Classroom Management Philosophy

AFP Journal of Education


Humberto Garciasalas

Educator, English Teacher, Philosophy Graduate



A  Classroom Management Plan: The Communal and Individual Prospectus on

Planning the Development of La Intelligencia de Personas



            The content of this classroom management plan contains sources that are realistic, yet the ideas in my explanation are used by many teachers. I am a student of philosophy as well as a student of English literature.  The course of my explanation of my procedure and methods are influenced by educational theorists.  I do not use philosophical doctrines in the classroom as ideals to teach students how to perform their responsibilities during in-class activities, but to explain here my teaching methods.  In the classroom, I use certain words in my explanation that follow the standards and practices of educational systems in many school districts in California.


           The examples of teacher/student situations use many teaching strategies, but these situations are fictional, because I am discussing the problems of students with behavioral and performance difficulties. However, there is one student, Cherrie whose language problems are factual, and the works made by this student in my fictional classroom situation is real.  Cherrie is a Chicana who started college out of high school. Cherrie’s poem is very emotional and is about her identity, academic performance, and her culture, and most importantly, her world.


           My goal in this explanation of my classroom management plan is to engage students to develop their own self-evaluation skills, such as self-reflection, self-assessment, growth, and interest development.  My students and I will discover who they are as writers.

           My subject area in my classroom is English Language arts for tenth graders, so my students will develop their awareness of their literacy abilities.  My classroom management plan is concerned with the students’ literacy in that my teaching strategies will motivate students to participate in reading and writing assignments.

     Other works from modern literary figures will be used as examples in my philosophical approach to teaching beginning autobiographic poetry.  The main figure will be the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche in my explanation of my perspective of the identity and culture of the individual.

           The perspective of identity and culture will encompass the problem of the individual following the laws of society.  Nietzsche will explain the desire of the individual to engage in self-evaluation and self-reflection. Nietzsche’s philosophical view of the individual in society argues that unique development of a person’s values and beliefs, which define the identity of that person.   

       My beliefs relate to Nietzsche’s philosophical views of the individual as the artist, because I use his ideals as a reference to explain the connection between my philosophical outlook of the classroom and the students’ interest development.  Nietzsche’s ideals will explain the essence of my approaches to mentoring students to create and develop the meaning of their academic life.  I am a humanist who wants to help students of all personalities and socioeconomic backgrounds to improve their reading and writing abilities for the good of their academic future.


Central Focus of My Classroom Management Plan

              The central theme of my philosophical perspective in my classroom management plan is the mentoring of each student’s development into an intelligent adult who can act and perform as a positive and productive member of society.   All students’ progress in their intellectual development during learning activities will define their academic identity. The actual activity of my procedure and methods in the operations of my classroom will be about observing the explanatory skills, leadership skills, listening skills, social skills of my students.

             The central focus in my procedure will observe the scholastic life of an English literature course.  I have two ideas that come from major educational theories: the perspective of authority and the individual by John Dewey; the theory of communication and reinforcement by Haim Ginott; the theory of discipline and dignity of student performance by Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler, and the reality therapy by William Glasser.

          These two ideas are connecting the educational theories with my philosophical belief system, because I should explain how my philosophical belief system is connected to the educational theories. Actual teaching situations in my autobiographic poetry unit will apply my philosophical  belief system and the educational theories of Curwin, Mendler, Ginott, and Glasser.

           The two ideas are devoted to explaining the structure and rationale of my classroom management plan. The two ideas of my classroom management plan are instructional guides that explain how the teacher fosters the development of the individuals’ intelligence of all of my students.  

            The first idea is devoted to support the development of the identity of each student’s academic orientation and academic construction. Academic construction is a growth process during a student’s studies in reading literature and subjects related to the student’s research on other texts and historical texts. Here, students can relate their personal views of the world in the scope of their exploration during research assignments and book reports. Academic orientation is students finding a work of literature and connecting it with their thoughts and feelings about the world, and in writing assignments, each student can develop their own writing topics. Ultimately all students can attain more knowledge about their specific interest.                                                                 

              The second idea is based on the concept called community based learning, which is a term I believe is useful to explain my view of active learning in group study sessions in an English course.   The main idea in community based learning is that students learn through interaction.


Classroom Environment

My classroom is a place where students act accordingly with respect to the community.  I want my students to understand that this classroom is our classroom. I facilitate the relationships between my students during classroom discussions on creative writing and in-class reading and writing assignments.  Each student in these relationships will build a sense of self- efficiency and self –reflection during each learning activity in the classroom.

            What is my philosophical belief system in my communal and individual prospectus of the learning environment in my classroom?    My philosophical belief system is based on a particular classification of a certain teaching style called student – centered teaching.  I am a facilitator who gives therapy to students who are developing their academic skills accordingly to their own self-interests.    I, the facilitator, help all students collectively take responsibility for their own concerns in independent work assignments and thoughts about their academic life.  Each teaching situation is different for each student, so the teacher will approach each student as unique therapeutic situation, therefore the teacher will use different approaches to remedy the student’s learning problems, which is  possible with effective approaches and good time management.

           My definition of classroom management is the facilitation of a relationship driven environment that influences all students to understand themselves as both individuals and as a member of a community: planning this classroom involves arrangement of motivation approaches by myself, the teacher to arrange the efficiency, organization of procedures and resources in order to monitor every student’s progress in their academic development, which requires anticipating potential problems with behaviorally “ at- risk students or unmotivated students with limitations in their in-class performances or independent work performances, but some of these students are exceptional at explaining ideas, yet they lack motivation to do the classroom assignments.


