Last night I noticed this tweet by David Fife and it really got me thinking.
When you are more concerned with losing "control" of your classroom program you're in the way of innovation and learning
— David Fife (@DavidFifeVP) December 12, 2013
For so many years classroom management was leveled by the noise (or lack thereof) in a classroom. As if there was this scale from quiet to loud and teachers were always placed in some numeric value. I would hear “So and So runs a tight ship!” as if that meant they were in control of students. And there’s that word – control. What are we controlling? Is a controlled classroom one that is always learning?
If we still judge teachers by the volume in their classrooms, I have no “control”. I use the quotes here because I think this control has different definitions. I think there is control where classrooms are quiet and students are afraid to make eye contact. Then I think control to mean that students are always on task, sharing, debating and collaborating. These students always achieve my expectations. We have a classroom community where new ideas are developed and creativity is the driving force. I want my students to be innovative – and this requires noise.
It’s Management 101. Engaged students do not want to let you down and will produce to the best of their ability. To me, this is classroom management. Getting the most reluctant writer to write because you believe in him or her is “control”.
So Mr. Fife. Thank you for tweeting. It has made me think and reflect about my own practices.
5 Responses for this post
Your post sums up a lot of what I was thinking when I sent that tweet out. I have been a firm believer in the idea that students need to have opportunities where they are engaged in learning that requires them to collaborate, challenge and discuss ideas with their peers and teachers. I remember doing a district review at a school a couple of years ago and you could clearly determine the rooms where students were engaged in learning just by the amount of student-to-student interaction that was happening. I love your comment that “engaged students do not want to let you down and will produce to the best of their ability.” Nail. Head.
Do you have ‘learning spaces’ at your school? Nontraditional settings – bean bag chairs – that sort of thing? Spoke to a gentlemen from Apple. They have rooms that are all white. They place a thin transparent film over the walls which allows people to use dry-erase. At any given time people write their thoughts on any available space on the walls. Like a graffiti wall. I think that is what my blackboards will become.
Unfortunately we don’t have a nontraditional learning space, but I wish we did. We are working toward a natural playground for our FDK students but that is a work in progress. This video is a great example of something I would love to see in schools
I wanted to paint a wall in my new office with idea paint, but unfortunately they are all brick so it won’t work 🙁
Classroom tables with idea paint is a great idea that I have seen before and looks engaging for the kids!
Thanks for the post, Brian. I have a big problem with “control” as it relates to classroom management as well. Early in my career I would revert back to the traditional definitions of classroom management but it always felt like a shallow victory. With every passing year I would I would try new (in my mind “innovative”) ways to engage my 4th graders rather than control them. I’ve got a blog post stirring in my head called “Embrace the Huddle” and I thank you for taking me 1 step closer to actually writing it!