"With self-discipline most anything is possible." Theodore Roosevelt

I have been successful in using a classroom management program that nurtures self- discipline and promotes student problem-solving. Stylistically, I prefer a system that supports the social-emotional development of students and encourages their intrinsic motivation to maintain a productive instructional atmosphere. As such, I have researched and implemented programs that adopt methods from Love and Logic, the Responsive Classroom, and Collaborative Problem Solving. During student teaching, I have also discovered specific personal preferences and sensitivities that led me to implement specific classroom routines and procedures.

Routines, Procedures, and Use of Time
Having spent ten years working to create smooth transitions and positive and safe classrooms in all four grade levels at my preschool, I am experienced in building classroom routines and procedures. In interacting with young children, I understand the benefits of clear positive communication, predictable schedules, firm routines, consistent reinforcement, and nonverbal cues. I believe in minimizing adult verbal redirection whenever possible and have been successful in using physical gestures to signal needed behavior changes and musical cues to alert students to transitions. I bring this experience and confidence to the elementary classroom. P1010696.JPG

P1010698.JPGIn my student teaching, I have certainly benefited from my cooperating teacher's established and well-managed series of routines and procedures. Her classroom functions smoothly and respectfully due to her students' clear understanding of the behaviors and actions expected at specific points in their daily schedule. I was fortunate to be in my classroom placement on the first day of the school year and was able to observe how my cooperating teacher introduced her students to the specific routines that have resulted in an on-task classroom learning environment. Student participation to brainstorm our three classroom rules dovetails with my strong personal viewpoint that children and adults must work together to create and maintain a respectful and productive instructional environment. This collaboration reflects the cornerstone of mutual respect that drives my classrooms and also serves to build students’ confidence and skills in both the academic and social domains. I have also continued the highly successful routines of independent reading spots, weekly classroom jobs, and a reward jar in recognition of class successes.

Building upon this smooth structure, I incorporated additional procedures and routines that complimented my individual teaching style during student teaching. I introduced a new procedure when I realized that responding to student requests to repeat directions did not promote their problem-solving or foster their heightened attention. In fact, these repetitions were often a distractor for those students who had been attentive and were already on task. As a result, I adopted a "Check 3" procedure for students to use before they asked me a question about classwork instructions. In this procedure, I use a nonverbal cue of holding three fingers in the air to prompt students to "Think" about recent instructions, "Look" for classroom clues (written directions on whiteboard, peer actions, etc.), and finally "Ask" a peer. In introducing this new procedure, I asked the class to help me remember not to repeat instructions by using the nonverbal gesture to remind me. With this active role, the students soon learned the new procedure and within a few days, the number of students asking for directions to be repeated dropped off markedly.
Second, I am uncomfortable with the behavior color-card system and have sought alternatives to redirect student behavior. For example, I sought a nonverbal procedure to refocus the attention of the class and quiet their conversations. I wished to avoid a clapping signal in order to nurture and model a silent environment and to be able to use the cue with only one available hand (when carrying items). Within three days, the students had internalized the routine. Even with backs turned to me, students become aware of the growing quiet and interrupt their conversations to turn and find the cause for the change in decibels. They often raise their own hand to mirror my gesture as they fall silent.

Finally, I implemented a nonverbal procedure to redirect my naturally garrulous students during transitions through the school halls. Rather than adding my voice to remind students of the need for silence, I quietly shift the chatting student to another position in the line without slowing down the class' overall movement does slow; the talking naturally stops. When we reach the classroom, I then remind students of the need for quiet and that their position will be changed as necessary. Our transitions have become models of silent, focused lines.

During student teaching, I adopted two new routines to integrate content into transitions and to occupy interludes in instruction. At the beginning of the day, while I entered attendance and tended to other brief administrative duties, I tasked students with short written warm-ups as well as SOL-format social studies and science comprehension checks. Rather than reading library books, students are given a writing task or are immediately engaged with the upcoming content area knowledge. I also shifted away from reading during math instruction by creating an independent math resource for students who finished their math work early. These individual math files contain a variety of entertaining and educational worksheets as well as differentiated review that is selected to address specific student needs. Students communicate with me via written notes in the folders about what specific math activities they would like added to their files and I then act on their requests. Now students are focused on math during math instruction and are working on math extensions that are of explicit interest to them.

Writing warm-up becomes door art

Language Arts Warm-up

Classroom Organization and Student GroupingsP1010470.JPG
Again, drawing from my work at Rock Spring Preschool, I am experienced in organizing a classroom for effective instruction. In my previous job, I was responsible for oversight of the arrangement of five classrooms with an eye for safety and egress, sight lines, traffic flow and transitions, access to centers, and effectiveness of instructional space. As part of my classwork at William and Mary, I was tasked with examining my placement classroom’s physical arrangement. In reflecting upon this desk organization and other recently observed classroom configurations, I have a definite preference for grouped desks rather than rows. In addition, as an avid proponent of interactive read-alouds, I would reserve floor space for student gatherings in the library corner. I would also adopt my cooperating teacher’s use of “reading spots.” With this system, students are not confined to their desks during reading time. Instead, on a rotational basis, they are free to enjoy the authentic reading experience of reading in a comfortable bean bag or soft chair rather than being constrained by the limits of a classroom desk.