My Philosophy of Interbehavioral Activity

               My philosophy is about interbehavioral teaching in that I help all types of students, such as behaviorally “at –risk” students.  At – risk students are the most challenging for teachers, because these students are not motivated to learn:

“To begin with, they usually, though not always have a history of academic failure.  Unable to maintain dignity through achievement, they protect themselves by withdrawing, acting as if they don’t care” (Curwin in Charles, 203).


My approach is to motivate at-risk students and exceptional students to gain dignity in the course of their individual writing assignments.  I believe that all students have exceptionalities, including behaviorally at-risk students.  According to Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler, “at- risk” students want to be understood by the students and the teacher.  The at-risk students want to express their own individual thoughts on certain issues and concerns in class discussions.  The at-risk student does not realize that other students may want to express their own opinions and comments in class discussions. I believe that all students have an opportunity to voice their comments in class discussions. I assert that a certain way of having all of my students engage in voicing their thoughts and comments without disrupting the learning agenda of the learning activity. 

             My role as a teacher and a believer of interbehavioral activity is to facilitate interbehavioral influences onto his students, so each group of students learn to engage in applying reasoning skills and moderating skills in analytical and critical  discussions on interpretations of a work of literature. For instance, J.R. Kantor, an interbehavioralist asserts that the individual’s development of reasoning skills, good judgment, and individualism can be influenced by a learning group activity:


                         Clearly, the influences of groups upon individuals upon

                         groups are invariably reciprocal .  This fact throws considerable

                         light on the problems of elitism and its value for social life.

                         Through we banish the fallacies of innateness, it cannot be denied

                         that the development of superior and inferior personalities carries

                         many potentialities for social disharmony and conflict. However,

                         it is still probable that the emphasis upon expertness, knowledge,

                         good judgment, valid reasoning, individualism instead of

                         mass conformity, as well as sensitivity to natural and artistic

                         beauty can have salutary influences upon the condition of man

                         and his civilization (Kantor, 274).


Kantor’s argument for the individual is valid in my philosophy on group learning. Here, Kantor indicates that students’ abilities to exchange ideas and words can develop in group sessions. The development of students will depend on how much knowledge they use as all of them argue about their points of view.  The problem of individuals experiencing disharmony and conflict is possible in that the student’s own assertion of a point of view can conflict with another student’s ideas.   However, the exchange of ideas in their point of views in this conflict may help develop each student’s self-interests in their independent work assignment.


The Philosophy Statement of  My Classroom Management Plan

          I want to teach my students to learn how to show character as they interact with each other during cooperative learning group sessions.   As students show good character in cooperative activities, they show respect for the community and the individual’s needs.

           My philosophical statement is the “respect” for a student’s self-interests:

“Young people are entitled to be respected as individuals, respected for what they are and what they become” ( Mc Closky, 177).

My beliefs of classroom management are about engaging with students developing their intellectual growth.  I believe that I should support each student to find meaning in their academic performance and learning activities.  I believe that I should guide students to conduct themselves as responsible adults in a community.  This community should allow students to freely build their own academic and creativity.


Communal Leaning, Cooperative Learning, and Individual Learning

How can the activities of cooperative learning help improve the language skills and academic abilities of each student?  The goal of cooperative learning is to influence all of my students to strive for academic excellence through self-introspection and interactive learning with other students. During interactive learning situations, students engage in discussions about issues in current events and historical content in literature.   Students can develop their own rhetoric during class discussions that lead them to build a certain type of discourse, which is the art of persuasive communication and informing people about a specific type of view. I’m suggesting here that students who develop strong language skills will know who they are.   The students develop a specific type of voice as a form of rhetoric, then students can create their identity through language usage.  My students will learn to develop their voice in expressions about of their views of the world.


Philosophical Teaching Principles of  English Language Arts

My philosophical teaching principles are focused on guiding students to develop their abilities in reading and writing about literature, and most importantly, their character and a sense of community in daily learning activities in the classroom.

Firstly, my principles on teaching English literature and character in the classroom:

  • Individual attention to each studentÂ’s development is crucial to learning

  • Individual guidance for each studentÂ’s development as a scholar is crucial.

  • The administering teacher must give individuality as a sense to each studentÂ’s assignments, so the students can develop a sense of identity through writing.

  • The teacher will support the individualÂ’s interests. If the student disagrees with me in the course of the assignment, then I will still support or criticize the students on their needs in the assignment.


The debate can establish a negotiation with the different points of view.  In the negotiation, the student and the teacher can share their points of view on the student’s work in his/her performance.

Individual evaluation of each student will be given to the parents in the best productive manner by a joint responsibility between the student and the teacher. Community learning is a must in my classroom in order for each student to gain individual competence in his/her scholastic ability. In community learning activities, each student will give respect to their classmates.


My philosophy is simply supporting the creative genius and the development of the identities of my students.  I expect students to assert their individuality.  The core of students’ unique expressions is formed from an individual stand point in their inner thoughts on their own lives. In writing assignments, I expect students to think about who they are and what they want to become.

 As a teacher, I feel it is my duty to care about each student’s development of their voice and individual focus in each of their writing assignments. The student’s individual concern and thoughts about the world should be my concern.  I believe that my students’ academic accomplishments derive from their individual ability to express their own thoughts in analytic writing or creative writing.  The philosophical view of the students’ development of their individual abilities is called the individualist learning theory.


