Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ideal, It Doesn't Exist

This summer I was inspired by a class I took. Inspired to look at my classroom management in a new, softer light. Inspired to trust my students would respect the word respect and expectations.

I'm sorry. I tried. It doesn't work. Maybe a teacher with a bigger presence. Maybe a teacher who has the material down so pat they can do it all with out notes or pauses. Maybe a teacher that looks mean and nasty.

My juniors and seniors couldn't handle "respect" as a guiding principle. Perhaps respect is a foreign concept. Perhaps learning is. Whatever it is, it just didn't work.

So, today we got down to business. These are the rules, and this is what happens when you can't follow them. No 'I expect you to respect yourself, each other, blah, blah, blah.' I'm sorry, you'll have to put me down as a non-believer.

In the long list of things I'll already change about next year--this is one. There will be set, specific rules. And there will be set specific consequences with a clear plan of action on the first day of school.

To those who find they don't need rules, I think that is truly amazing. I envy you that kind of unspoken structure. For me, it does not exist. It must be spoken, written, and communicated through every possibly participant in the class.

I have been told lately there is an art to teaching paired with the science, and I am a firm believer in that. And part of that art is figuring out who you are as a teacher and what your personal style is. I don't believe there is a one-style-fits all.

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