'It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather... I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.' ~~Haim Ginott

An essential aspect of my philosophy on classroom management involves the creation and maintaining of a positive and safe learning environment. As a teacher I have a great deal of influence over the climate and environment of my classroom and it is my responsibility to display a positive demeanor, set expectations high for my students, make rules and regulations clear, and establish and teach effective procedures and routines. Over the course of my practicum observations and student teaching experiences my views about classroom management have developed, becoming more concrete with each day I enter my classroom. As part of my classroom management course I created a model of discipline, in which I expanded upon my philosophies of classroom management and how to effectively run a classroom. Many of my beliefs have come from my cooperating teacher's management techniques and I am grateful to have had a cooperating teacher who happens to have very similar management philosophies to my own.

Build Positive Rapport with Students (Competency 19)
At the heart of any classroom management system stands the teacher, for I have the power to affect the entire climate of the classroom and they alone can establish a positive or negative environment for learning. Throughout my time with my 3rd Graders this year I worked to develop a relationship with each and every individual. In the morning I took time to greet them as they come into the room. In the lunch line or at recess I made the effort to talk with students about their day or weekends to learn more about their interests, dislikes, and lives outside of school. It is the personal connection that I built with each of these students that laid a foundation of trust and respect in my classroom. When the students knew that I wanted very much to get to know each of them they felt included and excited to come and learn in Room 207. I believe that my ability to develop positive rapport with students is one of my greatest strengths. In fact, my university supervisor told me that I have a sort of gift in which I have a knack of creating professional and positive relationships with students due to my caring nature.
Lunch line

Organize for Effective Teaching (Competency 20)
As I have control over my own demeanor and attitude in the classroom, possessing the ability to create a positive climate for learning, I also have the responsibility to be organized with my teaching. Given the fact that I am a very organized individual I have found this aspect of classroom management is simply second nature. In the classroom I am always thinking ahead and have a running list of the day's lessons and activities in my head. When I arrived at school each day I made certain to review my lessons for the day and place any materials I may have needed in easily accessible locations so as to disrupt student learning as little as possible. If my students know that I am prepared and have everything together for the day they are far less likely to act out and they also appreciate the fact that I have their learning in my best interests. A prepared and organized teacher sets a special tone in the classroom, a tone that says "As a teacher I have done my part of the bargain by being prepared to teach, and now it is your turn to take your part of the bargain and be prepared to learn".

Demonstrates Use of Effective Routines and Procedures (Competency 21)
Sign Language for "restroom'
critical aspect of classroom management involves establishing routines and procedures at the very start of the school year (Competency 21). The first six weeks of school are imperative for setting up an environment conducive to learning, as procedures and routines must be practiced and rehearsed daily in order to ensure that students fully understand their purpose and implementation. In my classroom we had procedures for lining up, handing out materials, speaking and asking questions, sharpening pencils, taking the attendance to the office, and asking to use the restroom. Students were to line up when called from their tables, which are numbered, and walk quietly to the back of the room. Pencils were sharpened before and after school by my cooperating teacher and I and therefore students did not need to get up to sharpen pencils during the day. When the students are chatty I clap a pattern and the students know to respond with the repeated pattern and "turn off their voices". In the hallways if a student was chatting they were asked to go to the end of the line and the students understand that talking in the hallways is not permitted. To use the restroom students use the sign language symbol for bathroom and wait for confirmation from a teacher before leaving the room. We had a "material manager" at each table and these individuals are asked throughout the day to come to the front of the room to get papers or notebooks from the baskets for their tables. The job of "material manager" rotated weekly so that one student was not tasked with the job at all times. During my student teaching I began a small procedure in which students put a thumb up or down as a comprehension check and "withitness check". The simple hand signal gives me a quick overview of whether or not the students are paying attention and if they are with me.

