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Matthew Hurwitz

ED 405C
4/23/14
Entry #2

Classroom management encompasses the rules and norms that are necessary
to provide everyone in the classroom with the maximum amount of learning time,
maintaining and reinforcing a positive, inclusive, productive classroom
environment. Classroom management has a variety of components, from teacher
circulation, to the organization of supplies and the manner in which the lesson is
taught. Discipline, as one of the components of classroom management, has the
same goal, but compromises the consequences that result from someone breaking
one of the rules, or doing things that are disruptive and interrupt the learning
experience of other students in the room. Discipline mainly involves punishments
like detention or extra assignments, or staying after class or during lunch, but also
includes more constructive activities that a student may be asked to complete as a
consequence for something. For example, if a student is misbehaving, and causing a
lot of noise in the classroom, but has not broken the rule in a serious way, that
student may be asked to complete a book report or research paper that has as it’s
subject and theme “different perspectives” and the ways in which we can
inadvertently harm others through our actions. The student is not getting punished
in that he’s not made to feel terrible about himself, but is constructive in giving him
more practice putting together research paper and teaching him about multiple
perspectives. It’s an educational consequence, which I think is extremely useful for
minor offenses. When serious rules are broken, discipline morphs more into the
traditional definition that revolves more around punishment.
The major components of classroom management are the rules that
categorize the offending behavior, as well as the norms that are established in the
classroom by the teacher early on and throughout the year as to what type of
classroom environment it will be. The norms part falls squarely on the teacher, and
it’s the teachers job to make sure that the classroom is safe and inclusive by making
it feel safe and inclusive. This involves tackling things like racism, homophobia, and
sexism whenever they come up, and being clear and consistent in both the rules and
their implementation. If students are aware of the consequences and know that no
disrespect towards other people or students will be tolerated in the class, and if the
curriculum stresses multiple points of view and has a social justice agenda, the
norms of the class will be set and will hopefully proactively address many of the
problems that would potentially call for consequences later on.
While the setting of norms is something that I remains the same in both
middle and high school, the rules that you set will vary somewhat between the two,
especially in regards to discipline and punishment. I think that in the middle school
discipline that is constructive is a lot more appropriate, as many students are
behind and need the extra practice in important skills, and because, at a younger
age, they need assistance in realizing that they have to adults and take more
responsibility. This process of transitioning from child to adult is awkward, and
while you set the norms and challenge the child to think like a young adult, the
consequences for rule breaking should be constructive rather than punitive. For
high school students however, I tend to think that consequences should lean in the
other direction. By the time students are in 10
th
or 11
th
grade, they need to start
getting ready for college and employment, and part of that is being much stricter in
discipline. In addition, as young adults, more of the responsibility for their actions
falls on them then it does on the middle school students. Students who are 17 are
aware of their actions and the consequences in a way that 13 year old often aren’t.
Therefore, while constructive discipline is still useful and educational in high school,
I think that in some ways, stricter discipline is even more useful in preparing high
school students for the world after they exit the bubble that is high school.
A large part of my ideas on discipline and classroom management draws
heavily on the socio-cultural theory. The socio-cultural theory is important for
classroom management, especially when it comes to setting classroom norms. The
theory is all about incorporating students culture into the curriculum, and designing
units that are culturally relevant and engaging to all students while exposing them
to multiple points of view. By basing my teaching and classroom management in this
teaching pedagogy, the classroom environment, as well as the academic content,
becomes more welcoming and more inclusive by drawing on what students already
know, and forcing them to think critically about important issues like racism and
homophobia in ways that prevent students from using language like that in the
future. Therefore, as a proactive measure and important part of classroom
management, the socio-cultural theory plays an important role. When it comes to
dealing with rule breaking that students have already done, I think that the socio-
cultural learning theory, with it’s focus on taking student actions in context, and
looking at cultural background and the influence that has before disciplining
students in more applicable to the middle school discipline than to the high school.
In middle school, when children are still learning what the rules are about how they
should act as adults, have less experience being in inclusive learning environments,
and are still spouting things that they hear their parents say without knowing what
a lot of it means, I do think that context should play some role in the consequences,
that the consequences should be more constructive, and that the whole thing should
be a learning experience for the student. In high school though, I think the theory is
less applicable when it comes to discipline, since students are preparing for college
or jobs where cultural context will not be taken into account when deciding on
punishment. Although not always fair, I think it’s important that we make students
not only college eligible when they graduate, but college ready, and a large part of
that is treating them like they’ll be treated in college to give them the experience
and skills they need to avoid trouble further along the road after they’ve left my
class.
The basic rules of my class will be introduced and gone over at the beginning
of the year, and will consist of 5 basic rules: always try, respect those around you, be
patient, be proactive, and everyone talks. Although basic, I think on the first day it’s
important to get the key points across about important things like behavior,
participation, and homework in a way that won’t overwhelm students. A more
detailed list of rules and norms may be posted somewhere else in the room, as well
as put into the syllabus that is sent home to parents. For the majority of these rules,
especially for middle school students, the consequences for breaking them will be
constructive. For example, if a student doesn’t talk in class, or isn’t being proactive, I
might give them an assignment where students have to go out and find their own
research topic, and then have to make an argument in a paper and explain it to me
orally to make up participation points. For the always try and respect rules, the
consequences would probably be stricter and would get progressively more severe,
especially around respect. Respect is crucial to a classroom, and if a student is
repeatedly disrespectful to other students in the language they use or the actions
they take, I would want to call home and talk to their parents. If they aren’t trying in
class, I would first talk with them about why not, and then if they simply don’t care, I
would start making them come in after class to finish work that they haven’t done or
need to make up. The rules for things that students for one reason or another can’t
do, like bring themselves to talk or take charge, are designed to give them the
confidence and skills to change that, while the rules for the things that students
won’t do are designed to stop the behavior.

