The purpose of this assignment was to select three, personally meaningful passages from Schindler’s Text Transformative Classroom Management, and reflect on how these passages impacted us as pre-service teachers, as well as how they influenced our previously described “personal dilemma stories”.
Passage 1 – Shindler’s Text – Appendix E: Common Sources of Classroom Drama
Negativity begets negativity. Spend ten minutes in a class where the teacher uses a great deal of negativity, and you will feel the negative climate, see it on the faces, and hear it in the words of the students. Teachers who cannot believe that they can live without the use of negativity should try it for a week. They might be surprised. (Shindler, 2010, p. 354)
I find this passage highly relevant to my personal dilemma, and feel that it reinforces my thoughts and feelings towards the specific situation, as well as to my broader teaching philosophy. My belief that extensive negativity has no place in the classroom, particularly in the form of repetitive punishments and shaming students, has been reaffirmed by my understanding of this passage. I have been affected by this viewpoint on negativity, in the sense that my own teaching, and general attitude, will shift to develop a positive classroom environment. At the heart of this statement is the mirror-effect. That is, when a teacher projects positivity and creates a constructive environment, that attitude will be emulated by the students. In terms of my personal dilemma, negativity was the foundation for a poorly-functioning learning environment, and I believe if the teacher strived for a positive climate, the students would have reflected this mind-set and would have achieved more successful outcomes.
Passage 2 – Shindler’s Text – Chapter 7
Dweck consistently discovered as she examined students in various classrooms that they seemed to have one of two perceptions relating to the nature of their ability and intelligence. Most classes had a balanced portion of students from each orientation. One group of students had what Dweck termed a fixed ability theory of intelligence and ability. These students viewed their ability as something set and stable. They viewed themselves as smart or not smart. They believed they were good at this or that they were not. As a result of this view of the nature of their intelligence, these students developed a pattern of behaviour defined by trying to look smart and avoid looking dumb. (Shindler, 2010, p. 129-30)
I am deeply affected by this passage on a personal and professional level. I am of the strong opinion that the alternative perspective, one of a growth mindset in which intelligence is not fixed, is the true nature of intelligence; I take the view that meaningful learning allows for intelligence to change and evolve. The passage challenges me, in the sense that I feel disheartened that my future students may view themselves as fixed at a low-level of intelligence, and will only apply themselves and their learning to meet the outcomes they believe themselves capable of. This passage is particularly significant to me as a developing educator, as I feel the idea of intelligence as a measure of success is historically a poor way of assessing students and their ability. This idea applies to my dilemma, as the teacher himself had a view of children having a fixed intelligence; they were either competent, or they were not. This viewpoint was reflected in his teaching practice and caused me to question my own beliefs and my understanding of a student’s ability to develop skills, intelligence and competencies.
Passage 3 – Shindler’s Text – Chapter 11
Meeting the needs of all students is a challenge. There are few teachers who do not feel even a little guilty that their curriculum is not meeting all of their students’ needs. One solution is to provide differential learning experiences for all students depending on their needs and abilities. Although this approach can encourage higher levels of success for many students, especially those at the high and low ends of the ability spectrum, it requires a substantial investment of time and energy on the part of the teacher. (Shindler, 2010, p. 219)
A number of questions have been raised for me when reflecting on this passage with the dilemma in mind. Were the children who were the subject of the teacher’s frustration being accommodated for? Did the teacher differentiate learning to meet the needs of all the children? Did the teacher demonstrate an understanding of individual abilities, strengths and weaknesses? In most cases the answers to these questions is no. It is my philosophy that every child, from all walks of life, has a very individual and unique way of learning; it is the responsibility of the teacher to accommodate for these needs, to adapt, to grow, and to differentiate learning experiences in ways that allow all students to be successful. At the heart of my dilemma, the teacher was unable to meet the needs of all students, and did not allow for non-traditional learning styles. This passage has challenged me in terms of my dilemma, but is significant in that it has reaffirmed my understanding of the importance of the teacher’s role, particularly in regards to providing opportunities to all students, focusing on their strengths and deconstructing their weaknesses.
Shindler, J. (2010). Transformative classroom management: Positive strategies to engage all students and promote a psychology of success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Teacher.