Defining Power and Authority in the Classroom: Classmate Article Review

After exploring the power and authority article that I found in regards to democracy and Building Future Voters I looked into what my classmates explored for their articles. I looked at a few different resources from my classmates and I found two that I want to add to My Toolkit for teaching. Miss Larson found an article about creating a classroom environment that encouraged students to find their individual power in the classroom and use it to engage in the activities and learning that was occurring. One thing in this article presented to me that I really liked was the idea of providing students with the opportunity to create their own guidelines in the classroom. By allowing students to create their own guidelines for behaviors in the classroom we as educators are empowering students to take responsibility for their actions and be able to hold them accountable for what they do.  A key point for my future self as an educator is the next 9 steps in creating a shared vision of what the classroom should look like. This is  directly from chapter four of the Classroom of Choice book by Jonathan C. Erwin.

Steps to Developing A Shared Vision of Your Classroom Environment with your Students

  1. Identify the Behaviors and Attitudes
  2. Create a Living Space
  3. Create Symbols
  4. Placing the Symbols in  the Living Space
  5. Group Presentations
  6. The Whole Class Living Space
  7. Give to Get
  8. Get a Commitment
  9. Keep It Alive

This template of creating a vision of your classroom with your students allows students to clearly understand how they should behave or act in the classroom. While I was reading Miss Larson’s blog post and article about this topic, I started to think about a video by Harry Wong that was shown to all 3rd year Elementary Education students in the TPC on Wednesday, September 23rd. A short clip that can be found here, is a small segment on the large 55 minute video created as a resource around classroom management and strategies for teachers. The Power in the Classroom article that Miss Larson found mirrored many of the times that Harry Wong mentioned in this video. Something that stood out to me between the two is that if you give students the opportunity to make decisions that affect them and help clarify your instructions and intentions, students will achieve and be successful in school. No child is able to be successful if they feel their opinions do not matter or if they do not understand what they are being asked to do. I plan to look back at the Power in the Classroom article and the Harry Wong book, “First Days of School” as I continue in my teaching.

The second article that I wanted to add to my teaching toolbox was read by Miss Russell and it focuses on the balance between being a strict teacher and being a flexible teacher. The article entitled Classroom Management: Finding the Balance Between Too Rigid and Too FlexibleIn this article, the author, Maryellen Weimer discusses whether it is better to be a rigid and strict teacher or a flexible teacher. While I was reading this article, I started to  make connections to student-led teaching and my concerns related to it. I find that I am worried that I will give my students to much freedom and therefore I will end up with a classroom management issue. I started thinking about how I could ensure that I was able to be a fun, engaging and enthusiastic teacher while still keeping students learning on track. I realized that Maryellen Weimer’s article reminded me of the one I read by Jonathan C. Erwin about Power in the Classroom.

The following quote was a segment of the Weimer article that stood out to me as it made rigid teaching seem so awkward for me.

If all potential challenges to authority are headed off at the pass, then the teacher can devote full attention to the content, and isn’t that where the teacher’s expertise really shines? And so the classroom becomes a place that showcases teaching more than learning?

What I take away from this quote is that if we only focus on keeping students in their desks and avoiding classroom disruptions then all teachers have to focus on is the content. If teacher only focus on the content then the most important part of teaching is left out and that is the experience of the students. We do not want to have an environment where students get hurt, feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, but we want life to happen in our classroom so that we can use it to teach our students not only about the content but also about the interpersonal skills that are need to survive in our social world. I loved reading this article as it made me think about where do I stand and how do I think about power in my classroom.

Here is my conclusion, these two articles made me think about the power that we as teachers have to decide what our authority is in the classroom and how we will use our power to encourage our students to find the power they each hold within. I look forward to referring back to these articles as I grow and develop my teaching philosophy and practice.

Until next time, thank you for reading my blog.



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