Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Great Teachers Are Ringmasters" Schmidt Chapter 3

In starting this chapter, Schmidt asks us, "What's the bid idea about behavior?" The minute I laid eyes upon that question, my mind immediately had produced an answer. Behavior is everything! Without wanting to make it the total focus of everything in my classroom, I have believed behavior to rest near the bottom of some sort of classroom hierarchy of needs. Maslow's hierarchy of needs shows us that without certain things, we cannot be concerned with the higher aspects of the triangle. 

A good classroom example of this would be that a student who has not eaten breakfast yet will not be concerned about doing their academic work. Their biological needs come first. In reading the rest of the chapter, what I had believed has been reinforced and added to.  

I have been having some slight adjustments and growing pains when it comes to behavior in my classroom. The classroom Schmidt describes in the beginning of the chapter transported me into mine. Often, the instructions to complete something is met with a flurry of sharpening pencils, asking to go to the bathroom or their backpacks, getting up and grabbing something that they don't need or blank staring at a piece of paper. Some student tells a joke to his table and they all erupt in laughter and hands go up uttering the same phrase over and over: "I need help." 

All of these varying behaviors are motivated by one of two basic instincts. The students are seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. As pictured above, without a feeling of safety in the classroom, students often won't reach higher order thinking. It rings so true in my classroom. Many of the students feel as though they are unable to complete the tasks laid out for them and express frustration in many ways. Currently my cooperating teacher and I are working with each student on different days, teaching them necessary strategies and helping them realize that they can achieve success. I believe that helping them realize their abilities has helped many students become more focused. 

I have ultimately learned that whenever I witness an odd or frustrating behavior from a student, to ask myself "What are they hiding?" I can't wait to be in my own classroom where I can employ some of the strategies listed in this chapter. In my current classroom, I don't feel like there is enough room for variety. I don't know how it would go over if I were to suggest that students complete an assignment or project that was of their suggestion or tailored to their intelligences. The reading program has become the structure and deviation from that would result in re-teaching behavior and management. Yet there must be something I can do. I want to be the teacher who plays music to energize the classroom or lets to students draw out concept maps but without instruction in doing any of these things, the students lose control, or spend too much time coloring and not showing that they grasp the information. 

Some of the other techniques listed I have found that I already use, such as self-encouragement or eye contact. I have a few students that whenever they have lost focus or are making a decision that they shouldn't be, seem to find my gaze. I give them a look, either a "is that the choice you should be making?" look, or a "you can do it, keep going!" look. They respond well to that. 

Ultimately, I hope to take what I have read from the chapter and look for ways that I can introduce some of the concepts into my classroom, to make it a better environment for all of it's members.


  1. I'm glad that Schmidt made you think of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Good point!

    You made an important point when you said, "I have ultimately learned that whenever I witness an odd or frustrating behavior from a student, to ask myself "What are they hiding?"

    I agree that management will be hard since this is not your classroom. All you can do is try your best and keep good boundaries.

    I'm sure this chapter may give you good ideas in the future.

  2. Hi Sasha!
    I thought I had responded to this blog earlier, but it obviously didn't come through. So much for technology!
    What a wonderful opportunity to take over the class. You must be proud of your efforts. Teaching is thinking on your feet and you obviously managed very well.
    Well done with your math lesson. Children need movement and being actively involved in a lesson cements the concept.
    I am glad Mrs. Martinez is sharing her insights on how to manage this group of students.
    Mrs. Hysell