Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri

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STRATEGIES FOR EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF CLASSROOMS & SCHOOLS

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To usher in the new semester we present excerpts from a paper presented by the Provost, Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing Ijioma, at the Teacher’s Registration Council of Nigeria’s workshop on International Best Practices in Classrooms and School Management held in Owerri, on March 19th, 2013. The Paper is titled Strategies for Effective Management of Classrooms and Schools in Imo State.

Classroom management is equally an important aspect of the school management. Brophy and Good (1986) explain classroom management from the student’s perspective as the clear communication of behavioral and academic expectations in order to enhance the academic and social development of learners. Wikipedia (2012) adds that it is a term used by teachers to describe the process of ensuring that lessons taught daily run smoothly despite the disruptive behaviours of students. While Weinstein (2006) and Adeosun (2011) sum it thus:  that it refers to the actions taken to create an environment that supports and facilitates academic and social–emotional learning of students/pupils and this demands the following from the classroom teachers:

(1) Develop interest in the learners and provide support to enhance academic and social learning;

(2) Organize and implement instruction in ways that optimize students’ access to learning;

 (3) Use collaborative learning strategies in order to encourage students’ engagement in academic tasks;

(4) Promote the development of students’ social skills and self–regulation; and

 (5) Use appropriate interventions to assist students with behavior problems: such as guidance and counseling, modeling etc.

 In addition, one important strategy in classroom management is good seating arrangement. Marvin (2001)  emphasizes that proper seating arrangement is at the heart of effective classroom management, in that, if students are seated where they can see the teacher and  the board clearly they will be  more focused than when they seat facing the window or backing the teacher. In addition, there is need for flexibility in classroom seating arrangement taking into consideration the varieties of teaching and learning activities for the day.

Another strategy is involving the students in formulating school and classroom code of conduct. Brophy and Good (1986) add that one way to establish a good classroom environment for effective management is through the development and use of a classroom contract. The contract should be created by both students and the teacher. In the contract, students and teachers decide and agree on how to treat one another in the classroom. The group also decides on what will be done should there be a violation of the contract. Dunbar (2004) supports this and adds that research on best practices in classroom management suggests that if students participate  in establishing codes of conduct  they tend to support it and comply to it rather than when it is imposed. Dunbar argues that for effectiveness, the role of the teacher should be to make structural inputs that will make the rules clear, consistent and unambiguous. In addition, the code of conducts should clearly specify the consequences of desirable and undesirable behaviours and the students should be well informed of choices they make and consequences of such choices.

 In addition to this is the need for the teacher to be fair, just and firm. Kelly (2010) adds that students have a clear sense of what is and what is not fair. The teacher must be fair to all students if he/she expects to be respected and should know that once he/she loses the respect of the students, he/she has lost their attention and their desire to please him/her.  Furthermore, there must be consistency in applying the rules as one of the worst things a teacher can do is to not enforce your rules consistently.

In addition, one of the best practices in classroom management is to minimize the use of punishment since learners are bound to make mistakes. Mistake are part of learning and they (mistakes) can be  academic or social, therefore schools should be environments where mistakes do not attract penalty but should be pointers to learners’ areas of academic, social or emotional needs and therefore, should create opportunities for learning.

Dunbar (2004) identifies other strategies for effective classroom management as:

