Off and Running with Glasser and Wong
Classes begin on Sept. 22 at PUC and one of the courses I will be teaching this Fall quarter is Classroom Management. Pre-service teachers worry ahead of time about whether or not they will be able to manage a classroom and after entering the profession, those teachers who leave teaching mostly do so because of issues relating to management. Classroom management is a very important skill set for teachers to possess. I enjoy teaching the class, even as I feel the pressure of the responsibility to teach it well and teach it right.
There are basically two different paradigms from which to consider classroom management – either you view the world operating according to external control (reward / punishment) or you see it operating according to internal control and the principles of choice theory. There are many different approaches and management models to choose from, but each of them sits on one of these paradigms.
I am using two books as texts for the class that I haven’t used before. The first is Choice Theory in the Classroom (1986; 2001), which I am quite familiar with, and the second one is The Classroom Management Book (2014), which is brand new.
I chose these books because I think they will help students understand and appreciate the essential elements of classroom management. (A big THANK YOU to those who posted their essential elements in the last blog. I am going to share your insights with my class.) Some of the elements I would like to include –
+ Know yourself – Recognize that your beliefs about motivation and behavior (which you can change) form the frame within which all of your classroom management pieces fit.
+ Prevention rather than cure – Seek to create a need-satisfying class in which students want to be. Focus on positive relationships all the way around. Focus on instructional organization. Focus on teaching and rehearsing the Procedures needed for the room to run smoothly.
+ Natural consequences rather than punishment – If students do break a rule, help them learn to take responsibility for their behavior and restore what they have broken.
I plan to start with Glasser’s Choice Theory in the Classroom and have him help us understand the concepts of choice theory and how the internal control model of human behavior really is the only model that honors the way our brains work. I think role plays in class will help us get the essential points in better ways than me lecturing the points.
I am glad I re-connected with Choice Theory in the Classroom. I have known about the book, of course, but I haven’t tapped into it like I am about to. Here are a few key points from the book. You can almost hear Glasser’s voice –
“We cannot pressure any student to work if he does not believe the work is satisfying.” (12)
“We are far too concerned with discipline, with how to ‘make’ students follow rules, and not enough concerned with providing the satisfying education that would make our overconcern with discipline unnecessary.” (12)
“When we talk about better discipline with no attempt to create a more satisfying school, what we are really talking about is getting disruptive students to turn off a biological control system that they cannot turn off.” (58)
I then plan to transition into Harry Wong’s new book, The Classroom Management Book. I have been using Wong’s classic The First Days of School for a number of years, and I really like that book, but I decided to go with his new book. The new book is so strong on Procedures and how to teach them. I can supplement what the book doesn’t cover, but I really want the students to have access to what he does cover. I think experienced teachers will want to check out his new book, too.
I just recently received the latest edition of Educational Leadership, the journal for the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and the entire journal is devoted to the topic of motivation. I will be having the students read several of the articles, including the keynote (lead) article by Daniel Pink, entitled Motivated to Learn: A Conversation with Daniel Pink. The title reminded of the many journal articles back in the day that featured control theory or choice theory and had as part of the title A Conversation with William Glasser. As it so happens, even though this current journal has been devoted to the topic of motivation, and specifically motivation within the school environment, not one of the articles references Glasser or mentions him in any way. It is true that his ideas and beliefs are splashed throughout the journal. Schools wanting to improve instruction and embrace educational “best practice” are heading the way Glasser pointed for years. That really is the important thing.
Discipline is helping a child solve a problem.
Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem.
To raise problem-solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.
(Thank you Bette Blance for sharing this on Facebook)
One way to keep Glasser’s legacy alive is to let colleagues know about The Better Plan blog. Think about it.
The eBook version of William Glasser: Champion of Choice can be accessed at the following link –
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