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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Classroom Management in Dublin

            Ms. Cowman shared that the biggest challenge she faces when teaching is keeping her students on task, maintaining their attention, and attending to the variety of behavioral needs within her classroom. Despite this, I have seen her implement a number of effective classroom management strategies, many of which I have also seen used in American schools.  At the beginning of the year, the students brainstormed class rules together and voted on the five best ones to develop their “Classroom Charter.” I have seen this strategy of allowing the students to set their own rules in my previous pre-practicum at a school that emphasized the responsive classroom approach. Ms. Cowman also seats her students in four groups to promote teamwork, and she rewards a group with a point if they are remaining on task, demonstrating cooperation, following directions, or are on their best behavior. Each student can also earn individual points and receive a prize once they accumulate 20 points. Ms. Cowman has found that rewarding the good instead of taking away for the bad has been effective in making students aware of the expectations, and I have also seen this positive reinforcement in American classrooms. Ms. Cowman’s disciplinary approach seems different than that of several of the European schools I have read about on this blog. If a student is being disruptive, she gives him or her three warnings before writing a note home to parents in their diaries. Furthermore, if a problem arises in her classroom, she takes the student to her desk or outside her classroom to have a private discussion rather than addressing the issue in front of the entire class and humiliating the student. Whenever the students begin to get off task, Ms. Cowman says, “Hands up top” and the students put their hands on their heads and reply, “That means stop,” which is effective for getting the students’ attention and getting them refocused. Overall, Ms. Cowman seems to have a more laidback approach than some teachers, but although her students sometimes get rowdy, it is clear that her students respect her and aim to meet her expectations. In contrast to American schools, children at St. Andrew’s are given more independence and responsibility for their learning, and therefore the expectations for students to remain on task and complete all of their assignments are particularly high. It has been interesting observing Ms. Cowman strike a balance between actively keeping the students on task and allowing them to recognize what is expected of them at any given time.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jen! I loved reading about your experiences with classroom management in Dublin, especially as I had just finished my post about the same topic in Cork! I think it's interesting that your CT seems to use more distinct strategies than mine does. I suppose this is a reflection of the differences between our classes in terms of number of students and behavioral issues. I also think it's interesting that, regardless of these differences, your students seem to respect your CT in the same way as my students and both groups have similar high levels of independence. I wonder if this is a reflection of Irish culture. Maybe respect and responsibility are more valued in Ireland than they are in America. Do you think this is mere coincidence or potentially a reflection of culture? I hope you had a great last few weeks in Ireland!


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