This online course has made me realise that I made some mistakes in my first year of teaching. Perhaps just being naïve and new to the profession, I did not realise the need to spend any time at the beginning of the year establishing rules, expectations, or procedures – instead I just delved straight into activities and lessons, without putting any structures in place. I had no behaviour management or reward system for the first couple of weeks either. Looking back, I struggled with classroom management quite a lot, and I learned just how difficult it can be to turn things around if things go wrong and there are no structures in place from the beginning.
This course has hugely helped me in addressing the issues outlined above. It has made me realise the importance of starting as you mean to go on right from day one. I have also learned that it is important not just to go through rules, expectations, procedures, rewards, and consequences, but to teach them to the children in the form of lessons, and to make sure the children are involved in the process so that they are more likely to ‘buy-in’. Children are more likely to obey rules and be motivated to reach expectations and achieve rewards if they have been part of the process in establishing what the rules and rewards are. It is important that I spend time over the first few weeks focusing on this so that they become second nature to the children and so that the structures are in place that will allow learning to flourish in the classroom.
I have learned various other things from this course that I will apply to my everyday practice including the importance of being consistent in carrying out disciplinary actions, developing good student rapport, ensuring that children are actively involved in lessons, giving autonomy to learners, and the need to focus on building strong self-esteem in students and to develop their emotional intelligence. Giving clear instructions, differentiating tasks based on ability levels, and providing a scaffolded approach to teaching all contribute to student learning and effective classroom management.
I also aim to place more focus on positive reinforcement which help to develop better teacher-student relationships and a positive classroom atmosphere rather than focusing on negative behaviours, which can lead to feelings of resentment in students and contribute further to the problems. This might take the form of sending positive messages/emails home, awarding dojo points, and giving general praise to students – I aim to do this as much as possible so that I can develop good relationships with my students. This should hopefully improve classroom management as a result. Finally, I also aim to use other important skills that I have acquired from this course, such as building group cohesion and encouraging cooperative learning through using ‘the jigsaw classroom’ approach, and by using the ‘IDEAL’ approach to problem-solving in the classroom. I have never tried either of these approaches before, but I believe that they will prove very useful tools as I aim to improve my classroom management skills.
Furthermore, it has shown me that we can use the techniques and strategies of positive psychology in our own lives to nourish our own happiness and wellbeing. If we can achieve our own flow, we can facilitate the finding of flow in our students.
Overall, I found this course excellent for teaching all the skills, approaches and practices required for effective classroom management. There were many important parts of the course. As well as learning about the key elements of effective classroom management and the key ingredients involved in creating the “optimum classroom culture”, I gained most insight from Modules 3 and 4, where I learned about establishing classroom routines and procedures, creating rules and expectations, and maintaining classroom control. I also learned about the benefits of using positive reinforcement and praise, the importance of working in partnership with parents, as well as various other classroom management strategies from the ‘Advanced Toolkit’. Finally, in Module 5 I learned about how to manage stress and build resilience, and about the importance of working in an environment where there is collegial support.
Thank you to Andrew McLeod for this feedback on this course. If you would like to join our next Advanced Skills for Classroom Management Course, our Autumn term runs from 11th October until 5th December.