If I had the opportunity to rewrite or rename a few college education classes, renaming classroom management would be the first on the list. We live in an everchanging world, and for the most part, people, in general, want to be led, not managed. Students are no different. Education needs more teachers who are leaders in the classroom, not managers. Yet, that is what we prepare future educators to do. Why not prepare them to lead? Classroom leadership takes classroom management to a welcoming concept for both the teacher and student. Classroom leadership is what we should be teaching our future teachers. Classroom leadership needs to be discussed more in our educational conversations regarding teaching and learning.
Classroom leadership is centered around empowerment, not only for you, as a teacher, but for the student as well. Classroom leadership should be based on a vision and principles, not managing students like they are products on a shelf; a vision that shows what the end result can be – where students can grow, and finish better than they started. Classroom leadership should be about influence, and that is what leaders do; influence inspires, management manages. When people are inspired, they do not have to be managed.
Too many teachers get caught up in wanting or even needing to have “great” classroom management. Now, that is not a wrong concept, per se, but… What the question that needs to be asked is, “What are you managing?” Is it policy and procedure of your classroom, lesson plans, desks all in a straight row, etc…? I believe that most teachers think that classroom management is all about having their students behave; shut up, sit down, raise your hand, I am the teacher and I am in charge (Well, I have always felt that if you have to tell someone you are in charge, you probably are not leading very well anyway). And what happens when one of these “classroom management rules” is broken? Teachers immediately enforce “classroom management” and write a detention or send the student to the office.
So, how do we move a teacher from having classroom management to having classroom leadership? A few thoughts…
Develop hallway cred…
Yes, it is just like street cred and it might be the most important attribute you develop as a teacher. Students will do right by you, if you do right by them and believe it or not; they will have your back. Being fair and honest is all it takes. However, this takes a teacher with strong emotional intelligence. You want a student to relate to you, be willing to relate to them. The thought “my way or the highway” only works with weak and insecure leaders.
Develop a quiet strength…
Every day, we have an opportunity to be for a student. There are enough people in the world trying to tear students down; a teacher should not be one of them. Some students take more “quiet strength” than others, this we know. But when that student knows we have found value in them, that we have acknowledged their strengths, empowerment takes place, and it is amazing how the environment of your classroom changes for the better.
Develop yourself in being a role model…
Your classroom starts with you. The atmosphere is contingent on what you bring every day, and those four walls are your domain. Also, someone has to be the adult in the classroom; please let it be you – talk like, act like, and please dress like an adult. If you want your students to act a certain way, give them a reason to act that way.
Develop an understanding that mistakes happen…
For the most part, I do not know students who “mess up on purpose.” Now, they may not know a better way, but as soon as you “connect” with them, they might just take your words for correction to heart more often. Mistakes can be an opportunity for learning. Please quit “beating” a student up because they get a wrong answer or do not understand. More importantly, when you make a mistake, be transparent enough to acknowledge it in front of a student or the class; this goes a long way with every thought thus far.
Now it goes without saying that there are a few teachers who have excellent classroom management, but I would say that they actually have outstanding classroom leadership instead. I would go even further by saying classroom management is easier for teachers who have classroom leadership. Excellent classroom management is a by-product of classroom leadership.
Overall, we are talking about a paradigm shift – shifting from one thought of how our classrooms should be to another. As a classroom teacher, our focus should be where we can move a child on the educational scale of the particular subject area you teach. Yes, we teach students in the now, but we educate them for the future. Leading them is the answer. Learn how to be the classroom leader instead of the classroom manager. Everyone will be better for it.
Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others
©2019 J Clay Norton
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Charlotte Walker said:
Yes, sir. I totally agree. Relationships matter. In 28 years of classroom experience I’ve noticed the years where I “relate” to students instead of “managing” them are the best years.
Ricky Nations said:
I like what you say here. Not many people like to be “managed”.
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