Highcroft Herald

December 21, 2015

Quote of the Week

"The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.'" ~ Maria Montessori

Key 3: Management - Part 1

Over my years in education, I have come to realize that the best-made academic plans, those that you labor over and design in great detail, amount to very little without equally attending to and designing management for implementation of those plans. Our lessons are only as strong as our management. While I have long since learned this lesson, my reading of Kagan's third key of cooperative learning: Management, further clarified the importance of management in the classroom, specifically the cooperative classroom.

As Kagan and Kagan explained, research has shown that a cooperative learning approach to teaching results in a decline in classroom management concerns. This is due to a better alignment with the students' natural desire to be active and socialize. Cooperative learning is based on the assumption that learning occurs through doing and interacting.

Successful cooperative learning requires a number of management skills that are not necessary in a traditional classroom. When we allow students to talk and to move about the learning environment, we are going with rather than against their basic needs. In a cooperative classroom, students are allowed more freedoms, but they also assume more responsibilities. They are asked to support their teammates by answering questions and collecting team materials. They help in generating the classroom expectations and monitor their ability to meet those expectations, keeping on task when assignments are completed. Students aren't passive and controlled by teacher demands; they play an active role in learning, and also in managing their own cooperative behaviors. However, these characteristics do not develop instantaneously; we teach into these expectations over time.

As students engage in cooperative learning, we employ multiple management techniques. We authentically assess for understanding, keep teams on task, observe and consult, evaluate lesson design, work with individuals and/or teams and provide positive attention and recognition. All of these techniques aid us in ensuring an environment primed for learning.

Authentically Assessing Understanding

Lack of comprehension can create management issues. If we assign a task and students do not understand what they are being asked to do, we have a potential for management concerns, off-task behaviors and/or conflict. To avoid these issues, after we assign a task, we proactively circulate to observe each team or individual and verify comprehension.

Keeping Teams/Students on Task

Visiting with teams/students helps to keep them on task. Our physical proximity encourages students to stay focused and to not engage in off-task behaviors. We can ask questions to focus students/teams on their task: "What's your next step?" "How do you plan to ...?" "Who will...?"

Observe and Consult

We continue to circulate to observe and consult once students are established in their teams or individual work. As students are learning together or working independently, we leave the responsibility for problem solving and discovery with them but are readily available to pose a question or provide guidance.

Positive Attention and Recognition

One of the most powerful tools we have for shaping the behavior of our students is positive attention. Whatever we pay attention to, we will get more of; yet, it is natural for us to react and address the negative. However, studies show that focusing on positive behaviors on a proactive basis is more effective. Positive attention, which is enhanced if given immediately and publicly, paves the way for less demanding classroom management.

More on management in the upcoming weeks.

Holiday Wishes

Whether you celebrate Diwali, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Christmas, another special holiday or do not celebrate, may those people and things in life that are most dear to you be your focus. Wishing each of you the warmth and love of family, good health and unyielding happiness this break and over the New Year!


Monday, December 21

  • 3rd Grade ELA Data Wall - TRC - 10:20 am - 11:15 am
  • 5th Grade ELA Data Wall - TRC - 11:15 am - 12:10 pm

Tuesday, December 22

  • 2nd Grade Math Data Wall - TRC - 1:00 pm - 1:55pm
  • Winter Parties - 2:35 pm - 3:25 pm
  • Turney - No Sub - All Day

Wednesday, December 23

  • Operating on Half Day Shortened Schedule
  • Lucas Out of the Building - Early AM
  • Turney - No Sub - All Day
  • 1:05 pm Dismissal
  • Staff Holiday Luncheon - 1:15 pm

Thursday, December 24

  • Christmas Eve

  • Winter Break

Friday, December 25

  • Christmas
  • Winter Break

Upcoming Dates

Professional Development Day - January 4th
  • AM - District Development - 8:00 am - 11:00 am
  • PM - Building Development - 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Late Start - January 6th

Spelling Bee - January 13th