C4T, Comment #1
I believe it was my great fortune to be assigned to read the blog posts of Mr. John Spencer. Mr. Spencer’s blog titled “Classroom Leadership: From Compliant Kids to Ethical Thinkers” was an incredibly insightful post for an up and coming teacher. Mr. Spencer drew attention to the responsibility of teachers to lead the classroom in a way that students may receive an education and also learn to make positive choices regarding their behavior. Many teachers make rules, give consequences for breaking rules, and reward students for good behavior. Mr. Spencer points out students should not be rewarded or bribed for behaving in a way that is already expected of them. Most importantly, Mr. Spencer states that sometimes it is necessary to overlook a rule infraction and get on the same level of the student, allowing that student to open-up to you as a teacher. This can form a mutual respect with students which enables the learning process to move forward.
Mr. Spencer’s post made me aware of a totally new approach to classroom management. As teachers, we are responsible for the education of our students, but often times, we are also teaching life lessons. I agree with his philosophy and can see the benefits of communicating with, rather than condemning, students.In my response, I asked Mr. Spencer how a new teacher entering the classroom can implement this practice without losing control of their students. Let’s face it; if you don’t show students that you are in control, you may find yourself with a mutiny on your hands. I also asked for suggestions in creating an environment of ethical, responsible thinkers rather than compliant students. This assignment has allowed me to consider an alternative approach to classroom management.
Imagine my surprise when I saw that Mr. Spencer had not only replied to my comment on his blog, but had also given me a link to download his book,"A Sustainable Start". This book relays some of his experiences as a teacher and provides readers with a different approach to managing a classroom. I believe this could be an especially useful tool for first year teachers. You should definitely check out his blog! What a nice guy!
C4T #1, Comment 2
As a follow-up to this assignment, I read Mr. John Spencer's blog post "Classroom Leadership: From Standardized to Personalized". This blog contains a touching story that Mr. Spencer shares about a personal experience of his from the third grade. He was a student who had a great deal of knowledge about Russia and current world events as a result of open family discussion and a grandfather who shared stories from World War II. Mr. Spencer's teacher did not appreciate him speaking out freely during class. Instead of having an appreciation for the interest and comprehension of such a young student and finding a way to teach him that speaking out was not acceptable, she punished him for being rude.
Mr. Spencer believes that students can mature behaviorally when teachers lead the classroom in a personalized manner. Standardized policies and rules are very cut and dry; if you do this, then this is the consequence. This seems to be the standard approach to dealing with behavior because it's the way it's always been done. Each student is an individual with a unique personality and traits. If a teacher treats everyone the same, it's more like choking-out weeds instead of nurturing flowers. Individualism has to be taken into consideration when dealing with infringements. However, some situations can be discussed, having the student reflect upon their decisions while others, like students fighting, would require a more serious approach.
I responded by saying that had I been Mr. Spencer's teacher, I would have been quite pleased and proud of his interest and comprehension. We have all had a doctor who is an extraordinary doctor, but just has a horrible bed-side manner. There are some professional educators who are wonderful at teaching, but just don't have that personal, compassionate element that is such an important quality to have when dealing with children. Students learn a lot by what they see and not just what they are told by teachers. If a teacher does not demonstrate kindness, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness, how can they expect students to be required to behave in those ways?
Mr. Spencer's stories have helped me realize I need to remember to consider my students as individuals; humans who make mistakes, and find creative ways to help them learn from those mistakes. A lesson learned would seem to be far more valuable than missing recess for two days. By getting to know my students and appreciating their unique personalities, I can teach a respect for rules while helping each student learn from their mistakes. After all, I know I still make a few mistakes of my own from time to time....