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Monday, November 19, 2018

Academics & Research

Workshop shines light on prof’s teaching approach


More than 180 teachers and aspiring educators participated in a two-day workshop last week where they learned tips and techniques on how to better manage their classrooms and provide children with a better sense of ownership in their education.

The Discipline Management Prevention Workshop — hosted by the College of Education’s Consistency Management and Cooperative Discipline program — used a classroom philosophy developed by UH professor H. Jerome Freiberg, who has more than 40 years of experience as an educator and researcher.

“(When I first started teaching), I found that I had some of the most challenging students in the school,” Freiberg said. “The strategies that I was using were not working effectively, and so I had to think of another way of approaching how I taught.”

Freiberg felt that his students needed to become more involved in both the managing and discipline aspects of the classroom. This is when he developed a theory that centers on all persons involved in the classroom rather than just the teacher.

“Too often the teacher is directing the students at all times,” Freiberg said. “Our program teaches the kids, the young people (and) the learners to become self-directed and self-disciplined.”

An article published last spring by Freiberg and co-author Stacey M. Lamb in Ohio State University’s education journal, Theory in Practice, detailed the “four pro-social learner dynamics that a person-centered classroom management program emulates: social-emotional emphasis, school connectedness, positive school and classroom climate and student self-discipline.”

Freiberg, a John & Rebecca Moores professor, has focused primarily on inner-city schools over the past 40 years. A study published last year in the University of Chicago’s Elementary School Journal details the impact Freiberg’s program has had on schools and student achievement.

“When you have strong classroom management that is cooperative with the kids, you get very strong outcomes in terms of student achievement,” he said.

The workshop, which hopes to build on that success, gives the attendees the tools needed to put this theory into practice in their own classrooms, said Katrina Borders, an assistant director of operations with the CMCD program.

“We give them the theory and the philosophy of the program, and then we give them video samples and testimonials,” Borders said. “(The attendees also) participate in activities that will help them fulfill that understanding of the dynamic of setting up a person-centered learning environment.”

The workshop also focuses on molding students into classroom citizens, rather than yearlong tourists, and becoming actively engaged in supporting a positive environment for learning.

“With the citizenship concept, (the student) is a stakeholder. If you’re a stakeholder, you care,” Borders said. “You want to make sure that things are governed accordingly and that you have an active role to play and that you have a voice.”

Education senior Ashlee McCauley, a former student of Freiberg’s, made her second appearance at this workshop.

“The first time I took (the workshop), I got a lot out of it,” McCauley said. “The way he teaches is very much what he talks to us about. He uses what he preaches, so to speak.”

“I would recommend any teacher, before they get into the classroom for the first time, to take this seminar.”

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