Is Classroom Management Real or A Myth?
The idea of classroom management can be considered this elusive, every moving target that changes from year to year or from class to class. Classroom management is often considered a series of strategies that vary from teacher to teacher. It is also often stated that some teachers are better with classroom management than others. But I believe, as educators, we all would agree that strong classroom management is needed if learning is going to take place.
So is there a recipe book for teachers to follow so they can have solid classroom management? Are there specific strategies they need to have so that this management will create that environment where all students can learn? Let's face it, there are several hundred texts, programs, scripts and even trainings that specifically focus on helping teachers have strong classroom management. With so many options to use, there should not be any classroom in America where classroom management is not an issue, right?
I don't think so.
Personally, I think we are approaching this topic all wrong. I think it is time to redefine what kind of learning environment we want to create for our students. When the word management is used, it denotes "controlling or directing exclusively from a given source". The source, in the classroom, is the teacher and the rules. Instantly, the students are expected to fall in line with what has been provided, eliminating any possibility of contributing to their OWN learning environment. I believe teachers should collectively with their students create "classroom communities". This changes the perceived dynamics of the relationship between teacher and student from one of authoritarian and subordinate to a collective movement.
This shift to a classroom community isn't grounded in specific strategies or rules but an innate desire from the teacher to facilitate student learners and from the student to seek support with their learning from the teacher. This shift is not an overnight accomplishment but requires some mindset changing of teachers and how they view their roles in the classroom. Moreover, it requires the leaders of the schools to create learning opportunities for teachers to learn how to become facilitators of learning - understanding, appreciating and building relationships with diverse learners and their families. This is not to say that there will not be challenges in classrooms. Whenever there is human interaction, there will be conflicts. Yet the response to the conflicts will be addressed differently and the number of actual conflicts will be minimal because of the "community" created.
These communities of learning vary from place to place but will resemble each other in three ways; the consistency of practices used in the community; self reflective practices of teachers and students and ongoing communication (defining goals, creating solutions for challenges and celebrating successes). Teachers and students involved in these communities of learning grow professionally, academically and personally. The classroom should no longer be viewed as a place to conform into specific mold (way of thinking and behaving) but a place where learning becomes personal and all parties are truly invested.
And if it means something, it sticks with you. It becomes real. It becomes a part of who you.
Now that's learning!!