I stopped by the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in Anaheim, California, this past Thursday (Dec. 12, 2013) and headed to the conference bookstore to see the Glasser biography for the first time myself. I wasn’t totally clear whether the bio would be ready, and if so, what it would look like. So it was good to see that it had been printed and to hold it in my hand. It was a very special moment for me to walk to the bookstore with Carleen Glasser, who Bill had been married to since 1995 until he passed away in August, and for both of us to hold the book together.
I said that the biography is “kind of” published because apparently the conference edition of the book is a pre-publication version, with the actual big printing taking place next month. For instance, one thing I noticed after buying a copy of the book, was that the Foreword was missing. The publisher had asked Bob Wubbolding to write a Foreword, which I very much supported, and which Bob did, yet for some reason it hasn’t made it into the book yet. Hopefully, that will be fixed soon, along with a few other less notable fixes.
Choice Theory Study Group is Growing
Our recent Choice Theory Study Group on December 7 broke a record for attendance and we are already looking forward to our next study group on January 25. Put the January date in your calendar now and plan to join us for choice theory discussion and activities. One of the topics we covered on the 7th had to do with classroom meetings. I have included the handout here. Check it out.
Classroom Management Philosophy Paper
I taught Classroom Management during Fall quarter and one of the culminating assignments for my students was to think about and write their philosophy of classroom management. We use Harry Wong’s The First Days of School and Marvin Marshall’s Discipline Without Stress, Punishment or Reward as course textbooks. Part of class time is devoted to introducing choice theory to these future teachers. We really only have time for an orientation to the choice theory principles, yet this year’s students really seemed to take to the ideas. One of my undergraduate students, Laura Helm, put together a concise, yet effective description of the teacher she wants to be. I thought I would share (with her permission) what she wrote.
Classroom Management is an integral part of a teacher’s career. Without effective management, it is very challenging for successful learning to take place. Classroom management seems like a daunting task, and it can be very challenging. After taking this class, I am more prepared to tackle this aspect of being a teacher. Taking Classroom Management has taught me an incredible amount about effective management and the different ways to achieve it. My classroom management philosophy involves self-governance, Choice Theory, procedures, internal motivation, moving away from rewards and punishments, and having relationships with your students.
Possibly the most important concept we learned about is Choice Theory. Choice Theory focuses on self-responsibility along with natural consequences. It is about having the power to choose how you act and how you respond. A significant point of this theory is that you are the only person you can control, and you cannot control others. We govern ourselves and have the power to choose our behavior. Everything we do is working to fulfill our basic needs, as outlined by Glasser in his Choice Theory model. Implementing Choice Theory and its principles in the classroom is essential. Teaching students the significance of self-responsibility and about our basic needs is very important to me. Not only will this be of great importance in the classroom, but also in the future lives of my students. Choice Theory is a way of understanding ourselves and our students on a deeper level, and getting to know how each of us is motivated.
My key beliefs about classroom management surround Choice Theory and management without coercion. I believe that we are motivated intrinsically; therefore external coercion is not effective or beneficial. We do what we do because of something internal, and to fulfill our basic needs. External control, such as rewards and punishments, is not an effective motivator. I think we, as teachers, need to understand that everyone is motivated internally and use that to help the learning process.
In my opinion the use of rewards and punishments in the classroom should be lessened, if not eradicated, as they are a form of coercion. By using rewards, students only focus on getting the reward, not the importance of the learning or doing the work. Punishments often do not address the specific behavior, and can be altogether unrelated. How is it going to help a student learn not to hit other people if he is forced to sweep the parking lot instead of working on changing his behavior? Instead of punishments, natural consequences should be emphasized. There are consequences for behavior and choices that are made, some positive and some negative. Since the student chose their behavior, they will deal with the natural consequences that come about as a result. Unrelated punishments may help for a short time, but they will not help the student to learn why their behavior was wrong and will prevent them from growing or learning to change their behavior.
Another crucial aspect of classroom management in my opinion is procedures. Procedures are of the utmost importance in having a well-managed classroom. Procedures are the way in which the classroom is run and how things are done. Procedures are not rules and they do not have punishments, but students face the consequences of not following procedures correctly. Having specific procedures in place leads to a classroom that runs smoothly. This was made clear to me from watching the video of Mrs. Seroyer’s classroom management techniques. This video impacted me and gave me a new perspective on how to manage a classroom. She emphasized the importance of procedures and how they are one of the most significant parts of effective classroom management. By setting up procedures, teaching them, then rehearsing them until they are learned, students know what the expectations are and how they are supposed to do tasks in the classroom.
To me one of the most important aspects of classroom management is having a strong, positive relationship with your students. Genuinely caring about your students and showing them that you want them to succeed and are there to help is crucial. Once the students believe this, they will be more willing to put effort and care into their work and their behavior. Heather Denton highlighted the importance of this when we visited her classroom. She told us that students will be less willing to care about what we are saying if we do not show them we care for them. I agree with her that relationships are extremely important and are essentially the basis for successful classroom management.
Before taking this course, I had no knowledge about Choice Theory. I thought the only way to manage classrooms was what I had seen and experienced from being a student in many different classrooms. Most of my teachers managed their classrooms with the use of rewards and punishments, and I figured that was the most effective way to manage a classroom. I was usually one of the “good” students, and I rarely got in trouble. When I did, I was punished by time out, having my name written on the board, or something similar that did not help me learn from my mistakes.
My view on classroom management changed substantially after taking this course. It was intriguing to learn about Choice Theory, and that there is more than one way to manage a classroom. Just because classrooms are traditionally managed with rewards, punishments, and other forms of external control, it does not mean that I have to manage my classroom in those ways. I have realized that managing students begins with having a relationship with them. I also understand that everyone is motivated internally, so coercion is not effective with most students. Using rewards, punishments, and coercion never sat well with me, but now I have the knowledge to teach without using coercive techniques.
It is so encouraging to know that candidates such as Laura will be joining our teaching ranks shortly.
It’s been almost a year exactly since I started The Better plan blog. Thanks for being a part of the journey.