Professor disagrees with common classroom management practice

Discussion in 'General Education' started by SF_Giants66, Sep 23, 2014.

  1. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    I'm sure we have all read and heard about the "don't smile until thanksgiving" system, which is an extreme title for what is simply meant as to wait to loosen up until later in the year.

    I actually planned on trying to adopt this philosophy, but then I kind of saw her point that it isn't very consistent. If you have an authoritative approach, wouldn't they know what behavior expectations are regardless of whether you start out friendly right away or increase it over time?

    Does this approach have results showing it makes a difference from how it works when a teacher tries it both ways, or has it been adopted as an accepted approach by most teachers without significant data to back it up.
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    My only evidence is anecdotal. When I have students "loop" with me it takes a lot more work to get the class under control at the start of the year. I've even looked at the first *hard test of the semester and time after time, those test grades are lower on average when I have former students in the room. The students just don't take me as seriously as they should and don't realize what is needed to do well in the class.
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    My two first reactions to this...

    1) Kids need to have respect for the teacher, and they need to listen to the teacher. However, I think it is also important for them to know that the teacher likes and respects them, in return.

    2) If you always look grumpy and angry, how are the kids supposed to know when you actually ARE grumpy and angry?

    Long story short... I think the "no smiles till Thanksgiving" idea is silly. Maybe it works for some people, but it couldn't work for me. I want the kids to enjoy being in my classroom, and to know I enjoy having them there... and I want them to know when I am truly disappointed by their behavior.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I smile and laugh with my students every day--from day 1 through day 190+. That's who I am; to do otherwise would be uncomfortable and wouldn't work for me. My students are with me for close to 6 hours a day. I can't imagine not creating a welcoming environment that includes an approachable teacher.

    As far as class management is concerned, just because I'm friendly doesn't mean that my students don't have respect for me or don't know that I have high expectations of them.
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I agree with this
     
  7. physteach

    physteach Companion

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    That's so funny! When I've had kids loop, I find the beginning of the year much easier for classroom management.
     
  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I don't know how to be grim and hard-nosed. Concerned and caring with a dose of funny works for me. The results, once they tune in to me, are pretty good!
     
  9. SF_Giants66

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    Are you talking about your relationships in the class chat room? ;)
     
  10. 1cubsfan

    1cubsfan Companion

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    I suppose I do adopt this technique, but I don't take it literally. I think my overall philosophy is that work is the first priority. So, I let them know that I mean business right off the bat. I set the expectation high, and they know they are expected to work hard. For example, the first unit of my class is basic writing/grammar. This is focused, highly structured, sometimes tedious work. They get into the habit of working hard.

    Our second unit is Native American Literature. For the start of this unit, we go outside, sit in a circle, and take turns being the "Storyteller". When we go back inside to take notes and analyze the parts of the story, I think they have an easier time transitioning back to work because our "fun" was the exception.
     
  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I think the idea that fun and work are mutually exclusive is the problem that led to this "no smile" garbage ever gaining any traction.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I disagree that this approach is common or that "most teachers" do it. Do you have any significant data showing that most teachers do it?
     
  13. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    It's just not in my personality to not smile until Thanksgiving. It's never been a problem for me.
     
  14. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I also disagree with that statement and the idea that most teachers do it. That's certainly not the vibe in my building. I am, by nature, a very easy going person. I laugh easily, I smile easily, I like to get to know people... I am that same person in my classroom. My classroom runs well because I keep them busy with meaningful work, they know they can trust me to help them become better readers and writers without me belittling them, and they know that I'm always going to be fair and consistent with them. Why on earth would I want to go to a job (or a class) where I was discouraged from being happy and finding something to smile about every day? Just weird.
     
  15. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I think children learn and behave best in an environment in which they feel safe and cared for, and you can do that by forging relationships with the kids that are based on mutual respect. I think the no smile thing is ridiculous. A good teacher is capable of good classroom management without being a tyrant or being stern all the time. Save it for when you need it, and it will be much more effective.
     
