Why I Have Co-operation And Harmony In My Classroom

All my students do their Homework.  They all get to school on time.  They are impeccably polite and respectful in their address.  Their bookwork is exemplary.  On excursions we always receive compliments.

I am not saying these things to boast or have tickets on myself.  I started out on my teaching career as a dismal failure.  In fact, I completely lost control of my first class and had to resign after just one term.

That was 27 years ago and since then I have learned a thing or two that was never taught at university.

One of the most important things I have learned is that nothing motivates children more than success.  Therefore, it is of the utmost advantage to ensure that all the children are able to experience success.

At the beginning of the school year I send a short letter home to parents stating what the expectations are.  Now, what happens when the expectations are not met?  Simple!  Nothing.

Huh?  I hear you ask.  You got it.  But for those who do meet the expectations there are rewards.  Those who did not meet the expectations miss out.

This all happens within the classroom.  You do no want the child's opportunities and reputation to be damaged.

You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.  So reward good behaviour and ignore the bad.

As a priority, you need to ascertain who in your class has special learning needs and you have to work out a strategy whereby they can succeed and make progress and receive appropriate recognition.

It is imperative that it is the strategy that changes rather than the level of difficulty wherever possible.

And have a routine.  Have things that happen in the same order each day.  In the exercises or activities you do, have a strong element of predictability.  What a difference this makes!

Children who suffer from anxiety thrive with structure.  They know what's coming.  The fear factor is reduced to minimum.

In my room the boys sit next to girls.  The noise level is zero.  I would do that throughout the entire school it works so well.  If you sit children in groups, you are going to have instant distraction and instant noise.  I sit them in boy/girl pairs.  Because they have no desire to be communicating, they are concentrating on their work.

Finally, mark every little thing they do.  This shows them that you consider all their efforts to be of importance.

My incentives include things like stickers, ticks on a chart, certificates, notes in their diaries to parents and at the end of the week, a student of the week award and a few chocolate bars.

  I have a Homework sheet that I stick in their diaries at the beginning of each week.  It clearly sets out what is to be done each day.  I also include their weekly test results on it so the parents have a weekly update on their child's progress. 

And make a big deal of achievements.  When someone succeeds at something, however small, celebrate it with the whole class.  Teach the class to be nurturing and understanding.

Problems in teaching are bound to arise.  But there are lots of little things we can do to make the path smoother. 

perseverer perseverer
56-60, F
16 Responses Feb 21, 2010

Thank you for your insights and affirmation.

I think you are right about success feeding success. It is a strategy that builds resilience. I find your strategy useful when I'm practicing a foreighn language, or on other goals. I do the easy part first the 'confidence builder' then after that I can face increases in hardship. It builds my tolerance.

Thank you for your kind comment. I would have been honored to have you as my pupil.

Thank you OptimisticallyGuarded and andyneil. There seems to be more children suffering from anxiety than ever before. A strict routine is their best coping mechanism. I have been teaching Grade Three for the last three years and next year will be teaching a 3/4 composite. I really do appreciate your kind affirmation.

I like the line which states that success motivates. I will always remember that with my students (and own children too!). Thank you!!!

Thankyou for your generous comments. Saul of Tarsus, you have my sympathy and respect. People who are not teachers rarely understand the degree of commitment involved. It is very hard to leave this job at the door when you come home. It is all too easy to suffer burnout. I did myself in the early days, but I'm glad I came back.<br />
<br />
Eyes, you are so right. I do actually punish as well. But because it is the last resort, it is more effective. Even an action as simple as writing a child's name on the board has enormous impact in my classroom. It is rarely done and is therefore a sign of absolute disgrace. But I would also add, that is important for children in disgrace to be given the opportunity to recover their dignity.

My interpretation of silence222 is that kids respond to a witty repartee with their teachers. I teach inner city high school students, and while rewards do wonders, the students do not respond well to teachers who only reward and never punish, the teachers who are saccharine sweet are called elementary, and the kids like them, but don't respect them. <br />
<br />
I make sure that I praise my kids when they do well, but I also tell them the truth about why they aren't - then i offer a solution. I banter with my kids, play the little word games with them that make them laugh, and think. I also have very few discipline problems in my class. <br />
<br />
But my school is not one that really encourages the kids to do homework or even get to class on time. I am working hard to change it for next year, but when your kids have 8 different teachers, the game changes.

I am a retired teacher who likes your ideas. Know from experience what you are doing takes alot of time and effort on your part. Your day does not end when the last bell rings. To do all you do, also, takes a toll on your own personal life. Oh, yes, teacher's have life to live away from school. I took early retirement because I was feeling burned out. Eventually got a part time job just to be with people. Don't miss all the meetings and paper work but did miss the people. Have a great day. You seem like a very good person.

I should add that, as someone who has taught many different classes and levels from Prep to university, that teaching styles and methods vary according to age groups. The most important thing that I have found that is consistent accross the grades is that it is crucial for every student to feel successful.

Thankyou, Silence222. I do teach young children. I often say, people might not like what I do, but they can't argue with the results. On a national scale, my class ranks in the top 3.

Well yes of course ... but I'm more inclined to respect the opinion of a teacher who relies on their verbal skills to shock their class into silence than one who relies on chocolate - this is coming out more aggresively than I mean it too ... I just don't want teachers to come across this and think these methods are ideal.

Hmm, I assume you teach young children - say early primary school age?Because reading this as a fifteen year old student, I'd anticipate your methods earning ridicule and disruption. Aside perhaps from marking everything they do - but only because telling them where they go wrong should help them improve, not because they care what you think.

My pleasure! I certainly learned the hard and painful way. It's amazing how often little strategies make a great big heap of difference. Keep up the good work, TenaLover. As long as you are willing to learn, you will become a truly great teacher.

Very interesting Perseverer,<br />
I have been taking this approach more and more (pos. remarks and making a big deal out of meeting my expectations) since I began subbing. I also work humor into the equation and I am finding that I have less and less discipline problems with students. I thought it was funny how you said you sat boy/girl next to eachother so they wouldn't talk, because this was the exact formula that I came up with for my cooperating teacher when I was her teacher assistant and she had already moved them 3 times prior to that, but my seating chart was the only one that kept the class quiet and in order! Thank you for sharing with us your years of experience!

Sorry jimboa2020blue, I can't help you on that one.

Believe me, I am the one who is blessed, to have been forgiven for my first failure and have grace poured out upon me to turn my failure into success. And to be working with such wonderful people who are a constant inspiration to me. Thankyou!