The Individualist Learning Theory

The individualist learning theory describes how a student or any person of any gender builds their academic discipline through constant self-introspection and self-reflection during their studying and writing. The students instruct themselves in their reading and writing to express their own views of the world.



            I will instruct my students to take account of the main points of the readings of each literary author.  The students will go through a process and discover a hidden interest connected to their personal experiences or beliefs.


Major Educational Theorists and the Individualist Learning Theory

The philosophies of John Dewey, Gordon McClosky, and Friedrich Nietzsche accord with the ideas of my teaching principles and the individual learning theory. Dewey, McClosky, and Nietzsche philosophize about the rights of the individual to seek change and difference.  I believe that at –risk students and students with exceptional skills are searching for a meaning in their classroom environment and a change in their education. 

Most students lose motivation to engage in classroom activities and certain writing assignments, because these learning activities do not offer support to the students to express their difference and change.  Difference is a concept about a person’s unique way of being an individual.  Students’ differences occur as they express themselves in a research assignment or in a certain discourse such as a poem, a commentary, or critical thinking assignment.  The concept of the human condition is involved in the student’s own process of expressing their own ideas in an array of expressions about how they view the world.


The way students live in their specific environment is their human condition, because the human condition is defined as a person’s feelings and thoughts about his own living conditions and predicaments.  A person’s living conditions and experiences influence him to view the world a certain way.


The individualist learning theory describes the practical view in the process of a teacher’s ability to reach students at a personal level without being personal. My duty is to aid my students to engage in the act of self- introspection and self-consciousness, so they can contemplate on the reality of their human conditions. McClosky and Nietzsche influenced my planning of my classroom climate where my students engage in self-introspection about their academic identity. McClosky presented the idea of incorporating the obligation to teach the student as an individual in a book called Education and Public Understanding.   Mc Closky believes that the students’ needs are important, and the teacher should meet those needs. Why approach a student in this manner?  Someone else can say that a teacher giving a student what he/she needs is like serving a student.  This can be a negative way of looking at a teacher-student relationship.

            Mc Closky insinuates that the teacher must treat the student who possesses many “capacities” and potential ( Mc Closky, 293). Mc Closky wants students to become self-supporting adults who have a sense of morals and usefulness in society. My philosophy stems from those ideas of the development of moral strength and capacities in students.  My belief about individuality and self-introspection is actualized as I give a student recognition for his/her differences:   “Recognize the differences among students and seek to meet their needs”(296) Mc Closky has influenced me to understand students at a personal level, so I decided to develop my idea of the development of the individual’s intelligence.

My classroom climate is a place where students are free to express their individuality or differences in class.  I expanded this idea of recognition in my classroom climate, as I read Nietzcshe’s ideas of individuality.

The individualist learning theory is related to the idea of “individuality of the artist “ in Friedrich Nietzsche’s Will to Power,  because Nietzsche describes his view of the individual expressing and actualizing values and uniqueness through his creative expression.  The actualization is about how individuals can use their personal powers to attain their needs in order to define their individuality.  In a passage from Nietzsche’s Will to Power, a person’s desire to attain his needs comes from his development of being different, but the difference is actualized as that person forms his own interpretation of “old ideas” of society:

“The individual is something quite new, and capable of creating new things. He is something absolute and all his actions are quite his own.  The individual in the end has to seek the valuations of his actions in himself: because he has to give an individual meaning even to traditional words and notions” (Nietzsche, 767).


Nietzsche’s ideals explain the positive light of the actions of the individual in society.   The idea is that an individual’s action is original and new. An individual is someone who can create new things.  Here, I relate my idea of the development of the individual‘s academic identity and creativity, because Nietzsche says that the individual seeks valuations and meaning, which is something that at-risk students or creative exceptional students desire to do.


                         Argument for the Individual’s Creativity                                   

            I plan to teach my students to learn to create their own values through assignments that have them express themselves about issues discussed in novels and current events from newspapers.  I believe Nietzsche’s view of the individual’s creativity is valid in a management plan for an English course. Nietzsche’s ideas inspired me to support the student’s development of artistic writing and identity.


                                        Argument for the Individual’s Needs 

              The student-centered teacher’s duty is to negotiate with the “at-risk” student’s needs, because each student’s performance is difference, so the individual assignments need to be altered for that particular student. The student-centered teacher will take account of that particular student’s performance before modifying the assignment. The teacher also has a duty to make sure that particular student has the abilities to write out the original independent assignment. Every student is taken at a case by case basis in that each student.

One “at-risk” student may need some therapy on self-confidence in doing the independent assignment, and the other “at-risk” student may require the teacher to use effective rule approaches and group behavior approaches to teach this student to adjust his or her behavior in the classroom.  Scaffolding is a process to improve the student’s low performance abilities in independent assignments. 

          The at-risk student’s low performance abilities may implicate resistance against the teacher’s instructions and coursework in the assigned independent studies. The at-risk student may need encouragement and praise. The student-centered teacher will make preparations to use encouragement approaches to improve the student’s abilities to do the independent writing assignments.

