Classrom dynamics

(At the Pot of Gold religious education conference today, I led a workshop on classroom dynamics. As promised to participants, here are three key concepts from the workshop:)

When we talk about classroom dynamics, we are talking about managing the relationships in a group of learners (i.e., classroom management). One of the key issues facing any teacher is the issue of classroom management — which is a nice way of saying, helping the participants behave well. To help minimize behavior problems, here are three key concepts to consider:

(1) Make sure each child (or teen, or adult) is noticed and is heard. We did this today in the opening: everyone said their name, and told a little bit about themselves. Especially when new to a class, kids need to feel that they are noticed, that their voice can be heard, and that they belong.

(2) Make sure all participants at least hear each others’ names. They don’t have to memorize all the names (though that would be best). They don’t have to be best friends with everyone (though having one friend is good). But they at least have to know the barest minimum about who else is in the room.

(3) Be clear about the purpose of the class. It makes a big difference if everyone knows why they are there. (For example, I did this in today’s workshop by stating the purpose of the workshop at the very beginning.) If there’s a stated purpose, most participants will buy into it — and those who don’t will at least understand when you reprimand them for deviating from the purpose.

Other notes from today’s class: Rules of the Grocery Store Game may be found here. Rules for Zip, Zap, Zoop may be found here. (Scroll up and down on this same Web page for more icebreakers.)

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