The case study examines a secondary school teacher as she narrates her experiences in classroom management. The schools represent various socioeconomic aspects, diverse cultures, and even dissimilar school frameworks. The case focuses on Amber, a teacher in a state comprehensive boy's high school. Her strategy for classroom management is 'teaching focus' entailing student participation in student-oriented and intellectually challenging learning assignments that integrate literacy and solving problems. The case study analysis examines the school factors that may inform potential management problems and the relationship between teaching focus and management focus. The paper also examines classroom management strategies and commentary issues.
School Context Factors That Might Inform Potential Management Problems
Amber believes that management is mostly problematic because of high staff turnover, the relatively limited number of competent teachers and the low level of literacy among students. Staff turnover is a problem that can set a student's learning experience back substantially. It can also affect the management of the school curriculum and attainment of learning objectives. High staff turnover is linked to a heavy loss in learning time due to interruption in classroom activities (Bradly & Scully, 2005). Staff turnover mostly affects schools with fewer resources. The teaching staff is nearly twice as likely to depart schools with fewer resources compared to the most affluent school. This poses a management challenge as the schools seek a replacement. Additionally, with high annual staff turnover, students are likely to be taught by a less experienced teacher.
A limited number of competent teachers mean that students will receive below-average education. Newly graduate teachers do not reach the required level of classroom competence. The competency levels are based on teaching methods, subject knowledge, the capability to engage students, and how well they fulfill the requirements. However, due to limited skills that teachers have, they tend to be ineffective. Lack of competence in some learning units in teachers results in failure of the students.
In some schools, the teacher may lack the needed competence envisaged to deliver the intended curriculum (Nagro, Hooks, Fraser, & Cornelius, 2018). Therefore, there is a need to establish competency-based programs to increase teacher's performance. Low level of literacy among students is a management problem in schools. It means that students have a weak level of skills to understand the curriculum. Below average literacy shows that students have underdeveloped coping skills for managing everyday literacy demands. When such a case happens, the teacher will be unable to perform her duties in an effective way (Wang, 2011). Even with the repetition of the teaching programs, the students are likely to perform below average.
Relationship between 'Teaching Focus' and 'Management Focus'
Amber's teaching activities, integrating literacy skills, and problem-solving, comprise a drastic departure from the student's conventional fare of directed instruction. In one task, students operate in groups of twos or threes that consequently join (tangram groups) to learn and instruct each other regarding the rainforest layers of emergent, forest floor, understorey, and canopy. "Teaching focus" mostly emphasizes competency in listening and presentation of activities. "Teaching focus" by Amber ensures that students have outlined tasks that they are supposed to accomplish. Similarly, management focus has a pre-determined agenda for the students which they are expected to achieve before the set deadline (Yildiz, 2015). Teaching focus in classroom management takes into consideration the needs of the students at any given point. The focus can be termed as a 'student-oriented' style.
However, the management focus in classroom management is a wide-range style and does not specifically narrow down to a student-oriented teaching strategy. In most cases, management focus is applicable in the management of the whole school but not in a classroom. A quality curriculum permits schools and households to guide their prospects. The curriculum enhances them to impart crucial subjects like science, history, geography, and literature efficiently. Without an effective program, educational institutions would be all over the place without key objectives.
A quality curriculum helps a teacher to plan the education process for a given period. A competent program ensures that the learner's ability, needs, aptitudes, interests, values, and potential for learning are properly attained (Guardino & Fullerton, 2010). Quality teaching helps in student learning. Proficient instruction does not happen by chance. Effective teachers have to become good at what they do and ensure they assess their practice constantly. The value of teaching is a crucial element in education management. In addition, competent instruction generates high levels of intellectual quality and permits students to establish a powerful knowledge concept and perspective learning. In school management, quality teaching means that high-level performance will be attained (Jordan, Schwartz, & McGhie-Richmond, 2009).
Amber's classroom management strategies
Amber has provided nine-point management strategies that have helped her in engaging students, solve problems, build relationships with students, promote their self-esteem, and facilitate learning activities. One of the management strategies is teaching focus. She explains that engagement comes from significant academic challenges and proficient collaboration between stakeholders. The strategy also teaches the skills of listening, presentation, and negotiation (Brady & Scully, 2005).
