Fear or Love?

According to my meager experience in teaching, I have observed that most of the teachers prefer exercising fear in their classroom management. I can’t say that they are not promoting love, perhaps their very basis of applying ‘fear’ theory is love per se.

download

Teachers can’t be perfectionists. They just can’t. ‘Coz if they are, either they are fooling themselves or they are not doing their job right. Teachers prepare their lesson plans and contingency plans and prepare themselves for failures at times. Perfectionists prepare their lesson plans and expect everything goes their ways. The latter needs full cooperation from the kids and the easiest way to making the kids obedient is through punishment which spells F-E-A-R.

18417327-primary-schoolgirl-and-teacher-communicating-during-a-lesson

Love can be found in the classroom in different modes. One of them is listening to the child, but that’s almost impossible if there are 30 kids in the classroom. You’d listen to one, the others strive for attention as well, and then before you know it, the bell rings and everybody goes home without learning much academically. Ironically, the teacher who listens to every child just to show that she cares will be too busy to teach or conduct the lesson which is sort of the core of her job and that can’t be love anymore.

Advertisements

Group Work

Today, 21st-Century Classroom emphasizes highly upon pair work or group work. You can see it from the ways they suggest teachers arrange the structures of the seating arrangement in the classrooms. It is obvious that they encourage the use of peer-based learning model. Some even suggested that peer-teaching has lots of benefits including conflict management. The irony is that sometimes it will cause conflicts, at least initially.

Facing a class of 9-year-olds in the middle of the year where friendships and cliques have already formed. Inclusiveness is apparently too new for my students. They told me, “we can’t work together, we’re from different channels,” or “I can’t sit with him, he’s too messy.” “She’s too stupid, I taught her many times, she’s still making mistakes. Teacher, I can’t teach her, the fastest way for us to be the first group who’s done with the work is to give her the answers to copy.”

Since the concept, one size fits all, doesn’t work all the time anymore, teachers are adjusting and adapting the materials or tasks for students with different abilities. However, streaming the kids into different groups according to their different levels so that differentiation instructions can be carried out smoothly will somehow cause a sense of pride in the advanced kids and shame in the slower and weaker kids. Should we educate our kids about the true purpose behind such streaming, will they be too young to understand? How to tell the proud kids that there’s nothing to boast about when in fact, we are showering them with praises and awards because of their diligence and especially intelligence? How to tell the weaker kids that it’s okay when in fact it’s not okay to be slow when we want to prepare them for such a rapid-changing world with high-edge competitiveness? These are the questions I need to continue to explore in my journey as a teacher.

IMG_4794

Feedback

Feedback is one of the key items in our learning kit. Great teachers exploit feedback to educate. Feedback can be in many forms including written, spoken, or body language.

Marking the students’ work is the best chance to give students written feedback which communicates the academic problems students need to pay attention to. Different teachers may have different styles of marking, it’s important to enable the students to first understand what each symbol stands for and what action is required of the students. Students can, therefore, learn better and witness their own progress.

When a student makes a mistake, teachers need to be wise when trying to correct the student so that the ultimate goal (which is for the student to learn from his or her mistake) can be achieved. Instead of making the student feels ashamed of his or her mistake and encouraging others to laugh at such mistake, a teacher needs to come up with different strategies that can help this student to learn the concept and thus ideally not repeat the mistake again. As the saying goes, don’t waste a good mistake, learn from it.

Sometimes, in the classroom, in order not to disturb the flow of the lesson, teachers adopt body language to give feedback to a particular student who got sidetracked or did something inappropriate, such as a wink, a glare, or a frown, which carries different meanings and again, it’s important that the student understands what that gesture or facial expression means and what’s the right thing to do instead.

All in all, feedback is a great learning tool and should be used judiciously and constructively. Positive feedback is motivation, negative feedback is a growth opportunity. Both giver and taker should have a mutual understanding in order for its objective to be achieved.

main-qimg-a399d68fcdbb42d262000115fe5caecd

Self-care is not selfish

It’s been a month now that I started working as a teacher in a real school. Challenges and demands are everywhere. It’s really exciting, but at the same time, exhausting. I constantly feel like I can’t catch a break or hold my horses because everything needs to be moving forward. Yesterday, I attended a one-day trip with my fellow colleagues and on the journey, many of them shared with me about the stress of working and some very beneficial coping strategies. I realized that many of them are trying their level best to keep themselves happy so that they are more productive at work. One of the common tips they shared with me was that taking care of oneself is definitely not something to be neglected. If you’re not in your best shape, you can’t inspire your kids. Your well-being, your physical and mental conditions influence very much your productivity and efficiency at work. Therefore, it should be one of your priorities.

