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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Effective Decision Making in the Classroom

Kauchak & Eggen (2005) stated "teachers make somewhere between 800 and 1,500 decisions every day" (Chap. 2, p. 55). Decision making is one of the hardest parts of teaching and has to be done in very little time. Classrooms have five different characteristics that make decision making a complex and difficult task, but as a teacher you must take all these characteristics into consideration when trying to effectively make decisions in the classroom.
The classroom environment is multidimensional. Teachers play many roles, and they must constantly incorporate many different factors into their teaching schedules. One difficulty that is faced by teachers is "constantly changing lesson plans" (B. Johanson, personal communication, August 12, 2007). Barbara Johanson works in a Catholic private school as an art teacher, and she recently had to completely rearrange her lesson plans for the day due to a switch in schedules. One of her classes was cut short, and in order to save time, she decided to have the children do "four quick sketches instead of one full piece" (B. Johanson, personal communication, August 12, 2007). By doing this she incorporated the main points of the lesson, but also saved time. I think this was a very resourceful idea, and would have done something similar. My knowledge of art would be resourceful to me in this situation because I have done many quick sketches and know that some main points can be accomplished without doing in depth pieces.
Events in the classroom happen simultaneously. Johanson states, "the days announcements happen during the beginning of my first period class, so I take attendance while the students listen to the announcements and get settled down for class" (personal communication, August 12, 2007). Recently a rumor had spread in Johanson's class that there was going to be a surprise quiz. All of her students started asking her questions while the announcements were being made. She asked them all to write down their questions while they listened to the announcements, so that she could take attendance (B. Johanson, personal communication, Agust 12, 2007). If I was in her situation I would have asked them to listen to the announcements, and get their materials out for the day's assignment. I than would have addressed their questions and took attendance at the same time. This would have saved time, and calmed the students down. In this situation my experience, in having to switch the order in which I am doing things in order to save time and complete all my objectives, would come in handy. I would choose this because I would want to answer their questions while still being able to prepare for class.
Classroom events must be dealt with immediately, and require quick thinking. Two student in Johanson's classroom recently got into a conflict because one student accidentally spilt paint on the other student's picture. When she noticed what was going on she ran over to the students, grabbed the picture, started to dab the paint off, and told the student that had spilt the paint to get paper towels (B. Johnson, personal communication, August 12, 2007). She told the other student to get water, and used the water and paper towel to almost completely remove the mistake. While she was removing the paint she reassured the student that the picture would be okay, and she had the two students work together to clean up the paint (B. Johanson, personal communication, August 12, 2007). This was a good decision because she occupied the children so that they did not have time to think about getting upset; she salvaged the picture, and got the messed cleaned up. I would do the same thing if I was in her shoes, and I would have used my knowledge of working together to help in making this decision.
The events in a classroom can be unpredictable, and must be handled appropriately. When Johanson was getting ready for one of her classes recently she discovered that the charcoal she had been planning to use in order to teach the students a lesson in contrast was missing(B. Johanson, personal communication, August 12, 2007). She knew that she only had a few minutes to come up with a new project to illustrate the lesson she had planned on teaching, and she decided to use black watercolors in place of the charcoal. This was an effective decision because she was still able to stick to her lesson plan. I would have chosen to use sharpie markers because I feel they would better illustrate contrast, but sticking with the plan was a good decision. I would have used my experience with contrast as a resource in making this decision.
Classrooms are constantly under the public eye. Johanson was recently informed that her classes were under consideration for a time cut (B. Johanson, personal communication, August 12, 2007). She was highly upset by this and did not know what to do. She told the principal that she "could not teach this way" (B. Johanson, personal communication, August 12, 2007). The principal decided to leave the length of the classes as they were in order to keep Johanson as the teacher. I believe this was a brave decision. I think although her convictions were correct, if she had been fired she would not have been able to give the children the education they deserve. If this was my decision to make I would have tried to stress the importance of the length of the class by having the principal sit in on the class. I would want the principal to be able to see how there is no room to cut time, and how important the class is to the students.
Teachers have to face many tough decisions all day long. It is hard to know what is the right thing to do, at all times, for all of the students. Teachers must rely on many resources in order to make effective decisions that will benefit their students. A strong knowledge of their subject area, communication skills, and organization is very important when trying to make these decisions. Making all of these decisions may be a trying task, but when you reach a child and see them get excited about the subject, it is beautiful"(B. Johanson, personal communication, August 12, 2007).
Reference
Kauchak, D., & Eggen, P. (2005). Introduction to Teaching: Becoming a Professional. [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-Text]. , : Prentice-Hall/Merril. Retrieved August 12, 2007, from University of Phoenix, rEsource, AED Teaching as a Profession Web site.

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