Job Chart

An important routine in our classroom involves unpacking and getting ready for the school day in the morning. Students come into the classroom, unpack at their cubbies, use the restroom, turn in homework, and read the projector slide for information about morning work and homework (which they copy down in their agendas). During my full time teaching in the classroom I began adding pictures to the slide to check and see which students noticed the change in picture, ultimately discovering how carefully students read the slide. Homework was turned into the "work box" at the front of the classroom so that my CT and I were not overwhelmed with papers coming at us from all directions. To make the process of checking to see who has turned in homework, I created a hw check sheet and the process became so much more efficient. In my own classroom I would like to have a brief morning meeting in the reading corner and morning message as part of the morning routine, in order to start the day off on a positive note.

In addition to our morning routine, we had students who are randomly selected each week to perform jobs around the classroom. These jobs included special helper (takes attendance and helps the teacher), line leader, door holder, monitor (observes the classroom and reports to the teacher), and table washers. Each week jobs are reassigned so that no student has a job for two weeks in a row and all students have the opportunity to perform each job.

Respond Appropriately and Equitably to Student Behavior (Competency 24)
Hand in hand with procedures and routines is a list of classroom rules. It is important that students feel they have responsibility for creating these rules and therefore it is beneficial that students help to come up with the rules. I would like to call a classroom meeting within the first few days of school to have students brainstorm a list of rules that they feel are necessary for creating a safe and exciting learning environment. It has been my experience that when students feel part of the decision making they in turn will hold one another accountable for making sure the rules are followed and consequences are made for when they are broken. As a resident assistant I helped my residents to create a community agreement, or list of rules, for the hall and the residents felt far more responsible for their actions and the actions of others than if I had merely come up with the rules on my own. Thus, when students are asked to participate in rule making, with teacher guidance of course, they will in turn be more likely to follow these rules and enforce them with others. Given the fact that the classroom rules were already established upon the start of my student teaching, I did not need to change them or reteach them. However, in my future classroom I plan to have a democratic meeting in which students work together to write a "Classroom Rules" document, as if they were the founding fathers writing the Constitution of the United States. The students would have a chance to brainstorm in small groups and then present their ideas to the class and vote on the rules to include in the final document.

Ticket Jar and Treats

Students exhibiting "good choice making" in my classroom were positively rewarded through a ticket system. When a student was caught making good choices they are given a ticket. The student then writes his or her name on the back of the ticket and places the ticket in the good citizen jar. Throughout the day, when the class as a whole is making good choices, my CT or I pulled tickets and those students whose names were called were allowed to choose a food or non-food item treat. The ticket system is an excellent probability lesson because it shows students that those who have more tickets in the jar have a greater chance of being chosen when tickets are pulled.
Seastar Baskets

The positive reward system works so well in our classroom that consequences were rarely given. However, in the event that a student is making poor choices consistently they are given a verbal warning. After the warning is given and the student continues to make poor choices they are asked to move their seastar to the yellow basket. The student then missed a few minutes of recess and was asked to think about their choice making. If a student continued to act out they are asked to move their star to red and a note is sent home to the parent. Though consequences were very rare in my classroom, there was an instance where two students in my reading group were not coming prepared to reading group and despite frequent discussions the student continued to come unprepared. My cooperating teacher and I had the students write notes to each of us, apologizing for not being ready to learn and explaining that they would come prepared to reading group in the future. Logical consequences such as these will play a large role in my future classroom because they truly require the students to think about and take responsibilities for their actions.

Maintain a Physically and Emotionally Safe Learning Environment (Competency 23)
The classroom layout is a critical element to implementing any classroom management system and it must be considered carefully to ensure that there is a free flow of traffic, accessibility, and that all students may see the teacher. Though we had decided to keep the tables relatively permanent, as the dimensions of the room allow very few layouts, the children were frequently changing seats to meet their individual needs and make the classroom a distraction-free and positive learning environment.
I have worked with my teacher many times throughout the year to alter seating arrangements so as to ensure that all students are on task and focused. After a day of much chatting at table 4 my cooperating teacher and I sat down to discuss alterations to the seating in our classroom. Here is a quick seating arrangement I quickly wrote down to help me remember where to move students the following day. classroomsketch.jpg