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September 1, 2003
Vol. 61
No. 1

EL Study Guide / Building Classroom Relationships

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This month's topic would be good to use in orientations with beginning teachers or in mentoring groups.

Creating Positive Classroom Dynamics

After reading “The Key to Classroom Management” (p. 6), discuss the characteristics of effective teacher-student relationships as described by the Marzanos: dominance, cooperation, and awareness of high-needs students.
Ask the experienced teachers in your group to describe classroom situations that call for the teacher to show dominance, cooperation, or both. Have volunteers share or demonstrate a few strategies that they use to provide clear purpose and strong guidance for students. What body movements, signals, tone of voice, or well-chosen words are useful in calling a group to order?Share strategies that foster appropriate levels of cooperation. What are the most effective and appropriate ways to show an interest in students? What positive behaviors show students that you are fair and flexible?
Invite a guidance counselor, staff psychologist, or special educator to your study group to discuss the figure “Categories of High-Needs Students” (p. 10). Choose one type of high-needs student (passive, aggressive, attention problems, perfectionist, socially inept) to discuss in depth. What are the characteristics of these students? Describe interventions that you used with students that worked or did not work.

Responding to “It’s Boring”

Group in disciplinary or grade-level teams to discuss the article “Boredom and Its Opposite” (p. 24). Rate a lesson of the group's choice according to the “Student Interest Rubric for Curriculum Design” (p. 26). Evaluate that unit's strengths or weaknesses. How might you improve it to create more student interest?

Responding to Verbal Harassment

In “It's Hard to Learn When You're Scared” (p. 40), Stephen L. Wessler shares insights from students who have been bullied or harassed at school. Discuss your school's policies on dealing with verbal slurs and insults. Share ways in which individual educators can intervene when they hear hostile remarks and name-calling. As a group, design a survey to ascertain students' perceptions of the prevalence of bullying behavior in the hallways, cafeterias, buses, and classrooms.

Marge Scherer has contributed to Educational Leadership.

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