Classroom management is always an interesting topic of debate when brought up around teachers. Some think that it’s better to give the students clear instructions and rules, while others think that having a few core values as the only rules is better. But, after reading Dr. Richard Curwin’s blog post on the topic and Matt Giesbrecht’s description of Classroom Dojo, a moderated but self-managed classroom, it’s much easier to take a side in the debate.
Curwin’s post focuses on how having a few basic ‘values’ without strict rules is actually a bad thing. This is because a value cannot be regulated, and so teachers have unstated rules that students don’t know about until they cross the line. On the other hand, when giving strict rules with values as an overarching theme, students both know what the rules are and why they are in place. Saying that you only have one rule is a deception, but giving clear guidelines and instruction allows students freedom to work within those boundaries without fear or desire to cross them.
Giesbrecht gave a brief explanation of Classroom Dojo, an app in which the teacher and other students (at the teacher’s discretion of course) can give points to other students based on what they are doing well, or detract points if a student breaks a rule. He explains that though some might have objections to the clear format of letting students know via overhead projector can be a way to shame students, it in fact encourages quick behavioral correction. This video gives a quick explanation of the Classroom Dojo app.
I absolutely agree with the idea of giving clear rules, as talked about in Curwin’s article, especially when they are accompanied by overarching values explaining why each rule is in place. Setting up what I call ‘preemptive’ classroom management strategies I think is the most effective way to manage a classroom. But leaving space open to help tackle problems that will eventually pop up is also wise, as one cannot be prepared for everything. As for Classroom Dojo, I think that it has some really good potential, but that I might have difficulty integrating it into a classroom. I don’t know, if nothing else it would be a good thing to try out.
What do you guys think, should classrooms have more or less rules? Should teachers be absolute rulers in their classrooms, or should they merely moderate while the students judge themselves?