Not a big fan of the term ‘classroom management’.

I thought long and hard about the title of this blogpost. My first thought was, “I hate the phrase ‘classroom management’. That seemed too harsh. So I dialed it back a hair.

A gifted teacher, working her magic with her kids. ‘Classroom management’ is her loving, respectful style.

Stand back for a big announcement later in this paragraph. I was a middle school teacher for 16 years. Middle school, grades 6, 7, 8. Kids that were 12, 13, 14 years old. Earlier this week, we met with the staff at our middle school to talk about construction plans. I mentioned that when I was a middle school teacher, and I was out and about, I would tell people that I was a teacher. They usually found this charming and inspirational. Then I told them I taught middle school kids. And they usually expressed some form of horror and pity. Cracked me up everytime. Here’s the big announcement. Not intended to be bragging, but it is a fact. In 16 years as a middle school teacher, I sent one referral to the office. It wasn’t that my classes were perfect, that I didn’t ‘lose it’ sometimes, that kids behaved like little angels all time. Of course not. The kids were good, typical, middle school kids. Nope, it was that my ‘classroom management’ strategy entirely consisted of treating the kids with respect, having a sense of humor, laughing with the kids. We all knew that we all cared about each other, and when I was having a bad day, they graced me the time and space to do so. As I did for them. And that lasted for 16 years. I learned that being myself in the classroom was my best tool.

The words ‘classroom management’, in my opinion, are too cold. A teacher is not ‘managing a classroom’. He/she is working everyday, with kids. Human beings. Period. ‘Classroom management’ too often connotes ‘discipline’. Rules. Regulations. I think we make it too hard sometimes, as teachers. Treat the kids as you would want your own kids to be treated is a pretty good guideline.

By the way the teacher in the picture is a former student of mine at our middle school. And every teacher who has former students return to be colleagues knows what a thrill it is to see them in action, in the trenches, working with kids. That’s what I get when I cruise through her classroom! Smiling, laughing, respecting, and loving on kids.

Works every time.

Author: Jnelson

Jeff Nelson Fife School District Assistant Superintendent:Teaching-Learning-Innovation 39 years as an educator. 16 years teacher 3 years assistant principal 12 years principal 8 years Assistant Superintendent BA, Washington State University MAEd, Washington State University Previous member of AWSP Legislative Committee Previous member of UW Tacoma PEAB, Administrative Certification Established and maintained Fife’s first website for 7 years Present work includes establishing the first Teaching/Learning/Innovation department in the Fife School District. Examples of responsibilities include: teacher/administrator professional development, assessment, TPEP, curriculum/materials review, 24 credit requirement, technology levy leadership, teacher/administrator bargaining. Initiatives underway in Fife, as a result of new TLI Department: AVID, OER, Curriculum and Materials reviews, Student Perception Pilot with CSTP, Google Expedition Cofounder of Educational Internet Communications, LLC. Marketed and sold one of the first online grade checking programs in the US. Consulted with Seattle Educational Internet Company for 2 years.

4 thoughts on “Not a big fan of the term ‘classroom management’.”

  1. Love your post! I am going to refocus my use of the term “classroom management.” I agree 100% with your perspective. We are building relationships with kids. Additionally, I like your style of writing. I too, have a blog… If time permits, read a post. Happy blogging!


  2. Totally agree! I taught for over 40 years ages 5-10. Colleagues would say, “I don’t smile for the first month!” What a lot of bull that is. Being honest, authentic, caring and welcoming goes a lot further in creating a positive learning environment for young children!


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