FOCUS

              Planning a lesson plan is my biggest struggle these days. In my school, one period is 30-minute long. According to the lesson plan format I’ve learned in university, we have five stages to cover: Set Induction/Review, Presentation, Practice, Production, and Closure. I always believe that a well-planned lesson can make classroom management problems disappear magically. So every time I face classroom management problems, I reflect on my lesson plan and almost always come to the conclusion that I was the problem, that it was my fault for not structuring my plan well enough, and that has been almost always true. However, kids are unpredictable. Things happen simultaneously in the classroom, there are just too much going on and only this much a teacher can do.  But instead of finding excuses, I feel like I should find ways. This week was like a teaching break for me, I didn’t have to do much teaching, at least not covering new units, so I had some time to re-evaluate my perspectives and the whole experience of teaching and managing my classroom.

              First of all, classroom rules are crucial but most kids are like Dory, they forget oh so easily. Building the habit of following classroom rules takes time. Letting kids know that they are free of making choices of whether to follow the rules but they are not free from running away from the consequences. I think the number one cause of my failure in classroom management is that I don’t give specific instructions regarding the consequences of not abiding by the rules. Repetition is key to success. I agree with this a hundred percent. Consistency is also very important. Allowing the kids to face the consequence each time they break the rule enforces the rules. Another great way is to observe and praise those who are improving or are better than yesterday.

              It dawned on me that I was right about the association between lesson planning and classroom management problems. I realized that my lesson plan with five stages of activities listed out is simply not enough. I need to also plan ahead and write down exactly what kinds of scenarios I have come across or might come across, and what solutions slash options I can take to overcome those situations during the instruction or activity.  When I say that lesson planning is linked with classroom management problems, I don’t mean that as long as I have prepared tasks structured out for my kids, that they are occupied with the tasks, then disruptions will not occur. I cannot pretend that they will absolutely be cooperative all the time. Sometimes they will get distracted by what happened back at home or what happened during recess. A structured lesson plan with beautiful learning objectives outlined will not make my kids become robotic and without emotions.  Therefore, a well-structured plan should also involve taking care of their emotional management and help them to put their focus back, to choose the right thing to do at the right time.

 

IMG_4430
An idea I stole from Pinterest. The reason I put this up in my classroom is pretty darn obvious, as a constant reminder to my kids and myself, that the time is ticking and we should all be focusing on what’s important – learning. 

 

 

Tidied

It’s the end of my third week of working as a teacher in Kl. I have so much to update here, I don’t know where to start. But first of all, the tracking system I mentioned by the first week about homework submission was converted to something more practical for my kids. I have students sitting in 5 groups in my classroom. So, I have appointed 5 group leaders. I gave each of them a notebook to report any missing homework and misbehaving during the instruction time. That way, I can hold the kids accountable.

IMG_4449

The next thing I wanna share is my work desk. I have cleared the mess as I found an empty box which I can use to store the books I need to mark. Besides, I have probably mentioned this, I’ve brought a three tier paper tray to the school, and it works wonderfully. I put three labels on each of the tiers: now, maybe, and later.

IMG_4435

IMG_4441

 Apart from fulfilling my obligations, I took some time out this week to prepare some materials I can paste in the classroom. I love the fact that I’m entering this school in the middle of the year so I don’t have to do everything from scratch as the former teacher has pretty much done most of the hard work. Whatever extra work I’m doing now can serve the purpose of practice and preparation for the next year. One of the things I’m doing is redecorating the notice board as the kids were complaining that they are bored with the current outlook. So here are the labels I’ve made for the classroom board.

The difference between an internBy the end of the second week, I was still struggling with how to organize my desk neatly. As you can see, I’ve brought in a three tier paper tray and two bookends, but my students’ books are coming in almost every day. I need to either mark and return faster or get a bookshelf.  Anyhow, I can’t possibly work at such a cluttered space. So, that’s my 3rd-week goal – unclutter my work desk (for good).