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DENNISON MASTERS PORTFOLIO 1

Management Statement

Management of my classroom is rooted in my personal attitude toward my

students and philosophy of learning that influences our class environment. The

foundation of all my thinking towards teaching is that the experience belongs to all

of us – students and educator - and we all have control over our learning. The spirit

of this philosophy is seen in this artifact of vignettes from my student practicum in a

kindergarten classroom. The vignettes showcase moments in time where I offered

adult assistance to students when their behavior was not ideal and how my actions

were supported by research or theory. These moments reflect my belief in how

students should be treated and empowered.

Each student should know they are a valuable part of our classroom. In each

of the vignettes, you can see that the center of my classroom management

philosophy is making sure everyone feels welcome and no one is excluded or

targeted by their peers. I want every individual in our class to feel welcomed as a

part of the whole. I directly intervened when the girls were using ugly words with

Alan so there was no confusion about why their words and actions were wrong and

followed up by modeling and connecting with Alan so he knew he was an important

part of our class. Freiberg and Lamb (2009) found that students claimed to love

school for four reasons. Three of them have to do with relationships in the

classroom: they felt trusted and respected, part of a family in the classroom, and a

positive teacher relationship. This culture can be cultivated by teacher modeling.

Paciotti (2010) emphasized the value of using positive reinforcement to create a

caring, joyful classroom experience for all students. By taking focus off of
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undesirable behaviors, we can help students also focus on positive behaviors

around them. By liberally dishing out specific praise to all students, even struggling

students will perform at their best.

Students need time and space to work with their new skills and ideas. The

fourth reason Freiberg and Lamb (2009) found students loved school was when

they had freedom to make choices and be responsible. Another one of my vignettes

focused on helping a student make better choices using natural consequences. The

girl was offered prompts about how she could fix her own problems but I did not

directly intervene, despite her expectation that I would. In this classroom, explicit

lessons and prompts were routinely taught about how to manage yourself and

troubleshoot social problems. Sometimes it is easier to just tell students how to fix a

problem instead of giving them the time and space they need to use their own

problem-solving skills.

Something I wish I had covered in my vignettes was how to help students

share control of classroom activities. I was so focused on managing different social

predicaments that I forgot to consider how student manage their work and their

attitude towards their work. Mindset and work ethos are skills that will benefit a

student’s education experience greatly. Cooney, Gupton, and O’Laughlin (2000)

found that child choice and child direction were needed for students to feel like their

work was really just play. Creating activities that are learning disguised as play

allow students to dig deeper into concepts and develop a higher level of

understanding (Li, 2006). Choices about how to explore new skills or information

also offers opportunities to explore materials-based problems. Lippard, Lamm,


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Tank, Choi, and Young (2018) refer to this as engineering habits of mind. These

skills are developed solely in student-led activities. The job of the teacher is to help

identify obstacles, when necessary, and have adequate materials available for

problem-solving. Unlike social problem solving, materials-based problems can be

helped with skills such as understanding systems, creativity when finding solutions,

optimism towards new challenges, collaboration, communication, and considering

consequences of our actions when creating solutions.

There is a warning in Li’s (2006) study in Hong Kong early education

classrooms. The philosophy put forth by the Hong Kong Guide to the Pre-primary

Curriculum (CDI, 2006) advocates for plenty of free movement and toys for

stimulating learning. In reality, due to cultural values, teachers directed all aspects

of activities to make sure students stayed on-task. Days were treated like a list of to-

dos that were all academically motivated and structured. This style of teaching is

tempting and can feel productive, but unstructured time with toys, activities, and

ideas are necessary for an education that is more than technical; an education that is

meaningful.

Standards are in place for what I should be teaching. I have studied many

various theorists in an effort to collect wisdom about how to create an environment

that makes learning possible. But I have learned that it takes mindfulness, reflection,

and intention to achieve a successful and inclusive classroom. My intention is to be

flexible in my approaches to new challenges and rigid in my high expectations for

myself and my students.


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Resources

Cooney, M. H., Gupton, P., O’Laughlin, M. (2000). Blurring the lines of play and work

to create blended classroom learning experiences. Early Childhood Education

Journal, 27(3), 165-171. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02694230

Freiberg, H. J., Lamb, S. M. (2009). Dimensions of person-centered classroom

management. Theory Into Practice, 48(2), 99-105.

https://doi.org/10.1080/00405840902776228

Li, Y. L. (2006) Classroom organization: Understanding the context in which

children are expected to learn. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(1). doi:

10.1007/s10643-006-0120-0

Lippard, C. N., Lamm, M. H., Tank, K.M., Choi, Young, J. (2019). Pre-engineering

thinking and the engineering habits of mind in preschool classroom. Early

Childhood Education Journal, 47(2), 187-198. Retrieved from https://link-

springer-com.ezproxy.uas.alaska.edu/article/10.1007%2Fs10643-018-

0898-6

Paciotti, K. (2010). Caring Behavior Management: The spirit makes the difference.

Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 76(4), 12-17. Retrieved from

http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=50817476

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