How a University Prepares Its Students
EDEL 300 – Management, Organization, and Instruction
Stacey Allred is celebrating her 20th year of teaching this year. As an elementary and special education teacher, she used the techniques that effective teachers use to create a community of learners in the classroom:
Now as a member of the faculty at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, she still uses the same techniques to create a community of learners in her classroom. Not only is Stacey modeling these techniques for her students to someday use in their classrooms, but it has an impact on the students’ perception of her as their teacher.
EDEL 300 is a dynamic blend of theory and practice where the students learn “Management, Organization, and Instruction in the Elementary Education Classroom.” Notice the key words, “Management” and “Organization.” Management, as in classroom management, is not about discipline; it is about organization.
When there is organization and consistency, then instruction and learning can
Because of her experience, Stacey is committed to equipping her students with the tools they need to manage their classrooms through proactive, positive strategies that prepare them for their very first day of teaching. This includes the development of procedures and routines as well as a first day of school script. Students are required to map out their entire first day beginning with a checklist of things that need to be accomplished prior to student arrival. Additionally, students create a PowerPoint, Prezi, or a Glogster interactive poster detailing information about who they are as a person.
As a culminating assignment, students produce a comprehensive Classroom Management Plan that includes a teaching philosophy, discipline brochure, a digital map detailing a classroom floor plan, and a first day of school script.
When the students finish this class, every student will leave with a binder containing their Classroom Management Plan, a plan they can use to organize their classroom for learning.
Bear in mind that these students are juniors, who have student teaching and a year to go before graduation. Their plans will be tweaked before teaching, but what a foundation these prospective teachers have in understanding how to organize and manage a classroom.
Creating the Classroom Management Plan
Although the student can be creative, five basic parts are needed for the plan:
Stacey has created a Plan Rubric for her students to assess their progress as they create their plans.
First Day of School Script
A component of the Classroom Management Plan is a first day of school script.
The students develop a script that details events for the very first day of school. The script should include these details:
Stacey has created a Script Rubric for her students to assess their progress as they create their scripts.
The students are encouraged to use The First Days of School and THE Classroom Management Book as supplemental resources.
Passionate About Her Profession
One student said, “Mrs. Allred has an incredible enthusiasm for her subject and is an expert in the field. Her instruction is high quality and is focused on our learning, rather than just presenting material. She's also a very kind and loving person to her students.”
The reason Stacey is so enthusiastic is because she has been there! So often we hear the complaint that many college instructors have not been in the classroom. Not so with Stacey Allred. When she joined the faculty at Ball State University, she was lucky enough to have a department chair that took time to survey her teaching strengths and matched them with a course. She has been extremely grateful for that.
Stacey says, “I tell the students all the time in my instructional methods and classroom management classes that I am just an ordinary teacher who has had extraordinary opportunities.
During the 16-week semester EDEL 300 class, students see the progression of research and practices dating back to the 1950's with Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg and trace them up to the present day work of the Wongs. They see the common thread throughout all research: student self-discipline. They see that responsibility can only take place when there are procedures that one can be responsible to. This sets an important foundation to affirm and validate the need for a proactive management system that involves student accountability.
The adopted text for EDEL 300 is The First Days of School and Stacey says, “The students absolutely love this book. Over the past years, I am repeatedly told by students that this is one of their favorite books, extremely practical, and simple to read and comprehend. I even had a student one semester confess that he had not read a textbook thoroughly his first three years of college until he came in contact with The First Days of School.”
The First Days of School was so meaningful in her life, Stacey says, “Because it is connected to my own personal growth as a teacher and professional. I share numerous stories throughout the semester of how this book changed my life as a teacher. I hope this inspires my students to actively pursue the path of a teacher-leader.
“I tell my students that until I read The First Days of School, I considered myself to be pretty competent at management. It wasn’t until I learned about procedures and implemented them that I realized I wasn’t as effective as I thought. I was at a pivotal point in my career. I could continue down the road of a “good” teacher or learn how to be an “effective” teacher as outlined by the Wongs’ book. My initial reaction was ‘why didn’t someone tell me these things earlier?’ I could have been very effective my first year of teaching.”
When students see this type of passion in their teacher, they immediately connect with you and the class you teach.
Stacey Looks Forward to Each Year
Stacey emphasizes with her students that they will be faced with making many decisions. Sometimes the best decision is not always the most popular or the easiest. If they want to truly be effective at their jobs, then they must continue to read, learn, and grow throughout their entire teaching careers.
Stacey shares, “Each semester it is a privilege and joy for me to work alongside dedicated faculty and be a part of opening students’ eyes to effective teaching practices.
“After 19 years of teaching experience, I still look forward
An Ounce of Preparation
So many of our veteran colleagues say, “If I only knew then, what I know now.” We say the same thing! We can only imagine how more effective we could have been if we had had a college instructor such as Stacey Allred.
In the August 2013 T.net column we featured three more universities and how they are preparing teachers for their careers. All of these universities recognize the importance of laying a solid foundation at the start of the school year by teaching Classroom Management courses. These students get a clear picture of what success will look like—even before they are hired to teach.
Other universities choose to embed their Classroom Management instruction within content courses. Students in these types of classes often express their lack of readiness for the true challenges of the classroom as their preparation was not as focused on the skill of setting up a successful classroom from the start.
We commend those college instructors and professors who teach courses in Classroom Management. They are blazing the path to ensure success for all of their students. And who really gains from this preparation? The students. They are the ones who are greeted with confidence on the first day of school and assured they are in good hands for the rest of the school year.
For a printable version of this article click here.