         Low-achieving gifted students who also have behavior problems and low performance in their independent writing assignments, so the student centered teacher may be inclined to use Curwin’s negotiation approach. When these students do not agree with the subject of the independent assignment, the student-centered teacher will find a mediator that will listen to both the student and the teacher. The students will voice some complaints and proposes to change the assignment, and teacher will decide on which of the student’s purposes are appropriate. When the students proposes a certain subject for the independent assignment, then the teacher will decide to allow the students permission to write on that subject. The students will eventually attain their preferred topic, but the students will agree with the teacher that all the assignment will be completed to the original instructions and expectations of the rubric. Ultimately, the students are allowed to engage on developing their interests and academic identity, which is their values and beliefs on certain issues that they see in the world.


DeweyÂ’s and NietzscheÂ’s view of the individualÂ’s needs

DeweyÂ’s view of the individual is about an individualÂ’s freedom in adjusting himself between the old ideas and the new ideas of society. Dewey argues that a person expresses his individuality in making changes for himself (Dewey 172), Dewey emphasizes the necessity of the individual making changes for himself:

“The necessity of adjusting the old and the new, of harmonizing the stability that comes from conserving the established with variability that springs from the emergence of new needs and efforts of individuals – this necessity is inherent in, or a part of the very texture of life.” (Dewey, 174).

Dewey is concerned with authority and the individual, because in society, Dewey argues that the individual is making changes to adapt in a changing world. Individuals want to make changes for themselves, which I believe is the act of self-actualization and self-expression.  My plan will function accordingly to the principles of Dewey’s view of [an individual making changes for himself].


Individualist Learning Theory Applied by Present Educational Theorists

This notion of the individualÂ’s desire to attain new needs are prevalent among Nietzsche and Mc Closky, but this a prevalent notion that existed before the present theorists of education, like Frederic Jones, James Dobson and Marlene Canter. The notion of meeting the needs of the student is a widely excepted among the present educational theorists such as Richard Curwin, William Glasser, Haim Ginnott, Thomas Gordon, and Allen Mendler. In the 1950Â’s, Mc Closkey emphasized the notion of recognizing the needs of each different student. Mc CloskeyÂ’s idea of recognizing the studentÂ’s needs connects with the prevalence of the idea of [an individualÂ’s desire to express new ideas] among Dewey and Nietzsche. I decided to provide an adaptation of this notion into my classroom climate. My classroom climate will provide an environment with an open-minded understanding of difference. Each student in this environment will be recognized as being different by the teacher and the student. In my classroom climate, each studentÂ’s needs shall be accommodated.


Concern for the Individual Learning Theory and The Student-Centered Environment

            The pressure of the student centered teacher’s duty to meet all of the “at-risk” students’ needs can result in a uncontrollable situation, so the approaches of the individual learning theory and Curwin’s negotiation theory are helpful, yet there remains a possibility of students becoming more resistant and continuing to fail to complete independent assignments.


Argument Against the Individualist Learning Theory and Student-Centered Teaching

            The classroom climate of the teacher who uses the discipline models of Fredric Jones, James Dobson and Lee Canter is an authoritarian. An authoritarian teacher controls a student’s every move and progress. The authoritarian cares only about keeping the students in control, but does not care about supporting the development of the student’s intellectual and creative abilities. The climate of this classroom is strictly a structure-driven environment. The authoritative teacher’s goal is to keep all of the students constantly working, which Jones calls “on-task” behavior. Canter’s discipline and Dobson’s discipline tend to inflict intense punishment on students who misbehave during cooperative learning activities. This classroom climate has at-risk students feeling disassociated and isolated, because students are told to sit in isolation or suffer personal ridicule in front of other students. Ultimately, an at-risk student will suffer more punishment, because he resents the teacher constantly for punishing him.

            In the authoritarian’s classroom climate, the individualist view is denied by the operations of the principles of Dobson and Jones, because these educational theorists have discipline methods and educational goals about controlling the lives of the students. The language used between the teacher and the student in this classroom climate is meaningless. The authoritarian teacher uses words to direct students to stay seated and be quiet or drill the assignment. The climate has no room for understanding the student’s individual needs and difference, because the teacher will not allow any time for students to explore their self-interest through talking to one another. This teacher would have in-classroom writing assignments without any group discussion to follow. In this classroom, there is no room for new ideas or change in that its system wants students to produce work that is not original. Consequently, the students are doing work as if they are manufacturing old ideas; therefore they are not doing any real self-reflection on the lessons of the assignment nor relating themselves to the literature by expressing their opinions and thoughts on it.


Defence of the Individualist Learning Theory and Student-Centered Approach

            The Jonesian interaction in the student-teacher relationship opposes the interactions that Curwin and Glasser, because Curwin’s and Glasser’s discipline models are more about the psychological therapy of the student. The models of Curwin and Glasser are geared towards helping the student’s developmental growth as intellectuals and social members of society. The approaches of Curwin and Glasser inspiring students to be creatively active in an in-class assignment. The discipline models of Curwin and Glasser allow the students freedom to take responsibilities in directing their own writing assignments and in-class behavior.

            The Jonesian teacher treats a student as a cog in a factory machine. The student’s own creativity and individuality is denied in being a working cog in a factory machine that makes old ideas. The Jonesian teacher operates like a robot that constantly monitors students without comments or insight on their progress, just as if a manager is making sure that his employee stays on task.


