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| Volume 61 | Number 1
Table of Contents
Robert J. Marzano and Jana S. Marzano
In a recent meta-analysis of more than 100 studies, the authors found that the quality of teacher-student relationships is the keystone for all other aspects of classroom management. The characteristics of effective teacher-relationships have nothing to do with the teacher's personality or even whether the students view the teacher as a friend, they assert. Instead, the most effective teacher-student relationships are characterized by specific teacher behaviors: exhibiting appropriate levels of dominance; exhibiting appropriate levels of cooperation; and addressing the problems of high-needs students. The article describes teacher strategies for shaping the dynamics of the classroom through the balance of these three types of behavior.
Curriculum, teaching methods, classroom management, and teacher–student relationships are intertwined in a democratic classroom; the effectiveness of each element is dependent on the others. And building classroom community and relationships is at the heart. The author gives practical tips and raises important issues on how to encourage the classroom relationships that are the basis for successful democratic classrooms. From playing class games to ensuring culturally relevant curriculum, the author advocates a human approach to community building while developing student interest and intellect. Mutual respect for the individuality of teachers and students and a relevant, connected curriculum are essential. Humor and fun have a definite place in classroom communities but should not be the only focus.
Jonathan C. Erwin
Teachers can approach the task of motivating students in two ways: They can use external motivation, which depends on rewards and punishments, or internal motivation, which depends on the needs or drives within students. External motivation does not produce the results that teachers want, says the author, and even worse, it tends to harm the teacher-student relationships that are so important to learning. The author recommends that teachers use internal motivation and describes how teachers can apply William Glasser's Choice Theory in the classroom. By creating conditions that satisfy students basic human needs for survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun, teachers can motivate students to learn and behave in respectful, responsible ways.
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Richard Strong, Harvey Silver, Matthew Perini and Greg Tuculescu
The authors recommend that teachers ask the question, When are students most likely to be interested enough to overcome the predictable boredom that occasionally haunts almost any sustained act of learning? They examine how teachers can redesign the curriculum and differentiate instruction to respond to students' natural human interests—the drive for mastery, the drive to understand, the drive toward self-expression, and the need to relate—in order to engage even the most reluctant learners.
Dan Hoffman and Barbara A. Levak
A Framework for Building Safe and Serious Schools, developed by the Ohio Center for Essential School Reform, puts five methods of personalization at the center: knowing students better; trusting students more, empowering students in authentic ways; connecting students in meaningful ways; and honoring all students in varied systems of recognition and reward. The authors describe examples of ways that schools are pursuing all of these goals. They discuss a workshop process that enables a school to engage staff members and students in reflecting on the state of these five areas in their school and describe one school's results. Through this process, the school discovered that some groups of students did not feel known, trusted, empowered, connected, and honored, and that staff and student perceptions differed greatly. This awareness has provided the basis for leadership in improving the personalization of students’ educational experience.
Sheldon H. Berman
In Massachusetts, Hudson High School has implemented reforms that build students' sense of community, social responsibility, and commitment to participatory democracy. The author briefly describes the district's commitment and efforts to develop K–12 school environments that nurture students' social, emotional, ethical, and civic development and the reforms that Hudson High School has undertaken to develop such programs that also appropriately address adolescent development. The school created smaller communities within the l,000-student high school: middle school clusters with interdisciplinary teaching teams, and four clusters of upper-level students that focused on different themes and involved students from all three grade levels. Clusters provide the principal unit of democratic governance. These small democratic groups build a strong sense of community, rich relationships between faculty and students, a meaningful instructional program, a stimulating professional culture for staff, and a respectful and responsible student body. Participating in a democratic community enables young people to enter the adult world with the skills, values, and commitment to actively participate in our civic community.
Stephen L. Wessler
Respectful schools and classrooms are those in which all students feel physically and emotionally safe and valued for who they are. The author points out that respectful classrooms depend on respectful schools. Harassment of students who are perceived as different often takes place away from teachers' eyes—in the hallways, on the bus and in the cafeteria. Although no teacher can single-handedly ensure that an entire school will be a safe and respectful environment, “one dedicated teacher can create safety for students in his or her classroom and serve as a resonating role model for both students and teachers,” asserts the author. The article describes how teachers can become more aware of harassment, create a classroom climate in which every student feels respected, and respond assertively to slurs and insults to make it clear that harassment is unacceptable.
Young children can learn to appreciate other children's point of view and solve conflicts through discussion and compromise. By analyzing kindergartners' conversation about a playground dispute, the author demonstrates the value of the adult not prejudging or seeking out someone to blame for the dispute. Instead, she listens as children attempt to seek a solution to what seems like an intractable problem. By listening to the children involved in the dispute, she can help them become more open, more willing to see other points of view, and get closer to a compromise. Her goal is to build an ethical classroom.
Ely Kozminsky and Lea Kozminsky
In Beer-Sheva, Israel, the citywide Improving Learning and Motivation program helped students develop new attitudes for succeeding academically and socially. The authors describe the four stages of implementing the program: modifying teachers' beliefs about what causes success or failure; guiding teachers to provide effective feedback; structuring written dialogues between students and teachers; and fostering classroom discussions of social and academic successes or failures. Three dialogues demonstrate how the teachers fostered students' sense of personal responsibility. Through these dialogues, students began to attribute fewer successes or failures to ability and more to level of effort and the implementation of effective strategies.
