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Time to Review! The Master Teacher’s Crystal Ball

May 20, 2013 -- 7:48 am
The Master Teacher’s Crystal Ball
Written by Cheryl Axley - Review 360 Implementation Team - Former Educator
Posted on May 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm.
Even before the school year comes to a close, master teachers look ahead to the next school year to begin planning and organizing for improved student behavior and classroom management. A key component of looking forward is looking back – taking time to reflect. When reflective processes are authentic and straightforward, time spent can lead to intentional observations and understanding of what worked well in the classroom and what didn’t. Areas that need more attention, focus, or improvement can be effectively identified.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Yet teachers keep the same expectations, rules, interaction methods, procedures, structures, reinforcements, and corrective techniques in place year after year regardless of the change in students. Later these same teachers question why behavior problems arise in the classroom.

To have purposeful and positive change occur, master teachers look at what changes are needed in the class as a whole and also at individual student issues. For this reason, master teachers use various sources to reflect on the multiple aspects of behavior:

types of discipline infractions typically occurring
students involved – gender, ethnicity
repeat offenders
time of day/day of week
patterns and trends
effectiveness of consequences in changing behavior
effectiveness of interventions and supports
type of activities going on
antecedent behaviors
classroom managed vs. administrator managed behaviors
Master teachers also reflect on the effectiveness of their classroom organization and management. By asking probing questions related to the six indicators of an effective classroom, a clear picture will identify challenges and barriers that interfered with teaching and learning.


Did I effectively teach, model, and reinforce my expectations?
Could my students understand and restate the expectations?
Did my expectations reflect the school-wide expectations?
Do I need to spend additional time teaching, modeling and allowing students to practice and demonstrate the expectations?

Did my students understand and follow the classroom procedures?
How much time did I spend re-teaching my procedures?
Which procedures seemed to be most troublesome?
Which procedures need to be improved and clarified?

Were the majority of my interactions with students positive?
Did the students understand and respond to my reinforcement system?
What reinforcers worked best?
What reinforcers were ineffective?
Could my students restate my words or actions used that let them know they were doing a good job or needed to redirect their behavior?

What changes do I need to make in the arrangement of my classroom for optimal learning?
Do students know how and where to retrieve and organize supplies and materials?
What steps should I implement to be better organized and prepared?
Did more behavior problems occur during transitions? How can I improve?
Could I have reduced discipline problems by “walking around” and using proximity control better?

Did I know my students’ learning styles and strengths and teach to those skills?
Were students respectful of me and each other?
Did I vary my teaching activities to keep students engaged?
Did I really “know” each of my students?
Did I yell or lose patience? What triggered it? What can I do differently?

Did I correct misbehaviors quickly and redirect students effectively?
What were my biggest behavioral problems? What steps can I implement to reduce those problems?
Does my language and tone in correcting students de-escalate incidents?
Am I effective in defining and teaching acceptable replacement behaviors?
By looking at and learning from the past, future outcomes for the classroom and students can change. A reflective look at what is “really happening” in the classroom provides a growth opportunity that can help teachers focus on teaching and learning priorities. Time spent on reflection now is put to much better use than time spent on reparation, correction, and restoration next year – and is much better for students. It takes a lot more time to fix problems than to do things right the first time. Learning from your past mistakes or stumbles, prevents them from recurring, and improves the outcomes for students.

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