Defence of the View of Student Support and Community and Cooperative Learning

            The Jonesian and Canterian teacher does not support the individual nor teaches a sense of community relationships to the students in classroom activities. An authoritarian teacher would only make the students assimilate his rules by force of rewards and punishment. No, a teacher like myself would use Curwin’s and Ginnott’s use of supportive language to reach students at a personal level. I would help my students as if each one is my client. I would find a diagnosis of their learning abilities and find out what each of them wants to accomplish in my class. Using Curwin’s and Ginnott’s therapeutic approach, I would be careful to not sound or talk like an authoritarian who uses Dobson, Canter or Jones’ approaches. These approaches would not work in my class, because the students needs come first, so as a student centered teacher, I will negotiate with students on their tasks in their independent assignments.  As I use Curwin’s and Ginott’s teaching approaches, I will take assessment of the students’ performance abilities. Each student will learn to follow a rubric that has my expectations for the format and structure of the writing assignment. I will support each student’s identity and unique form and analysis, and help them to increase their independent performances. I will help students accomplish each student’s goals in their writing assignment, which is to establish their unique style and arguments and self-interests in their studies.


Application of the Teaching Approaches of Curwin, Glasser, and Ginnott

            My goals and objectives in my classroom management plan are to fulfill the accomplishments of my student’s development of his/her academic identity and community-relations in the community based learning activities. How does these accomplishments come about in my application of my philosophical principles and the use of the educational theories of Curwin, Glasser and Ginnott. My two ideas of this classroom management plan corresponds to my engagement of tutoring, consulting, mentoring and advising my students on their in-class performances.

            I expect my students to practice self-efficiency and self-reflection in their daily learning activities. I have faith in all of my students showing respect for the good of the community and their classmate’s achievements in their academic performance. The student’s needs are the first step of my plan. In my explanation of the academic goals in the student’s performance, I present a contract in which the student reads and signs to establish an agreement on his/her performance. The idea of a plan will constantly reappear in my explanation of my stratagems during in-class activities. I expect my students to perform their abilities to keep track of their coursework and their status in their behavioral management. I will leave the responsibility to each student to understand the rules in my class and consistently act accordingly to the rules in their everyday behavior.

            At the beginning of the school year, each of my students will read a contract about their expectations in their performance in their academic life and their behavior in the classroom. The community based learning activities involve the student to make decisions in maintaining his commitments to the contract. Parents who are willing to participate in their child’s commitment can sign a verification form for their child’s progress. The child will sign the contract and notify his/her parents. From the beginning of the school year, the parents can fin out what are the particular concerns of their child’s needs and the actual status of the child’s performance in class.

            All parents are informed about each assignment and any concerns with the child’s performance, so every assignment can have a follow up consultation with the teacher. At the beginning of the year, the child will sign a contract that says he/she will complete each assignment. What are the consequences of the student not doing the assignment or turning in an incomplete assignment? The consequence will be that he/she will fall behind in doing the other future assignments. The future assignment can be handed out to the student, if the student has shown me signs of progress in redoing the previous assignment. This is my way of negotiating with the student’s needs to manage his/her own time to complete the assignments properly and effectively. I am into encouraging improvement in the student’s writing performance. The incentive of having the students redo their writing assignments or homework is to engage them in following instructions and most importantly become cooperative and focused in doing the assignments properly. Once the student actually does the assignment a second time, he/she will benefit from understanding the specifics of a fully completed lesson.

            The contract will ensure that the student takes responsibility for making a commitment to fulfill each objective of each assignment in the curriculum. The curriculum can have an agreement of a work load between myself and the student, but each assignment might result is some difficulty, and we can work in a buddy system to accommodate each of our interests. I will let the student revise an assignment as long as I see the assignment is done properly according to our agreement in the lesson plan of the assignment. The negotiation between the teacher and the student in forming a plan of a writing assignment is a mediation procedure created by Curwin and Mendler. I choose Curwin and Mendler’s mediation procedure to serve the needs of my students, because each student has a different reaction to the assignment. If the student needs to find meaning and fulfillment in the writing assignment, then I, the teacher should give students a chance to relate their personal interests, so I can strengthen their motivation and sense of dignity in their performance.

            In the follow up, feed back activity will occur in cooperative learning groups. I will show a lesson on proofreading. I will give examples of approaches on scanning a paper for grammar errors and logical flaws in the body of an essay. My students will receive copies of articles on syntax and style of writing as they continue to proofread and shape their own essays. The student and parents will reconvene on the follow up of any concerns on the student’s grammar usage and composition skills.

            How do I motivate my students to fulfill their commitment to the writing assignments on the individual’s choice of focus? Certain materials will be given by the teacher to enhance the student’s self-interest. The student is given a choice on how to approach a writing assignment.

            The students and I discuss what the topic is about, and the content of the abstract. After the students have completed their abstracts, the students will present their topics and ideas in a conference. During the in-class conference, each individual will have an opportunity to receive feedback from the other students. Each student expresses his or her self-interests to other students. Here, students can aid each other to organize their papers. In these groups, a high performance student, medium performance and lower performance student will be placed, so they can feed off everyone’s input. A sense of community emerges during interaction between the different types of students. Students help one another express their self-interest, and develop their academic identity.

The in-class conferences and interactions, peer mediation occurs, because students discuss their ideas and react to the comments on their papers. Here, Glasser indicates a process going on as the teacher consults with students when a conflict occurs in the exchange of their comments on their papers. GlasserÂ’s reality therapy approach deals with the individualÂ’s behavior in classroom activities. Glasser describes the teacherÂ’s role as a mediator during discussions among students in cooperative learning sessions, such as paper conferences or learning lessons:

             The role of the mediator is to listen to each side in the dispute, to clarify issues,

 to help generate and negotiate possible solutions, and to write up the agreed upon solution.          (Glasser in Emmer 183).

