- High school teacher David Tow discussed how a class experiment using critical thinking skills to develop classroom principles evolved into a new way to include students in the process of classroom management, according to Edutopia.
- Using classroom discussion to shape the formation, the class threw out the ordinary rules of classroom management, substituting forms of four principles instead: Be respectful, be engaged, be prepared and be courageous.
- The strategy has proven successful, Tow said, because “it teaches students to become active participants in the formation of a community. Rules alone tend to condition the students to become dogmatic followers, while broader imperatives guide them to be critical and reflective participants.”
This teacher has discovered what some other successful teachers in the past have known: that engaging students in the process of creating the rules (or principles) of classroom behavior helps ensure they will be followed. While teachers do need to be involved In guiding this discussion, the process can be used to not only create order in the classroom, but a classroom community as well.
The process can also strengthen the development of critical thinking skills that are necessary for future success. When students understand why a rule is needed and how it affects other aspects of classroom management, they are more likely to buy into the concept. This skill can help them also learn to analyze situations and implement appropriate actions in the future.
The author also, however, points out that this approach can be more time-consuming than simply posting a set of rules and enforcing them. The approach take patience as teachers elicit responses from students and discuss proper actions to take in the future. Not all teachers have the capacity for such an approach, and it may not work at all with students who are determined to fail. However, the approach can help develop not only critical thinking skills in students, but can develop better relationships with students as well.