POLICIES:
Absences- my policy about absences is that students will have an opportunity to
make up individual work that they miss, but that they need to be proactive about
getting the notes and the assignments and turning them in. Missing assignments will
be put on a side table, where students can pick up the worksheets, but it’s the
student’s responsibility to get it done. Group work that is missed may not be made
up.
Tardies- To me, there’s no excuse for numerous tardies. We all know that
sometimes the bus us late, or your alarm didn’t go off in time, and occasional tardies
are okay (less than 5 a semester). However, part of the responsibility of being a
student is making sure that you get to class on time, because being late is disruptive
and detrimental not only to you but to the class, to your group if you’re doing group
work, and to the teacher who has to wait for you. Attendance will not be part of your
grade, but notes that were missed must be obtained from your absence buddy-
someone who will collect notes for you when you’re absent- or another friend after
class. Work that is missed will only be given if the student shows some proof (note
from parent, note from school bus) as to why they were late, and points lost because
of missed assignments due to tardies can not be made up.
Cheating/Copying- This is a tricky one, and depends a lot on context. If a student is
doing a research project and copied because they don’t know how to paraphrase or
quote, then that student has to come before or after school one day so I can go over
that skill with them one on one. Once that student has come in for the skill lesson,
that student will be able to redo the assignment with no penalty. If a student copies
on purpose, they will be given a chance to redo it, but the highest grade they will be
able to get on the project is a B. If a student copies repeatedly, or if it occurs in a
groups where the members collaborated on the copying, the work will be given an F,
and the parents might be called.
Talking during instruction- This one again depends on what the student is saying
during instruction. If a student is explaining something to another student or the
conversation is academic in nature, the student will get a verbal warning. If the
conversation is not about class, the student(s) will get a verbal warning that will
turn into a reassigning of seats if it continues. If a student is loud and interruptive,
the student will get a verbal warning, and then detention if the disruptions continue.
Defiance- If a student is being defiant, that student will be asked to step into the hall
to talk privately. If the student does, and is able to calm down, the student will be
allowed back to class, but will stay after class to discuss why they were defiant, and
what the teacher and student can do to prevent it happening again. If a student
doesn’t agree to talk privately, they will be given the option of backing down, or
going to the office. If a student is repeatedly defiant, but not in a serious way, they
might be given an assignment where they do a research paper on power and
authority, or schools, or something else with a similar theme to get the student
thinking about their behavior and how they might change it.
Bullying- Bullying will not be tolerated. Mild bullying will be met with detention,
repeat or severe bullying will result in detention, a sit down with the teacher, and
potentially a sit down with the counselor and the parents to discuss how the student
is expected to behave and why they can’t be nice in the classroom.
Food and drink- Food and drink will not be allowed. Students may have a bottle of
water, but everything else must be thrown away (if opened) or put away in
backpacks (if unopened) if I catch you with food.
Cell phones- cell phones may not be used, except during activities or projects
where research is being done and the teacher says that cell phones may be used to
look things up. If a student is caught texting or on the phone, the phone will be taken
away until the end of the period, and if it happens frequently, it would lead to a
phone call home.
Late work- Late work will be accepted for individual assignments that are missed
because if absence. Late work that is not due to absence will not be accepted unless
there is a parent note, or special circumstance (wedding, funeral, vacation etc.) that
has been discussed with the teacher in advance so that the assignments can be
modified or changed.

For class structures, there will be a homework bin near the door that
students will deposit their homework in as they enter the door. Once the homework
from the basket has been collected (5 min after class), no other homework will be
accepted. When students first walk in, one student will pass out folders and any
worksheets or readings that will be used that day. Worksheets and readings will be
kept in the folder or at the corner of the desk until the teacher says that it is time to
use them. When worksheets and readings have to be collected, they will be passed
up to the front row. Student work to be handed back will be put face down on their
desk before they come into the room each day, as will tests that are being returned.
Students will keep track of their work on a worksheet that will be handed out with
all the assignments for that unit. Students will check off assignments completed, and
input scores from tests and quizzes, so they know at all times, how they’re doing in
the class. For beginning and closing routines, each class will start with a Do Now,
and end either with a written exit slip, or a KWL chart, along with a review of
“housekeeping” items (homework, announcements, reminders, etc.) For seating,
students will be able to choose their own seats at the beginning of the year, although
they are subject to change if students are unable to pay attention or are disruptive.
Groups will change each time, with students being assigned for some projects, and
picked randomly for other, less demanding, projects to ensure that students work
with different people each time. To get student attention, a variety of techniques can
be used, although I like turning the lights on and off to get attention, and the
technique of waiting quietly for students to be quiet, with every minute being a
minute students have to stay after class.