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Marzano and Marzano cited a comprehensive review of literature on student achievement and found the top factor in student achievement was classroom management. Students are limited on how much they can learn in a classroom that is disrupted, unsafe, and/or chaotic. 

There are entire books written on the topic of classroom management. The focus in this article is upon classroom management that helps spur students to become self-starters that are self-aware and self-actualizing learners. As Davies stated, we want our students to be able to regulate and assess their behaviors and their academic growth. Those are the behaviors that we want them to carry out of our classes at the end of the year because those are the behaviors of self-confident achievers. 

Teacher Rapport With Students - 

Classroom management relates to many factors in a classroom, including how the room and lessons are organized, the behavior management system (or lack thereof) in the classroom and the teacher's rapport with the students. Marzano and Marzano conducted a literature review of 100 studies and found that the largest factor in classroom management that influenced student behaviors was the rapport that teachers had with their students. Teachers who had good rapport with their classes could count on about a third less problems with students violating classroom rules or having behavioral issues in class. 

How does one achieve a strong rapport with students? 

Personal Interest and Differentiation - 

Some teachers tend to deal with each class as a unified whole. This does not help individual students navigate in class. One of the keys to taking a personal interest in each student is to differentiate the curriculum. This begins by first finding out about the interests, readiness levels, and learning styles of the students in your classroom. As Tomlinson stated, we first gain the trust of students when we begin to honor their unique interests, learning styles, and ways of seeing the world, such as cultural differences. 

Students realize that teachers have their best interest at heart when teachers have taken the time to provide scaffolding or enrichment as needed, based upon student readiness. As Tomlinson stated, this helps students to learn in a manner that is most efficient for them. 

There are teachers still going home from school feeling as though achieving the goal of some percentage of students learning means they did their best that day. We have not done our best each day until we have ensured that every student in our class is provided the means to learn the curriculum, regardless of their readiness level. 

When we have created a path for each student to learn each and every day, we are reaching each student and telling them by our behavior how important they are to us. When every day students are provided appropriate scaffolding or enrichment in order to achieve in our classes, they will be more likely to do their best because they will begin to have faith that we will provide the scaffolding they need to reach the goal. 

Students know the handshake at the door can be a cliché. It is what goes on inside of the classroom that really counts. 

Grouping and Individual Learning Conferences - 

One really great way of gaining a rapport with students is to have regular interaction with them in small group and individual conferences. This allows you to learn about them better as individuals and help provide that scaffolding and/or enrichment through mini learning conferences. Atwell taught us to have individual conferences with writers when we do Writers' Workshop. As Davies stated, when we begin to have those conferences regularly about all assignments, we are able to provide the constructive, caring, individual feedback on work that helps our students to flower. 

Davies went on to make a key point: We should spend a lot more time with such formative assessments, assessments on the fly that allow our students to fix, correct, and amend their work, learning from their mistakes, rather than giving them a steady diet of final assessments. Students do not learn as much from a final assessment marked up in red than they do from correcting their own work and learning where they are not meeting the standards after receiving constructive, formative feedback. 

The behavioral gain from this classroom management strategy is students who grow to be more reflective upon their own work and learn to correct, edit and assess their work on their own. One also gains students who are unafraid to take risks, since they cannot fail when we provide formative assessment that is timely and constructive. 

Time-Out = Time to Take Stock - 

Even with the best rapport in the world with your students, there will be times you will have to do a time-out procedure with a student in order to maintain the learning environment for the rest of the class. Jones and Jonesmade a key recommendation: that time outside of the class flow should be focused upon allowing the student to calm down, if needed, and to allow them to reflect upon what they were doing that was not acceptable and what they need to do next time better. If they cannot explain that to you when you are ready to end the time-out, they are not taking responsibility for their actions. They need to spend some more time outside in reflection. 

The reason for this, according to Jones and Jones, is that students need to be able to self-regulate. They need to be able to see inside of themselves when they have wronged another. When we are decreeing what the infraction was, they are not being helped to learn to become people who operate according to the Golden Rule. Students need to be able to generate an honest account of where they wronged others and how it will not happen again. They need to learn to be self-regulating citizens in the world. This reflection time creates the space for students to learn that key skill in your classroom and beyond. 

Clear Learning Expectations and Classroom Rules - 

Yes, we also need to ensure that students know and understand the classroom rules from Day 1 and that we need to think carefully through all procedures that we have students perform in class and provide guidelines and rules that we talk, and sometimes walk, students through before they do something new. Why? Because it is pretty chaotic when students are unclear on what they are supposed to do next. 

McTighe and Wiggens make it clear that it is even more important is that we set clear learning expectations at the outset of each lesson. We can provide samples of successful work for larger projects and rubrics. As to the latter, we need to have students make decisions about those rubrics and grade papers by those guidelines. Again, it goes back to that self-regulation. We want students to become the judge of what is quality work. We won't be on scene to judge their work as adults. They need to learn to do that for themselves now. 

Well Organized Routine With Choices - 

Within that well organized routine that helps students know the procedures in our classroom, we need to provide choices. According to Tomlinson, when students have choices, they are more likely to be motivated to do their assignment. When you have provided 30 choices of topics for a persuasive essay and are open to more suggestions, you are more likely to get students to want to do the work. Yes, that is a part of classroom management as well. Students who have choices don't act as though they are in a prison. They enthusiastically work towards the goals of learning the state standards because you took the time to make it fun and interesting for them to do so. 

As you can see, this is not your typical article on classroom management. The focus was squarely upon how to cultivate students who are self-actualizing, self-regulating, and motivated to learn. Those are the behaviors that the best classroom management can achieve. The key to that type of classroom management is through caring, individualized instruction that develops a genuine rapport with each and every student and ensures that every student has a roadmap to achievement every day. Yes, that also means rules and routines and clearly laid out expectation and procedures. The goal is to create a classroom environment that has a culture where all students can be successful every day, with all of the help and support they will need to achieve. The goal is to teach students to be able to judge their own work as well.

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