“A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed-without remedy.”
-Proverbs 29:1 NIV
During the course of this past school year 2012-2013, I had come to the conclusion/realization that I had not been consistent with following through with administering consequences for misconduct in response to the student misbehavior that occurred frequently in one of my eight classes. Despite the success and progress I was making with other classes, with this class I felt powerless and a strong sense of dread when it was time for them to arrive to my room. Any motivation I had, or positive feelings that came from what had occurred prior to this class waned as they arrived.
It was during a Cooperative Discipline classroom management workshop that I disclosed to my colleague who co-facilitates with me that I needed to ‘step up my game’ in administering consequences for misconduct for this class if I truly desired to see progress and change with the way in which they were behaving (8th grade class UUGGHH!). To me, 8th graders are high school’s 12th graders: 1) They’re ready to go (transition into 9th grade)), and 2) It’s difficult to get them motivated (big kids on campus mentality). I enjoy teaching middle school, but the reality of teaching 8th grade is a challenge (even in art):)
You have individual students who misbehave and I’ve learned you have a classroom of students that can be identified by the personality of misbehavior attention, power, revenge, or fear of failure. This particular group of 8th graders were exhibiting ‘power’ (slow to change behavior) as a group, but I was not consistent in following up misconduct with consequences to influence change in how they behaved.
As the school year progressed with this particular 8th grade class, I was pleasantly surprised at their response to my methods of engaging them to cooperate and participate in my class. My major challenge was keeping them engaged, without talking, as we transitioned from the warm-up to the lesson. You know, end of the day, they want to talk…I want them to be dismissed to go home so I can go home (lol). I overcame this by assigning various tasks of the procedures for entering the classroom and warm-up to students allowing them to lead instruction. It was the first time in my career I had attempted this and the results were positive. One student read the objective to the class. Another student reviewed the warm-up with the class, even calling on students to answer questions and I delegated another student to announce any concerns I had to the class from what was posted on the whiteboard.
The talking waned and they improved as the school year progressed. I also included incentives and progress reports, but I learned from them the necessity of correction in the 3-pronged approach of managing a classroom using corrective, supportive and preventive strategies. The dread I felt dissipated too and we learned how to work together and enjoy our time while learning something in the process.
I also learned that correction is not just about punishment of misbehavior, but re-teaching/reinforcing appropriate behavior/expectations. This is not just achieved with lecturing (soap box moments), but with patience, persistence, perseverance and practical strategies that lead the child and class towards self-efficacy. Corrective strategies also apply to me too as the educator. Embracing the reality that some students/classes are a challenge to me to ensure I am maximizing the full potential of who I am as an educator and not just coasting from one year through another as a professional helps me remain engaged in the face of the challenges within the classroom. Innovation is my new operating principle to employ in my desire to continue to become effective, positive and productive as a classroom teacher. Learning to adjust my way of teaching to maximize the full potential of my students from one class to another is part of effective classroom management.
May God bless you and help you to employ corrective strategies to inspire and increase student self-efficacy within your classroom.