The Test

August 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

Beginning teachers, and some veterans, look back at the start of a new school year amazed at how quiet and orderly the class gad been. What happened? Simple! The teacher failed The Test. The test of who is in control. It is subtle and subversive. It is not a planned test- it just happens. The unwary teacher may not even be aware of it. It unfolds from the very moment the first pupils appear at the classroom door.

All teachers face this test each time a new group of learners arrive at the classroom door. The operative word here is “learners.” There are no adjectives, such as, potential, eager, dismayed, prospective, etc. Only the word learner is shown. Every child who walks through the door of the classroom is a learner. They will learn. It may not be what you want them to learn but they will learn. How effective a teacher is in getting them to learn what is expected is determined by the test.

In the previous post, it was stated that preparation is the stratagem for success. In order for this plan to work, it is necessary to have the appropriate tactics. These are your behavioral management skills. The battle for control of maintaining these particular skills is the subject of the test. The best laid plans of mice or men are useless without the power to put the plan into operation.

As the new pupils sit quietly hanging upon each word that is uttered or each activity engaged in, the test is in progress. A student speaks out. This may seem good but do should that pupil have raised their hand or not? To pass the test, identify the behavior and indicate the way it should be done in this classroom: “Thank you, Harry for supplying the answer but we need to raise our hands. Mary breaks her pencil point and quietly gets out of her seat to sharpen her pencil. “Mary, I see you broke your pencil and needs sharpening. But, in the future, Could you raise the pen and point so I know everything is ok.”  All of this constitutes a test. It is not a concerted affair but rather a series of events that is best identified by the teacher. If Harry can speak out, then Larry can shout out. The teacher must have made a decision about what is acceptable before it happens. It is in these first few days and weeks that the teacher creates the atmosphere that is part of the overall plan.

Explicit versus implicit curriculum. The explicit is all the nicely and painstakingly prepared. The implicit is the milieu in which it all happens.  The stage must be set before the play is performed.

How does a teacher pass the test? Like everything else in teaching, anticipate and plan. College teacher-preparation classes emphasize the word plan: plan the lesson, plan the curriculum, plan the holidays, plan the field trips, plan the testing activities, plan the potty trips, plan the party. Plan, plan, plan…. The previous post stressed the need to be prepared for the first day. To pass the test the teacher must have a plan of the overall behavioral management plan.

Review the behavioral classroom management plan each year. What is expected of the student in terms of their behavior? Raise hand? Freely leave seat? Noisily entering classroom? Talking to neighbors? Chewing gum or candy? Cell phones? Make a list. Expand each year. It is part of the overall plan.

The test is strongest in the first week or two. Vigilance and fairness are the keywords in putting the plan into operation. The overwhelming measure of a good teacher from the pupil viewpoint is fairness. What’s good for Larry better be good for Mary. If Harry is told not to talk out of turn and Barry has to be reminded as well. It important to be very cognizant of what is happening in the classroom. Omnipotent is the teacher attribute to exhibit these first few weeks.

How the teacher is perceived early on is vital to the effectiveness in accomplishing lessons later in the year. Children learn. It may not be what we intend them to learn  but they will learn something. The implicit teaching actions often have a greater impact on learning than what is given credit. Learning by example is the most effective approach to classroom activities. The teacher creates this world for children to learn in by example through behavioral management skills.

It’s the first day! Eyes open! Ears alert! Face friendly but businesslike! Mind set to the classroom as a place of learning! Watch for any activities that would make a good example of what or what not to do. Give them candy or a scowl. Establish the rules of this classroom. These are the days that may well result in a great learning experience for pupils and teacher the rest of a person’s life.

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Start the Year: It’s Only the First Day! Hug a Teacher Today!

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