Evaluate your approach

What type of teacher are you? How does your approach to teaching and interactions with your students affect the climate of your classroom, not to mention the behavior, cooperation, and achievement of your students.

We’ve had many models, some more effective than others, and many of us just do what’s been done before. Complete the activity below to see if you’re on the right track—or at least headed for where you think you want to go!

In each pair of statements below, mark the one you identify with most strongly:

_____ I try to build a positive emotional climate in the classroom.
_____ I prefer to focus on academics. The students are there to learn.

_____ Whether or not my students cooperate, I communicate my acceptance of them as people.
_____ When my students cooperate, I communicate my approval.

_____ It is possible to have fun with your students and still keep their attention.
_____ Students will probably take advantage of a teacher who tries to have fun with them.

_____ I have a variety of classroom materials out and available for my students to take as needed.
_____ Most of the time, I dispense materials.

_____ I want my students to listen to me, and I try to make it need-fulfilling for them to do so.
_____ I want my students to listen to me, and I punish them when they do not.

_____ Students can choose responsibly and still not choose what I would like.
_____ I am reluctant to let my kids make decisions because they might not choose what I want them to.

_____ Please put the lid on the paste so it won’t dry out.
_____ Please put the lid on the paste for me.

_____ I try to find something positive to say about every paper I get.
_____ Students will not learn if you do not correct their mistakes.

_____ I like my job most of the time.
_____ I dislike my job most of the time.

_____ Johnny, you really got ready in a hurry today.
_____ I like the way Johnny got ready today.

_____ It is possible for students to have power in the classroom without disrupting the class or hurting anyone.
_____ Give them an inch and they’ll take a yard.

_____ In my classroom, there are immediate negative consequences for misbehavior.
_____ I frequently give my students warnings and reminders when they misbehave.

_____ When my students behave, it is because they are working for positive consequences.
_____ When my students behave, it is to avoid punishment.

_____ If we’re quiet in the hall, we’ll be able to get to lunch quickly.
_____ If you’re noisy in the hall, we’ll have to come back here.

_____ My students sometimes choose which problems or assignments they want to do.
_____ I determine the assignments for my students.

_____ I want my students to care about me.
_____ I do not care if my students like me as long as they behave and do their work.

_____ I know I am doing a great job when I am prepared and doing my job.
_____ I know I am doing a great job when my students are busy learning.

_____ Everyone works better when there is a meaningful payoff.
_____ Students should not have to be rewarded for cooperating.

_____ I try very hard to treat my students with respect, even when I am responding to their negative behavior.
_____ It is sometimes necessary to criticize or humiliate a student.

_____ I have a number of unrelated, non-destructive diversions to relieve work-related stress.
_____ Most of my out-of-school time is devoted to my work.

The first statement in each pair reflects the discipline philosophy described on this Web site (and, certainly, in the book, The Win-Win Classroom.) If you have checked a majority of these statements, the material on this site and in this book will help you enhance what you’re already doing.

The second statement in the pair reflects a more traditional authoritarian approach to dealing with children. If you checked many of these statements, you’re certainly in good company. This is, for the most part, the model most of us grew up seeing and the way many of us were trained to work with children in a classroom. There are more positive alternatives described in this book, and in many of the articles and handouts on this site.

Even if you had a difficult time choosing between two statements, the differences between the two approaches to discipline and power dynamics are actually very different and generally exclusive of one another. Shifting to the beliefs and behaviors represented by the first statement in each pair can result in increased student cooperation, responsibility, and engagement, and a decrease in power struggles, disruption, and general stress in the classroom environment. Please explore more of the material on this site for further clarification.

Adapted from The Win-Win Classroom by Dr. Jane Bluestein © 2008, Corwin Publishing, Thousand Oaks, CA.

© 2008, 2012, Dr. Jane Bluestein

Related links:

A Report Card for my Teacher: Getting Feedback from Your Students
Guidelines for Offering Students Choices
Guidelines for Reinforcing Positive Behavior
Dealing Successfully with your Students’ Parents
Getting Away with Success
Motivating Cooperative Behavior
Handling Negative Student Behavior

Also see Feedback from Students— Who Cares? by Ruth Moeller

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