Dr. Julie Antilla September 3rd, 2013 to September 27th, 2013
When you walk into Mr. Perez’s classroom, you would notice the way it is set up is unique. It’s not set up like a classical classroom where you have the desks in rows facing the teacher; instead, the desks are spread-out the classroom almost in a circle, facing the front of the classroom. Students are able to move freely within the classroom without having to go around each other’s desks. It is especially easier for Mr. Perez as he can teach from anywhere in the classroom and the kids would be able to see and hear him. This way of setting up the classroom makes it easier for Mr. Perez to manage the class. Students are more accessible and can be seen from any point within the classroom. For example, when Mr. Perez yells “Class?,” he would be able to see who put their writing utensils down and looking at him as asked of them. The students can be reached in a faster manner, especially when he is giving students their tally marks on their desks for doing a task asked of them accordingly. Chapter three of Teaching With the Brain in Mind states, “Changing the physical environment can also better support classroom attention. Some teachers have improved the situation by simply rearranging chairs-into a semicircle, for example.” (Eric, 2005). The classroom room is set up so students are more engaged with the lesson, can easily follow instructions, and are able to be attended to quicker.
The classroom expectations and consequences are listed in a wall facing the door so it would be the first thing you see when walking into the classroom. In bold are four expectations Mr. Perez ask his students to consider: “You are prepared,” “respectful,” resourceful,” and “scholarly.” Students are asked to bring materials such as homework, permission slips, and work books they took home. He expects students to respect themselves, others, and their environment at all times. Mr. Perez challenges them to complete all of the class work to the best of their ability. And lastly, Mr. Perez asks his students to come to school with open minds. He encourages them to tackle ideas they have never thought of before and openly share their ideas with the other students. These rules are posted on the classroom wall as reminder to students. They are also communicated through classroom discussions, when a behavior needs to be corrected, homework, and other means within the classroom. In Building Teachers, Martin and Loomis emphasizes the importance of classroom management and discipline. The book note, “Often, students act out because they feel a lack of security that comes from not knowing what is expect of them or where the boundaries are.” (Martin and Loomis, 2007). As teachers, we can help students by providing routine and structure. We can provide structures, procedures, and routines as part of the classroom management plan. It will build consistency and flow for the way the classroom function.
Like most teachers, Mr. Perez has consequences for students who are following or not following the expected rules. The consequences listed for students who follow the rules are: good grades, good self-esteem, positive (individual), feedback, and a nice classroom. While it was only the beginning of the school year, I’ve seen Mr. Perez use most (if not all) of these consequences with his students. I’ve seen Mr. Perez boost a student’s self-esteem by giving them feedback on a class project. The student contributed a primary idea into a class discussion about Washington State as part of Social Studies. Mr. Perez informed the student his idea was the one he was looking for because it connected what other students had already shared with the main theme. I can tell the student felt positive because he continued sharing ideas with his classmates even when the lesson was over. When students are passionate about learning as much this one student did, it is not a surprise when they start earning good grade. Passion drives them to learn more and do well in class. Consequences listed for students who do not follow the instructions are: warning, yellow slip, phone call, conference, and office referral. While I did not stick around to witness all of these consequences being used, I was able to witness an incident where a phone call home had to be made to a student’s parents. The student was not following rules in the classroom after being warned and given a yellow slip. His parents were contacted to be notified of the incident along with student having to miss recess to make up for the class work missed. I can agree with Martin and Loomis in pointing out no single classroom management formula works for everyone, “The most successful teachers are those who are collaborative, assertive, respectful, and consistent and who have high expectations and low fear that students will behave appropriately in their classrooms.” (2007). Each classroom has a different management style unique to its students. The theorist I related to Mr. Perez classroom routines is Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning behavior theory. Mr. Perez placed the chairs in a semicircle so students can walk into the classroom and be ready to learn. It was important they correlated the sitting with learning. It created a routine in which students can adapt to and eventually know what to do without Mr. Perez having to ask the students what to do.
