Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

An Air of Expectation

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

An Air of Expectation

Article excerpt

There's something exciting about beginning a new year. Students, teachers, administrators and parents have the opportunity to start new and fresh without the baggage of the year before. This is a time to build strong relationships between students and teachers, teachers and administrators, the school and the home.

Now is the ideal time to empower all these stakeholders by establishing procedures for classroom behavior. This should be Priority 1. Without good classroom management and established procedures, learning will be inhibited.

First, teachers need to set some expectations rather than wave a long list of classroom rules and regulations. Students need to know up front what is expected of them. They don't respond well to a long "do-and-don't" list, especially when it's weighted toward the "don't." By the time most secondary students have listened to these lists from several teachers, you can be assured that they have become totally bored.

Make behavior part of your subject matter by emphasizing expectations. Teachers should consider past consultations with parents, administrators and individual students to design reasonable expectations. It may not be fair, for example, to expect all students to devote a set number of hours to at-home study when some may have limited privacy and free time.

RECYCLE THE RESEARCH

Instead of spending valuable dollars researching effective classrooms, let's use what's already out there and focus instead on improving instruction. We've been going around in circles since the 1960s. We've now gone from a basic skills focus to an elective-based curriculum and back to basic skills again. We should know by now the characteristics of effective classrooms--the teacher understands different learning styles, she's a strong leader and she gives kids a chance to make mistakes. She also sets boundaries for students. Education was too liberal in the late '60s and '70s, when we gave kids too much freedom and treated them as adults. We now know they need structure along with outlets for creativity.

In effective classrooms, teachers set high yet attainable goals. If a teacher knows a student is not capable of earning an A right away, he sets a high C or low B as the immediate grade goal to work up the student's confidence. A good teacher respects individual students rather than forcing a laundry list of do's and don'ts on everyone. …

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