Observations on Classroom Management

My experiences with classroom management here have been very different from what I’ve seen in my placements in the past. I do think it has to do with being in a different grade level to an extent, but cultural differences certainly play into it as well. From my observations and my conversations with my cooperating teachers, it seems that this is an area where they face many struggles. Like with any school, the level of management that is required is very different from class to class. From what I’ve found, in general, the youngers students have fewer management issues than the older students. Most of the behavioral issues seem to stem from a lack of engagement in the teaching material. To be quite honest, I don’t blame these students for being checked out of the lessons. The scripted curriculum they use for English instruction is quite dry, and I’m afraid that I still don’t know enough about these students to be planning lessons that match their English proficiency level, so most of what I’m trying to teach them doesn’t really seem to register with them either. I was a lot more successful with my Japanese food lessons than I was with my American geography lessons because at least with the food they were somewhat intrigued by the topic. On the other hand, despite my efforts to create activities and utilize worksheets, the geography lessons still seem to be something that the students can’t really connect with and some of the language may be over their heads.
From what I’ve seen, there are no specific procedures or routines for classroom management. The biggest behavioral issues that I’ve seen are just the constant chatting between students. This issue is only addressed through verbal warnings and may solve the problem to an extent, but the quiet doesn’t last for very long. I’ve seen both of my teachers stop lessons and angrily scold the students, but I don’t think the students take them very seriously. Mostly, the behavior is ignored if it’s just a student or two, and only addressed when the class becomes too noisy as a whole. I think the reason this is such a persistent issues is because there are no real consequences for the students, and they just see it as something that they can get away with. I asked my teachers if students ever get sent to see the principal, but they were very surprised by this and said that they don’t. From what I understand, the principal isn’t even always at school. There is no individualized management to address each student. The class is only ever managed as a whole, which is also a reason why the warnings don’t really have an impact on the students because they can easily hide behind the rest of the class and brush it off as if it wasn’t actually meant for them.
Many of the teachers mostly just raise their voice to get through to their students. This week I witnessed a substitute teacher bang on the table to get the students to quiet down, and I’ve heard from some of my other classmates that they see this done in their classes often as well, even in elementary classrooms. Most of the teachers take an authoritative position to try to get through to their students. I am no expert in classroom management, especially for middle school students, but I wonder if they would have an easier time managing the students if they tried to connect with them more. The students don’t seem to have a lot of respect for the teachers, and it is pretty clear to see that there isn’t a strong relationship between the students and the teacher. I think this is probably quite difficult to achieve since the students see so many different teachers in one day, and only for a short period, but I don’t think it’s impossible. I know managing the students is a stress factor for both of my cooperating teachers, and they have opened up to me many times about how they feel at a loss for what to do. I think both of them are rather burnt out because of this. Although I don’t have any clear answers for them, I can only say from my experience that the best way to manage students is to get to know them and address them individually, address even small behavioral issues right away so they don’t snowball and cause disruptions and frustration, and take a calm yet firm approach with them. Additionally, students need to know that there are consequences to their actions and be held to those, or they will never learn to stop behaving inappropriately. Good classroom management isn’t about controlling the students, but rather, motivating them and engaging them while showing to them how much you care about their educational success. Students need to be held to high standards, and if you do, they will respond to them, as they see that as a sign that their teacher genuinely cares about them rather than just ignoring their undesirable behaviors.