 minutes for each time they had clipped down since recess the previous day. While I might not use the same reward/penalty structure in my own classroom, it was important for the students to have consistency of rewards and consequences throughout the year. For more information, feel free to read the Personal Discipline Model I developed for my Classroom Management course.

Several students in my class also used behavior charts to track their attention, behavior, and effort. As their teacher I filled in each box according to how the designated period went. I found that this system worked better for some students than for others. For example, one student used the chart to self-monitor and strive for a full day or even week of smiley faces.
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Behavior Chart


Another student was initially motivated to improve her behavior but after several months stopped trying. She began to get upset when she did not receive a smiley face, but did not make any attempt to earn one. I learned by talking to the student that she received a "surprise" at home at the end of the week if she got all smiley faces, but only negative consequences if she got anything else. The result of this was that if she got less than a smiley at any point in the week, her incentive to behave disappeared. Her chart is shown above. I added the first column after several weeks where she was missing several items or assignments nearly every day. After the first few days, she resumed bringing all items to school but was still not consistently completing homework.

A third student, whom I introduced to the behavior chart, seemed indifferent to the feedback about his behavior. In his case, the chart was not being reviewed or reinforced at home and the student did not feel responsible for it. In general, I found use of a behavior chart to be useful both as a tracking mechanism for me and as a way of helping students and their parents to monitor behavior. I can foresee using the chart with my own future students, but I would add a small reward (such as a sticker) at the end of each day for students who maintained smiley faces. I believe this would increase motivation and make the chart even more effective.


CLASSROOM LAYOUT
Classroom layout is also important to creating and maintaining an orderly classroom atmosphere. Below are sketches I made for my course in Classroom Management. The first is the setup of the classroom where I did my student teaching, and the second is how I would arrange the same space if it were my classroom. Please excuse my sketching skills!

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Current Classroom Layout

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Classroom As I Would Arrange It

For more information on the changes I would make to the classroom layout and my reasoning, please read the reflection section of this assignment.