"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein
"Managing the Art Classroom" was created to help art teachers with something many of us struggle with: classroom management. I have been teaching for 10 years and I still sometimes struggle, and I know some art teachers with more than 20 years of experience who have difficulty in this area as well! It seems that we are told over and over to "control" our classes, but no one ever tells us how! That is, until Michael Linsin's extensive repertoire of articles and books, succinctly written about "how to have smart classroom management." I believe that one of the secrets to truly enjoying what we do lies in having an ordered, peaceful classroom where the kids feel safe, secure, are challenged to work hard, and where both the students and the teacher have the freedom to simply have fun.
So, how do we balance having fun and maintaining order? How do we teach our students to be respectful, responsible, and resourceful AND teach them art skills and techniques? How do we deal with classes who have a hard time settling down to work, or those peculiar personalities who are disrespectful and defiant, refusing to follow the simplest directions? How can we effectively hold our students accountable for their choices?
In today's classroom, the teacher's hands are effectively tied when it comes to keeping order. In years past, a teacher could rely on Legitimate Power and Coercive Power (consequences) to maintain control of the group. However, many students no longer automatically respect the teacher's legitimate authority and it is a BIG mistake for teachers to even attempt to assert authority with Coercive Power without first building a strong trust relationship with students. So, what remains?
According to education professor Irvin King of the University of Hawaii, there are 3 other types of power; Reward Power, Expert Power, and Relational Power. As art teachers, we do have a bit of an edge here because our students respect our artistic ability (expert knowledge) and it is a huge privilege (reward) for them to have the opportunity to work with their hands each and every day. That brings us, finally, to that last tool in the proverbial toolbox: Attractive (Relational) Power. THIS, combined with Legitimate Power, seems to be the foundation upon which Michael Linsin's philosophy is built.
Mr. Linsin is a K-8 educator with over 20 years of classroom experience teaching both regular classes as well as P.E. classes. He has served underprivileged student populations many times in his career, so he has tested out his ideas in some tough environments.
To be perfectly frank, Mr. Linsin is the author of one of the BEST classroom management resources I have come across; smartclassroommanagement.com, as well as the books Dream Class (an absolute masterpiece) and Classroom Management for Art, Music, and P.E. Teachers. To date, I have read both of these books, scoured his website, and I really like that he keeps things very simple and free of educational jargon. I was also impressed with the fact that Mr. Linsin was very prompt in answering the questions I posed to him on several different "comment" sections of his website (I was quite honestly a bit skeptical of his claims!) It is my belief that Michael Linsin is genuine in his committment to helping struggling teachers.
There is no one person who has all the answers, but Mr. Linsin definitely has us headed in the right direction!
My interpretation of Mr. Linsin's philosophy of classroom management is simple: it takes a balance of strict adherence to rules and consequences along with a joyful attitude. He places a lot of emphasis on creating a learning environment so fun, so dynamic, that students hate to be separated from it. In addition, one of the tenets of his philosophy is to never, ever, take student misbehavior personally.
He has 4 simple rules:
1. Listen and follow directions.
2. Raise your hand before speaking or leaving your seat.
3. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
4. Respect your classmates and your teacher.
He also keeps the consequences very simple: the first offence garners a warning, the second a time-out, and the third offense is a letter home. He claims that his methods will work no matter the age of the student, but the system would need to be "tweaked" a bit for older kids. He emphasizes over and over that the classroom management plan will only "work" if the teacher maintains a pleasant, joyful attitude, does not argue or lecture, and creates a fun and engaging class.
He also says that the happiest teachers are those who have a real handle on classroom management, and the reason so many people quit teaching is because they never learn how to control their classes. He writes many articles for his website that deal with helpful strategies such as the "Slow Down" strategy, the "Do It Over" strategy, or the "Simple First" strategy. He also writes extensively about the "difficult" student as well as how to deal with entire groups who just won't behave.
"You have to continually remind yourself both how self-sabotaging it is to forget, ignore, or disregard your plan and how much more effective you are when you do follow it."
"Every time you let something go, ignore a broken rule, or fail to enforce a rule with a consequence, you are letting your students know that you don’t really mean what you say, that you can’t be counted on or trusted."
I am very grateful to Mr. Linsin for teaching us to hold our students accountable in a respectful way. There are so many websites, books, and psychological theories that leave this very important factor out of the equation, or minimize it to the point that it seems irrelevant. He is so right about the desperate need our students have for structure and accountability and the fact that we are doing them a disservice by not providing it!
This is not a paid endorsement. No one at this website has received any reimbursement whatsoever. I simply believe that Michael Linsin's ideas are among the best available and have the most potential to be effective than any others studied. Also, I am very interested in any other good teacher support authors and would greatly appreciate any and all feedback."