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Classroom Management or Relationships?

I am a high school mathematics teacher. I am a student of Interior Design. I am a wife and mother. I am learning to be open to new dreams.

Struggles of the Post-Pandemic Classrooms

I taught many years before the pandemic. I taught through the pandemic. I am still teaching in this post-pandemic era. Many changes have come to education. Many struggles that were there prior have been exacerbated. Many new challenges have surfaced. One can argue many factors on what education needs and what teachers deserve.

One challenge that has become more challenging is the classroom management. I have seen, experienced teachers and new teachers struggle with managing classrooms. Classroom's have always been a place that require good management. Students have become more easily bored since having been home doing virtual lessons. They were able to hang out in pajamas, snack as wanted, and go to the restroom as often as they pleased when education was virtual. Being back in the classroom had everyone trying to fit back into the traditional educational model of structured classes.

New times can sometimes require new ideas and procedures. I like to keep current on all the educational theories that come out, but sometimes experience is the best education. I am one that studies people, to observe what works and what does not.

Let me share what I have seen that works and what does not work in the classroom. These are anecdotal and meant to be a help but not a complete "be all end all" theory.

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Trying to Be "By the Book"

In my early days of teaching, I tried to follow every guidance and every directive to the t. I was a sponge, absorbing all the ways in which a class should be managed. I went to the trainings, professional development and listened to administrators that instructed how best to manage my classroom.

Finally, I began to realize that all of these trainings and input were great for what they were. They were advice on best practices that had worked for each of the ones that were directing the training. I realized that each teacher has to find their own niche. The teacher has to personalize the classroom management to what fits their personality, their class subject and their grade.

Once I began to adapt and personalize the classroom management I found that my relationship with each individual student was the one thing that could make or break the ability to be successful with classroom dynamics and management.

Relationships are Key

I began to think back to the classes that I loved versus the ones that I disliked as a student myself. I realized that the correlation to the ones I liked were the ones that I felt the teacher actually cared about me as a person. They cared about me as an individual not just as a student, a grade, a score on a test.

The classes I disliked were not because of the subject matter, but rather the vibe or feeling I had with how the teacher acted and reacted to me and my personality.

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With this being said, I know every teacher is not going to like every student. I am not suggesting that. I am suggesting that as the adult in the classroom that you treat each student as an individual human that has every opportunity to prove themselves to you. They may have been terrible to Mr. Smith down the hall last year, but for you in your class, allow them the respect of starting new with you. Allow them to have bad days. Allow them second chances with expectations made clear.

This is not to say that a good relationship solves everything. A good relationship, as in any aspect of your life, makes interactions better. Students need to be respected as a human being. They also need clear expectations and clear, fair consequences when expectations are not met.


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This Year I Approached Classroom Management Differently

Typically I start the year with rules and procedures on day one, day two and day three. I would set forth what I expected and how the year would go. This was not ever very comfortable to me. Here I was, basically an introvert, setting all these expectations when I did not even know the students' names. Yes, I needed them to know what to expect, but how I approached it was not comfortable to me. Sitting in front of them belting out how to and where to do everything seemed awkward to me.

I instead tried opening up with them and simply talking to them. Greeting them as I would a new aquaintance. Typically, you do not go up to someone you just met and list of things to expect from them and how you want things done. You begin with names, "how are you doing?" and general interest.

I found myself letting me be me. I became real with them. I didn't try to fit a script that had been given to me. I didn't force my manners to fit a pre-determined lesson plan.

I did let them know expectations and procedures. I did it, though, with my own wit and personality shining through. The students reacted positively to seeing the real me. They appreciated the genuine aspect of a teacher showing interest in them as individuals and not solely minds that needed education poured into.

This new approach has made all the difference for me and my classroom. I feel more myself and the students react positively to my authenticity.

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 April McMichael

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