Armstrong teachers share ideas, experience on classroom management

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Armstrong teacher Antonia Fields, far left, shares her experience with classroom management

Classroom and behavior management is one of the biggest concerns of new teachers. Since not every school or even every classroom is the same, establishing a manageable classroom is one of the most important things a new teacher does. 

That topic was the theme of this semester’s Armstrong Teacher Educator panel, a chance for School of Education students to hear from experienced teachers about what works in their classrooms – and what doesn’t.

“Right now while you’re still here (at IU) is a great time to think about what your plan and philosophy is,” Antonia Fields, an English and language arts teacher at  Belzer Middle School in Indianapolis, said. “I always think about how am I going to handle problems (before they happen). I make it hard for kids to leave my room. I don’t want to show them that I don’t have control.”

Sarah Shannon, a math teacher at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, said for her, classroom management was a lot of trial and error.

You have to remember that sometimes we’re in it for the long haul, meaning you don’t see immediate benefits of the sacrifices and things that you’re pouring into your students.

Tamara Markey, 2019 Indiana Teacher of the Year

“Eventually you will get to a place where everything runs more smoothly,” she said. “What I’ve realized, I have two main things I live by. First of all, love your students, and don’t take anything personally.”

All the teachers on the panel emphasized the importance of relationship building with their students. Michelle Bade, a music teacher at West View Elementary School, said a quick connection between her and her students can be the perfect motivation for them.

“In the arts in particular, that is key. If you have a relationship with them and they can trust you, they’re more apt to try new things,” she said.

Tamara Markey, an engineering teacher at McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology and the 2019 Indiana Teacher of the Year, said she believed classroom management was more important than content.

“You absolutely are preparing for the most important job in this world. This is a profession of the heart, truly,” she said. “In order for you to sustain what you are going to be doing on a daily basis, you have to love it. You have to love your students, you have to remember that sometimes we’re in it for the long haul, meaning you don’t see immediate benefits of the sacrifices and things that you’re pouring into your students.”

The Armstrong Teachers are distinguished K-12 educators from Indiana who have at least five years of teaching experience. In addition to panel discussions, the Armstrong Teachers also conduct professional development workshops, collaborate with IU faculty as teachers-in-residence and invite students from the School of Education to observe in their classrooms.

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