“Establishing rules and procedures at the beginning of the year is important.” (Marzano 2007)
At the beginning of the term, I like to spend some time making sure students understand, accept and practice the rules and procedures in the classroom. In doing this, I find this also aids to their involvement in the process of developing them. I firmly believe if students are involved in the input and design of classroom rules and procedures, then they can take real ownership and responsibility with what expectations are being set and recognise how their behaviours should be in and or out of the classroom environment.
“It is just not possible for a teacher to conduct instruction or for students to work productively if they have no guidelines . . . inefficient procedures and the absence of routines for common aspects of classroom life . . . can waste large amounts of time and cause students’ attention and interest to wane” (Marzano, 2007).
By creating rules and procedures with your students, you are developing the foundations of good relationships with your students. This can definitely encourage positive behaviours in the future of your classroom as long as the teacher and the students have agreed on the rewards and consequences for the developed rules and procedures. “Students can be rewarded not only with high grades but also with verbal praise, public recognition, symbolic rewards, extra privileges, activity choices, or material rewards.” (Good and Brophy, 2003).
In order for this to be accomplished, the teacher must also have a sense of withitness. Brophy (1996) describes this as being “aware of what is happening in all parts of the classroom at all times.” Teachers should be able to intervene promptly when they notice the behaviour threatens to become disruptive. Teachers also need to react and intervene appropriately to these situations. Every scenario is different and I have been encouraged recently to develop a flow chart about how to effectively demonstrate what decisions need to be made when reinforcing rules and procedures along with what appropriate actions should be taken when they are not followed.
The flowchart above shows exactly how and when I would give positive reinforcement as well as how I would respond when a student does not abide by the rules. If the students are adhering to the rules and procedures, a simple verbal or nonverbal acknowledgement can help provide positive reinforcement. For example, during one of my Grade 7 classes I taught in the school laboratory, a group of students did an immaculate job of cleaning up their table and washing the equipment they used before the end of the class. I recognised this and praised the students appropriately by saying, “nice job guys, I like the way you cleaned up everything neatly and quietly, thank you for doing that.” As a result, other students heard and saw how I praised those students and remembered their expectations of what they need to do before the end of the class.
In terms of tangible rewards, this week I have been researching digital tools on how it could help with classroom management and behaviours but have yet to implement them in my current setting. I have however, given rewards in the forms of games/activities or even something fun to do provided the class had finished all the work expected of them.
Admittedly, I don’t send emails often to parents as I don’t have all parents emails, but I have some of their contacts through a social media service called Line. I also have a separate Facebook account just for my students and their parents. As a result, this enables me to share or post students’ work. Parents are able to keep up with what they are learning in my class as well as what experiments, projects or activities they have participated in. Students even have the opportunity to share the photos or videos from my page with their parents or they can add anything they find interesting in relation to what they are studying too.
For example, the students recently learned how to make a plastic pyramid that could refract light from a specific youtube video in order to get a 3D holographic image in the centre of the pyramid. I gave them a list and posted a reminder list on the facebook page. I recorded and took photos of the activity and shared it on the class science page on Facebook for their parents to see and for students to reflect on their experiences.
Fairly recently, my students have been involved in creating a PBL presentation in groups of four about Natural Disasters. The students were able to choose who they would like to work with, in this particular case there are two boys and two girls. The students were also allowed to choose how they wanted to complete the task as I differentiated how they could send me their work. Over the first two weeks of the planning and researching stages, I would go around the room to check students progress. When I checked this group, I found the two girls had completed their work but the two boys had not. I reminded them how the task was designed for all the students to participate consisting of four questions with the means of each students being assigned to answer one. The boys explained how they have been editing and preparing a video for their presentation. I replied with, “great can I see what you have so far?” and the response I received was, “it’s at home.” I calmly gave the group a warning and reminded them how the entire team would be responsible for uncompleted work. I reminded them how I had mentioned the ways of delivering their work to me and other students who were doing a similar task were able to either email or bring it to school on a USB/hard drive. I then stopped the class and asked the students as a whole to remind everyone and myself what the consequences were for a group for uncompleted work. The class responded the group would be in “trouble.” I then asked, “Please explain, what do you mean?”. The students replied with, “The group will have to talk to the Homeroom teacher and the counsellor and they will be put on a report.” I continued, “What will happen if the same group keeps on forgetting to bring their work to school or if it’s still incomplete?” They responded with, “Then the homeroom teacher will call my parents”. I gave a simple verbal recognition to the class and said, “Thank you, well done for remembering this. I just wanted to check the rules, please continue.”
