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 – Chapter 15
Students need to know you are on their side. Weeks of relationship building can be destroyed by a single act of perceived cruelty. For example, making fun of one student to other students can have the effect of making you an unsafe person to that student. (Shindler, 2010, p. 310)
This passage reaffirms my belief that building relationships with students is crucial to a positive teaching-learning environment, and simultaneously points out a fundamental flaw in relationship building. It is a significant passage, in terms of its insight, that regardless of the time and effort put towards constructively building a relationship with students, if the teacher is to act or speak in a way that is demeaning to students, and is perceived as cruel, students can easily consider the teacher as no longer trustworthy. I am of the strong opinion that the teacher needs to put the wellbeing of students in the foreground of all teaching practice. The passage highlights that students need to have a sense of alignment with the teacher, and be aware that the teacher always has their best interests in mind. This reflects my personal dilemma in the sense that the teacher failed to show students that he was on their side, and was constantly belittling students, particularly by underestimating their ability, and punishing their behaviours in demeaning ways.
Passage 2 – Shindler’s Text – Chapter 15
Each of us has a unique story. No matter how reticent we are, we long for others to know us. We want to be more than just a name and a physical appearance. We each have interests and experiences and dreams. (Shindler, 2010, p. 309)
This passage affects me deeply, both as a teacher and as a human being. As a teacher I believe it is absolutely imperative to recognise the differences, similarities and challenges each student possesses. I find this passage inspiring and feel it reflects the way I intend to approach all individuals, both in the classroom, and outside of it. I feel this approach particularly emulates the Humanist school of thought, focusing on the individual needs of people, and taking the time to consider the traits, experiences and interests of each person one comes in to contact with. I felt this was the greatest flaw of the teacher described in my dilemma story. The teacher was unable to recognise the uniqueness of students and often approached students as a singular entity, rather than as distinct individuals with their own sets of personal strengths, weaknesses, interests and ideals.
Passage 3 – Shindler’s Text – Chapter 13
But the difference between a democratic classroom with an intentional process for dealing with conflict and an authoritarian classroom where the teacher acts as judge is this: in a democratic classroom, conflict is an opportunity for all parties to grow, while in an authoritarian classroom, conflict is a source of trouble for all concerned. (Shindler, 2010, p. 256)
For me, this passage raised a number of questions. What are the characteristics of a democratic classroom? How does a practicing teacher avoid becoming an authoritarian, while still maintaining a positive classroom with constructive attitudes? How do students grow from their experiences of conflict and conflict resolution? In this sense, the passage challenged me to question my understanding of conflict in the classroom, and to identify how a democratic classroom could be achieved. This has impacted the way I consider my dilemma, as the classroom in question was very much an authoritarian environment. In particular I wonder how the classroom, and the teacher, could work towards being a democratic environment, as opposed to a place in which the teacher acts as a judge, rather than a facilitator. I have been challenged in terms of my understanding of a teacher’s role in conflict, taking a less authoritative approach, avoiding punitive action, and playing the role of mediator, allowing students to resolve their own problems through a democratic approach.
Shindler, J. (2010). Transformative classroom management: Positive strategies to engage all students and promote a psychology of success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Teacher.