Mr. Perez uses one routine when trying to get the students attention. When student comes in the morning, he gives them one minute after the bell rings (timed with a timer) to grab their spelling word sheet, writing utensils and any papers which needs to be turned in. Once the minute is up, Mr. Perez yell out “Class?” and the students respond “Yes?” putting down anything they have in their hands and looking up to Mr. Perez. He does not move on until all eyes are on him and hands are free. Mr. Perez uses this attention grabber when he is starting a lesson, dismissing students to line up for lunch, collecting or handing out papers, and even when assigning groups. When students are leaving the room, Mr. Perez make sure they are in a single file line with their voices off. He waits for them to stop talking and placed their bodies properly on the line before exiting the classroom. At the end of the day, Mr. Perez remind students to put all of their books, papers, and water bottles in their cubby before leaving for home. Their chairs are to be stacked on top of their table making sure each leg of the chair has a tennis ball around it. Mr. Perez had to walk students through the routines the first day of class so they understood what was expected of them. He made sure everyone understood what to do when arriving in class and when they leave for home. Along the way, he had to correct a few students who eventually got the routine down. Mr. Perez routines reminded me of Pavlov classical conditioning because he trained the students a unconditioned stimulus (yelling “class?”, getting in line, putting pencils down) that already brings about a particular response (eyes on him, being quiet in line, freeing hands) with a new (conditioned) stimulus (having a quiet line, clean classroom, leaving for home).
The transitions I’ve seen in the classroom are those between subjects. Mr. Perez likes to move on to the next subject by telling students to pull out the materials needed. He gives students five minutes (timed) to get out their materials and sit down quietly on their desk when done. At the end of each lesson, Mr. Perez uses his attention grabber to notify students of what is going to happen next. Whether its lunch, computer lab, library or another subject, Mr. Perez make sure students are aware of the upcoming task. These transitions are accomplished by being communicated to students. They can better prepare themselves if they are aware of what is going to happen next. Students are able to wrap up or finish whatever task they were working on as well as clean up after themselves. Mr. Perez is trying to train his students of his set of rules and techniques. By doing so, he is improving his classroom management. Once students understand the routines and transitions, they are able to complete a task asked of them without a problem. They are learning to coordinate what is being asked to do and what they are doing. As Pavlov classical conditioning explains.
My overall experience in the classroom has been wonderful as I had the chance to observe Mr. Perez management styles. I believe reminding students to be prepared for class is important. It is a rule every teacher should enforced in their classrooms. I also believe respecting oneself, others, and our environment is important. Needless to say, being prepared and respectful are two rules I would strongly enforced in my classroom. In addition, I would encourage my students to challenge themselves and learn to be leaders. I believe rules are to be learned by everyone. No one is born knowing what to do. I strongly agree with Pavlov’s classical conditioning which students learn to respond a certain way to some cues. Once they understand what is expected of them by the teacher, the students can understand the consequences of not following the expectations ( Cleveland, 2012). Whether the consequence is good or not good, I believe kids are conscious of their decisions when they understand the consequences of their behavior. The type of consequences I would use in my classroom includes verbal warning, where I would meet with the student and talk to them individually. A written warning proposed with the student and sent home to parents. Next, a phone call home with the student, explaining the rule not followed and the consequence for it to the parents. Lastly, the student would have to explain to the principle why they are not following the rules. A few routines I would use includes giving students time to grab materials from cubbies, ringing a bell when transitioning to another subject or lining up, and starting each subject with a catchy phrase. This way, students are mentally prepared. As for my transition, I’d have a musical instrument to play each time we are lining up for library, computer, lunch and home. It would be used strictly for those big transitions. I strongly resonate with Pavlov’s classical conditioning in which children have to be trained to learn certain rules. It is up to the teacher to make sure his or her students understand the rules before enforcing any consequences when they are not followed.
Cleveland, Richard. A.A. (2012). Mind full, or Mindful. (power point). Retrieved from EDU 2200 lectures and notes.
Jensen, Eric. (2005). teaching with the brain in mind 2nd ed. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Martin, Jerner Martin. Loomis, S. Kimberly (2007). Building teachers: A constructivist approach to introducing Education. California: Cengage Learning.
Payne, K. Ruby. (1996). A framework for understanding poverty 4th. Ed. Texas: Aha press Inc.