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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Classroom Management as a Solo Teacher

The placement that I am working with is called the "American Overseas School of Rome" and therefore the school very much resembles the structure of an American school, as opposed to an Italian school. Nevertheless, I have noticed some differences in the way that the classroom and school day are structured.

For starters, the classroom size is very small. My classroom can only accommodate eighteen students total and the maximum amount of students at any given time is fifteen. Every day students have either "English" or "writing" class, both of which I teach. In American schools, usually both literature and writing fall under the category of English. However, here there are designated periods for each. I think that the school may be structured this way in order to ensure that students get both kinds of instruction from their English teacher. Some teachers in the States may focus more on the writing aspect or the reading aspect depending on what they feel most comfortable with. The AOSR schedule combats that problem and guarantees that all students, especially ESL students, are getting equal writing and literature time.

Another difference that I have noticed is the amount of freedom I have been allotted as a student teacher. I have full range of the campus and may come and go as I please. The other teachers here really treat me as an equal despite the fact that I am a college student and only come in once or twice a week. Additionally, I am able to teach pretty much whatever I want in my lessons. The teacher I have been working with has been out since late February due to a skiing accident so I have been taking over the lesson every day that I am able to come in. While the classroom is supposed to have a certified substitute teacher while students are in the room, the sub will often leave to make copies or talk to another teacher so that classroom is pretty much mine for the period. In my experience this independence would rarely happen in America.

Unfortunately because I only had a few classes with my SP before she had to leave, I do not always know what the expectations or rules for the classroom are. For example, today one of the students wanted to draw on his writing assignment even though the assignment did not ask for a drawing. When I told him that he should be moving on to the next activity, he told me that my SP lets them include drawings for extra credit. I felt bad for reprimanding him but knew that there was really no way for me to know that prior. My best way to work with problems like this is by asking the class. The students are usually very honest with me so if I ask "Does Ms. Schor let you do this?" they will let me know. While this may not work in every school, it works out well here.

One rules and expectations problem that I run into daily is an issue with leaving class. Sixth graders are ridiculously prone to leaving their belongings in their lockers or in their previous classroom. I assume that is because they are just now receiving increased responsibility in their lives and are slowly adjusting. Because I am now the main teacher in the classroom, when a student needs to leave for any reason they ask me. During a 90 minute class period, on average ten students will ask me to go to their lockers to get books, pens, or assignments. If they are not asking to go to their locker they are asking to go to the bathroom or to get a glass of water.  On one hand, I don't want students to lack the correct materials to learn but on the other hand I don't want them to miss out on valuable class time. The problem then is that if I say yes to one student, I feel obligated to say yes to them all. I'm usually pretty lenient with letting students leave the classroom here because our class periods are long and they are still pretty young. However, I wonder how I will combat this in the future in my own classroom.

1 comment:

  1. Natalie,

    I applaud you for taking on so much responsibility in your classroom. I know how difficult it can be to teach in a classroom while the SP is absent. The students can be particularly rambunctious, making classroom management extremely difficult. I had a similar experience during one of my pre-practicums in the states when my SP was absent. The classroom substitute basically left the entire classroom in my hands and I spent the day teaching the substitute the classroom routine since I knew it better than they did. Though the realization of leading the classroom made me a bit nervous, I jumped right into it considering I didn’t really have an option when it came to being the authority figure that day. However, you sound like you are doing a wonderful job managing your classroom. I admire how you have found management techniques that work specifically for your students and had found the right balance of leniency with them as well. These are both difficult things to do, especially without the aid of an SP. I am wondering how the students are responding to your lessons. What other kind of management techniques have you used to manage your students while you are teaching?
    In regards to your freedom as a student teacher at your school, I have also found that the school I am working at has given me a lot of freedom. I am allowed to come and go as I please as you said as well. You may have also heard the notion of “Greek time.” Meaning, people are very lenient with the idea of time. No one ever rushes, and if one arrives late, there is no harm done. In fact, it is more likely for people to arrive late than on time. This was a very new concept to me, as classes would begin late, students would arrive late to class, and even if I arrived a few minutes late, there was no problem and my tardiness was not even noticed by school administrators. Freedom regarding time in this sense has been a great change for me.


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