0144: #Classroom Management in Contexts of Affluence and #Poverty
#education #SOSchat #k12chat
Classroom management styles vary from teacher to teacher, school to school, and often from socio-economic class to class. Before delving a little more into that, I think we make a grave mistake if we try to segment “classroom management” from “learning” or how the class is run. In a perfect world they all work in concert to create a lovely teaching-learning environment where everyone is engaged and on-task. This is the reality for some, but, I dare say, this is not the norm. In schools where students are less affluent, meaning more free/reduced lunch, higher poverty rates, lower quality of life, less upper/middle class, classroom management functions more as a measure or set of measured imposed upon a class. These schools, and I will stick to ‘these schools’ because that is my experience, often function under a highly top-down and behaviorist approach to management of students and teachers. I’ve had the privilege to visit more affluent schools either as an observer, professional developer, or speaker, and have noted a much different environment. Freedoms are more plentiful, it seems. Things as simple as a lunch period where students are free to sit where they like, a break, recess, etc. These are things that all students should take for granted, but cannot. I acknowledge that this could have all been a charade, and in no way normal, but there certainly was a different feeling.
Behavioral and teaching styles range from the highly constructivist to the behaviorist end of the continuum. The desired outcome usually determines the method of delivery. For instance, a school struggling to meet standards, that is, they are in trouble, will often resort to a very rigid and behaviorist structure. Skill and drill. It just so happens schools that are in trouble tend to be low income schools. To continue, skill and drill is boring and not very engaging. There is little time to chase rabbits and nurture curiosity, in turn, bored, understimulated children become behavior problems (this is not the only cause for behavior problems, of course). And, this does not include just a small handful, say that 5% that actually are in need of authentic behavioral interventions; rather, the majority of the population becomes unruly. Multiply that by 10-12 years of constant understimulation, boredom, external behavioral measures that are often punitive, and you have a recipe for absolute dependence on an external force to dictate learning. In these cases the banking model of learning, a top down, teacher controlled model, becomes the only option. Curiosity has been killed. Independent learning lay barely breathing to the side.
At the other end of the spectrum, is the very loose and free constructivist model that allows for free exploration of one’s environment. These classrooms aren’t very intervention heavy as students often enter these educational environments with there needs already met. They enter school with exquisite vocabularies and myriad experiences. They’re not leaving one stressful environment and entering another. In such environments there is little perceived need for “harsh” external measures because, to be frank, the kids are already under control, as dictated by pre-existing social norms. Plus, parents wouldn’t stand for such measures in a school like this. Not to say that parents in other schools enjoy having their children treated like they are in a test/prison prep program.
Schools that are struggling come with all sorts of subtle propaganda that is cleverly woven into the general consciousness of administration, teachers, parents, and students. Motivational meetings, assemblies, newspaper reports, parent contracts, zero tolerance, fear mongering, the general idea that “we have to work together to get our school out of trouble”, and so forth all run together into the message that the school and all its constituents are in a crisis. And, everything is justifiable during a crisis. This may not be the overt intent, and it probably isn’t deliberate, but this mentality allows for practices that are less than helpful to our students, teachers, communities, etc.
To name a few “harsh” practices I’ve encountered in these schools:
excessive corporal punishment, training students to respond to clickers (yes, dog clickers), removal of recess, removal of anything “fun”, i.e., music, art, and P.E., and making them rewards rather than activities factored into a regular day. I could go on. The point I am trying to make, and probably should have made with greater brevity, is that anything that looks, smells, or sounds like training is not the best practice in management or teaching. Students have a right to free will, critical consciousness, open discourse, and so forth.
If we simply train those in poverty, and nurture the wealthy, what do we have other than some revisiting of feudal society with a healthy touch of Huxleyan eugenics?
I submit styles of management and teaching affect the learner far beyond the content being taught.
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- idens2011 answered: so true
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- populationpensive answered: Wonderful. Beautifully stated and awesome.
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- tomesaway answered: This is how it’s done at my very impoverished high school. We’re essentially a test-prep factory w/ a side of kinda-IB for the literate kids.
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