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What Was Your Most Challenging Classroom and How Did You Turn It Around?

In addition to writing for EdTech Researcher, I am also a blogger-at-large with CM Rubin World's Global Search for Education series. Each month, along with 12 other bloggers from around the world, I have the opportunity to wrestle with a question or challenge related to the changing shape of education. For September, Rubin posed the question: What Was Your Most Challenging Classroom and How Did You Turn It Around?

After reflecting on the numerous groups of students with whom I have worked over the past 20 years, I realized that no one group could take the title of "most challenging." Each classroom presents a unique context; and yet, when considering how to "turn it around," a few strategies always seem to work.also through virtual connections. I found tremendous value in having a colleague come and observe a class where I struggled. Because this person also knew the personalities and learning needs of the students, they could offer not only insights but tangible suggestions. On the other hand, virtual connections bring fresh perspective and potentially fewer preconceptions.

Strategy #1 - Build Community

If the students do not feel as though they are part of the learning community, then there is no common understanding on which to build trust, acceptance, and respect. The class needs to exist as a community so that there is a foundation on which to build solutions to challenges that may arise.

Strategy #2 - Ask Early, Ask Often

My biggest mistake during my first few years of teaching was that I did not seek out help early enough or often enough. Today, it is possible to get help not only from within your specific learning environment but also through virtual connections. I found tremendous value in having a colleague come and observe a class where I struggled. Because this person also knew the personalities and learning needs of the students, they could offer not only insights but tangible suggestions. On the other hand, virtual connections bring fresh perspective and potentially fewer preconceptions.

Strategy #3 - It's always "very nice..."

I once had a colleague with a saying: "Very nice..." You could tell him that his hair was on fire, and he would respond with "Very nice... " One day, as I was running around in a frenzy, he stopped me with one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received: if you stay calm, so will everyone else. As long as I do not show frustration, exacerbation, or any other emotion to indicate that the situation may be anything other than what I am hoping to achieve, then any challenge can be mitigated.

While these are my strategies, there are other amazing insights offered by the other Global Bloggers. You can read the full post at CM Rubin World.

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