by Leo Cole Jr., educator, blogger

This is the first in a series of articles, designed and expressly directed to the elementary and high school teacher. These articles are based on true and daily practices collected through observation in fully functional highly qualified teacher’s classrooms. The students are generally at-risk of dropping out later on in life because of socioeconomic barriers to learning as well as other challenges. The students and classrooms chosen range from general education students to students with exceptionalities and students who have reentered high school after dropping out on one or more occasions. This common occurrence is due in whole or part to personal struggles with academics, home life, pregnancy, court orders and bad choices. Parents of these students are usually not a part of the educational support group and may very well be one of the key factors to success for these students.

For these articles we shall focus on the day-to-day classroom administration. The in-debt knowledge not taught in teacher’s colleges and universities.

The responsibility of the classroom teacher is of pivotal importance in our society today and these tips, rule of thumbs, and real world solutions found in this series will hopefully change the lives of students all over the world and make teaching a delight. As a former teacher in the classroom with students who are at risk for dropping out; I empathize with the teachers and students in their journey and struggles. The goal is to help students complete their K through 12 education and consequently go on to post secondary education or enter the workforce.

Now, the tips and procedures in this excerpt will primarily focus on elementary to middle school classrooms but can be implemented throughout all grade levels.

Here are some tips, rule of thumbs, procedures or strategies for composing the classroom:

  1. Have an orderly and neat classroom

The first thing that I noticed in a particular classroom (after observing a quiet and engaged group of students) is that the classroom was clean and orderly with clearly displayed scheduled times of what needed to happen and when. The students knew when classroom activities and lessons would occur and became to rely on this schedule to move from one activity to the next.

  1. Clearly display a system for unacceptable behavior

In the observed classroom was a method by which the teacher and the students would keep up with their behavior-good and not so good. All students started out with great behavior positions and then would have demerits are points deducted from the chart/board as the day progressed. The students moved their positions as the teacher instructed them. As the behavior in the moment deteriorated or consistent better behavior improved their position, the student would walk up to the chart and move their name upward or downward. This system worked in a variety of formats with the central theme being that, the student’s actions controlled the movement of their daily behavior status. Rewards and consequences were also tied to their actions. [I will give detailed descriptions and examples in a later session or package for teachers]

  1. Students respond to disapproval or      approval triggers

Children in effect look to please the adult in the family or group structure. Children respond to parents and teachers that show genuine concern for the safety, education, and their overall welfare.  When teachers verbalize their displeasure with the behavior of a student, they tap into the child’s emotional need to please the adult in the learning environment or quasi family unit. Stating that you are not pleased with the action(s) of a particular student in your classroom clearly sends a message. Sending a positive message to students with acceptable behavior boosts their confidence level. Receiving the message of disapproval or approval gives the child an opportunity to get on track in a positive way. Now, they all are looking for your (teacher) approval.

This method or correcting unwanted behaviors rings strongly in a student’s natural desire to please the adult. Punishing unwanted behaviors lead to conflict, strife and combative retaliatory responses for adolescents.

Leo Cole Jr. is an educator, musician, artist, entrepreneur, and blogger. His company Upskilling America is providing education and preparations for people helping move the country towards more stable long-term competitive viability.


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