  •  the ability of the teacher to be skilled in preventing disruptive behaviours in students .
  • Giving clear and unambiguous instructions. When students have a good understanding of the instruction they focused on the task.
  • Effective monitoring of students activities: When activities are effectively monitored disruptive behaviours are nipped in the bud. Monitoring also facilitates communication between students and teachers and once there is effective communication, problems are resolved before they escalate.
  • Maintaining brisk instructional pacing and smooth transition between activities.
  • Effective planning and presentation of lessons: if lessons are well planned by teachers, learning problems are minimized to the barest minimum consequently, and management becomes easy and effective. Effective planning of lessons takes care of  a lot of variables that cause classroom management problems, such factors include:
    • Inability to delineate the scope  of the content
    • Inability to  state and use apt behavioural objectives in teaching
    •  Failure to use apt instructional resources
    • Inability to logical present ideas
    • Ineffective use of teaching skills
    • Ineffective teacher – learner interaction
    • Ineffective lessons’ evaluation
    • Poor communication skills: management problems are minimized if effective communication exists. This does not just mean teacher – talk rather it refers to ample opportunities given to learners to participate during instruction (Adeosun, 2011).
  • The use of collaborative learning strategies is another important strategy in facilitating effective classroom management. The 21st century emphasizes active engagement of learners in learning and the use of collaborative learning strategy enhances learners effective engagement on task, eases tension in learning, minimizes competition, reduces incidences of misbehavior, and develops team spirit in students.
  • Effective use of humour to stimulate  students interest, minimize tension and relax the nerves of learners
  • Removal of any source of distraction in the classroom.
  • Identifying students that lack sense of personal efficacy and help them achieve internal locus of control.   When learners have external locus of control, they do not believe in their ability to influence events. As such when they fail they cannot determine factors responsible for it and this hinders their ability to improve.
  • Creating opportunities for students with behavioural problems to experience success in their learning and social behaviours.  Learners come in to school with baggage of problems and school must endeavor to make adequate provisions for their learning and social development. By:

–  Working cooperatively with parents

–  Recognizing the rights of the child

–   Acknowledging good behaviours

–  Helping in building learners’ self-esteem rather  than humiliating them

–  Providing guidance counseling services

  • Providing a learner friendly environment can minimize management problem. Dilapidated school buildings and unfriendly school environment have adverse effects on the psyche and emotional stability of learners. Research has identified the importance of good physical environment as reflected in availability of school amenities, decorative order, well laid out and maintained compound on students emotional stability and level of discipline.
    • Avoid frequent changing of teachers and management team as this adversely affects effective school and classroom management (Adeosun, 2011). Stability of teaching force is crucial in management. Preedy (2012) notes that frequent transfer of head teachers and deputies   have adverse effects on school management. The same is applicable to frequent changes in class teacher. There is need for careful planning to ensure easy transition and to minimize disruption in teaching and learning.
    • Establishment of a strong teacher professional culture and collaborative planning of the school curriculum: Every teacher is a curriculum developer and implementer, hence the need for collaboration in curriculum development and implementation. This will develop in teachers that have sense of commitment to improve students’ achievement. This strategy will facilitate cohesion and collaboration as well as develop consensus and a strong spirit of collegiality in teachers and management (Preedy, 2012).

Conclusion

Every nation needs quality manpower to drive its economy and quality education is the best way of developing the manpower needs of the nation. In the same vein, quality education cannot be achieved if the education system is not effectively managed.

SCHOOL RESUMES……..

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Today, April 22, 2013 School resumes for the second semester of the 2012/2013 academic session. Students have had over one month of recess and will surely come back rejuvenated and re-energized for the second semester. The College still remarkably continues to run a smooth and unbroken academic programme, an important culture necessary to maintain the tempo and spirit of a true, world class, academic environment.

As our students arrive back in the campus we remind all of them that, today, in the 21st century, education is going through a lot of changes and like the Provost exhorted in her matriculation speech to the ‘golden jubilee class,’ “to ‘cast your net wide,’ learn as much as you possibly can, develop your ICT skills, in effect become digital…” To learn as much as one can, one must stop seeing the internet as a tool for recreation only. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are wonderful tools for integration and connectivity, but the internet is more than a means for socializing with friends. As a study aid, the internet is the most important research tool out there. It has ‘democratized’ knowledge and there is no information in the world unavailable online.

Google and Wikipedia (online encyclopedia) are great starting points. Google Docs and Google Books will provide eBooks, PDFs and word documents on any subject matter: great  for those researching for their projects and essays. However, as with traditional, offline research, plagiarism is still a crime and sources must be properly attributed. Remember if you find it on Google, your lecturers can also cross-check using Google. Wikipedia, like all encyclopedias, will provide detailed exposition on any topic, event, person and or place. But the joy of Wikipedia is its ease of use, at the click of a keypad or mouse.