Students' academic performance and social interactions can certainly be enhanced through effective classroom organization. My current third grade placement is comprised of a kind and happy group of twenty-three students with positive energy and few moments of discord and disruption. That being said, as a whole they are certainly a chatty group! For many students, their eagerness to share can lead them to drift quickly off-task and disrupt their neighbors. I have rearranged the classroom seating arrangements to group students with various considerations in mind: vision challenges, need for teacher support during instruction, benefits of proximity to teacher for focus and behavior reminders, and heterogeneous abilities within a table grouping for both partner work and small group investigations.

I also grouped students into heterogeneous teams for two separate discovery circus investigations. In these groupings, I sought to create a dynamic where each student would feel supported and have a definitive role in their investigative team. I aimed to avoid a situation where one student would dominate and to foster comfortable social dynamics where learning would be optimized for all students. My cooperating teacher noted that the groupings for both of these activities were successful and achieved both the learning and social objectives.

Classroom Management Plan
As a parent of two adult children and as a preschool administrator for a decade, I have invested considerable time reflecting on a model of discipline with which I feel personally comfortable at home and that I can support and promote to staff, families, and children in my work environment. Over the years, this low to moderate control model has altered slightly but has always maintained its emphasis on mutual respect, problem solving, and natural enthusiasm; a focus on logical consequences; and a rejection of shaming and physical contact. In my future classroom, I aim to apply such philosophy to the instructional environment and to create a nurturing and respectful setting where students develop intrinsic motivation to achieve academic and social success. As part of my William and Mary graduate work, I reflected on the origins and potential classroom application of my preferred classroom management plan.

Field_trip_cropped.jpgI intend to implement a discipline model that promotes a respectful team environment focused on academic achievement and social success. I aim to build upon my personal belief of adult-child respect, embrace the social focus of the responsive classroom approach, and use the collaborative problem solving when needed. In such a classroom, manners and respectful attitude and behaviors are fundamental. I have twenty-two years of experience modeling and expecting good manners every time a request is made (“please”) or an object is received (“thank you”) and have been successful in using a non-verbal gesture (a touch to the ear) to embed a habit in my students. In addition, when people feel comfortable and supported, their learning potential is optimized. To that end, while I cannot mandate that all students “be friends,” I will expect that all students “be friendly” and include all peers in classroom discussions and activities. I believe that ostracism at recess or taunting on the bus is within my purview as a classroom teacher because such demeaning actions adversely impact classroom cohesion and thus inhibit learning. In such situations, I will work actively with my school team to develop a plan of action to ensure the physical and emotional well being of the student. I will advocate for a concrete resolution of the specific incident and work to strengthen empathy and perspective-taking to thwart future situations.

In my classroom placement at Matoaka, I have found many aspects of my preferred discipline model. The class is respectful, nurturing, fun, and focused on recognizing positive contributions and behavior. I remain somewhat uncomfortable with the use of publicly displayed behavior color cards because it involves the redirection of students in front of their peers. I prefer private conversations and, if needed, individual, shielded behavior charts. I believe that these alternatives can be effective in redirecting undesirable behavior and promoting desirable conduct.
Finally, I see the goals of education to include not only building knowledge and fostering understanding but also stoking innate curiosity and creating enthusiasm for future learning. I believe a respectful classroom that welcomes student input nurtures such an attitude and promotes future success in school and in life.

Rapport with Students
I am returning to the classroomP1010631.JPG because I am truly happy in the company of children and wish to have a more direct role and connection with them. I enjoy children's perspective, honesty, humor, and conviction and am appreciative of an educator's unique opportunity to be a part of their expansion of experience and growth of the mind. I have years of experience in forging bonds with children and have worked hard to develop specific skills to make connections with shy or reluctant students while respecting individual preferences and personal boundaries. I try to build relationships by discovering commonalities and through brief, respectful, and regular interactions. I have found that laughter and inquiry are often effective over time in drawing out even the most cautious student.

I believe that my naturally open personality and my genuine interest in children translate into a strong classroom asset. In my decades of work in elementary and preschool classrooms, I have demonstrated an ability to connect easily with children and to foster a positive classroom atmosphere. In my pre-service teaching role at Matoaka Elementary School, I have developed personal connections with the students in my classroom. I work to develop rapport with each student in order to establish a foundation for our shared work in both the cognitive and social-emotional domains. In my classrooms, we laugh, share, and learn together.

"It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather...
I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated
and a child humanized or dehumanized."
Haim Ginott