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Inside Teaching : June 2011
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org TEACHING TIPS 33 interact with other spectators, critically analyse the situation and voice their opinion in various ways from encouraging to disparaging, or even exit altogether. For effective classroom management, concepts such as classroom momentum, lesson flow and rhythm, as used in Steiner schools, come into play. Students must be directed on- task quickly and kept busy once there. Effective teachers minimise the time lost in transitions – from playground to classroom, from classroom entry to first activity instruction, from first instruction to student independent work, and from activity to activity. They have resources pre-organised for activities and in sufficient number to minimise waiting time. And they recognise the need for task variety. To engage students today, we teachers need to be ‘edutainers.’ To ‘edutain’ our students, we can use the principles of what I call ‘Playstation pedagogy,’ replicating many of the qualities of computer games to hold the attention of our students. Such qualities include focus on hands- on and visual learning, minimised instruction time, frequent feedback and rewards, changes in pace and task, use of music and colour, opportunities for competitive and collaborative goal achievement and the provision of a reset function, whereby the participant can ‘survive’ their mistakes and have another chance to master the task. As Glasser defined it, ‘teaching is the process of helping students discover that learning can improve the quality of their lives,’ but with the current generation the words ‘at this very moment’ need to be added at the end. ‘Behaviour is one’s best attempt at any given time’ This implies that behaviour is dynamic and contextual, and that behaviour management is very much about the unique conditions of the ‘here and now.’ Effective classroom managers are always aware of what is happening within the educational setting, what Jacob Kounin in the 1970s termed ‘Withitness.’ ‘Withitness’ is achieved through active supervision, via a high level of teacher mobility, regular scanning of the setting and use of peripheral vision when not mobile. Obvious teacher presence equates to interest, attention, security and, where necessary, external motivation to behave. For repeated issues arising within the classroom setting, the effective classroom manager examines the systemic context and assesses where the changes may need to occur, starting least intrusively with the most easily changed aspects of the classroom – the physical elements of the environment. Is the classroom well-organised and comfortable? Lighting, temperature, lay-out and accessibility of resources, desk set-up and seating plans are considered. The curriculum is then addressed because, like the physical environment, it is more easily modified than the people who teach or learn it. Is the curriculum being presented in an engaging and relevant format? Does the student or the class understand the task or have the prerequisite skills to do it? Can content be individualised or modified to suit individual circumstances? Finally, the social relationships of the classroom are examined. Are teacher expectations clear and consistently enforced? Is supervision adequate? Is the teacher over-managing or under- managing specific behaviours? Do peers around the ‘problem student’ need to be skilled in assisting that student to behave? ‘Behaviour is one’s best attempt, at any given time, given the skills one currently has’ This implies that all behaviour is skill-based. As I see it, the essential skills of social behaviour fall under four headings: safety; respect; effort, in the sense of engagement or participation; and self-responsibility in the sense of self-discipline. A newborn child has none of these skills, and learns them, with parents and siblings as the first teachers. There are no