PPLE Module B reflections

For this module I chose to read section B of the Krause article, Models of effective classroom management. At the time I jotted down a series of points I found interesting as well as some questions that came into my head as I was reading. I’m going to try and flesh these out a little here and see if I can make some sense of where my thoughts are going (seems like everywhere sometimes!).This isn’t an attempt to summarise the article.

Interesting point: Classroom management is a balancing act of teacher and student power. Who has the power? What form does the power take/how is power expressed?

Interventionist theory

Interesting point: The importance of body language and non-verbal cues. I think this is true of any classroom (or any life situation), no matter what behaviour management theory you are drawing ‘inspiration’ from. We give out so much information about our emotions and attitudes without having to say a word. I think an efficient teacher should have control over her/his body language. It can be a very powerful tool for getting a lot said in a short space of time. I remembered an incident from only a few days ago, when one of my students was stalling at the start of a lesson. All I did was not comment on the story she was telling, look at the piece she was meant to be playing, and raise an eyebrow. All talking stopped immediately and she played her song. It didn’t take a whole lecture about time wasting. It worked in this situation because we had already established when it’s ok to talk about the weekend in lessons (during unpacking and unpacking time), and an unspoken acknowledgement that I knew what she was trying to do (and wasn’t buying it) was all it took to get on with the lesson. I also think it’s important to be aware of our body language and not give off any signals to students such as favouritism, or, it’s Friday and I really want to go home now signals.

Questions: My main question with the interventionist approach is “Is this an appropriate or ethical approach to use with post-compulsory age students?”. By this I mean Yr 11 and 12 students. And if not ethical, is it possible? Suggestions such as leaning over a students work and placing your elbows on the desk seem to me to be a step towards physical intimidation and would have to be handled very carefully. I’m also not sure I could manage to psych out a Yr 12 boy. Is this just setting up a battle of wills between students and teachers?

Interactive theory

Interesting point: What caught my eye was the suggestion to include a lot of I-statement when talking to the students, to emphasise the consequences of their behaviour on others. This could of course be used for reinforcing desirable behaviour as well as dealing with negative behaviours. I also liked the value placed on process over results. Of course that isn’t to say that results aren’t important, because all through our lives we are judged on what we make and do. However, surely if the processes we use are more efficient, more thoughtful, more critical, we will produce better outcomes, learn more deeply and thoroughly. I see all the time music students who are encouraged to practice for a certain number of minutes per day, but are never taught how to critically reflect on their playing, and to give themselves positive feedback and the tools to improve their playing. I always encourage 15 minutes of thoughtful, considered practice over 30 minutes of mindless play-throughs.

Questions: The interactive approach relies heavily on the teacher observing students and attributing motives to their actions. I have no psychological training. Can I do this objectively? Successfully? Correctly?

Non-interventionist

I consider this theory most appropriate to the upper school environment, allowing for a student centred classroom facilitated by a teacher, a sort of bridge towards adult environments at work and further study. It could be said that a lot of resources are needed to create a stimulating classroom environment, but my STS1 teacher has been talking to us about how she built up a vibrant music program in a country school with a cd player, a broken piano and a class set of drumsticks. I think especially in music there is scope for creativity and interest using minimal resources, but it takes a lot of hard work and imagination.

Generally my emerging philosophy of secondary classroom management is that it is a journey, taking students from a teacher-centred to a student-centred style of behaviour management. Many factors are part of this journey: body language, expressions of power, balance of power, emotional maturity of students, ethics, learning processes, and creating a stimulating learning environment.

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