  16. SF_Giants66

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    I actually think I was trying to ask if it had been a technique that most teachers use and if it was based on anything. At the beginning I said most people have heard about it.
     
  17. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I guess your question has been answered :)
     
  18. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I don't think that is quite what you asked. To inquire if it is a technique "that most teachers use" is beyond the scope of this forum and was not in the first post. Furthermore, it sounds like a title that someone used for an article somewhere, not something that a grad student did research on. The best you can get is the anecdotal evidence of real teachers, unless you can find out about actual data accumulated on this obscure "concept". Many things that we "have heard of" in our lives have little basis in truth, nor can they be proved.

    If you have some free time on your hands, why not spend some time in the library and find the source of the title and real research on the concept?
     
  19. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I mean ALL contacts. I know you're kidding a little, but we DO have an online classroom with open chat allowed during breaks. I monitor that pretty closely and chime in by typing or over my microphone, and my approach is not quite maternal, but definitely like a concerned aunt. I also turned on my webcam in class to demonstrate the difference between "literally and "figuratively", holding my hair straight up to show what it looks like when your hair LITERALLY stands up on end when you use incorrect language. They'll remember that image and get it right on their quiz.

    The same goes for my phone conversations and emails. They know I am a little silly, they know I really know my stuff, and they know I care more about helping them to learn than I am about mere memorization of facts.
     
  20. Jerseygirlteach

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    I think students behavior better when they like their teacher. It's harder to like someone who never smiles.
     
  21. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I agree!
     
  22. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    To anyone who hasn't seen this yet, I highly recommend going to TED Talks and watching Rita Pierson: Build Relationships With Your Students. It should be required watching for every teacher at the beginning of every school year - you know, just in case some of the brain cells died over the summer! It goes with what you said, and I personally believe. :)
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Rita Pierson was a teaching wonder and an inspiration.
     
  24. SF_Giants66

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    I only remember using the class chatrooms sometimes. I took a business management course in high school that we had chats to discuss ideas.
     
  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I try to be more on top of catching behavior at the beginning of the year and issuing consequences. By the middle of the year things tend to slide just a little bit (it's not good to do that, I know, but it happens) but the kids don't take as many chances because they know I could jump on them for it and it wouldn't be unexpected.

    I'm certainly not mean and grumpy, but I do show them that I mean business, but I also smile frequently and build professional relationships with them. I often crack my own style of humor jokes in class as well.
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to what the phrase "don't smile until after Thanksgiving" really means. It is a catchy phrase to grab attention, but it isn't meant to be taken literally.

    Be consistent. Once you have a good read on the kids and a good handle on the classroom management, you weigh the circumstances a little more when deciding how to deal with situations.
     
  27. Go Blue!

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    Only if they also respect and/or fear the teacher.

    I've seen many well-liked/popular teachers get run all over in regards to classroom management. Yet, the students claim they love these teachers and enjoy their class.
     
  28. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I don't think students or adults every work or learn well in a fear controlled environment.
     
  29. Go Blue!

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    I've seen many teachers use fear to produce great results statistically.
     
  30. brigidy

    brigidy Comrade

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    I could never use fear to teach. I have rules and consequences. If they break the rules, they face the consequences. I never have to get mad, yell at the class, or even stop teaching. I like enjoying my students and on the same token, my students enjoying my class.
     
  31. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I honestly can't imagine how. I think there's always a tinge of fear in the teacher-student relationship if you're a conscientious student, but it's very difficult to imagine that a fear-dominated environment is the best environment for anybody.
     
  32. orangepurple

    orangepurple Companion

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    I only looped once, and it was with about half my students. I found that the beginning of the year was much easier and the results of the first assignments were so much better with the kids I'd had the year before.
    I wish we could loop all the time!
     
