Justifiable Teacher Power-Brookfield Chapter 18

In Chapter 18 Brookfield talks about how to exercise teacher power responsibly. He comments to the fact that as teachers we do have a certain level of power in the classroom which we do need to exercise appropriately. Abusing this power will cause discord in our classroom environment and prompt students to exercise power of their own. To think that we as educators hold all the cards is a completely delusional perception. At the end of the day we have a commitment to do right by our students, this does not mean that they will all love us and agree with all of our decisions, but we do need to provide for them an environment in which they can learn. Failure to do this results in students withdrawing from the learning experience, and with out their participation the classroom our “power” slips away. Of course long withstanding consequences of this can be punitive measures brought down on you by administration or at the worst loss of your position. Should it not escalate to this level you will at the very least be left with a hostile environment that you have to work in. Having to stand in front of a group of people who do not like you is a challenging and uncomfortable task. I have become more aware of the power I have in the classroom as time goes on, I have found from my own personal experience that approaching the classroom like a dictator does nothing more than create an ideal environment for a coup. Where as if I come in more democratic and fair I find that we work together and I gain their respect because they know I respect them. I have always chosen to try my best to approach my classroom in a manner that I know I would like to be treated. After all they are adults, I no more want to know that they wish to use the bathroom than they wish to tell me they need to use it. I have always valued Transparency and fairness as my main pillars of classroom management. By being transparent they know I am not trying to hide anything, I have laid out all of the expectations of my classroom and promised to adhere to them. That way if something less than ideal arises or changes have to be made they are way more apt to go along with them. They know this was not my original intention and is clearly something out of my control, and therefor they work with me to make the best of it. I also have found that by being transparent it forces me to maintain fairness. I know that I have personal biases and tendencies to pick favorites. I think it would be impossible not to. Some students just have personalities you  mesh with, in another life they would be a person you would choose as a friend. In the contrast there are those students of whom you dislike, they just rub you the wrong way and you cant wait to get them out of your class. This does not mean the student you dislike is a bad student, you just have conflicting personalities. When I have been transparent with my expectations, classroom rules, rubrics and marking guides it forces me to follow them and leave much of my emotion out of evaluating and dealing with a student. As an example of this I always require that if they have trouble submitting an online assignment they must contact me the moment it happens with their explanation, and then come meet with me before I will consider granting an extension. I ask this of everyone so regardless of how much I like a student or wish to give them the benefit of the doubt if they don’t follow procedure the answer is no. Likewise it prevents me from unfairly telling a student I may dislike no right off the bat. I found this chapter in Brookfield’s book to not necessarily be mind blowing and full of new concepts to me, but rather I found it affirmed that I am at least trying to do something right in the classroom. I think this is why I enjoyed it, sometimes it is nice to give yourself a pat on the back!

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