The Cool Teacher: My experience in setting expectations and following through with consequences.

“In this classroom, we are kings and queens inspired to prepare ourselves for our best work. When I step into this room, I set my intentions on succeeding, becoming a positive example to those who love me, watch me and want to see me do well. Seventh Grade might be challenging, but I will become a researcher, an archaeologist, a historian and furthermore a scholar.” -Mr. McMillian’s 7th Grade Vision Statement

I am known to be the “cool teacher” what is that? How is that defined. Mr. M is cool, he is dope, he is lit. This comes from all my new and older students who are in 8th Grade. The funny part about it, the class I taught last year, I thought I was going to lose it. I was throw in a room with a group of 7th Graders who’ve had many subs but it was good that they knew me because the classes that I have assisted. The key thing of working with youth is being able to build relationships and trust with them. The thing that gets me the most is when the student I have the hardest time with visits me and they reflect on how much they enjoyed my class, even though I find myself constantly redirecting that student.

Picture of students I had the pleasure of working with during the summer at SOCAPA.

I am currently getting my Master’s in May 2018 and my teacher has a final essay that discuss, what do we do with classroom management and how we learn from it. Below, is an excerpt from my writing, I hope it helps and I hope you enjoy it.

In every Professional Development meeting and e-mails demonstrated to the school community the desire for teaching cultural relevant. One of the biggest ideas that have been presented is the idea of restorative justice. Restorative Justice is defined as a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large. Although I do not like to call students offenders or refer to them as victims but allowing them to go through a process that encourages them to think and take ownership. That raises the question, how is that presented? Restorative Justice and Cultural Relevant teaching looks different in different communities especially when you are dealing with different demographics of students. Although I might disagree with the idea of restorative justice in communicating with my students. I wanted to test out this theory which drove me to my research question: Are the classroom expectations demonstrated in the classroom, promote a positive and respectable learning environment? The first action step was to make sure that my classroom expectations were posted, short and visible. Lastly, there are always a need to post consequences, but its important to call them next steps to demonstrate that there will be steps that students will go through a process that will challenge their thinking which can move them towards a more restorative justice mindset and allow them to take responsibility. Looking ahead, if this works in my classroom this year, I will use this every single school year. I hope to blog about it and speak to other teachers about it and possibly make it a process.

The daily expectations and flow of the class will be something that will help me prepare my data. The way I run my class and implement my rules will bring everything full circle for the research. When walking into the classroom my students are greeted with a handshake, which demonstrates the love and the respect that I have for them. It also demonstrates that I am excited to see them. I believe that is important because students will be able to see that they are wanted in the classroom. I believe that students feel that going to school is apart of their daily routine and most times when one looks at routine, they take out all the love and the appreciation that connects with it because they are told that is what they “have to do.” When the class starts, I put a two-minute timer on to give my students time to get to their seats, get their materials and settle in. This demonstrates expectation and honoring someone’s time. I allow them to know that my time is valuable as a teacher, allowing them to have time to settle down is acknowledgement of their time. Then allowing them to know that class will begin shortly setting aside that we both must work to do, and we must honor that. Every part of my lesson is timed. This allows them to know what the next move will be. This allows me to keep track of time. Students are only given Homework one day a week because I am more concerned about how they think. I am more concerned with how they think with others and how they can learn from each other and only one can do that when they are at school with their peers.

More pics from Summer 2016

The daily expectations and flow of the class will be something that will help me prepare my data. The way I run my class and implement my rules will bring everything full circle for the research. When walking into the classroom my students are greeted with a handshake, which demonstrates the love and the respect that I have for them. It also demonstrates that I am excited to see them. I believe that is important because students will be able to see that they are wanted in the classroom. I believe that students feel that going to school is apart of their daily routine and most times when one looks at routine, they take out all the love and the appreciation that connects with it because they are told that is what they “have to do.” When the class starts, I put a two-minute timer on to give my students time to get to their seats, get their materials and settle in. This demonstrates expectation and honoring someone’s time. I allow them to know that my time is valuable as a teacher, allowing them to have time to settle down is acknowledgement of their time. Then allowing them to know that class will begin shortly setting aside that we both must work to do, and we must honor that. Every part of my lesson is timed. This allows them to know what the next move will be. This allows me to keep track of time. Students are only given Homework one day a week because I am more concerned about how they think. I am more concerned with how they think with others and how they can learn from each other and only one can do that when they are at school with their peers.

When the students do not follow the classroom expectations there are some next steps that students must follow which consist of: a nonverbal warning, a verbal warning, a signing of their behavior tracker called the “coyote card.” After that has been signed, I take them outside to do a check in. I try to do any and everything possible before it had to go to sending a kid to the office. I believe that I have only sent three students total to the office. The only reason why I sent them there is due to a physical altercation or whenever is continuously becoming a problem for the students to move forward because of the student being disrespectful. I believe that it is best for students to know that everything that you do for them is not out of hate or anger but simply out of love. As a teacher my goal is to make sure that they are successful, and they are doing the best work possible to help them to succeed. Whenever I correct them, I always say, “This is not because I do not like you, or hate you it is simply because I care.” When I am telling my students this, I make sure that I am at their level and I am looking them in their eyes, so I can check for understanding. We then talk about the next steps that they must take for them to be successful and useful in the classroom. I believe when a teacher has the conversation with the teacher it is a useful moment for a teacher to state what it is that they appreciate about them. This is what most people call “glows” we are letting them know how they shine in the classroom and then we move on to grows which demonstrates how they struggled with following the expectations. Then we move on to next steps.