  33. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    I love laughing and playing and being silly with my students. I like being friendly to them. I could never the idea of 'never smile until Thanksgiving."
     
  34. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I've never used the 'no smile' philosophy and I have excellent classroom mgt, happy kids, cooperation, connectedness, feelings of capability, mutual respect and cooperation. Kids shouldn't behave out of fear. :2cents:
     
  35. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    Nope. I'll be the odd ball here. I'm a drill sergeant till about Christmas break. Of course there are moments of laughter here and there, but my students know I mean business. And if they are scared, its ok-its life. I am not their friend, but teacher. My students lack discipline/structure at home, so unfortunately at school we have to "re-program" them. I love the end of the year where I can let my reigns go, but right now, absolutely not lol.
     
  36. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My experience is different. I loop every year, sometimes for multiple years in a row. I find that students are much more on board with classroom rules and expectations. For the very rare instance when a student acts out in some way, my correction is simply, "Hey, you know that's not how things work in this room. Start over." It works for me. I always hit the ground running with my second-year kids (and of course my third- and fourth-year kids), which I'm able to do because they already know what is expected of them. They don't bother with limit-testing or button-pushing because they already know what the limits are and that I have very few pushable buttons.
     
  37. 3Sons

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    Well, I imagine there are cases in which a "no early smiles" philosophy works, but it's kind of like saying that punishment works.*

    * before you get upset, I'm NOT saying they're the same thing, or that anyone who uses EITHER is a per se terrible person.

    Punishment (corporeal or otherwise) DOES work for what it's intended to do -- it reduces the occurrence of a particular targeted behavior. The problem with punishment isn't that it isn't effective, it's that it's both effective and has a huge number of problems with implementation and other side effects. The problems (escape/avoidance behaviors, resentment, learned helplessness, tendency towards over-use, particular details around timing and verification) outweigh the benefits.

    My suspicion would be that having a relatively even keel throughout the year would be the best approach, though these are difficult questions to study. In a way, though most have only anecdotal evidence, that may be some of the best evidence that's really available.
     
  38. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I don't agree with this. The class needs to learn early on how to stay under control when we're doing serious things and also how to stay under control when we're having fun. I enjoy having a good time doing a fun science experiment or watching a cute brain pop video (the kids always laugh at Moby). If I taught them at the beginning of the year how to behave when I'm serious I'd predict they'd go wild and get out of control as soon as they see me let loose a bit. So I let them see me let loose from the beginning and teach them that even when I'm having fun all the rules are still in place and they need to know how to calm down when the fun is over. It works for me.
     
  39. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I looped and I'm definitely more relaxed this time of year then I would normally be. Although I don't do the "no smiles" thing, I'm definitely more rigid with following the behavior system in the beginning of the school year. This year I've realized thanks to looping and a wonderful group of kids we're really functioning without a behavior system at all. It's there the same system we used last year, but we rarely refer to it because the kids just behave. They know our behavior expectations and they are constantly meeting them. It's amazing and I'm already wondering what the heck I'm going to do without these kids next year!
     
  40. SF_Giants66

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    Now that I think about it, I noticed that my favorite teacher in the past was when I was in 7th grade. For the first quarter, she was friendly and fun for most of the kids, but I got called out a lot for sarcastic and obnoxious remarks. By the end of the first quarter, I was on probation in her class for being put in detention, and then by the 2nd quarter she was loose and started becoming more relaxed, I think also after I started to respect her more as well. She later came to see me perform in theatre near the end of the year, and I felt bad for not doing to well on her final exam because I respected her and wanted to do well more than I cared about doing well for any of my other teachers. I was her lab assistant the next year for study hall, helped her grade tests and papers, and I have used her as a reference several times and still keep up with her from time to time.

    I don't know if she loosened up later in the year and allowed more joking and sarcasm from students, or if I just started to show more respect and she loosened up, but I have seen this practice I guess in less extreme ways.
     
  41. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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