When I first arrived at Scoil Mhuire, I was surprised at how little classroom management my CT seemed to use. The thirteen girls in the class seemed to behave perfectly with little more than an occasional, “let’s stay focused,” necessary. As the semester progressed, however, I began to notice the slight purposeful ways in which my CT implemented classroom management strategies. From seating arrangements to the way in which she addresses students, my CT has clearly thought about how to help her class run so smoothly.
Every Monday morning, the students in my CT’s class line up in the back of the room and are called on randomly to choose seats for themselves and their new partner for the week. This constant seat switching made it very difficult for me to learn the girls’ names, but it definitely has advantages for the class dynamic. Since they have all had opportunities to work with one another, the students know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and work as a cohesive unit. Additionally, by changing the seating arrangements each week, my CT has managed to encourage friendships between all the students, avoiding the cliques I have seen develop in other classes, particularly among girls of their age. While this strategy would be difficult to implement in a larger class and with students with more specific learning needs, it greatly enhances the environment in my CTs class.
Another slight way in which my CT manages the classroom is in the way she interacts with students throughout the day. There seems to be a great deal of trust and respect reciprocated between teacher and students, allowing the students independence while the teacher maintains authority. My CT is quite lighthearted with students, often joking around with them and having chats with them about their lives. This gives the classroom a relaxed feel. In classrooms with a strict routine in which most of the teaching is structured around books, I have usually found the relationship between students and teacher to be more tense than in other classrooms. Thus, I think my CT’s lightheartedness as well as the respect she shows students is crucial. By showing students that she believes in them and cares about them, my CT develops a strong relationship with her students. This means that when she does offer advice on how to improve their work or when they do occasionally get off task and she refocuses them, they listen to her.
In past practicums when I have reflected on classroom management I have often thought about distinct strategies that teachers use to get students’ attention, manage their behavior, and enhance learning. However, in a class with only thirteen students with no behavioral issues, these strategies are not as necessary. Instead, it is the small purposeful decisions that my CT makes each day that make her an excellent teacher and allow the students to thrive in her classroom. I think it is crucial to understand the importance of these small strategies as, even in larger and more demanding classrooms, these slight techniques provide the basis for good classroom management.