A question that has been plaguing me for the past month (and really ever since I started teaching) is: What are the roles that teachers and students should play in classroom management. Even that word management feels a bit funny as Willy Cardoso explains here.
Two weeks ago I blogged about “Control in the Classroom“, specifically the fascinating origins of the word “control”. It’s always the words, words, words and of course their ORIGINS that get me thinking. BIG SURPRISE… they followed me throughout many of the TESOL France presentations, and I’d like to share some gems here with you.
All of the words mentioned below will lead us back to this original question of what could be our role in the classroom. Hope you enjoy the word journée !
In the opening plenary, Stephen Brewer asked if anyone knew the origins of “school“. I was almost embarrassed not to know as a number of the PLN looked right at me and all I could do was shrug my shoulders. Hilarious.
Stephen went on to explain the greek roots of skhole meant “lecture“, “discussion” but also “leisure” as it was for the privileged few and viewed quite differently at the time.
In her presentation “Addressing attitudes and Expectations” Divya Brochier explored the roles, emotions and motivations of teachers— specifically how we see ourselves, but also how our students see us. She shared an anecdote of a student who didn’t respect her authority, and Divya—through discussions with the boy’s mother—-finally uncovered it was because she didn’t hold a “ruler” as had his previous teachers.
A ruler… an object of authority. We will come back to this word RULER.
Luke Meddings leapt over multiple technical issues to deliver a wonderful plenary. Two points really stuck with me: 1) the art of getting lost to discover (both a city and a language) and an ‘opposite’ of getting lost, the 2) “regularising tendency”.
The latin root, reg (to direct, to guide in a straight line) is very closely tied to the latin root rex, or the king, the commander, as in Tyrannosaurus rex, the “King of terror lizards”.
Now, let’s come back to the word ruler a cognate of rex… and its MANY other cognates
(including “king” in spanish, french, hindi and german)
So much division, top-down power, or ‘straight’ tied up in these words. Not as much room to ‘get lost’, or to seek one’s way when things need to be right, rectified, corrected, regulated, directed…
Personally— and I’m not standing out on a limb “regulating” what should be, but simply stating what has worked for me— nothing has given me a greater boost in my language-learning efforts than actively seeking— reaching to understand or to express language. I actually left formal language classrooms after Uni (and still learned Spanish and Chinese) because there wasn’t enough room to get lost, to personalize languages, to wonder, to move at my pace.
FOURTH EXAMPLE: (post conference… a feeling many of us shared)
Did you know that friend, friday, free and even love have similar origins ? More here
And thinking of friends and the classroom… we probably shouldn’t be rule-bound, regimenting regents of the classroom, nor can we be friends with our students either…
With all of these ideas of power, classroom management and student-teacher relationships, I leaned on Larry Ferlazzo and his community to gain perspective on how other teachers approach the issue. I asked Larry for his weekly EdWeek post,
“Can we be friends with our students? Where do we create barriers? How about social-media wise? I’m interested to hear about your experience, lessons learned, regrets, what you would offer as advice for new teachers.”
His 3 part answer can be found here, here and here and it is really worthy of a weekend perusal. My main take-away was that 1) the word “friend” these days has been loosened quite a bit and is more superficial than before (facebook effect) and 2) teachers can be friendly, but that it’s best not to be friends.
Wonder what you think ?
Are we kind kings of the classroom ?
I wouldn’t say that… i’m just making an etymological pun as kind and king come from the same root of “kin”… so saying “This kind of king is especially kind with the kindle-using kindergartens related to his kin” is actually very repetitive etymologically-speaking…. more here.
Thanks to Stephen, Divya, Luke and Beth for inspiring my word wonders and I would love to hear how you see your role vis-à-vis your students, or your reactions to any of these etymological musings.
…and ENJOY YOUR FREEDAY !!!!
etymologically inspired here as always