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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Achieving Holistic Classroom Management
Charlene Davis

The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed., defines holism as emphasizing the importance of the whole, and the interdependence of its parts. Teachers are now expected to apply a holistic approach to scoring, across most subject areas. But what about a holistic approach to classroom discipline?

The rationale for doing so is that inherent in such an approach is:

  • student empowerment through self-monitoring;
  • an effective, well-functioning classroom;
  • parent connectedness.

The interdependent parts include a personal learning or goal statement, an interest inventory, modeling and “fish-bowling,” incentive plan, parental involvement communications. Each has implications in every area of the teaching-learning process.

A Personal Learning or Goal Statement
Here, the student generally writes about three things: who he or she is as a learner; what he or she hopes to accomplish this year; and how he or she plans to make it happen! Ideally, this statement would be reread daily, and updated by students periodically to foster continual goal-setting, and to promote actualization of those goals. 

An Interest Inventory
Here, the student responds to questions that reveal their attitudes about the content areas, reading, writing, hobbies, extracurricular activities, outstanding achievements/awards, and future goals. This is done early in the school year. It is worthwhile to go through the students’ responses, one-by-one, to learn who they are and to plan accordingly. I take notes and tabulate commonalities.  You’ll probably be able to shape a classroom identity of sorts! Rich discussion will emanate from sharing your findings with the class, allowing you to spring forward positively into the new school year. Your incentive program is also strengthened if you tap into their likes and dislikes, offering rewards accordingly. You'll also find that you've established a positive platform for bonding with parents or guardians.

Modeling and “Fish-bowling”
Modeling of desirable and undesirable behavior was a beneficial strategy for me. I would demonstrate something as simple as the right way, and the wrong way, to sit in a chair. Any desirable practices that are important to you should be modeled for the students. In this way, your expectations are clear and it cannot be said that they did not know!  Fish-bowling involves a small group of students demonstrating desired behaviors for the remaining student observers. It’s fun because students usually love to perform and, over time, it gives everyone a chance to model.

Incentive Plan
This one’s a biggie! A well-thought-out system that moves from micro rewards to larger ones worked very well for me. I used tickets or stickers for immediate rewards, and I validated cooperative behavior, risk-taking, good citizenship, etc., whenever I saw evidence!  Once students earned the target number, they qualified for a prize (usually a pencil with a cool eraser topper). There are many, many options for prizes: I ordered pencils with motivational messages inscribed on them, in bulk.  Kids loved them! I also used student-of-the-day, week, and month awards, as well as content area awards. Let your thinking on this run wild, or to use Teachers Network’s motto, “Take an idea and go creative!” It’s so worth it!!

Parental Involvement
A survey of parents’ talents, and ways they can assist you opens up the door for meaningful collaboration. Some parents are experienced storytellers, or great “read alouders”—you’ll see that in your surveys!!  Teachers’ constructive notebook comments are also helpful feedback for parents and students—parents feel more informed by them. Use straightforward comments, written in a positive tone, in conjunction with rubric scores. Usually, the more appreciated and secure parents feel while interacting with you, the more support you’ll get throughout the year. And we know how necessary the backing of a parent can be.

Mine was through a monthly class newsletter, mostly written by the students. Students summarized what they learned, in all areas, for the month. They also reported on trips taken and any other relevant news. The newsletter also allowed for student awardees’ names to be announced to the community-at-large. The pride and joy experienced by all was something to behold! (See Newsletters for Smarties by Carl Sannito.)

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me.


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