Proactive classroom management provides a structure for new teachers who are winning students over, not winning over them. Proactive classroom management is anticipating problems or interruptions before they occur and finding ways to eliminate or lessen their impact on learning.
Dr. Carol Cummings is a renowned leader in teacher education. She conducts workshops world-wide on classroom management.
“What can I do,” she asks an audience full of educators, “to prevent that from happening or at least minimize it's impact in the classroom? Is it harder to stop misbehavior while it's happening or is it better to prevent it from happening in the first place?"
“First place,” replies an audience member.
“See that's what proactive is,” Dr. Cummings says. “The reactive teacher tries to stop it while it's happening and sometimes it just escalates and has a ripple effect and you don't want that.”
Where possible, mentor teachers assist new teachers. Beginning teachers gain confidence through their experience, get ideas for teaching in their own classrooms, and are less likely to get discouraged.
Mentor 1st through 3rd grade teacher Lisa Campbell works with intern teachers at Vine Elementary School in Cincinnati.
“We decided on everything,” says Carmie Terry of Campbell. “She told us, you know, exactly what we needed to think about and gave lots of suggestions.”
“Just having somebody else there with you every single day to, you know, ask questions, give suggestions, give feedback, give examples of lessons, and so I think that's been a big help in the first year,” adds Jennifer Sabitelli.
“My biggest concern is our new teachers get off on the wrong foot,” says Carol Cummings. “And it's so hard to back track.”
With this concern, Dr. Cummings offers suggestions to mentors or those who will help new teachers.
“If you can say let's brain storm some of the things that typically happen at the Elementary, or typically happen at the Secondary, and look at some of the options that you might consider before they happen, you're giving your new teachers a chance to be pro-active,” she explains. “In many ways, being proactive is simply thinking of things in a different way, spinning a potentially negative situation into a positive one. It is a way of including students, instead of alienating them.”