In the classroom there are many opportunities for disruptions to the flow of learning. When the process of education is disrupted it affects learning outcomes and student progress. Educators and students both play a vital role is how smoothly the class is run. In this paper we will examine common disruptions in the classroom and look at carious ways that these disruptions can be resolved productively and efficiently. Through incorporating different discipline and classroom management styles most interruptions to learning can be avoided and the process of education can continue.
Disruptions come in many forms and we will look at a few. We will first look at common disruptions in the classroom caused by students and then take a look at those caused by teachers. Yes teachers can be a disruption to the learning process and as we will see sometimes they cause more disruption than their students.
It seems that often in today’s society when we think of the typical public school classroom, images of chaotic behavior, chattering students and paper being thrown quickly come to mind. This behavior, while not uncommon should not be the norm, there is a solution. The first three behaviors that we will address is the seemingly ever-present excessive talking, laughter and general outburst. It seems that no matter how many times the lights are turned off, names of students are written on the board, recess or free time taken away students continue to use their voices out of turn in excess ways, making instruction and learning difficult.
Often times when students have an outburst in the class or the talking becomes excessive, teachers sometimes give a general knee-jerk reaction. They may yell at the student who has been consistently talking to “be quiet or… then some threat of a punishment is given and the student is quiet for a moment and the behavior is likely to happen again and the process continues. Educator Barbara Coloroso believed that students should be taught how to govern themselves accordingly and that whatever actions took place in the classroom they were not only responsible for them but that they were held accountable for them. Barbara guided educators to understand that an important part of education students was to also teach them inner discipline and self control. (Building Classroom Discipline, 11th edition, 2014)
In her book Kids Are Worth It: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline, Coloroso outlines key ways in which not only parents but also educators can teach children how to have inner discipline. Coloroso suggest that inner discipline be developed as follows; First students must be shown what they have done wrong, then given ownership of the problem hence making them responsible, following this students are guided on ways to solve the problem when appropriate. Finally Coloroso encourages to educators to ensure that during this entire process the dignity of the student is kept in tact. I imagine that by incorporating this strategy into my classroom management and discipline style my students will gain more self-control and become more aware of the consequences behind their actions. In this way, they will be far more likely to think before they act. Likewise I as a teacher will feel better about the way in which I handle disruptions. With the ability to handle each disruption as a possible teaching moment that encourages students to do better, rather than simply pointing out what they did wrong, students will develop a better sense of trust. Likewise by ensuring that in each situation the student is treated with dignity, students are aware of the respect I have for them and this respect become reciprocal.
Two other common disruptions in the classroom are that of students who get out of their seats at inappropriate times and who take a long time to get organized, settle down and get started on their work . This not only disrupts learning for the student who gets up but it causes a distraction for those around. Often there are tedious reasons for why students are not in their seats. When asked why have they gotten up, a student may respond “I was going to sharpen my pencil.” Likewise when asked why have they not sat down and began the warm up they may reply “I cannot find my pencil.” Educators Harry and Rosemary Wong created a classroom management and discipline theory that creates a way to eliminate many classroom disruptions.
The Wong’s theory suggest, that beginning with the first day of class, students be taught that not only the classroom but that the entire school was a place for successful learning. This theory had to be accepted school wide in order to work effectively. In order to achieve that success teachers, students and administrators and support staff, must do their part. The Wong’s suggest that the biggest hindrance to learning is not the behavior of the students but the ineffective manner in which teachers disseminate information regarding the roles, rules, procedures and expectations in the classroom. (Building Classroom Discipline, 11th edition, 2014)
Upon introduction to the class, teachers are encouraged to two things. First teachers must go over the roles, expectations and responsibilities of both teacher and student (Building Classroom Discipline, 11th edition, 2014). This is done over a period of several days and may continue through reinforcement throughout the first portion of the school year. In this way students not only understand where they fit in the classroom but they also know how everyone else fits as well. In my own classroom I can visualize my students on their first day. Part of my classroom management style will be to ensure that there is a procedure set in place for most of the foreseeable situations in the classroom. One thing that I will make certain to do, is to make the procedures detailed yet simple to understand and follow. In this way my students will be clear on what to do and when. For example, the student who has wasted ten five minutes of the 15 minute warm up time, will know in the beginning of the school year that sitting down and getting started on the warm-up up within the first three minutes of class is mandatory.
If you are not prepared and do not have all of your materials, there are always extras that can be checked out from me and then returned at the end of class. Simple procedures like this will eliminate small disruptions and keep the learning process flowing. The next two disruptions are those students who lack respect for teachers and fellow classmates along with horseplay in the classroom. Teachers must establish and demand respect in the beginning of the class. Students must know not only what is expected of them, but also what happens when they fall short of those expectations. Educator Craig Seganti teaches teachers how to take charge in the classroom. Taking the Seganti approach in my class will dictate that my students know that I am the authority in the classroom. Establishing this authority by setting the rules along with the consequences of breaking them, and enforcing them from day one will put me in control from the outset. When students see that there is no wavering in the rules, they will take what you are saying seriously.
Establishing that the classroom is a place of learning and that anything that disrupts that will have consequences will if not completely eliminate, will certainly minimize disruptions. When teachers and students are disrespected in the classroom it would be good to incorporate civility in the classroom. P.M. Forni was best known for teaching students how to behave civil and with respect n the classroom. By encouraging students to conduct themselves in a way that reflects the “Golden Rule” students will be far less likely to tease and disrespect their teacher and classmates. (Building Classroom Discipline, 11th edition, 2014). Using these two strategies in the classroom will be of great value in the way the classroom is managed. Finally I want to take a look at three behaviors that are exhibited by teachers that cause disruptions in the classroom and halt the learning process. Disorganization, nagging and the inability to leave whatever you have going on at home, at home can cause the classroom environment to feel unsafe and chaotic (Building Classroom Discipline, 11th edition, 2014).
Using a combination of strategies from authorities on classroom management can help with these hindrances to education. First knowing what you want your classroom to look and feel like I a huge help in getting and staying organized. Often times teachers become disorganized because they have lost control of the classroom. By establishing your authority in the classroom as suggested by Seganti, you are less likely to lose control and if this does happen it should be easier to regain. Constant nagging of students over trivial matters of work habits or behavior are not helpful. In the long run you are not taken seriously. Students must know how to behave in the classroom. Ensuring as suggested by Wong that students are crystal clear on expectations and procedures, teachers will spend much less time nagging and more time teaching.
Lastly when teachers are unable to leave their home life separate from their classroom the results can disrupt and devastate a classroom. Teachers must before anything else, know their role. As a teacher you are there to provide a safe learning environment for your students. When your personal life interferes with that, learning outcomes and student-teacher relationships are compromised. In my classroom I imagine that by establishing an initial foundation of authority based on my acknowledgement of my role as teacher and educator, I will be able to create safe, fun and effective learning environment. By creating my classroom management style, revisiting it when necessary and setting up rules and procedures from day one, I will have the freedom to teach without disruptions and my students will be able to achieve all of the learning outcomes that have been set for them.
1. C. M. Charles Building Classroom Discipline, Eleventh Edition, 2014