The more you manage, the more you have to

Thornton Creek 1st Grade Classroom | 05/30/2008 | 10:00 am - Noon |
Present: Mari Brockhaus, Mary, Parent Volunteer, Academic Assistant, 24
students, myself

In the first-grade classroom at Thornton Creek, I have been seeing a lot of classroom management in action. Before I go further, let me just say that having only had exposure to PSCS classes before this (in the US anyway), any amount of classroom management is a lot of classroom management for me. So, the following commentary is not meant to be a criticism of the hard-working teachers in this first-grade classroom but simply a discussion that helped me arrive at a learning.

This classroom has 24 students and 1 teacher! 24 students is a lot! How can you get to know them and treat them individually? You cannot. So, you have to 'manage them'. You have to tell them what to do, when to do it, how to do it, how not to do it, when to speak, when to be quiet, when to walk, when to eat, when to play, on and on. I take it all back! You don't HAVE to do it but that sure is how it seems. Somewhere deep within me, I believe that you don't really have to manage students, even there are 24 of them and one of you. I think the teacher's job is to help students manage themselves and each other. But, that is hard and almost impossible so it is east to fall into the trap of managing them.

What is interesting is that the more you manage them, the more you HAVE to. When I first observed this, it fascinated me. Isn't it meant to be the other way around? The more you manage them, the less you HAVE to? It was intriguing. Now that I have seen in it action for some time, it is evident why this is so. The more you manage students the less they know how to manage themselves so they need you to manage them which is why you HAVE to do it.

So, how might one break out of the cycle or not even get into it? Said another way, how do I put my deep belief in not needing to manage students into action? I think it starts by honoring and trusting them to take care of themselves and others. If you trust them and let them act for themselves, you allow for their inner being to come through. Their inner being is pure. Only good, and right action comes from it.

But, you have to trust it to let it come forth. Besides trusting and honoring each student, you have to trust the whole group. They know how to take care of each other IF you LET them. Can we? This is easier said than done. It is hard to let go and let students take care of themselves. I get that. But, we need to try. What else can we do, anyway?

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