Classroom Management through Community Building

Classroom Management through Community Building

I will never forget my first year of teaching. (Does anyone?) It was such an exhilarating and humbling year! I was living the dream I had held since childhood but also came to the painful realization that I still had a great deal to learn about being an effective teacher.
When I completed that first year, I felt I had been successful overall, but I also knew that I wanted to make some changes in my management system. My experiences with Kevin had made a big impact on me, but it was more than that. I wanted my classroom to feel different- less like I was the “enforcer” and more like I was the “encourager.”

I decided to dedicate my summer to learning everything I could about positive classroom management. My search led me to the Northeast Foundation for Children, now widely known as The Responsive Classroom. I read Teaching Children to Care by Ruth Sidney Charney and the “a-ha!” lightbulb went off in my mind. I gained a new understanding for the role of the teacher in empowering children to make positive choices, live with the consequences of their mistakes, and build a powerful family-like community.
I began implementing “responsive classroom” practices the next year and never looked back. I became a faithful believer in starting the day with a Morning Meeting and many other practices advocated by the folks at Responsive Classroom.

To be truthful, I hadn’t planned a post on this topic in my editorial calendar. However, the RC newsletter arrived in the mail last week and I was reminded again of how much I admire this organization.

The cover article was focused on teacher language and the power of our words to impact student behavior and learning. Adapted from the book, The Power of Our Words, the article talks about the 3 R’s of teacher language: reinforcing language, reminding language, and redirecting language.

Though I am a 20 year education veteran, the article challenged me to revisit some of the “talk” I use with children and think of ways I could rephrase or reframe my “teacher language” for increased success.

Another article was about asking strategic questions . The premise is that when we teach children to generate their own thoughtful questions instead of simply answering ours all day, we are empowering them with important, life-long thinking skills. As author Margaret Berry Wilson states,

“Learning to ask questions moves children beyond themselves; they become able not only to consider what they know or think but also to seek out the knowledge and opinions of others. To do this, however, children need to be taught how to ask relevant, respectful, and probing questions.”

The rest of the article shares helpful and practical strategies for teaching children how to ask their own strategic questions.

Reading the RC newsletter is like a pedagogical B-12 shot for teachers!

Do you receive the newsletter from The Responsive Classroom? It’s always available online but I dearly love receiving my print copy each season. Sign up here. It’s free! I love them so much I save them on a shelf and can’t bring myself to recycle them. Too much wisdom in those pages!

If you struggle to connect with your students or manage your classroom, I HIGHLY recommend the Responsive Classroom resources. Go check it out!

Do you use RC practices? I’d love to hear from you on this topic!

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