Saturday, May 28, 2011


My classroom can be accurately described as being democratic. All activities in the class are usually carried out with full participation of the students. I always endeavor to present myself as a leading guide not an autocratic ruler in the class.

From the onset, I usually get the class to formulate standing rules which guide the conduct of class members. These standing rules are usually collectively made.
My usual method is to present possible problems that we need to avoid in class and then seek for their input:
E.g. I could list out the following:
  • Late coming
  • Unnecessary side discussions during lessons,
  • Unnecessary movement within the class,
  • Use of mobile phones etc.

I explain all these obstacles to effective learning ans ask for their suggestions on how we can avoid them. It is from these inputs that we get to create a list of unacceptable behaviours, and if there was to be any penalty for breaking a rule, we jointly agree on what it was to be.
This usually ensures that all the students know what is expected of them and most times, they will be the ones to monitor one another since the have been made to understand the negative effect of an action on the generality of the class.
After agreeing on the code of conduct for the class, it usually printed and pasted on a visible location on the class notice board and all students are given copies of the code.

Maintaining discipline in a situation like this is mostly a question of asking an offender what does the Code of Conduct say about what he/she has done? Does he/she think this behaviour is helping the class or working against it in its journey towards achieving its learning objectives? Mostly, this awareness of their personal responsibility, makes them initiate an internal check and balance system within themselves that might not even require the teacher's intervention. Immediately someone starts on the wrong path, it is the other students who'd caution him/her and point out the rule being broken.
For example, when some students are chatting while I am teaching the class, my usual method is to stop my speech or lecture and simply speak (to the whole class) reminding them we have agreed that there should be no side discussions when a lesson is going on, that I am going to keep quiet and allow the chatters round up their discussion then we'd continue with the lessons. Mostly, after some moments of complete silence, are usually able to restore order to the class with the offenders realizing the effect of their action and it usually serves as a deterrent to the others.

Creating a code of conduct like this with the active contribution of the students will enable them learn how they can be part of  a decision making process and make them practically see how they can contribute to make sure these rules work.

In planning my learning activities, I usually take active cognizance of the students' interests, intelligences and capabilities. (Without considering this, I don't see how I can build an activity that will excite their interest!).
While the curriculum is there to show us what is expected to be learn, I involve the students in the actual design of how we go about the learning process by asking for their inputs after giving a general explanation of our intended objective.

For example, when preparing a lesson to teach "fill color" in Graphic Design, I could ask each group to name a basic shape of their choice and name a fill style they wish to see used (Single color, 2-color, Texture, Picture etc).

After compiling these contributions, I now go ahead and incorporate them into my lesson plan for the lesson proper and it is these shapes and fill styles  that will be used in the learning activity to acquire knowledge about how to apply fill color to shapes.

A method like this will create a sense of engagement because every group will find in it something they can relate to. By thus getting their attention, there is a high expectation that effective learning will take place.

1 comment:

  1. Ibrahim,

    I like your way of having students set the rules for the class as well as the consequences for not following the rules. It sounds very effective and democratic.



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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi ( is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.