- I created an action plan in tune with my research question and literature review to try and reduce problem behaviors in my classroom and work towards building a positive learning community. My first action was to conduct a series of group conferences in order to gain insight towards the students' perceptions of the class so far this semester, as well as get their opinions as to the best ways we can work together to reduce problem behaviors. Their suggestions included being more direct and firm with students, and create lesson plans in which the students have more agency and choice in their learning.
- As a part of my research, I acted accordingly. I created an (impromptu) lesson designed to be student-centered, not necessarily on content, but in the nature of the activity. By having students work in teams and electing leaders to represent them, I witnessed significant decreased in problem behavior and increases in student participation.
- From that point, I have been carefully observing student behavior in my class in order to note further discrepancies between current and past student characteristics.
Overall, this action plan proved to be mildly successful. On a strict tally count, there are fewer distractions in the classroom and more students are focusing on working and productivity on a day to day basis. It is not as difficult for me to gain and maintain the attention of the class for direct instruction, and the students have been responsive to my increasingly direct method of addressing problem behaviors. There are, however, some lingering similarities:
- The same students I identified as those who provide consistent classroom distractions are still exhibiting these behaviors daily. I am optimistic because it appears that my firmed tone has reduced these behaviors from occurring multiple (three or more) times within a single class period, but it still occurs.
- The performance of these students has not drastically improved. Their distractions prevent them from being on task while in the classroom and ultimately have nothing substantial to show for their learning and understanding.
The entire vibe of the class has still shifted. Yes, problem behaviors are still present, but after the class has "settled" (usually about 12-15 minutes into the class period) most everyone seems to be on track. However, I am not content with class that is simply quieter than they were before. As I walked around, those students who still exhibit problem behaviors may have been silent, but there was no work being completed for the majority of the class period. Empirically, I do not think I can jump to the conclusion that their behavior is prevented them from starting on their work and I believe another action plan will be necessary in order to keep working towards my goal of created a positive learning community.
Thanksgiving is upon us and tomorrow, being Friday, my students will be eager to bolt out of the classroom and begin their Fall vacations. Tomorrow's lesson plan has been structured upon an online game, designed for students to show what they have learning about physical geography. (If you would like to become addicted, check it out: www.geoguessr.com) However, when we get back from break, I want to tackle the new issues that have arisen in my classroom:
- Student productivity has shown signs of increase, but the same students who consistently exhibited problem behaviors in the past continue to do so. How can I further reduce their problem behaviors while working towards building a positive learning community?
- What exactly do my students value in a positive learning community? How can I develop a curriculum that will honor my perception and students' perceptions of what makes a positive learning community?
I believe when they return I will have a new seating chart lined up for the students to filter into, so we'll see if that has any effect on the behavior I am currently observing. Until then, happy Thanksgiving!