With adults, I could focus entirely on content; my students were mature, intelligent, and motivated, so I could think exclusively about what to teach them, and how. This probably makes me sound jaded and disenchanted (and I hasten to add that I actually have a lot more fun teaching kids, and my students are great, I swear!); but the fact is inescapable: when youre teaching in a school setting, you need to worry about classroom management. But no amount of nagging creates a motivated classroom; and no amount of speechesabout the value of education, the importance of respect, or the relevance of the lesson to ones futurewill produce interested and engaged students. (Again, I know this both from experience and observation.) Some strategies are therefore needed to keep the kids settled and on task. This book is nothing less than a fully worked out strategy for controlling a room full of young people. The main challenge of classroom managementthe problem that dwarfs all othersis to eliminate talking to neighbors. Jones begins by suggesting board work: an activity that each student must start at the beginning of class, something handed out or written on the board, to eliminate the usual chaos that attends the beginning of the lesson. Jones advocates a pedagogical approach that only requires the teacher to talk for five minutes or less at a time. When the kids are working, the teacher is to move around the classroom, helping, checking, and managing behavior, while being sure not to spend too much time with the students he calls helpless handraisersthe students who inevitably raise their hands and say they dont understand. (To be clear, he isnt saying to ignore these students, but to resist the impulse to re-teach the whole lesson with your back turned to the rest of the class.) This leads to one of the main limitation of Joness method: it works better for math and science than for the humanities. Jones suggests frequent writing exercises, which I certainly approve of, but it is also hard for me to imagine teaching a lesson about the Spanish Reconquest, for example, without a lengthy lecture. Backtalk can be anything, but as Jones points out, it usually takes a very limited number of forms. And then there is misdirection, when the offending student says, But, I dont understand! The penultimate section of the book deals with what Jones calls Preferred Activity Time, or PAT. It is not a reward to hold over their heads, or something to punish the students with by taking it away, but something the teacher gives to the class, with the opportunity for them to earn more through good behavior. The book ends with a note on what Jones calls the backup system, which consists of the official punishments, like suspension and detention, that the school system inflicts on misbehaving kids. Your job is to keep the kids in a room, keep them quiet and seated, and to keep them busyat least, thats how it feels at times. The question of the ideal educational model is entirely different from the question this book addresses: how to effectively teach in the current educational paradigm.
Note to Self on Discipline Program 1/4/09 On 12/18/09, as my 7th period left the classroom, I thought it was the end of my teaching days. With teaching 6 periods a day, and teaching 158 students, I was exhausted. On the third book that I read, Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones, I finally came upon a text that was talking about many aspects of the classroom that no one else had mentioned. His ideas came from his research as to what the natural teachers were doing with those bad kids that was working. When he applied the many layers of discipline, and methodology of instruction, teachers were teaching, kids were learning, and no one was stressed. Working the crowd 2.Say, See, Do Teaching (one step at a time) 3.VIPs (Visual Instructional Plans Step to the right) 4.Praise, prompt, leave (30 seconds max) 5.Motivation my mgmt system 6.Using PAT time to encourage right behavior and abolish wrong self monitoring among the students So, what happened Day 1 adjusted tables to 5 people per group. As I noticed students finishing, I got up and started to read students work. Students were working while I checked for reading books. 1st period was all in the classroom before the bell and earned a minute! Announced to all classes that 4 minutes would be added to PAT if they worked diligently. However if I was interrupted working with my small group, every time I had to ask people to settle in, they would lose a minute from the 4. 4th period, honors, had problem with it with two boys, and the other students were furious that they lost 3 out of the 4 minutes. 1st and 7th period, my most difficult classes, only lost 1 minute. All the students were so interested in keeping the minutes for PAT. I have had a few issues with students refusing to do their work, but instead of writing referrals at the end of the day, I just logged carefully in the grade book what the student refused to do. I will be interested to see if I can get them to learn to peer edit each others work on a more regular basis, and therefore have a faster turn-around.
2) So far, it's the best book I've seen on classroom arrangement. Jones emphasizes "working the crowd" as a classroom management technique and talks nuts and bolts on setting up the class to making working the crowd as effective as possible. Correspondingly, his focus on motivation emphasizes rewards --- students get extra time for educational games if they save time on other tasks.
I also think that his approach to 'instruction' is the most limited portion of the book, yet is where most classroom difficulties begin.
Most teachers rely on simply the school-wide discipline management system, but we all know it doesn't work.
Since I only see students for 45 minutes of their day in a classroom that is generally not MINE, many of his strategies are impossible for me to employ.
There isn't a lot of background on research, so you'll have to look elsewhere for that, but as a clear text with a spirit of brevity I have come to love this book.
He is brilliant as well as very funny!