The conflict between students brings an interbehavioral situation where a new understanding emerges from the exchanges of ideas between students. I will offer a solution such as asking each student in the conflict to think of a way to formalize an agreement.  I intervene and inform them that their argument is actually expressing their concerns about their self-interests.  I help formulate a synthesis of my students’ ideas through interaction.


Application of GlasserÂ’s Reality Therapy on Behavior During In-class Conferences

             During the paper conference, two students express themselves in a heated conflict about their disagreement about the ideas.  The students express their own ideas and persuade each other to understand their views in their self-interests. As a student-centered teacher, I will ask question two students these questions:

          What solutions can we form at this moment to resolve our conflict here?  

          Carlos what do you want Silvia to understand about your ideas?

          Silvia what do you want Carlos to understand about your ideas? (Both students voice   

          Ask yourselves: How are my ideas different from this person’s ideas?

Here, in this situation, I take GinottÂ’s concept of congruent communication as I talk directly to my students. The whole time during my mediation, I did not use the pronoun I or you in a way that seems that IÂ’m making a personal attack on either one of the students in this conflict. I do not want to belittle the students in this heated discussion, so I used small groups with two students. For example, I have Carlos and Silvia help each other to constructively form an understanding of their viewpoints.

            At that moment, I want them to see that they really want to express themselves as unique idealists and be understood. Here, I show the students that I accept their point of view.  I will make sure that the students retained the sense of respect for the other student’s development of their voice, analytic view, and creativity. I applied my philosophy on community learning in my classroom climate, so I can maintain a positive sense of belonging and workmanship among my students as they work together.

            The arrangement of my classroom activities and discipline plan are associated with Glasser’s reality therapy in an autobiographic poetry lesson in an English Literature course. This teaching unit takes place in a high school. My use of concepts and philosophical ideals will be limited, so my students will not be perplexed by a complex discussion of techniques and genres of poetic writing. Instead I will discuss one aspect of philosophy in a person’s expression about his/her life. I will introduce some basic view of a structure of an autobiographic poem accordingly to the writings of Robert Frost.

            The autobiographic poetry lesson will have an explanation of the application of Glasser’s discipline plan with a behaviorally at-risk student named “Cherrie.” Cherrie has been very passionate about her difficulty with her writing in book reports and in-class writing assignments. Cherrie is having trouble finishing her writing assignments, and I had private discussions with Cherrie about her self-interests about her view of types of writing styles and ideals of expression. Cherrie has been placed in my afternoon workshop in writing, because she is having problems maintaining her commitment to the contract on her performance agreement for the school year. I will apply the principles under the idea devoted to support the development of the identity of the student’s academic orientation and academic construction in this teaching unit. I’ll demonstrate my role in aiding Cherrie’s development into an intelligent adult who can act and perform as a positive and productive member of society.


            My teaching unit’s main goal is to have my students get in touch with their consciousness of their existence in the events in the real world. I want my students to discover their creative writing identity through expressing their thoughts and feelings about their existence in their real life living conditions. Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken will only be used as a prompt in my teaching unit about the lesson on autobiographic writing. I believe Frost’s The Road Not Taken can give an essence of what it is for a person to develop his identity and self-interest in the path of his life.  Frost’s poem will not be used as main reading in my English course, but its structure will be used as a model to teach my students to understand the effect they can create by describing the emotional tone of their voice through telling a short story about a life situation. I believe that the strength of a student’s writing comes from what they think and feel about the struggles of their lives.


Explanation of the Self-consciousness approach in The Autobiographic Poem Assignment

            Edmund Husserl, a phenomenologist says that our individuality is determined by our being conscious of objects in the world:

Our engagement in experiences occurs in the mental occurrence about being conscious of objects in the world (Husserl in Solomon 147).

Husserl emphasized the idea that a person’s existence in the world is determined by the individual engaged in the mental act of self-consciousness in order to understand things that occur in an experience. I want my students to express themselves about the thoughts and feelings of that moment in their personal living conditions. I believe my philosophy about the development of an individual’s intellect depends on how they develop their identity and existence as intelligent persons in society. I want my students to be aware of their development of their identity as they express their voice and point of view in their writing.        


Lecture on Autobiographic Poetic Writing in My Teaching Unit

            During my teaching unit on autobiographic poetic writing, I have my students sit in groups of three, and ask them to listen carefully to me for the next few minutes. I begin a brief lecture about what is autobiographic writing, and I answer this question:

“Autobiographic poetic writing is something that requires a person to reflect about his personal experiences in a vivid and deep way. He expresses his thoughts and feelings about a particular moment that changed his life. A poet wants to express what is important to his audience. What does a poet want to say about experience to his audience?”

My intention in this brief lecture is to give my students an immediate awareness of the truth in their lives. And, as they practice writing about an experience, they can develop their own voice into their own unique style. My strategy in this teaching unit is to propose to my students to join together in groups, and engage themselves to build self-knowledge, a sense of self worth, and identity within discussing their intentions in each of their poems or short stories. Firstly, I ask a student to read The Road Not Taken:


Two roads diverged in yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equals lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted it I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this this with a sigh

Something ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference. (Frost in Meyer, 789)


I ask my students a simple question: what is the poem about? The students say “nature” and a journey.

