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Recommended Reading: “As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works”

favicon Motoko Rich is my favorite education reporter. In “As Apprentices in Classroom, Teachers Learn What Works,” Ms. Rich writes about best practices in preparing new teachers for work in urban public schools.

Instead of flinging new teachers out to classrooms and letting them survive through grit and luck, Aspire Public Schools helps newbies gain confidence and skills in classroom management over a one-year residency program, focused on a much longer apprenticeship than what’s usual in teacher preparation programs.

There are some critics, of course — those who say that charter school organizations like Aspire are mechanizing teaching and teacher practices. But classroom management is by far the most important skill to master. As someone who sometimes struggled with promoting a smooth and easy classroom environment, I likely would have benefited from this program.

Please check out this article and let me know what you think!

Excerpt
The idea is that teachers, like doctors in medical residencies, need to practice repeatedly with experienced supervisors before they can be responsible for classes on their own. At Aspire, mentors believe that the most important thing that novice teachers need to master is the seemingly unexciting — but actually quite complex — task of managing a classroom full of children. Once internalized, the thinking goes, such skills make all the difference between calm and bedlam, and can free teachers to focus on student learning.

Source: http://j.mp/ZBzZej (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

3 comments

  1. Tony

    “Classroom management is by far the most important skill to master” – Really? By far?
    I agree that it is important and it is a challenge, but the discourse around it worries me. Too often classroom management means controlling students. Too often classroom management is about reinforcing the dehumanizing and alienating structures and practices found in schools – ones that are eerily similar to those found in prisons. Too often new teachers confuse classroom management (i.e. silent students who speak only on cue) with effective teaching.
    The best classes that I’ve seen are those where students manage themselves and one another – because they value the community of learners the class has become and refuse to let other students (or adults) jeopardize the sanctity of the space. I can think of many classes like these at Leadership. Such classrooms require teachers to work towards building relationships across difference, supporting students to do the same, and facilitating mutual feelings of respect and care. Such classrooms put learning at the center (rather than control) and support students to develop capacities of controlling themselves. How the space might look may differ (quiet classes like Kathleen Large’s classes, loud and active classes like Silb’s, and so forth).
    Such spaces may not look highly “managed” to an outsider.
    I’m not familiar enough with Aspire to levy a critique, but I will say that I worry about the increased attention being paid to managing classrooms – and how new teachers’ preoccupation with managing their classrooms relates to student disinterest in school, teacher unsustainability, and the salient role it plays in our increasingly standardized and scripted classrooms.

    • Mark Isero

      Tony, thanks for pushing me. I agree with you that some of the discourse around “classroom management” is concerning.

      And I agree with you that “[t]he best classes that I’ve seen are those where students manage themselves and one another – because they value the community of learners the class has become and refuse to let other students (or adults) jeopardize the sanctity of the space.”

      My point is that beginning teachers — and schools — need to pay more attention to building safe, respectful, and productive learning environments. You can have the best curriculum and the best intentions, but none of that matters if the learning space is unpredictable and in disarray.

      The classroom should be a predictable, safe, joyful place where time is used well and where students learn a lot. I don’t always see this. In too many classrooms, I see too much time being spent doing tangential (and sometimes hurtful) things.

      Examples of things we need to spend less time on:
      – dress code
      – electronics
      – cussing, derogatory language
      – simultaneous talking (e.g., while the teacher is talking, while a student is talking)

      And yes, I fully acknowledge that I’m still trying to address my “horrible years.” Let’s keep this conversation going, please!

  2. micheleg

    I think the disconnect comes from the term “classroom management.” It feels too broad and manage-y.
    In my new job, I’m struggling with “classroom management” – students are cursing, interrupting, not listening to me or each other, and ignoring school rules altogether. I believe they are behaving this way because they don’t yet trust that I have something to offer them. Maybe they think I want to manage them in the way Tony is describing. I have to do something about behavior, though, before I can teach them anything. I have to manage the classroom SO THAT they get to the point of managing themselves.

Please share your brilliant insights!