By Evangelidou Foteini, September 2014
Consistency in teaching means that the students of a classroom know exactly what to expect from their teacher day-to-day. Every teacher has to find his own special ways in order to be consistent and make his directions and expectations clear to his students. This assignment refers to the teacher consistency and it is based on my personal experience with my students. It is organized in four steps and each step is going to be described as good and clear as possible. I write each of my experience and opinions separately from the others, so that they are totally understandable by my readers.
Identify and describe a classroom routine that you want to improve.
I am a young teacher (23 years old) in primary education in Greece. I teach in 5th Grade and I am responsible for the most of the lessons and subjects (Greek language, mathematics, history, environmental studies, geography and physics). Every day, I face many routines which take place in classroom, such as working in groups, independent work, asking questions, entering and exiting the classroom, late arrival, collection and distribution of papers and homework etc. All of these classroom routines are very important both for the students and teachers and they play a meaningful role in learning and teaching processes. However, besides these routines, I believe the classroom routine, which I want to improve with my students, is the whole classroom discussion.
As far as this classroom routine is concerned, I have noticed that my students often behave in an inappropriate way. They speak too loud, they do not let their classmates express their ideas, they laugh at other students’ opinions, they find time to talk about irrelevant to the lesson themes and they are not concentrated to my questions. So, it is obvious that there is the need for improvement and changes. Furthermore, I strongly believe that the whole classroom discussion is a classroom routine which can lead to significant learning results when it takes place in healthy conditions. The dialogue among the students, the free expression of students’ ideas and the correct or false answers to teacher’s and classmates’ questions are helpful tools for kids’ mental growth and learning development. Moreover, whole classroom discussion allow students to understand and apply what they learned from the lesson provide to or accept feedback from their peers. The teacher also, makes a better view of his classroom and understands better the difficulties of his students, in order to decide how to face and extinguish them. All of them are the reasons that I want to improve this routine in my classroom.
Describe your vision for what you want that routine to look like.
My personal vision for the whole classroom discussion routine refers to specific students’ behavior in classroom during this routine. I would like my students to talk and discuss in calm tone, without screams and yells. If they are silent, they could speak and understand each other without troubles. Moreover, I would like my kids to allow their peers to express their ideas and opinions without the fear of teasing and ridicule. This means that students have to respect their classmates and not to make fun of them, if their answers are false.
Furthermore, it would be the ideal, if there would be an active participation of all students without exception. Even the shiest students have to engage in classroom discussion and express their ideas. Whole classroom discussion can make a classroom a big team, in which members have equivalent participation. This means that I would like my students to corporate and share their feelings during the discussions. I would also like them to recognize their difficulties and their problems, to discuss them with their peers and provide feedback in order to help them. Finally, I would like all of my students to be concentrated on the theme of the classroom discussion and listen to the questions carefully.
Explain how you will communicate this vision to your students through setting explicit expectations.
If I want to improve the Whole classroom discussion routine, it is important to communicate my vision to my students. The first thing I would do is to set clear expectations. This means that I have to find ways for convincing my students to follow my vision and succeed a perfect classroom discussion. There are several components and steps of my expectations that I would use to manage them. Firstly, I would use a magic phrase in order to attract the 100% of their attention. For example, every time that I would like to begin a classroom discussion, I would clap my hands and say the magic phrase “TIME FOR OUR CLASSROOM DIALOGUE”. At this point, I have to say that I would have explained to students before, that “Every time I clap my hands and say time for our classroom dialogue, we are going to have a whole classroom discussion”. Moreover, I would narrate the positive. By this, I mean that I would publicly describe students who follow my directions with the appropriate behavior, putting the focus on their actions and not on me. For example, I would say: “Mary talks about her experience during the activity”, “John is ready to talk about his homework” etc. Using, also, the positive language would probably make my expectations clearer to my students. The positive language helps students to understand what they have to do, by underlying their appropriate behavior and not by saying to them what they have not to do. For example, I would say “Remember to listen carefully to and respect your peers” and NOT “Don’t laugh at your peers”. Furthermore, I would surely break complicated directions into steps. During the classroom discussion, I would ask some questions to lead the discussion or to avoid misunderstanding.
However, besides my steps of expectations, it is very important to make my students understand the significance of Whole classroom discussion. I would like to convince them that they would be benefited a lot by discussions with their students. This is the reason that I would devote time to talk to them about this. For example, I would ask them to choose an interesting to them theme. We would discuss about this theme all together and after that discussion I would ask them about their discussion experience. After that, I would say to them that “the Whole classroom discussion is a routine which can definitely help you with your learning processes. You can become better and understand your mistakes when you talk with the whole classroom. Moreover, you have the chance to learn each other better, to exchange your ideas and find out your peers interests, which were unknown to you. You will be able to communicate and to learn how a beautiful dialogue can lead you to the next mental level. Do not forget that you are going to discuss with other people in your whole life and it would be helpful to you to have the appropriate behavior. If you want to be listened to, you have to listen to your peers. If you want to be respected, you have to respect different opinions. If you want to solve your problems, you have to discuss them with other people who could help you. We are a community, and if we want to make this community strong and friendly, we have to discuss all together”.
Plan and practice delivering proactive reminders and consequences to reinforce your expectations.
It is common to meet misbehaviors in a classroom but I strongly believe that many behavioral problems can be avoided when there is proactive classroom management and focus on prevention from bad conditions. As far as I am concerned, I would try to settle an environment in my classroom, is order to reinforce my expectations trough proactive reminders. First of all, I with my students would create the classroom rules. This means that students with my advice would decide about their freedoms and their duties. So, they would be responsible for their behavior and they would understand better when they behave in an inappropriate way. Moreover, I would create a daily report system. By this, I mean that each of the students would have a personal portfolio in which his daily effort and behavior would be written. So, the students would always know that their attitude would be written and be delivered to anyone who would want to know. Furthermore, I find environmental structuring, such as visual prompts and cues very helpful proactive tool. Finally, I strongly believe that the teacher’s behavior affect kids’ behavior. So, I think that a teacher should build positive relationship with their students, should teach them how to disagree respectfully should be critical and should definitely be consistent and avoid negotiating.
But, there are many times that misbehavior is inevitable and consequences have to take place in order to reinforce the expectations. But what kind of consequences are appropriate and can lead to good results? This question can meet a variety of answers. In my opinion, the first consequence for misbehavior is a personal discussion with the student who misbehave and a warning to him. If these consequences do not have results, it is necessary to search for another and sometimes strict. For example, I have used the CARDS or POINTS consequence. According to them, every day, students who misbehave collect cards or points. If they reach at a specific number of cards (3 for example) or points they have to follow another stricter consequence, such as loosing some privileges (computer time etc). Fortunately, most of the times, students try not to reach at the specific amount of cards or points.
This assignment describes my personal opinions and vision for teachers’ consistency. In my opinion, it is very important to make your expectation clear to your students in order to succeed your goals and improve whatever you think needs improvement and development. The classroom routine which needs improvement in my classroom is the Whole classroom discussion routine. I hope that I can manage to improve it and I will try really hard to succeed it.