Genuinely caring about students is the best way to build teacher-student relationships and ensure student success. The author suggests strategies for building rapport and empathy with students, which include providing both nurturing and structure in the classroom, developing emotional intelligence and sensitivity to students' emotions and needs, and responding positively to students' efforts at relationship building. He contends that respect for the teacher is not sufficient; students must perceive that we care, and even that we like them deep down, as people.
Philip S. Hall and Nancy D. Hall
Narrating the story of how a teacher responds to a student's challenging behavior and negative attitude, the authors demonstrate how a teacher implements relationship-building strategies: intervening gently, foregoing punishment, bonding, and ensuring the student's success. This relationship-building approach helps the student develop positive, socially appropriate behaviors by focusing on what the student is doing right rather than on what the student is doing wrong.
Rheta DeVries and Betty Zan
Rules in schools have traditionally been made by teachers and given to children. Today, many teachers see the benefits of allowing students to have a voice in developing classroom rules. When students participate in rule making, they are more likely to observe the rules; just as important, they grow as moral, self-regulating human beings. The authors discuss the development of classroom norms and rules from a constructivist point of view. They point out that teachers in constructivist classrooms, contrary to the popular misconception, do use external control when necessary. These teachers, however, use external control of students consciously and deliberately, not impulsively or automatically. Their goal is the development of autonomous, self-regulating human beings. Based on their observations of teachers at the Freeburg Early Childhood Program in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the authors give examples of how teacher-established norms and student-developed rules work together to create democratic classrooms.
Done well, morning meetings can foster a caring classroom culture. The author describes the four sequential components of a well-run morning meeting—greeting, sharing, group activity, and news and announcements—and shows how each embeds opportunities to practice the skills of becoming a caring community.
Phil Smith, Alex Molnar and John Zahorik
The authors review findings from the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program evaluation and address from their perspective five questions posed consistently by critics: (1) How much does SAGE affect student achievement? (2) Do SAGE benefits persist in 2nd and 3rd grade? (3) Does SAGE reduce the African American-white achievement gap? (4) Are the benefits of SAGE limited to disadvantaged students? (5) How much does SAGE benefit students with poor attendance? The authors find that class-size reduction helps increase student achievement substantially, especially for African Americans and students with poor attendance. SAGE also allows teachers to spend more time teaching, know more about the needs of their students, and spend more time on individualized, hands-on activities.
The authors review findings from the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program evaluation and address from their perspective five questions posed consistently by critics: (1) How much does SAGE affect student achievement? (2) Do SAGE benefits persist in 2nd and 3rd grade? (3) Does SAGE reduce the African American-white achievement gap? (4) Are the benefits of SAGE limited to disadvantaged students? (5) How much does SAGE benefit students with poor attendance?
The authors find that class-size reduction helps increase student achievement substantially, especially for African Americans and students with poor attendance. SAGE also allows teachers to spend more time teaching, know more about the needs of their students, and spend more time on individualized, hands-on activities.
John Zahorik, Anke Halbach, Karen Ehrle and Alex Molnar
Research shows that class-size reduction, when bolstered with strong teaching strategies, can help improve student performance. A recent study identifies factors that distinguish effective teachers of reduced-size classes from their less effective peers: Instructional orientation: More effective teachers focused on basic foundational knowledge, giving secondary attention to higher-order personal and social goals. Their primary teaching methods emphasized explicit, step-by-step learning.Management style: Teachers of higher-achieving classes emphasized structure in student management and lesson management, establishing clear rules and routines and structuring their lessons with carefully planned activities and step-by-step content progression.Individualization focus: The more effective teachers' instructional orientation and management styles gave them more time to tailor instruction to students' individual needs. Individualization is the ultimate goal of class-size reduction initiatives, and the key to academic success.
Instructional orientation: More effective teachers focused on basic foundational knowledge, giving secondary attention to higher-order personal and social goals. Their primary teaching methods emphasized explicit, step-by-step learning.
Management style: Teachers of higher-achieving classes emphasized structure in student management and lesson management, establishing clear rules and routines and structuring their lessons with carefully planned activities and step-by-step content progression.
Individualization focus: The more effective teachers' instructional orientation and management styles gave them more time to tailor instruction to students' individual needs. Individualization is the ultimate goal of class-size reduction initiatives, and the key to academic success.
James M. Mitchell, Linda James, Barbara Essig and Kim Shipp
In Oakland, California, Project SOAR is preparing a cohort of students to start college in 2005. Entering its final year of a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Project SOAR provides a wide range of services, including tutoring and summer programs to promote academic achievement; professional development for tutors and teachers; counseling for preparing for college; programs for increasing parent involvement; and a take-home computer program and computer training. Project SOAR is developing a sustainable program through its partnerships with parents, the community, and local institutions of higher education.
Autumn K. Tooms
To better support her teachers and the school's reading instruction program, an elementary school principal completed training in a Collaborative Literacy Intervention Project—a professional development program that trains teachers to help struggling readers become proficient readers. The program is based on the Reading Recovery model and the work of Marie Clay. In a series of letters to the student she tutors, the principal explores the challenges she faced and the lessons she learned from the experience. Although school leaders cannot have in-depth knowledge of every content area and instructional technique, they need to find a balance between leading and instructing.
John H. Holloway
Denis P. Doyle
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