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Monday, May 12, 2014

Classroom Management

Hello everyone, sorry for the delay here in my blog post—things have been a little off with my scheduling at school because the students have been on field trips, and one of my normal days was a National Holiday in Italy. Thus, I have just finally returned to school this week after a week or so break. However, I am back in action and ready to talk about school!

Today I thought I would focus on the issue of classroom management, which we all know is one the most fun topics out there for teacher. Well, perhaps not, but it sure is an interesting topic to discuss, so I thought I would just go for it. I find it particular interesting for me to discuss classroom management because I have been working with two separate teachers at the San Benedetto School. There are many differences in the classes I see, both in terms of age, English ability, and behavior and demeanor in general. My first CT, who teaches the younger students, has the benefit of working with a class that is pretty well engaged, behaved, and quite good for the age in their English speaking abilities. In contrast, my other CT has an older class with many behavior problems, a lack of interest in English, as well as a pretty low proficiency in the language. This makes for an interesting discussion on classroom management philosophies, for both teachers have different ones and see different results.

In my first class, my CT walks up and down the aisles, and addresses students individually by their name when she asks them questions about the material on the board. Students will answer her (most of the time) in a polite manner, to which she responds, “Very good!” and then moves on. When she notices that students in the back are not paying attention and fooling around, she calls their name and asks them to respond to one of her questions in the lesson. There have been mixed results with this approach. Sometimes the student feels embarrassed and answers the question, and they stop fooling around. Other times the student has not known the answer because they were not listening, and they sit in silence because they are too embarrassed. Finally, there have been instances where the students have given her an attitude, and refused to give an answer. There is one particular student in general who can be quite difficult, and she has to address his behavioral problems every class. In fact, during our last class, she asked him to leave the room and come back later. Now, this exchange was down in rapidly fast Italian, so I missed out on some of the finer details. He may have been sent to the Principal just three doors down, or somewhere else, I am not sure. In either case, the student left for 15 minutes and sat in the back of the class where he didn't really speak for the rest of class.

In a bit of a contrast, my second CT has classes that are often like that one student, expect multiplied by 15 or 20 kids. One of the classes of older students is generally well behaved, while the other is what my CT has said is the worst behaved class he has ever had during his teaching career—so take that into consideration. This CT is a younger teacher, a male in his late 20s or early 30s. He seems like he is well liked by his students, and is a cool, nice guy. As a result, some of the students are way too casual with him, and do not take him seriously. When students misbehave and he yells at them to quiet down from across the room, they simply just do not listen to him and continue to yell, scream, and hang out with their friends doing as they wish. I truly do not know what else my CT can do to firmly discipline his students, or how to control them. He tries many different strategies, but I think at this point in the school year, he is just exhausted by them, as they do not treat him with respect as a person, let alone as their teacher. When I have taught that class, I have been pretty disappointed with their behavior, but because my lessons are a bit more “fun,” because I am a guest and we talk about American culture to enhance their English instead of boring grammar (sorry Maddie, I know you’re an English major) so I sometimes have their attention a little more. Nevertheless, they are a rowdy crowd and tough to control. My CT actually recommended that I just stick with his better behaved class rather than adding this class too, but I find it important for me to expose my self to less than perfect situations.

So, from here is my last week in Parma and thus my last week at San Benedetto. I will do a blog post later in the week where I give a final wrap up of the semester for you. Hope you’re all doing well!

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