Introduction to the Classroom Management Module.
Greetings! My name is Esther Raizen, and I am the current Chair of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin. I have a PhD in Foreign Language Education and teach Modern and Classical Hebrew language and literature.
In this module I would like to discuss with you some aspects of classroom management, and come up with practical notions and questions that you might ask as you design your own curriculum with classroom management in mind.
The discussion on classroom management in higher education and elsewhere focuses primarily on issues of discipline and conduct, and its main purpose is to identify classroom problems, understand where they come from, and propose a variety of strategies for addressing or preventing them. In this conversation I would like to broaden the scope of "management" to include critical issues of class and classroom organization, among them the physical classroom (seating, technology, lighting, mobility of instructors and students and so on); discuss the reasons for striking a balance between strict planning and improvisation, which, I believe, is one of the most essential strategies for designing a successful language curriculum; and explore the ways in which we might lead our students in a culturally responsive environment and create a synergy between the various cultures that students, instructors, the institution, and the field bring into the classroom.
The basic tenet of my discussion of the physical classroom is adapted from the Classroom Design Manual published by the University of Maryland, which maintains that students have a fundamental right to a classroom learning environment that allows them to see anything presented visually, to hear any audible presentation free from noises and distortions, and to be physically and emotionally comfortable regardless of the method of instruction used. In terms of the balance between the planned and the improvised, I suggest that language teachers should define their expectations and plans very clearly for individual classes and the curriculum as a whole, but leave about 20% of the time unplanned, to allow for improvisation. As for the culturally responsive environment, I provide examples of the ways in which personal and other cultures come to bear on what happens in the classroom, and suggest that training in cultural awareness and the intentional fashioning of a unique class culture are likely to contribute to the success of our educational mission.
My goals in putting together this module are to raise awareness of critical issues in the discourse on classroom management that are very often pushed aside, or taken for granted because they are obvious -- so obvious, in fact, that we rarely think about them -- and to highlight the importance of faculty and student involvement in institutional decisions that affect classroom management.
- 1 Management, Discipline, and Control
- Thinking beyond "discipline" and "control" as we make our plans for successful classroom management.
- 2 The Physical Classroom
- How can we plan for an optimal classroom experience and take ownership of our classrooms?
- 3 Between Planning and Improvisation
- How far should we go in planning our language classes, and to what degree should improvisation be built into our lesson plans?
- 4 Class Culture
- What does multiculturalism entail in a language classroom setting, and how can we create a class culture that is conducive to learning?