For my PIDP 3250 course, our instructor has asked me to facilitate a discussion forum related to classroom management. I have to admit my absolute sense of discomfort with this. I have never participated, let alone facilitated an online forum. So, I read and re-read Doug Mauger’s email instructions and listened to the online instructions. I read over the sample forum summary and previous student advice and got started. I crossed my fingers and hoped that Doug would assist me if I deviated from my role in any way. Reading past student thoughts also helped me feel better.
If I was going to facilitate a forum on classroom management, I had to understand what it was and why it was important to discuss. After reading a few articles, I realized that classroom management is anything that may disrupt the smooth flow of our classroom sessions. This includes distracted students, disruptive students, students coming in late, eating in class, answering cell phones in class and much more.
I plan to post the discussion summary in Part 2 of this blog. I would like to summarize some of my thoughts as I went through the first few days of the forum.
One thing that came out of the discussion was the need to motivate and engage students in learning in order to retain their attention. Bowman (2012) discusses the mind of the millennium generation of learners and their need for engagement. By making students feel like they are an integral part of the classroom teaching, they will want to participate and engage in learning. By explaining why the subject of study is important to the learner’s future, the student will want to learn in order to gain future tools. By providing a safe and supportive learning environment, students will be motivated to participate and engage. This can be simply achieved by being kind and respectful towards our learners.
Classroom and school codes of conduct were discussed. I have personally known about school codes of conduct, but have never personally viewed them. I think it should be a part of all course syllabus materials and student attention should be directed to this section. I really like the idea of a group devised classroom code of conduct. I was introduced to this in my CTLT (Center of Teaching and Learning Technology at U.B.C). By devising a group code of conduct, I found that the behaviour of all members was defined. We as well as our course coordinator offered points of conduct that we wished addressed. Turning our phones on to ‘vibrate only’ mode was one person’s request. As a group, we agreed that if anyone needs to answer their cell phones, they are requested to go outside the classroom in order not to distract other learners.
Cell phones appear to be the new ‘hot topic’ of classroom management. I am not sure where I stand on this. I do think that adult learners rely so highly on their cell phones for most aspects of their lives that they will not be comfortable not using their phone. Moreover, I keep my phone beside me in case my children have to reach me or in case there is a work emergency. Most things can wait an hour or so till our classroom session is completed, however, there is such a social pressure for immediate response that we have been somewhat trained to keep our phone beside us. For me, I think engaging and motivating students will stop ‘playing’ on phones. I like the policy of asking students to turn their phone to vibrate only mode and be aware that cell phone use may distract peers during class. I may even take the hot seat and tell the students that the ringing and use of cell phones distracts me as the facilitator, so I ask students to avoid using their phones and if there is an emergency, please step outside quietly for phone use. As one of the principles of andragogy relates to recognition of the adult learner as an individual who has responsibility outside the class such as a family, children, extended family, work and much more. They need to be treated as adults and given an environment that is not too restrictive; they may need phones to contact their family. With respect to rules, an interesting discussion of striking a balance between being too rigid and too flexible was brought up. Again, I believe this is very important for the adult learner; they should not be treated like children. They need respect and flexibility while maintaining class ‘order’.
I look forward to more classmate thoughts and summarizing everything in part 2 of my blog on classroom management.
Bowen, J. A. (2012). Teaching naked: How moving technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.