Category Archives: #ecs301

Classroom Management: Where Trial & Error = Most Successful Venture

Classroom management – the one single entity that a majority of pre-service educators fear.

Every semester when we enter our new courses, we optimistically flip through the course outlines to find ‘classroom management’ under the listed topics to be covered. When this does not happen, we ask, “Well when are we going to learn about classroom management?” The overarching concept of classroom management is overwhelming, as there is no concrete ‘how-to’ manual for educators to follow. Classroom management strategies differ depending on the educator and the students within their classroom – implementing strategies they deem to be effective for their learning environment.

The vagueness among strategy selection only increases the difficulty of trying to find one’s own classroom management niche – how are we supposed to know what will work? I do not believe that classroom management is something which can be ‘taught'; rather, a trial and error approach to explore potential strategies for implementation may be the most successful venture.

After reading The Great “Respect” Deception by Dr. Richard Kerwin, I have began to construct a personal teaching philosophy in regards to classroom management. The following is an informal, thought process breakdown of my journey thus far alongside classroom management:

  • Classroom rules and expectations must be clearly outlined for students in order to be consistently reinforced. How can we have classroom expectations without making students aware of said expectations? The ‘surprise’ element of miscommunication sets everyone up for failure – each decision made becomes a ‘guess’, not necessarily intentionally.
  • Classroom expectations should not include values such as “respect, kindness, leadership, etc.”, rather expectations should be implemented to aid in fostering personal values and growth. When we ask students to “be respectful”, what are we meaning by this? Being respectful is not a rule; it is something that we will work towards becoming as a result of our choices and actions. We should work to inspire students to develop a positive, strong set of personal values – this is done via our choices and actions. (Having “respect” as a classroom goal is vital; however, students need to explore what this may look/feel/sound like within a classroom setting before they can be expected to honour this value).
  • Classroom Point-Based Systems – How effective might these be? This I am unsure of – what is the significance in reiterating positive or negative behaviour infront of the entire classroom? Students who successfully obtain points  are aware of their behaviour; students who ‘lose’ points are also aware of their behaviour – do we need a visual display reinforcing this information? If students are self-aware, they will not need a points-based system to dictate whether or not they are a ‘good’ student. However, some educators may find point-based systems to be successful within their classroom environments – I wonder, though, what educational value does this hold?

As I continue on my journey towards becoming an educator, I am trying to further educate myself on classroom management strategies which I may one day integrate into my future classroom. I am in no way an expert; I continue trying to explore the concept that is classroom management – I am unsure as to whether or not I will ever fully wrap my mind around the diversity of strategies available. However, I do know that the trial and error process will become my best companion until I have found my niche within this vital aspect of education.

Inquiry Based Learning – You’ve Got A Good Thing Goin’ On.

“Inquiry is not asking questions and finding answers. Inquiry is wrestling with dilemmas and seeking epiphanies. Inquiry is being comfortable living in the soup.” – Educon, 2013


As part of an in-class exploration, we collaboratively unpacked the Crab Apple Jelly “Me to We” Project currently being inquired on by students at Mother Teresa Middle School in Regina, Saskatchewan. Alongside the inquiry-based learning process, we mapped out a project plan – outlining what a project such as this might look like in a middle years classroom.

We began by discussing a time-frame by which we thought this project would occur, taking into consideration time accounted for brainstorming, collecting materials, canning the jelly and selling the product. My lack of experience with actual implementation of inquiry-based learning in a middle years classroom led me to believe we may have over-projected time-wise. However, we would want our students to unpack the experience to the extent they so chose to – taking as little or as much time as needed, within reason.

Upon delving into the Saskatchewan curriculum, we quickly found that making cross-curricular connections would not be an issue – the basis of the project fit seamlessly into almost every subject area. I believe that cross-curricular connections are an important aspect of inquiry-based learning, as it allows for easy transition between subject areas, while allowing students to make meaningful connections throughout the broad areas of learning. A learning experience that encompasses ample opportunities for personal growth provides the framework for shared experiences to occur in the classroom and community – as evident in the Crab Apple Jelly Project.

We included an exploration alongside Treaty Education into the project plan as we felt as though it was an integral component to student learning. There were multiple areas by which connections could be made within the Treaty Education Outcomes & Indicators Document; however, we chose the outcomes found to be most significant focusing on Treaty relationships and worldviews. Additionally, assessment and differentiation work hand-in-hand during an inquiry-based learning experience, as the tools and strategies used must reflect student interest, learning styles and the foundation of student learning within the project itself. A brief break-down of exemplar assessment strategies can be found in the image below (KWL chart, journaling, conversations/dialogue, visual representations, etc.).

Throughout the remainder of my pre-internship, I hope to further explore inquiry-based learning alongside the students in my co-operative classroom. I presume there will be a combination of successes and challenges; feelings of triumph and defeat; multiple ‘detours’ along the way – all of which will keep the experience interesting! Let’s face it – inquiry-based learning, you’ve got a good thing goin’ on!

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