Period: 1 & 2
Subject: Algebra 1 & Geometry
This observation was completed at a school other than my internship. This school is a typical larger high school with about 1,200 students and many math teachers. Before school started, I had an opportunity to look around the classroom and talk with the teacher. This teacher LOVED Wong & Wong’s (2009) First Days of School Book which we are studying in the Classroom Management Class. When looking around the classroom, the teacher had the activity, warm up standards and homework posted for students to see a forecast of the week.
Ms. P was very clear with her students about expectations, she had many graphics about the procedures of her classroom. As the bell rang, she posted a small picture under the document camera which instructed students to turn their phones off, get materials out, homework out and begin the entry task. Each student had an assigned seat which they were expected to sit in. According to Wong & Wong (2009) this is to establish some control within classroom and maintain authority as the person in charge. In the classroom, a large calendar was posted to emphasize upcoming events in the class, such as quizzes or days off school. The current date and the day’s bell schedule was posted (rotating schedule for the school).
During class, students filled out an activity sheet where Homework was to be recorded and a grade for completion would be posted. Students self-assessed their effort on the homework (4 – All work shown and all problems attempted, 3 – Almost all, 2 – Half, 1 – No work shown, 0 – Not completed on time). This school district requires teacher to use standards based grading, all students are graded on a 4 point scale for all of their work based on the standard for the assignment or test.
One of the most impressive elements of classroom management was the use of students to help run the class. In the first period class, two students were brand new to the classroom. One of them spoke no english and didn’t understand all of the procedures to the classroom. Ms. P has trained her class so well, that she asked a reliable student to show the new students around and explain the classroom procedures. New students were prepared for the next class with the help of peers to obtain a homework assignment sheet, worksheets for the class and tools for completing the in class assignment. This seemed to take a lot of stress off of the teacher in the classroom and allowed them time to instruct the whole class. Having such a strong routine and organization seemed to really help the effectiveness of this classroom.
The power of organization as an element of classroom management became very clear when a portion of the lesson was not as well organized. Ms. P was preparing students for Student Led Conferences when she became slightly confused by the procedure and how to instruct the students. During this period, student’s didn’t know what to do and the class was not as productive as other times during the period. This shows that organization makes a HUGE impact on classroom management.
My last two take aways for classroom management include providing crucial feedback to students when passing tests back (i.e. please include last name, no pens on assessments) so students are clear about their expectation for their assessments. Finally, Ms. P has a quiet space in her classroom where she will stand when she expects the class to be silent. The space is separate from her instructional area and prominently placed near the front of the room so all students can see. This is an excellent nonverbal way to communicate to students that you need their attention.
Based on my understanding of Wong & Wong (2009) and Ms. P’s classroom management plan, this was nothing like I expected, in the best possible way. The theory from the Wong & Wong book really works well. According to Ms. P, first period is a challenging class and I was surprised that she said that because the classroom was running so efficiently. I’m confident with the students attention, this class will make very large improvements, especially with a teacher as organized as Ms. P.
Wong, H., & Wong, R. (2009). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications.