In the beginning of February, I presented a webinar which focused on the what and why of classroom management. You can view the recording here.
The webinar served to debunk the top myths of classroom management with emerging evidence and research and present alternative effective approaches, which reflect the ultimate aim to nurture students who are confident, contributing, and Rabbani (God-centered).
We are not responsible for our students’ behavior; we are responsible to our students to ensure that they are compassionate, contributing, and rabbani (God-centered) individuals.
Here are the 10 classroom management myths and their revised practice tips:
Day 1: Don’t smile until Eid/Christmas This is a classic one. In the hopes of having “control” of one’s classroom, educators are advised by teacher colleges to maintain an authoritarian presence. However, this has become an outdated practice, although I am not sure if it was ever an effective practice.
We, as educators, are in the business of relationships. And in order to construct those meaningful relationships, it is crucial to smile and connect. Stand at the door of your classroom every time your students walk in and greet them by their first name. Ask about them, connect with them, and perhaps connect with them some more. Students tend to learn from teachers they like.
Revised: Keep smiling until Eid/Christmas!
Day 2: Your classroom is quiet Now this is a common misconception. Managing one’s classroom does not mean that your classroom is quiet. An effective educator is one whereby all his/her students are engaged in their work. There is a flow in one’s classroom; students know the procedures for washroom, handing work in, knowing what to do when they complete their task, and so on. The classroom is not quiet; one may have students moving around having meaningful conversations, dialoguing, inquiring and thinking-out-loud. It looks like organized chaos, sounds like the buzzing of the bees, feels like learning is inevitable.
Revised: Your Classroom is alive
Day 3: Teacher knows best We do not know best. We cannot presume we know best. We cannot portray to the students that we know best. We are fallible beings. However, we are committed to preparation and more preparation so that we know as much as we can about the topic at hand. And when we don’t know we tell our students that we don’t know. And when we make mistakes we apologize to our students.
Revised: Teacher is prepared the best
Day 4: Believing that students just want to have fun As educators, sometimes we are led to believe that students just want to be entertained. Granted, students like to have fun, but even more, they love to be challenged. Providing adequate challenge and stimulation is when learning actually takes place. Learning is defined by Woolfolk, and used by the educational giant, Steven Katz, as the process through which experience causes permanent change in knowledge or behavior.
Revised: Believing that students need adequate challenge
Day 5: The students behave for you only Effective educators expect that their homeroom students behave for all the staff including substitute staff. Student misbehavior is not attributed to the homeroom teacher; students are responsible for their own behavior. However, as effective teachers we are responsible to redirect student behavior so that they are meeting the expectations. We are not responsible for our students’ behavior; we are responsible to our students to ensure that they are compassionate, contributing, and rabbani (God-centered) individuals.
Revised: The students behave for all staff similarly
Day 6: You give tougher consequences Tougher consequences are not the tool for an effective teacher. We would like to inculcate a sense of accountability in our students. Accountability is defined by Dr. Markham as the assumption of responsibility assumes responsibility for actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or not. In order to become rabbani (God-centered) individuals, students ought to hold themselves accountable for their behavior. Emerging research shows that tougher consequences are less likely to be the impetus for students to make positive choices.
Revised: Give students opportunities to rectify and redirect their behavior
Day 7: You catch students doing something good and then praise them for it Praise has become a hindrance in the self-efficacy of students. Self-efficacy is the belief that one can succeed in a specific situation. Disingenuous praise debilitates students. Words like “well done, you are amazing, this is the best I have seen, wow, you are so smart” are all consistently used by educators and parents. However, best practices beg that we shift our paradigm to be more present-at-the moment and describe the effort, rather than “judge” the results. Teacher Tom provides genuine, in-the-moment alternatives here. He calls it sportscasting.
Revised: You catch students doing something good and you sportscast it
Day 8: Staff take care of their own classroom/students only The staff in a school are a team, and by virtue of being part of a team, each class is connected to the other, and each student’s behavior has an impact on another. Working in a team means you are a steward on a ship, and one’s action can derail a ship, or, worse, it can sink the ship. Educators in a school believe that the team is as strong as its weakest member. Educators also believe that they are agents of change in all corners of the school. Ensuring that students walk down the hallway and that students are demonstrating mutual respect are two of many expectations that an educator holds themselves accountable to.
Revised: Staff are stewards on a ship; they are upholders of school expectations
Day 9: Educators equate professional learning to professional development Professional development does not always translate to professional learning. Earlier, I quoted Woolfolk’s definition of learning as the process through which experience causes permanent change in knowledge or behavior. Listening to someone give a talk on classroom management may shift one’s perspective on what is classroom management, but unless one is changing his or her classroom to match best practices one is not undergoing professional “learning”. Steven Katz describes professional learning in this video. Benjamin Franklin has made an observation about his learning that is true for both adults and kids:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Revised: Educators apply their professional development in their classroom to bring about professional learning
Day 10: Educators believe each student can learn This is a not a myth that needs to be revised. Each student, with the right differentiation, can learn. However, to leave learning to possibility is not the approach and mindset that an effective teacher chooses. Educators ensure that each student is learning in their classroom. This is not an easy task; with differentiation and planning an effective teacher ensures that each student is getting the support they need.
Revised: Educators believe each student will learn
These are the top 10 misconceptions regarding classroom management and student engagement.
Can you think of any other misconceptions that I missed?
What are your thoughts on these misconceptions?