How many new teachers arrive into the profession to find they were not prepared for the relationships with their students in the classroom? If data is any gauge many! Over fifty percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. A growing concern and major reason is they feel students are unmotivated, disrespectful and even threatening.
Indeed when one reads the Education Evaluation Guide from the Massachusetts Department of Education teacher metrics include such core issues as creating a safe environment, respecting differences and quality work.
But how do you, as a teaching professional, create these qualities in your classroom?
When I began teaching in the United States in 2006 I was shocked at how my unmotivated and disrespectful my students were toward me. I had taught for ten years in Australia from 1976 to 1986 but I felt there was a general decline in work ethics and tolerance with young people. It seemed more students were suffering from malaise and discontent with school and perhaps life.
It was at this point, two years into my second teaching career I decided to explore the question how can I capture the hearts and minds of my students? From my reflection and research I came up with two powerful methodologies that transformed my experience and reinvigorated my pedagogical practice.
I presented a paper at the Oxford Round Table in August 2013 on the methodology of silence called “The Phenomenology of Silence: Educing Learning and Creativity in the Classroom” (click here).
This blog explains how and why my second methodology works. It was designed out of a need for me to feel respected and happy as a teacher. The two together have made me not only happier but my students and in some cases my colleagues who have adopted similar versions of what I have introduced.
WHAT IS C.O.R.E.?
C.O.R.E. is an acronym to help students and teachers remain focused on how to create developmental and dynamic independence and co-operation in the classroom. It is a way to address behavior in students, but more importantly it is a model for building personal attributes that will enhance a student’s ability to learn and succeed both in and out of the classroom. Each teacher will have their own priorities for what they deem optimal classroom management. In such a case I suggest you create a set of class principles that suit you.
C = Communication with Care O = Organization for Optimization R = Respect builds Relationships E = Effort in Everything
When you define C.O.R.E. for your students, you are actually allowing them to become acquainted with you and your expectations. Each one of us as teachers approaches our classes in a unique way and students have many different teachers. Take a few minutes to contemplate: What behaviors in students do I most struggle with? What qualities in my students do I most appreciate?
Identifying the behaviors that are supportive or adverse to classroom harmony and development is the first critical step in the process of creating a meaningful framework for effective classroom management. C.O.R.E represents the student attributes that, in my observation, generate the greatest harmony and development to my classroom.
Cultivation of these qualities does not happen overnight. Only through consistent reminders over time, with clear consequences, can students understand how powerful these living skills are.
C.O.R.E. represents principles to live by, not rules to follow. Principles have greater flexibility and allow for differences. For example if Scott, a very dedicated student starts handing in poor quality homework then he is compromising his “effort” ethic. However if Sally, who rarely does homework, starts handing in work, even if it is minimal, she is making progress with her “effort” and is graded accordingly within the C.O.R.E. rubric. In other words not all progress looks the same for each student. This can be very subtle and is one reason I have my students grade themselves.
Having class principles is also a way to speak about classroom behaviors in an impersonal way to your students. It avoids the feeling of blaming, accusing or judging someone as bad in any given situation. Principles allow you, as a teacher, to refer to standards that work in developing independence and co-operation within a group.
"Lawrence Carroll's workshop on personal stress management, which he conducted with my Columbia Grad School class
was a huge success."
Neal Pilson, Columbia University, Former President, CBS Sports