In module 3, I learned how to work on three core components in classroom management; behavioral, instructional, and organizational (BIO Management). I also learned how I can develop collaboration culture in my classroom, and understood how it can influence on my students` learning improvement. Collaboration can occur in different ways. I will reflect my plan about two types of collaborations that involves second-grade students in different concept areas. One type of collaboration involves students working in class management. The other one involves students working in small group study.
I watched videos of Elementary school which is my area of work. The idea of students` collaboration in class management, or in some way school management, was excellent. At the first, I thought it is embarrassing to ask a student to be a restroom manager; which seems funny. But, at the end of the video, I found the purpose of idea, and it was amazing to see how much students enjoyed being a manager and do a job done. It is not important what is the job. The culture of collaboration is the objective of this practice. It helps students to be ready for their future career`s responsibilities. Students` participation in class management helps them understand the consequence of their behavior. Indeed, they feel the job`s importance and try to do their best. It lets students learn discipline and be more independent. As one of the students who shared his experience of being class manager, he feels important and satisfied in the classroom. He thinks that class can be more productive when everybody participates in class activities. It definitely impacts on the whole class behavior. Students recognize that it is not only teacher`s responsibility to manage the class. Instead, they identify themselves as a person who belongs to this community who should be reliable and responsible in classroom management. According to the video, learning performance improves during students` cooperation in class management. This strategy is like what we experience in our home. We usually divide duties between family members. Everybody knows how to do his/her job to have a well-organized home and happy family.
As a second-grade substitute teacher I have opportunity to go around different schools and see different behavioral and instructional management. So, I can make a practical plan for my students` collaboration in classroom activities. For example, I provide some activities that are not heavy and can be done by students. I ask for volunteers for those activities. I divide the works and schedule time for each work. For example, when I want to play a video in classroom, one student turns off the lights. Then, after finishing the video, the student must turn on the lights. He/she knows it is his/her job. I don’t need to push them or remember their job. They are almost ready to do it because they enjoy being manager in the classroom. In my class where students participate in classroom`s works they are more successful. students are active and love the class; and I am more satisfied. I have planned to let my students to participate in class scheduling and work together to plan for class and home assignments. They need to know how educators like me care about them, and this helps them to improve their learning achievement and understand the learning importance.
Collaboration lets my students to improve their leadership skills. Students who accept responsibilities as a class manager or office manager will know how they can influence on their class organization. They understand there is no more tough rules. Instead, students get involved in ruling and managing the classroom and helping other students` improvement. Even if the job is passing out the pencil, I can feel the power it gives them to be in a position that lets others see them. On the other hand, I will have more time to work on my academic performance. I don’t need to play a big brother role anymore. Instead, students help me to organize the class. Everybody is busy with his/her duties.
I read the article, “Essential Skills for New Teachers”, and I found it very interesting and helpful. This article provides some practical strategies to help new educators like me to improve their essential skills of making plan to manage the classroom. As a novice teacher, I need to improve my lesson planning instruction and class management skills. I don’t have too much experience in those two areas. Fortunately, substituting gives me a significant opportunity to be familiar with classroom environment and learners` behavior. I can assume who are my learners, and what are their needs. It helps me work on my classroom management strategies. I used to make in-flight planning, and most of the time it helps me to be ready for the next similar situations. It is a good practice to advance my planning strategy. I live in the same community that I am working. So, it helps me get more involved with community`s environment and know my learners better. In my opinion, substituting is a great training opportunity that helps beginner teachers to practice teaching skills in a real field. Therefore, I improve my essential skills to take more responsibilities in my future actual classroom.
The other type of collaboration in classroom involves students working in small group study. I remember in my childhood school experience, we rarely had grouping work in class. Students` desk was separated and talking in the class was not allowed. We didn’t have too much opportunity to share our ideas. Collaboration in the classroom was not substantial, and learning strategy was teacher-centered. We almost had group study out of the class time. Especially, when we were studying for tests. It was my best experience.
Today, everything is different. The classroom furniture is arranged in the way that students can communicate with each other. I see how much classroom is more flexible for students than how it was in the past. The classroom environment is more effective when I let my students cooperate with each other. Student-centered strategy encourages my learners with different abilities to collaborate and help together to improve their learning performance. In collaborative learning the main focus of instruction is mostly on students, and students participate in learning process actively.
However, higher grade students almost are ready to take more responsibility in group working, in elementary level it is a little hard to distribute the collaboration culture and teach students the collaborative learning importance. Taking responsibility in the classroom and working with others is almost a new skill for elementary students. They are too young to understand the philosophy of collaboration. So, before giving any responsibility or asking them to work in group, I prefer to teach my second-grade students the culture of cooperation. My students must learn how to share their ideas, and how to respect other`s opinions. They need to understand the purpose and meaning of collaboration. I start by playing some video tape related to their similar age teamwork in classroom. Then, I divide them in small groups of two or three. I mix my students with different talents and capabilities in learning in a group and encourage students who have more experience to help others who don’t. For example, some students struggle in solving problems. They cannot reach out to a particular answer easily. Group study helps such students listen to others solution and develops their level of thinking in different situations.
Group working develops students` social skills such as respecting others` opinion, working with team, being a good listener, and encouraging others to get involved in group discussion. It also encourages students to give feedback to other`s work. I ask my students to listen to others and give feedback to their peer, and discuss about their ideas. Collaboration approach prepares students for real-world challenges. It enhances their confidence, and increases their understanding of different vision.
Although, group learning has some limitations but its advantages are more outstanding (Freiberg, 2005). For example, students should follow group decision, and accept the group conclusion. It limits students who don’t agree with the outcomes, but to respect other`s opinion, they must accept the result. On the other hand, this kind of practices helps students to be opened-mind and learn how to respect others` ideas, and prepares them to collaborate with different people.
School is the most prominent place for kids. It impacts on their personal characteristic and social behavior. It is very important how our kids remember their school experiences. What they learn and what they become is our responsibility. Making good plans for students to have a pleasant learning experience is fundamental principle for all educator and school staffs.
Freiberg, H. J., & Driscoll, A. (2005). Universal Teaching Strategies (4th edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Freiberg, H. J., (2002, March). Essential Skills for New Teachers. https://elearning.uh.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-3425182-dt-content-rid-23442159_1/courses/H_20171_CUIN_7304_17496_MAIN/Essential%20Skills%20for%20New%20Teachers.pdf