Glasser Paper - Beth Cramer : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Glasser Paper - Beth Cramer A Quality school by William Glasser is about moving any school toward what Glasser considers "A Quality School". Two major assets are required to move toward this goal: a change in how teachers manage the classroom and also a change in how administrators manage teachers. This change is brought about through choice theory. Choice theory and motivation go hand in hand. Glasser states that motivation does not come from the outside but from within ourselves. An example he uses to support this theory is that students will be quiet in a classroom not because the teacher asks them to, but because they feel there is some benefit in doing so. According to Glasser, there are two types of teachers: a lead manager (choice theory) and a boss manager (external control theory). The lead manager tries to create an enjoyable classroom atmosphere and are much more willing than boss managers to allow the students to make decisions about how they will work. Lead managers use grades to empower, and never to punish. Many students feel powerless and frustrated over grades in a boss management setting. The need for role models is a must if quality schools are to become a reality.Glasser states that we need many hours of high quality videotapes made for the express purpose of teaching others what works well. He suggests that even though this may be costly, too many teachers have not seen a great teacher teach. Glasser suggests that we can cut back on expensive mass testing and use this money toward quality videotapes. Glasser concludes that there is nothing wrong with our students today. Instead , there is something wrong with the way we manage our students. We need to remove the coercion in schools, and concentrate on the quality work students produce within the school environment. I have mixed feelings about Glassers ideas of how to produce quality schools. Like Glasser, I agree that we need to improve the quality of our schools, as well as, improve the quality of work students are willing to produce. I am not sold on the idea of choice theory or that choice theory is a teaching tool that will be effective for every subject and teacher. I believe that the concept of choice theory and lead management teaching will require many hours of preparation in order to make it work. Are administrators willing to allot the required training hours to create a quality school? When I think of choice theory, I go back to the many books I have read about raising children. Many of these books suggested that if you give your children choices, you will have a happier, well rounded child. Friends of mine have used this technique and their children do seem to be happier, but from my view point the control has been transferred from the parent who knows what is right from wrong to the child who only knows what is pleasing to themselves. Will a child choose to stop drinking from a bottle or does a parent make that choice? Will a child choose to clean up their room so they can find their favorite toy or does a parent with a little coercion( boss management) make that choice? Today, I asked my children( all over the age of 9) to pick up the living room which was scattered with their papers, clothing, books, backpacks, wrappers from snacks and so on. The television was on and no one moved. I restated with a little coercion, "All right, I am not ordering pizza until everyone gets up and starts cleaning. You can choose to work with the television on or you can turn it off and not work." The only one to get up was my oldest, who was very hungry and perturbed that she was the only one cleaning. My youngest chose to turn off the television and not work. My middle child did what middle children do best, he just watched the other two from a reclining position on the couch. I could hear my oldest screaming at her brothers to help, and I knew they were not going to budge. So again I intervened and in the most coercive boss management style imaginable, ( Glasser would have been appalled), I pointed at discarded items and called the names of my children to pick them up. It was not a party. The environment was whiny, with huffs and puffs and a few glares but the final result was a neat, orderly front room that any boss manager would have been proud of. Glasser would tell me that I just did not have the training or knowledge of how the choice theory should have been applied to this situation. I am curious how Glasser would have handled this situation without coercion and produced a clean front room in the time allotted. Would he have cleaned it himself? Some subjects are more easily adaptable to using choice theory. This quarter I am teaching writing to junior high students. Because of Glasser, I have chosen to teach this quarter differently than I have in the past. My goal is to teach many styles of writing, such as descriptive, narrative, and persuasive, to name a few, and then have my students produce quality writing in each area. In the past, I have had a few students, ( the same students in every subject) , produce high quality writing projects. Other students have produced papers you wouldnt want to display for all to see. I plan to teach one or two class periods a week and use the rest of the week to work individually with students. Students who have produced papers that demonstrate and cover the criteria that has been taught will move on to the next type of writing. Others will continue to improve what they are working on until it meets all the requirements of a quality paper. Many students are not use to producing quality writing and probably will be frustrated. I am hoping that I will be able to show them examples of other students writing as well as work with them individually. Each student has a writing folder and my goal is that every paper they put in this folder will illustrate quality work. The drawbacks are how to come up with a fair grade for the student who produces 10 quality papers in comparison to the student who produces 2. I have told my students that they will have a choice in how many papers they do this quarter but that choice will directly affect what grade they receive. Ideally Glasser believes that school work should be done in the classroom. I believe that this is unrealistic for any grade level. For one reason, some children need more practice than others. Some children can memorize their multiplication facts with very little practice, others need to bring them home and practice, practice, practice just to keep up with the rest of the class. Is there enough time in a class period to teach and practice these basic skills? I am required to cover 26 chapters in Life Science in one year. The terminology is complicated and unfamiliar to many of my students. Can we cover 25 science vocabulary words as well as the concepts and theories of a chapter, along with hands on experimentation, in one class period or one week? From my experience the answer would be no. I have evaluated my students through tests, through projects, through reports and through oral presentations and if they want to do well or produce quality work they have to bring it home and study the material. I have talked to my colleagues about "The Quality School". Most agree on the necessity for quality in our schools. Many feel, like I do, that our students are not producing quality work and maybe the "choice theory" might be a solution. Some of my colleagues, after reading Glasser, are applying what they have read right into their curriculum. I am doing the same thing.

I was talking to one of the Cohort members, Paul, and I hope he wont be upset with me for mentioning our conversation. He was talking about changing how he went about evaluating students lessons. He felt that many of his students do not practice for their lessons. Each week you plan for them to illustrate what they have practiced at home and it is obvious that they havent improved. Paul is going to concentrate on working on what can be taught and improved within each lesson. In this way, the students wont be worried and tense because they have not practiced and Paul wont be frustrated because he will be working on improving the quality of each lesson given. I nodded at Paul and smiled when he told me how he was going to apply Glassers choice theory. I can see all the advantages, such as a better lesson environment, better productivity within each lesson and probably a higher number of students who attend their lessons. I did not mention to Paul, because I thought about it days later after our conversation, that although the time spent in each lesson will be quality time, I do not feel that the end product will be a quality musician. I guess this depends on whether the students decide to begin practicing at home. I play the clarinet and I know that if I do not practice on a regular basis I can not sustain a note of quality sound. I may be able to play the music technically, because I have many years of experience playing and practicing the clarinet, but the quality of my sound can only come from daily practice.

Overall, I believe there is much to be gained from applying Glassers theory, but to reach this goal we will have to overhaul our school systems. The need for quality teachers who are willing to be flexible on how they approach their students is immense. We need to decide where to spend our tax dollars, whether that be on required grad standard tests or quality video tapes of quality teachers. Most importantly, teachers and administrators need to except that the school system we are presently working with lacks quality, and that change is necessary if our goal is to produce quality schools that include students who comprehend the value of quality.

-- Anonymous, January 30, 1999

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