Educators Learn Strategies for Conscious Teaching
August 28, 2019
Several educators from North Central Montana gathered in the Lloyd Sweet Auditorium at Chinook High School on August 19 to hear Katie Anderson, an educational consultant with Conscious Teaching, present an interactive workshop entitled "Conscious Classroom Management: Bringing Out the Best in Students and Teachers."
Anderson performs consulting work for Rick Smith and Grace Dearborn at Conscious Teaching, a company in Fairfax, California. She is a National Board Certified Teacher currently serving as an academically gifted specialist and mentor teacher with Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to her work in the classroom, Anderson has served as a teacher leader in the North Carolina Governor's Teacher Network, conducting action research and providing professional development for teachers across the state. She also teaches 5th –12th grade students at Duke University through the Duke Talent Identification Program.
As a presenter, Anderson travels the country providing schools and districts with research-based, easy-to-implement strategies and concepts that help teachers reach all students and improve the effectiveness of their teaching.
Darin Hannum, Chinook School District Superintendent, invited educators from Turner, Chester, Havre, and Great Falls to attend Monday's presentation and to hear from Anderson's expertise.
Anderson began her workshop by identifying two of her hobbies-blacksmithing and swallowing fire-and by confessing that teaching is WAY more difficult than either of those since teachers are faced daily with "non-teacher pleasing behaviors." She explained to her audience that with small shifts in their teaching practice, many of those challenges will disappear.
Two of the key topics Anderson addressed in her workshop to the educators gathered in Chinook examined why good classroom management is often invisible and how teachers can utilize these invisible skills with students. Focusing on both prevention and intervention, Anderson shared dozens of practical strategies for effectively managing students, including
• How to make invisible management skills visible
• How to leverage your inner authority in ways that invite student cooperation
• Seven non-verbal strategies to get students focused and on-task
• Four ways to de-escalate teacher and student tension in the classroom
• One proven method for turning around many of the toughest students
• Simple strategies for easy classroom transitions
• Practical approaches for motivating reluctant learners
• Strategies that result in reduced anxiety and a fresher, more positive approaches to teaching
In her high-energy presentation style, Anderson conveyed that once teachers have established the two pillars of effective classroom management: structure and safety, what remains is building positive connections.
"We are the authors of what happens in our classrooms," Anderson said. "Students are going to test us because that's developmentally appropriate. We have to meet behavior with that understanding and respond to the invisible request. We can pass the test by teaching them appropriate behaviors."
According to Anderson, rather than reacting to resistant behaviors, those who work with young people would do better to translate the subtext. Because all behavior is a form of communication, teachers can translate the behavior by asking what the student is trying to communicate. Acting out is often a call for help, so performing a behavior analysis and addressing these calls will identify the real or underlying issue so that parents or teachers can implement a solution.
"Your students need to know that you care about them, and caring will mean a willingness to be firm and fair when enforcing rules and procedures without being punitive," Anderson said.
"Students follow our lead and behave in ways that we unconsciously allow. So, being consistent, firm, and fair will contribute to a well-run classroom. Hold your ground without over-explaining, enforce and follow through with consequences, and encourage students by reminding them of the rules and procedures. We are not here to be punitive but to provide a pause during which the student can reassess his/her choices. Success is more likely when we are consistent and patient. When we treat students with dignity, they are more likely to respond in dignified ways," Anderson explained.