I came across your Scholastic post on a routine visit to my daughter's house yesterday before she set out on a short vacation. Sara is a second year, high school history teacher for Monroe Woodbury High in NY. She believes that because she is a new and relatively young teacher, her students feel comfortable acting out in her class. She teaches grades 9-11 and is looking to tighten up on her classroom management with the right balance of discipline, leadership, and personality. In a google search for different discipline techniques from high school teachers she found Scholastic's site. She so very much enjoyed your ideas and anecdotes she vehemently requested me to read them to see what I thought.
As a 29 year retired Army Colonel and once the Mathematics Department Head for the United States Military Academy, I thought with some arrogance; "What could I learn from a high school teacher describing good classroom management?"
What I found here was an outstanding blend of teaching strategies and sage insights, as well as the very tennants of Servant Leadership as defined by Robert Greenleaf and supported by leadership writers like Stephen Covery as well as the United States Military.
Your remarks below describe the very bedrock of the Servant Leader Concept: "The students reiterated how they tended not to act up when they felt that the teacher truly "cared about" them, as evidenced by the teacher asking questions about the student's work, home life, and job. Taking an active interest in the student's life was powerful. Rewarding the student for his effort was also key. Never underestimate the power of speaking to a student as a mature, responsible adult." In 29 years of leading some of this nation's finest young soldiers and 11 years teaching some of the most progressive young minds, I can say without a doubt that sharing a mutual respect in the teacher-student or commander-soldier relationship is the most effective means of inspiring young people and commanding respect.
I found all your other final points to be right on the money and firmly believe they should be ingrained in every teacher's brain and followed by anyone aspiring to be a great leader. Thank you for teaching and inspiring a new fresh-faced group of teachers, and I wish you continued success in your upcoming educational years. I'm sure my daughter will post her thoughts and thank you's when she returns from summer vacation in 10 days.
Thank You and Godspeed,
Col (ret.) George C. Jamison
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