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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Control in the Classroom

Today we feature a guest post from Nancy Simmons of Online Science Degrees entitled "Controlling a Classroom -- Are Teachers up for It?" This is a post that hits somewhat close to home for many or most of us.

Controlling a Classroom – Are Teachers up to It?

Back in the days when I was in school, I used to look up to my teachers as if they were demigods who could do no wrong. In my eyes, they were perfect and I strived to do my best for them because I wanted to please them in every possible way. It was only as I grew older that the sheen lifted from my eyes and I realized that teachers were human as well. But within the confines of a classroom, any teacher worth his salt has a demeanor to uphold, one that portrays dignity and knowledge. They come across as learned in their subject and wise in other areas as well.

For example, teachers who handle younger students are often able to read children even though they are not trained psychologists. They have a knack for picking out trouble makers and isolating them from the rest of the class so that any impending chaos is nipped in the bud. And professors in college know that they’re not really responsible for the moral behavior of their students and as long as their classes are not disturbed or interrupted, they don’t really worry about their students’ performance.

But even though the best of teachers appear to be unflappable most of the time and seem in control of any situation, there are times when their human nature tends to come out and affect the way they control their classroom:

· When their personal lives are affected: My fifth grade teacher was the best in the business, so when she broke down in the middle of a lesson on the first day of a new term, we were all stunned to say the least. She had always seemed so cool and controlled, never exceeding her limits of friendliness that were couched in a teacher’s veneer. We later learned that her husband had passed away during the vacation, in a boating accident. That was the day I realized that personal tragedy can overcome even the staunchest of us in any situation.

· When they cannot regain control of a classroom: Most teachers know how to control their classes, but when one or two rogue elements succeed in creating havoc and causing a ruckus, things get out of hand and the teacher does not really know what to do. So they resort to shouting and screaming, all of which is to no avail. Then comes the loss of temper and the total helplessness which forces them to sit back and do nothing other than wait for the class to settle down on its own. The only way they can regain control is if they appeal to a higher authority or use their powers to threaten the students in some way.

· When they don’t have the support of the school management: And finally, teachers who do not have the backing of the school management always find themselves at the receiving end in class, no matter how good they are at their job. Troublemakers know that they are helpless, and so take great pleasure in disrupting their classes and causing mayhem.

The bottom line - a teacher must be knowledgeable in much more than the subject – only then can he or she be king/queen of the classroom.


This guest post is contributed by Nancy Simmons, who writes on the topic of online science degrees . She welcomes your comments at her email address: .


Nick James said...

This is all very true. Students know very well that teachers aren't really allowed to dish out punishments anymore. The worst I can do is give a detention or move for suspension, which is like a day off for those who don't want to be there anyway.

Respect is not inherent in teaching positions (where I teach, at least). This is very dissimilar to the way we regarding teachers when I was going through school. We have to earn the respect of our students in order to get them to do anything worth while. The desire to please the better teachers comes eventually, but it takes quite a while. In the interim far less learning is taking place than should be.

JJ said...

I have been feeling a lack of management support lately. It really does makes things more difficult. There are a small percentage of students that know nothing bad will happen to them. They take up so much time and energy.

What's the solution?

Nicolasa said...

I have been struggling with this for the past few years but especially this year when the group I have feels free to rule the room, no matter what I say or do. I have had enough and really just don't want to go back!

TeachJohnson said...

Another teacher and I were discussing this the other night. The biggest problem with this is that it has a huge effect on the learning going on in the classroom. Could this be the reason some schools are having difficulty meeting AYP?