Another management strategy is when she delineates her prospects and details for students. This entails in assessing the goals set and how they can be attained. Amber also ensures that she keeps the lessons in a continuous process. She has a conviction that the uninterrupted process is crucial in drawing attention to an absent-minded student. Another management strategy entails the provision of reliable appraisal as a way of engaging students, although it must be completely vindicated (Brady & Scully, 2005). Amber also nurtures a classroom culture of zero tolerance in connection to any conduct that disrupts learning.
Amber supports a learning process that is consistent without any interruptions. Amber supports a management strategy that approves the significance of relationship-building by saluting all students by their names as they enter their respective classrooms. Her management strategy of using humor engages students and also relieves tension. It also ensures that there are minimal disruptions during the learning process. She also focuses on finding the root of disruption and addressing the issue before it gets out of hand. The last management strategy is moving students to other sitting positions after two forewarnings (Brady and Scully, 2005). Students are not sent away from their classroom because it can be interrupting. They can also become idle and disrupt anyone who enters the classroom. The best management strategy for adoption is the cultivation of a classroom culture that does not tolerate behavior that interrupts learning. This is essential in ensuring that there is a 100% concentration. According to Guardino and Fullerton (2010), turning problems into teachable moments is one of the ways a classroom culture can reduce disruption. Students get interested in following steps that can yield positive behavior. This improves their problem-solving skills and builds teamwork which is crucial in the classroom (Rapp & Arndt, 2012).
Amber's Management of Children's Anger
When Amber faces a One year 10 boy with anger, she often talks quietly or takes him for a walk. This tactic is efficient instead of scolding the boy. Amber also focuses on undertaking an anger awareness program with the boy once a week. While taking a walk, a teacher understands the basis of the anger. Taking time with a child makes the teacher monitor, the episodes of anger; they may be fleeting instances of frustrations or annoyance (Guardino & Fullerton, 2010). Amber's anger management style shows that any form of behavior in a child is communication. Since the boy does not have the skills to manage his sentiments or express them more maturely, he demonstrates it through anger (Wang, 2011). Instead of yelling at the boy, Amber takes time and reaches to him. With time, the child will learn that staying calm enables a person to control their emotions.
According to Yildiz (2015), a polite discussion with a child instills good behavior that would have been absent if Amber shouted at the boy. However, polite talk calms a person and gives him time to pull himself together. Amber knows that when the boy is calm, he will express his feelings calmly and verbally. Polite talk and a short walk are good problem-solving skills. It ensures that a child does not engage in non-violent behavior (Wang, 2011).
Amber is also able to ask him how he feels and how he believes that he might solve the problem facing him. If I was in Amber's situation, I would ensure that I learn more about the child and understand his anger triggers. Based on that, I will be able to understand the things that the boy does not like and ensure that they are avoided completely. Another thing would be to prepare the child for situations that trigger anger. This way, the child will learn to cope with them and avoid angry outbursts.
Commentary on Amber's Case Focusing on Areas of Agreement and Disagreement
I agree that Amber's arguments are fit in ensuring that teachers become competent in their classrooms. She notes that every school settings offer a challenge yet the layers established by a 'stressed socioeconomic aspect' and cultural diversity result in different challenges. Amber uses a time-oriented practice that can assist in supporting teachers in any school setting. I agree that in a situation where competency is a problem, it would be difficult to apply management strategies. Beginner teachers usually experience competency problems due to unfamiliarity with the teaching environment and lack of sufficient knowledge of their students (Rapp & Arndt, 2012). Amber's comprehensive teaching strategy can be attributed to her success. However, I disagree that engagement comes from meaningful intellectual challenges. Student engagement should be simple for everyone. Some problems faced in classroom management are the low level of literacy in students. Therefore, there should be simple ways of engaging students without challenging them intellectually.
I agree with Amber's classroom management strategy of engaging students in every way. It is essential to develop a relationship with students so that the learning process is not interrupted. Additionally, using a sense of humor during the learning process creates a conducive environment for students. They tend to understand the learning concepts when the classroom environment supports their mood. Changing the sitting positions of disruptive students is also a good way to reduce unwanted behavior in the classroom. A new sitting arrangement for a disruptive student means that they will take time to adjust to the position and will increase the chances of cessation of disruptive behavior. I also agree that Amber's classroom management strategies are essential in supporting children with psychological and related issues.
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