I, the English teacher give a more specific answer to this question:

“This poem is about a path in a person’s life. Robert Frost does two things: he speaks in first person to give you, the reader the effect of a speaker who is describing a moment which changed his life. Notice at the beginning of the poem, the speaker presents the metaphor of a fork in front of him. The fork represents a choice that people make at a point in the path of his life. This is a situation we all can relate to. We come to a point in the path in our lives.”

I show this poem to my students to give them the idea of self-reflection and the actual voice of an autobiographic poem. Then I say: “I would like that all of you look at this hand out on the techniques and structure of Robert Frost’s poetic writing form.” Here, I want to give my students a sense of use of a metaphor and the format. Suddenly, Cherrie asks me a question: “Why do we have to write our autobiographic poems in this way?” Cherrie, I’ll answer your question in a moment.” However, I did not know Cherrie is starting to disrupt the lesson, because she had trouble finishing a completed assignment during in-class assignments. In this moment, I believe Cherrie could relate to this assignment because she has been going through self-introspection about her struggles in understanding the lessons in writing assignments.


Application of GlasserÂ’s Reality Therapy on CherrieÂ’s Behavior During My Teaching Unit

            The next step of the poetic writing lesson, I’d ask the students to briefly write about an experience or a situation that has changed their lives, but also apply some structure points to form their poems.  Would say to them, “Take out a piece of paper and write out a short story about a problem that took place and involved you. Write accordingly to a  model of the format of Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken.” I show the model of this poem on the chalk board:


  1. ------------ Introduce the problem or incident of your personal experience.

  2. ------------ What is your experience about?

  3. ------------ What did you feel about your experience?

  4. ------------ What did I learn from this situation?

  5. ------------ What is it that made a difference, and what message should I send to my experience?


Next, I would immediately say to Cherrie: Does this explanation satisfy as an answer to your question? Cherrie decides to challenge me and says: “Mr. Garciasalas with all due respect, I don’t think this format is necessary for us students to write an autobiographic poem, and frankly you are kind of dense in using this format.” I would say to Cherrie: I can be dense at times when I administer assignments, but I only seem dense, so I can bring a new assignment to all of you to explore for the good of the class. Now, Cherrie would you like to join us in this assignment or write a plan for how this assignment is better for you. Cherrie responds to me and says, “I think I’ll continue working on this assignment.” Next, I will ask my students two questions: “What did you feel about your classmate’s experience? And the other, Do you have empathy for your classmate’s experience?

            Twenty minutes later, I see Cherrie arguing with her group member, and I notice that she is not following the assignment. I glance at Cherrie’s poem about her hatred for writing. Cherrie’s group members are intrigued, but they express an awkward reaction to Cherrie’s argument. Here, I ask the students in Cherrie’s group a question about he poem:  How do we understand Cherrie’s personal experience? How do we use the format? A student in Cherrie’s group says, “By using the questions in the format.” I say to this student, “Excellent Rebecca!! (I give praise to the student to launch a resolution between the group members and Cherrie. Next, what feeling is Cherrie projecting in her poem? The students answer: she is serious and resentful.


Application of GlasserÂ’s reality therapy and the Socratic Method

in mass practice of autobiographical poetry writing.

           Using Glasser’s reality therapy, I will discuss Cherrie’s poem and write out some concepts on the blackboard, so then I can direct attention to Cherrie’s poem.    Then I use the Socratic method in order to engage the students into using their own knowledge about writing. The Socratic method is an approach to search for truth through evoking knowledge from those who answer questions. My view of the use of the Socratic method is to evoke my students’ knowledge of the elements of style and creative writing.  I ask them to answer questions on  the language and style in Cherrie’s poem: “Class, here is a poem that Cherrie wrote that does not go by the format exactly, but she expresses her thought and feelings about a problem, which is what I wanted all of you to do, lets read and go over Cherrie’s poem:


            I lack imagination you say

No. I lack language

The language of clarity

My resistance to the literate

Words are a war to me.

They threaten my family


To gain the word

To describe the loss

I risk losing everything.

I may create a monster

The wordÂ’s lengthy and body

Swelling up colorful and thrilling

Looming over my mother, characterized

Her voice in the distance

Unintelligible illiterate.

These are the monsterÂ’s words (Moraga in Cullern, 238)


Next, I look at the mood and the voice of this poem. I define to the class:

            “Voice is a sound of certain person in a certain state of mind during a situation.” Then I ask the class, what kind of voice does this person have? I ask the class about what kind of person does the voice depict? The class answers the question: “the voice of a victim.” The following question I ask is what does this person feel about this situation? One student could say anger or more precisely, resentment. I write these answers on the chalk board next to the appropriate elements of the speaker in this poem:

            Voice               victim of the system or an outsider with an attitude

            Tone                serious

            Mood              anger resentment

I discuss Cherrie’s uses of the elements as tools to develop the purpose and effect of a poem. I think that there is a certain approach that a beginning creative writer must learn. Here, I explain to all of my students that they should apply their awareness of their identity through poetic writing. The beginning writer learns to express his or her experiences by understanding different uses of mood in the use of words. When a person gives a certain mood to his audience, then that person defines her identity as she emphasizes her personal issues. For example, Cherrie expressed her discontent for the English language and the educational and institutional system. Cherrie’s tone presents a monologue from a person whose purpose to communicate and share a truth about the problem of learning a language. Here, Cherrie shares her struggles with the English language, so that people can learn from her thoughts and feelings about becoming a product of a system, as she calls it a “monster.”


