Maya Angelou: Motivation In The Classroom Essay

Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” While Angelou was not simply talking about teacher and student relationships, I think that this quote follows my philosophy on classroom management very closely. I believe that as a teacher, it is crucial to have a system of positive motivation in the classroom. There are two main parts to my classroom management philosophy, one that clearly shows how discipline works in my classroom, and the other that clearly shows how everything else will work in the classroom interpersonally.

The Discipline with Dignity approach aligns closely with my belief that if a teacher gets to know students as people, there will be fewer discipline problems. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports give a multitier approach to classroom management in a diverse classroom. The FISH philosophy corresponds to the part of my philosophy about how people in my classroom will work together and interact with one another. Due to my beliefs as an educator, my philosophy of classroom management aligns well with a combination the FISH philosophy, PBIS, and the Discipline with Dignity approach.

It is important to note that discipline is not the only part of a classroom management philosophy. There is so much that goes into a comprehensive classroom management plan and discipline is only a very small part of it. However discipline is also important in any classroom. For discipline in my classroom I will follow the Discipline with Dignity approach. The main idea of this approach is if you get to know students as people, and treat them as such, you will have fewer problems in the classroom with behavior.

This means that a teacher will have a personal rather than an authoritative approach to discipline. The expectations and repercussions are clear and set at the beginning, and the philosophy emphasizes looking at the whole story before making a judgement. Rather than jumping on a student whenever they break a rule, understand why a student is doing what they are doing. The approach emphasizes never making decisions when emotional, and deal with the issue later with logical consequences instead of creating a power struggle. Allen Mendler, co-creator of Discipline with Dignity states that as a teacher “you need to be difficult to offend and quick to forgive” (Delisio, 2011).

One possible example of the Discipline with Dignity approach in motion is given in the Education World article called Discipline with Dignity Stresses Positive Motivation by Ellen R. Delisio. Delisio gives the example of a teacher catching a student smoking on school grounds. The teacher and the school social worker meet with the student and discuss the harm that smoking can do to the well-being of a person. The student agreed not to smoke on school grounds again and left with a warning. Later the teacher catches the student smoking again. Despite her instinct to address the student immediately and punish, she waited. At the end of the day she waited and talked to the student as they were leaving school and worked with the student to plan a consequence. The consequence ended up being a presentation on the negative impacts smoking can have on a person.

In this example, it is clear that the teacher was attempting to use the Discipline with Dignity approach. When she saw the student breaking the rules again, she did not immediately create a punishment when her emotions were high. Instead she waited and worked with the student as a person to create a logical consequence for the action. This approach is definitely more personal than authoritative, and values the student input in creating a consequence. In my classroom I will make sure to see the whole picture when disciplining a student. Additionally I will always value student input, especially when creating logical consequences. To create a logical consequence it is important to remember that the consequence should facilitate learning and should not simply be a punishment. Having a plan for discipline in the classroom is integral to a classroom management plan, but it will also be helpful to examine my entire classroom philosophy as well.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is a program established by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Program. On the official PBIS website, it defines the programs purpose: “to define, develop, implement, and evaluate a multi-tiered approach to Technical Assistance that improves the capacity of states, districts and schools to establish, scale-up and sustain the PBIS framework. It is based on behavior analysis and prevention, and focuses on positivity rather than negativity. This is a program that focuses on emphasizing what students should do, rather than telling students what not to do.

The PBIS system, while a good system, is not necessarily what I would use in my class. However, my philosophy of classroom management fits well with the philosophical ideals of PBIS. It emphasizes positivity, something that I want to emphasize every day in my classroom. For example it is important to have clear expectations for what students are supposed to do, rather than focusing on what they are not supposed to do in the classroom.

The FISH philosophy was created by John Christensen and is modeled after the Pike Place Fish Market. The FISH philosophy has four main components. The first component is “play”. This component is about being creative in problem solving and making work fun. Play is about adding energy to everything. The second component is “make their day”. Make their day is all about having a positive encounter with at least one person a day. Next is “be there”, which is all about really focusing on one person at a time instead of multitasking. The final component is “choose your attitude” and is all about not letting anyone or anything else control your attitude. These four components embody what I want my classroom management process to look like.

In my classroom, the four components will be reflected in everyday activities. The “play” component will show each time the students are challenged with a new task or something out of the ordinary or difficult. It is so important to show students how to find the fun in learning. Students will know to try and look at things creatively, to find a new way to solve a challenging problem. “Make their day” will make an appearance every single day as well. Each day I will greet each of my students at the door, making sure that I have had at least one very positive interaction with every single one of my students.

The “be present” component fits into everything we do in the classroom. I will teach my students to fully dedicate themselves to the task at hand, whether it’s listening to another classmates speak or reading a book, the student needs to attempt to be present entirely in whatever they are doing. The final component is one that I know I will encourage students to use every day: “choose your attitude”. Whenever a student is having a bad day, or is just not quite in a good mood, it is key to remind them that they are in control of their attitude and how they approach the rest of the day.

It is my firm belief that students will always remember how a teacher made them feel. They may not remember a single thing that a teacher taught, but they will always remember if a teacher belittled them or got into a power struggle with them. I believe that the Discipline with Dignity approach will work well with my emphasis on getting to know students as people. It will also help me create a positive motivation system for my classroom. The FISH philosophy will help my students choose their own attitudes, and show them all about what making someone’s day can really do. Most importantly, these philosophies combine to help students find the fun in a healthy, safe environment.