Standard #3: Learning Environments
A teacher must have clear classroom management policies before all else to ensure a positive learning environment. If the classroom is disorderly then no learning can effectively take place. Students must understand the rules and expectations of the course, and the teacher must inform them of the consequences for breaking those rules. However, a classroom should not be ran autocratically; rather, the teacher must praise good behavior and successes, especially for students who may not get recognition for their hard work in other classes, aren't popular, or often cause disruptions in class. Praise is an excellent motivator for learning and appropriate behavior. Furthermore, students should be regularly encouraged to support one another and include each other in activities both within and outside of the classroom. A teacher should take opportunities to observe student behavior outside of the classroom - such as recess or in the hallways between classes - to understand the social atmosphere of the school, as well as attending student events unrelated to music to show that the teacher cares about the students as people.
In order to keep students attentive and engaged, a teacher must have good teaching strategies for classroom management. Consistency in demeanor and consequences and clarity in instruction both play an integral part in the ability for students to understand and retain knowledge in a meaningful way. Two of the most important teaching strategies at an educator’s disposal for managing the classroom are proximity and pacing. Many young teachers are afraid to move around the classroom for a variety of reasons. For some, they are more comfortable being at the podium with their score and lesson plan as a safety net. For others, they may be afraid to move around the room because they may not be able to see every student as easily. However, I noticed that my cooperating teacher in my first placement (MS band) spent almost two thirds of his class time moving around the room and only a third at the podium rehearsing music. Simply moving towards a disruptive or unfocused student is enough to correct their behavior. Proximity also helps the teacher assess individual students or sections more accurately than standing at the front of the room. Pacing is equally as important, if not more important, for young adolescents. If the pacing is too fast or there is too much content or connections are not clearly made, the students will easily get lost and give up. On the other hand, if the pacing is too slow the students will get bored and it will be much harder to regain their attention. Non-verbal cues, such as a "teacher stare" or hand signal, can help alleviate behavior problems without disrupting or taking time out of the class.
Motivation is key to students learning about and studying music. A teacher must have ways to motivate his students to learn and perform their music to the best of their abilities. Music and band classes are commonly much larger than other subjects; therefore, music educators should strive for good facilitative skills in the classroom to manage the students and stay organized. This does not mean the teacher should control his classroom, but rather facilitate the environment, and instill a sense of mutual respect among the students and the teacher himself.
For me, motivation has always been in my desire to rise above and beyond my own abilities and constantly improve myself. Competition is another strong motivator for me, and I respond well to honest criticism. Throughout my middle and high school career I participated in solo and group contests (such as ISSMA), competed in Marching Band and other ensembles, and took private lessons which all helped keep me motivated. I believe that there is a fine balance between praise and criticism that a teacher must achieve to not only keep a child motivated, but to avoid discouraging the student. In terms of classroom management, there can definitely be some work. Generally, I have a positive demeanor and strive to keep a collected, yet energetic, aura in the classroom. Though my personality is great for teaching, my organization skills are not quite up to par. There have been times where I've gotten behind in work, or taken on too many courses or projects at once. Time management is something I will need to focus on both in and outside of the classroom. So far in my micro-teachings, I am able to keep within the time constraints of the lesson I'm presenting, and I make sure that I give each part of the lesson equal and just attention. However, when I'm constructing said lesson plan or a speech, I often get too ambitious or want to say too much, which can be overwhelming to my peers or students I'm presenting to. I must learn to budget my time and energy more effectively if I wish to avoid chaos in the classroom.
Competition isn't all about awards or first, second, or third place. Competition within yourself and striving to reach a better plane of personal success is exactly what self-motivation and self-respect entails. The goal of the educator is to instill this within his students. I believe student teaching, attending competitions, and volunteering and working at band festivals will help me discover different ways students are motivated. Student teaching and courses offered at Ball State University will also help me learn about classroom management.