So while you go ahead to like a Facebook post or reply a ‘ping’ on the instant messenger platform, remember that you can also study that assignment, paper or calculation better if you point your browser to a learning resource.

Welcome to the second semester of the ‘golden session’ and whatever you do let your actions and conduct shine brightly.

 

ARE YOU A QUALITY STAFF?

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In a recent interview with the College Goodwill Ambassador, Rev. Paul Ndukwe, a management consultant and educator, the ambassador remarked that “Alvan has got quality men and women, in the area of academics and non-academics…” Rev. Ndukwe is well positioned to make this assertion because last year, as part of his role as Goodwill Ambassador, he conducted a training programme for staff which included post-training evaluation. (His complete assessment of  Alvan staff will be seen in the next edition of the College Newsletter).

Staff training and capacity development is a core vision of the current College Management led by the ebullient Provost, Dr. (Mrs.) B. C. Ijioma. And with the help of Federal Government initiatives like the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), the College has been able to optimise staff training, locally and overseas. Several academic staff are pursuing higher degrees in Europe and Asia, a great deal more in Nigerian Universities. Attendance at conferences, workshops and seminars – international and local – has increased significantly as staff are actively encouraged to get the requisite in-service training and exposure to global best practices.

But on-the-job training is also very paramount: for a worker to succeed in their chosen career he/she must pursue excellence. Excellence has been defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. And one of the synonyms of excellence is perfection. So our staff must strive for excellence. An approach to achieving this is studying the system, watching one’s seniors and working extremely hard.

Ethics and morality are relevant in the workplace. The College SERVICOM UNIT is assiduously working behind the scenes to ensure that sanity reigns. A quality and excellent staff who respects the ethics of the job is a friend to SERVICOM, which was set up to monitor service delivery in government establishments.

Today we live in the age of philanthropy. Staff are encouraged to donate their time and talents to charitable endeavours, one of which is the Alvan Volunteer Service (AVS). The AVS is a Community Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of the Management that enables the College to give back to the communities around us. The AVS, coordinated by Dr. (Mrs.) M. N. Obasi, consists of staff volunteers who donate their time and talents in various humanitarian and charitable assignments. Last year volunteers trained teachers in Ohaji free of charge.

Alvan Ikoku has a fine pedigree which has taken half a century to nurture and it is a privilege to work here and contribute to the education of the next generation. We must never let the torch dim. To this end the words of the College Ambassador seem apt, “the gifts and the talents that are embedded in you are not for you but for someone else.”

As we celebrate the Golden Jubilee year, we ask, is your work golden?

APRIL FULL

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Alvan Special Education Team

The month of April sees the rains quietly gaining momentum. As farmers intensify efforts on the land, our campus is quiet. The Regular students (NCE and B.ed) have departed after a successful completion of the first semester examinations for the 2012/2013 academic session. It is a major achievement of Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing Ijioma’s administration that our College academic calendar now runs like clock-work. And like clock-work the baton has passed on to the Sandwich programme as our Sandwich students are right now busily writing their first semester exams. We wish them luck.

While the College has run the Sandwich programme for decades now, a new programme of Special Education has recently been instituted. Some members of the newly established department of Special Education, headed by Dr. (Mrs.) U. Okoro have just returned from a 3 week intensive training in Canada. The team led by the Dean, School of Education, Dr. (Mrs.) P. C. Nkwocha visited several special education centers in British Columbia facilitated by the College Goodwill Ambassador, Rev. Paul Ndukwe, an international speaker and management consultant.

The Special Education team had an enriching and momentous time including a session with the BC Minister of Education and representatives of the Vancouver Island University. The College looks forward to gaining a lot from their experience. The team was made up of Dr. (Mrs.) Patricia Nkwocha, Dr.(Mrs.) Uloaku Okoro, Mrs. Mary-Ann Iheme and Mrs. Gertrude Egwim.