After this, I looked at the current group neutrally and explained how this is a warning and the next consequence will be the report. I asked when I’d be able to see the video, the girls looked at the boys and they replied with, “Next week.” I said, “Ok, let’s make a written agreement in your notebook.” The whole group wrote an agreement for remembering to bring in all their plans, research and video editing they’ve completed to the next class and if in the event they have forgotten it, they will face the consequences as a group.
In Thailand, there is a hair regulation policy for students and in my private school, all students must follow this policy. However, there are some students who may be excused by this rule if parents write a letter of consent to explain why the student will not have the regulated haircut. One of the high-intensity situations I have faced as a teacher was outside of class during the lunch break. I was eating lunch and I saw a Grade 10 boy (K) punch another boy (C) in the face. I recognised immediately the students were out of control and I moved quickly with another male colleague to seize the situation. I managed to grab hold of K and got him to turn around and I said, “Ok, let’s calm down, walk with me,” and my colleague did the same with C. At this point, I wasn’t sure what to do next, as I was worried culturally what the acceptable or appropriate consequence was for this situation and the student wouldn’t respond to me in English. I took K to an area where he could sit down and I could request someone to call the Senior Counsellor to help talk to the student to find out what the problem was in Thai. While K was sitting down, he managed to become calm. As I sat with him I explained what will happen next in English. I then asked if he was okay. “I’m sorry,” he said. “What for?” I replied. “I lost my temper.” “Yes, I saw that you’re very upset, can I ask what made you so angry?” His eyes looked down, “I don’t know how to say in Thai.” I assured him, “It’s ok, you don’t have to tell me. But, I want you to understand that you will have to discuss what happened with the Counsellor when she comes.” Once the counsellor arrived she dismissed me to finish my lunch and said she had a discussion with him about what happened. Later, the Counsellor explained to me in private how the student C had teased him about his regulated haircut, which provoked an argument that escalated into a fight.
After reflecting on this experience, I’m still not sure if what my colleague and I did was 100% appropriate, but I believe we handled the situation appropriately by separating the students, getting them to calm down and contacting the appropriate person to help resolve the issue. Based on this situation, I’ve decided to demonstrate what appropriate actions we should take when a high-intensity situation or other similar cases like this were to arise in the future.
Good, T. L., & Brophy, J. E. (1996). Looking in Classrooms 7th Edition. USA: Scott Foresman & Co; 7th edition.
Good, T. L., & Brophy, J. E. (2003). Looking in Classrooms. Boston, USA: Allyn & Bacon.
Kaewmala. (2013, January 15). WHAT’S HAIR GOT TO DO WITH CHILD RIGHTS — IN THAILAND? Retrieved from Word Press: https://thaiwomantalks.com/2013/01/15/whats-hair-got-to-do-with-child-rights-in-thailand/
Marzano, R. (2007). The art of teaching. Alexandria, Virginia USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Phaisee, K. (2016, November 18). Mannequin Challenge SWC #GillPresent. Retrieved from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJYFAM3PMRc&t=2s
pmw8000. (2011, December 2011). “Anyone, anyone” teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Retrieved from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhiCFdWeQfA
SoFAD IvyTech. (2013, March 8th). Boring lecture AKA What NOT to do. Retrieved from youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q-9NMTRigI