Sarah’s behavior is disruptive to the classroom in two ways. First, by moving around the classroom she is taking students’ attention from the focal point of learning. Secondly, Sarah has leadership qualities, which is why students imitate her behavior. Her behavior, thus, has an impact on the classroom environment because Sarah is an extrovert. However, in third grade, social skills, as to know when it is time to socialize, and when it is time to concentrate on the work at hand needs to be inculcated.
The antecedent to Sarah’s behavior is usually during the part of the lesson when students have to do independent work. During group work, she does not wander, nor does she wander when she is engaged in the lesson. Sarah pays attention to the lesson, however, when students have a chance to demonstrate their learning through seatwork, at their desks, Sarah chooses to be locomotive.
Since Sarah’s behavior to be locomotive in the classroom is a consequence of independent work it seems that she is unable to focus her energy on her work and needs the attention of other classmates. The consequence of Sarah’s behavior is that it signals the wrong message about leadership to the other students. Sarah is a natural leader, but her ill-conceived choice to wander sends the message that since she is influential in the school, and students like and imitate her, then her disruptive behavior is permissible.
One intervention that the teacher could implement would be to first, acknowledge the behavior to the student in the following way, “Sarah, you are not in trouble, but I want you to complete the ten problems on page ten. I am giving you fifteen minutes to complete this task. I will let you know when you have five minutes left to complete the assignment. After you complete your independent task, it would be awesome if you could demonstrate one thing you learned to the class. Of course, Sarah cannot always be chosen to be the leader and demonstrate her knowledge, but this intervention method signals to Sarah that the instructor values her work and it stresses to Sarah that she is “not in trouble,” but her behavior is not appropriate to this particular time and place.
The above-mentioned intervention only works for Sarah when she is extroverted and is inclined “to visit” with other students. Giving her (and the class) a time constraint is helpful. Third graders often have trouble keeping track of their own time, so announcing how much time the class has to complete the task is a structuring device that reassures Sarah that she will have time to be extroverted. The instructional intervention when applied sets up the outcome of the task as a reward.
However, inculcating leadership skills in elementary grade students is an on-going process. It is helpful to avoid the myth that “effective teachers do not have power struggles with students” (Boyd, 2012, p. 64). The above scenario is a power struggle. However, a good teacher will recognize the conflict as Sarah’s need for expressing leadership skills counterbalanced with the teacher’s demand that instructions be followed. Conflicts are ever-present and “even with a clear mission and a strong classroom community, some students will continue to challenge us and require extra support” (Sterrett, 2012, p. 73).
A teacher’s personal philosophy of classroom management should include the following aspects. First, what self-management is must be both taught and modeled. In a third grade classroom, direct, consistent language is important. For example, how to explicitly instructions that steer students to work successfully is key. Instead of saying, “finish those problems,” give a more concrete direction that sets realistic goals. Say, “complete these ten problems without my help, and then after you are done, I will give you the answers so you can check them yourself. Any questions you get wrong try to work it out again. If you still cannot get it right, let me know.” Of course why this method works will build up to aspect two, which is self-efficacy.
In the third grade, a child’s self-management skills are appropriate to their developmental level. Third graders can exercise restraint and understand that patience can yield rewards. In terms of managing a classroom, the best model is the teacher who creates “a well-organized classroom. Third graders do in fact crave structure and simple techniques can be implemented to help student achieve mastery. For example “Stop and Think Signs” can be posted or other verbal signs that help students achieve self-management in their everyday tasks that they are assigned on any given day (Knoff, 2012, p. 120).
What self-efficacy is includes a student’s ability to track his or her own success. This is important for studies show that by high school 40 percent of students may be “chronically disengaged from school” (Knoff, 2012, p. 109). The student learns self-efficacy through trial and error. He or she will not always be able to follow your instructions for many different reasons. They are tired, grumpy, or just not interested. Why self-efficacy is important is revealed in the teacher’s encouraging words to the student to be successful. The teacher who models self-efficacy is saying that good work is done by carving out a space for oneself to be successful. One technique that has been found to be useful is including emotional training in the classroom. For example, have students write words that describe the emotions of selected photographs or drawings of faces (Durlak, 2015, p. 25). Ask students why they think the person feels this way. This allows students to begin to trace their own understanding of what it means to read social cues and thus by extension learn their own emotional vocabulary.
Thirdly, the teacher is showing how student engagement and motivation are connected to rewards and punishments, but these rewards and punishments can be understood as positive, rather than as negative things. For example, the teacher is acting “as an adviser” (Rubinstein, 1986, p. 614). The teacher is demonstrating to the student why they can be successful no matter if you are at their side, or somewhere else in the classroom. You are saying, “students are motivated by rewards and punishments” and they need to self-regulate these skills in order to move successful to the higher grades where “external regulations” are not necessarily in place (Eyler, 2014, p. 13). So one useful technique is to model external regulations. Give a reward for the student with the highest engagement on educational technology, or verbally acknowledge a student’s own insight into a problem.
The first technique is psychological. Sarah needs a leader’s tone if she is to be a leader. Teachers should develop an authoritative voice that is at once “confident, calm and direct” (Jones, 2013, p. 26). Tone is a technique. Tone is not just in the words a teacher uses but tone is also related to body-language. Two teachers can implement a lesson and have completely different results based solely on the tone they exhibit in their lesson delivery.
The first technique is behavioral. Sarah’s behavior needs to be monitored at the very start of the school day. Teachers should be able to detect hot-spots in the classroom and work to contain potential flare-ups. For example, at the start of the day the teacher should have their behavior alert on. Sometimes students like Sarah, especially if they resist remediation, need to cool off. Appropriate places for this happen should not be punitive, but rather as Riner recommends, “at the heart of any classroom is the desire to provide beneficial experiences to children” (Riner, 2000). Riner's comments is another way in which Sarah's school day can be safe and emotionally beneficial. When Sarah’s leadership uplifts the classroom, she should be rewarded. When her leadership turns into a display for attention, her behavior must be redirected.
One technique is to give Sarah specific tasks to help with her tendency to roam around the classroom. Make her in charge of picking up the pencils at the end of the class day or give her the job of pushing the teacher’s cart when moving from one location to the next. Of course there are many students like Sarah. Roamers are often found in the elementary school classroom. Another technique is organize the classroom into a pod model and make sure not more than one roaming student is assigned to a pod. Also, curb behavior by setting boundaries. Students like Sarah will ask to go to the bathroom, to help you with tasks that do not need help. She needs direct guidance that signals to her when is the appropriate time to roam and when is the appropriate time to refocus her attention to other tasks.
First, since teaching students means that in an elementary classroom, students cannot always say what they want effectively by just using words” (Krauss, 2012, p. 10). BrainPop, Jr., when used in short ten second segments can supplement science, and math lessons! The visuals supplement in images what is difficult for third grade learners to grasp in words. Second, learning is enhanced by educational technology. Since Walden, a third grader, in a class of twenty (which includes Sarah discussed above) barely talks in class, the following topics can be enhanced by various types of technology. The New York Times Learning blog allows shy
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