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Professional Milestones - Element 5

Element 5 - Teachers create and maintain safe and challenging learning environments through the use of classroom management skills.

Create an environment of respect and rapport

5.1.1 - Demonstrate a variety of strategies to develop rapport with the students.

5.1.2 - Establish supportive learning environments where students feel safe to risk full participation.

Establish a climate where learning is valued and students' ideas are respected

5.1.3 - Demonstrate strategies to create a positive environment supporting student effort and learning.

Manage classroom activities smoothly and efficiently

5.1.4 - Provide clear direction for classroom activities and engage students in purposeful learning activities.

Manage student behaviour and promote student responsibility for learning

5.1.5 - Demonstrate knowledge of practical approaches to managing student behaviour and their applications in the classroom.

5.1.6 - Demonstrate knowledge of principles and practices for managing classroom discipline.

Assure the safety of students

5.1.7 - Understand specific requirements for ensuring student safety in schools.

I have developed a rapport with all of my practicum classes quite quickly and I hope this is a gift I never lose! This is not however acquired through osmosis. It requires dedication and a range of strategies in order to conquer this... especially in those initial weeks of meeting your class. Strategies may include news, star of the week, creating a birthday board, creating a window into your life, displaying a class photo and of course playing name games. I have realised that questions about behaviour management have no answer until you launch yourself into the situation and determine the best course of action. This requires a large streak of common sense and a thorough knowledge of the students in your class. I have provided open-ended tasks to challenge the thinking of each student, while allowing them to work at their ability level. This removes labeling and discrimination of 'smart' and 'dumb' lesson variations and embodies a more inclusive teaching pedagogy.

I need to develop more efficient ways of transitioning between lessons. On my last practicum, I would need to allow 15 minutes in between each lesson to allow the 64 students to pack up and move to where they needed to be.

I will observe how my practicum teacher transitions between lessons and learn a few strategies to have up my sleeve. I will try at least three of these strategies and see if they are indeed universal, or if their success depends on the individual execution. I will NOT use 'put downs' in my classroom. The students that often attract negative attention are those who require positive reinforcement the most, usually because it is not something they experience at home.

I believe that students need to know that their opinions are valued, and that contributing to discussions during class will be received in good grace and not returned with ridicule. It is important for the whole class to establish class expectations from the beginning and to enforce this. I believe that common sense is invaluable in the classroom and that if students can see that you are fair and honest that you will slowly gain their respect. Many students experience negative things at home which can often manifest themselves in the classroom as difficult behaviour. I believe that as the clasroom teacher, your role is to acknowledge the cause of the problem but offer a range of more suitable responses that the students can implement as alternatives to extreme behaviour (Foreman, 2008, pp.203-204).

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