Application of GlasserÂ’s Reality Theory and MendlerÂ’s Supportive Language during mediation with Cherrie

            Where does the source of Cherrie’s resentment for being involved in writing activities come from? After class is dismissed, I ask Cherrie to stay after class and discuss her behavior in class today. Here, I used Curwin’s and Mendler’s positive confrontational strategies under their principle of resolution approach in Cherrie’s situation. (Curwin, 138). I ask Cherrie about her behavior in class today and say: “Cherrie how are you doing?” Cherrie says: “Not good.” Then I ask her another question: Are things OK at home? Cherrie says: My mom and I have had some discussion about my language skills. What do you mean? Cherrie says: I asked my mom to read my homework and my book reports and she didn’t look at them. Then she said: “you should work on your Spanish, because you are starting to sound like an American.” I realized that this was not a discipline problem, but a cry for help. Cherrie, I said, I would like to tell you that so far your academic progress is fine, yet you are reluctant to finish off your assignments. Does your mom make you feel guilty about learning the English language? Cherrie says, No, it’s me. What do you mean? Cherrie says, I think my language abilities to speak both English and Spanish is not good. Did someone tell you that your language skills are not good? Cherrie says, I want to stay connected to my roots of my “familia” by being devoted to speaking in Spanish.


Results from use of GlasserÂ’s Reality Therapy and MendlerÂ’s negotiation approach

and Diagnosis of CherrieÂ’s Writing Problems in Independent Writing Assignments

            My diagnosis of Cherrie’s independent writing problems is that she needs support on the development of her language abilities, so at this moment, I offered her a solution: Cherrie, I know a bilingual program for Latino students in the school district. Would you like that we set up a meeting with a counselor? Cherrie reveals her problems in the classroom and at home about the development of her language skills. I said to the counselor: “For a tenth grader, Cherrie shows a remarkable promise as a creative writer and a scholar, but I feel she needs more attention for concern about maintaining her first language at home, and more importantly her heritage as a Latino.” I’m saying this right about your situation? (I look at Cherrie for confirmation). Cherrie says, Yes, that is right (with a compassionate tone). The counselor says, how can this work for both of you? Cherrie says, I like to take time to be with other students like myself. The counselor asks me about placing Cherrie in a remedial English course for ESL students. Cherrie says, I would like to stay with Mr. Garciasalas, but I would like to be with other students like me in this after-school program? The counselor says to Cherrie, So this is what you want, to be in two English classes. I say to the counselor, is this arrangement possible? The counselor says, yes, but Mr. Garciasalas assure that Cherrie improves in her assignments or she will be placed a remedial English course.” I say, “Well, Cherrie, do you want to do this or …” Cherrie says, I want to do this, and I will try harder to finish my homework assignments. Next, I say: If I see that you are keeping up with the in-class assignments, then I will give you help to improve your grade, such as doing extra credit assignments on Latino-American literature or a commentary on current events. But I must see that you are motivated to do all of the assignments and improve your proofreading skills. The counselor says to me, are you going to make sure that this child improves? I say to the counselor, I see that Cherrie already made some improvement, so now, I see she is more comfortable and eager to work on my classroom assignments.




            My arguments provide evidence that supports the student-centered teacher’s environment that teaches students rules and steps to develop their behaviors in the classroom and in their performances of their independent writing assignments.  Each student is a different person who lives in a different world of their own away from school. As a teacher, I need to see their differences, so I can understand their needs. Then I can plan  to provide proper instruction for all students to generate accomplishments in each learning activity in my English literature course. I view the classroom as a place where students can learn from each other about their problems. I believe that students hear and see what goes on with their classmates, and it’s my duty to provide an environment that welcomes every type of personality and type of student from all socio-economic statuses. The methods and strategies of Curwin, Ginott, Mendler and Glasser are used congruently with my philosophical belief system. The examples that I presented show my connection between my philosophical teaching principles of the individual and the community relations during my cooperative learning activities. In this paper, I have shown a synthesis of ideals of John Dewey’s and Gordon McCloskey’s views of the needs of the individual. Also, I used Nietzsche’s ideas of the individual to relate the reader to someone like Cherrie who wants identity and uniqueness as a creative writer and as a scholar on language and the Latino culture. Cherrie expresses her views and thoughts of the world of language, and her poem revealed her values and beliefs about her lifestyle and her human condition in her predicaments. My life work as a teacher is helping students to develop their individual talent in their academic performance, because I want to facilitate their goals in their studies.


Works Cited


Mc Closky, G. (1959) Education and public understanding.

                                     New York. Harper and Brother.

Ludovici, A.     (1964) Fredrich Nietzsche will to power. New York

                                     Russell and Russell.

 Soloman, R.    (1972) Phenomenology and existentialism.

                                     Maryland. Littlefield.                                 

Dewey, J.          (1974) Authority and the individual.

Kantor,J.D.       (1981) Interbehavioral philosophy. Chicago.

                                      Principia Press.                                                  

Curwin, R. L.    (1988) Discipline with dignity. New York.


Charles, C.M.   (1999) Building classroom discipline. New York.

                                     Addison Wesley Longman.               

Cullen, R.          (2000) Rhetoric for multicultural america.

                                      New York. Allyn and Bacon.

Meyer, M.          (2000) The Compact Bedford introduction to literature.

                                       Boston. Bedford/ St. Martin.

Emmer, E.         (2003) Classroom management for secondary teachers.

                                       New York. Allyn and Bacon.

Last updated 8-9-2004

Copyright © 2004, Humberto Garciasalas. All rights reserved.


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