In this workshop we'll explore classroom management with a particular emphasis upon navigating these often muddy waters by building relationships with students. We'll address some ways in which this can unfold when you find yourself working with students who are experiencing psychological distress and/or psychological disorders. We'll also look at classroom management with general student cohorts. We'll take a glimpse into the potentially healing nature of the classroom. If you are in the midst of undertaking the address of a classroom management headache and question the term "healing", again, remember that many students articulate that being with you in the classroom is a meaningful growth experience for them. They may experience healing moments, but will not always disclose this to you. But, in some ways, this should not come as a surprise. Consider that long after a class has ended, while students may not remember every (and sadly, sometimes many) details related to the content of our classes, they remember us. Teaching relationships are but one of many relationships our students have in their lives. And any relationships - whether this is intentionally cultivated or not - have the potential to be healing. Consider those times when you have experienced an unexpected connection with another person or with a group of people. Although these can be extraordinary experiences, these relational connections are actually quite ordinary events. These events take place every day. We can try and orchestrate these moments, but they also emerge unexpectedly in our lives, especially when we are open to these moments. Part of the often forgotten power of our humanity is the ability to forge deep connections with one another. Technology, social stratification, racism, sexism, and so many other aspects of modern life often serve to distance and alienate us from one another, and at times, from ourselves. This isolation can render us into deep loneliness. I can share as Campus Psychologist that at times the impact of technology has this effect upon many of our students.
While technology is a relatively contemporary aspect of our lives, a timeless aspect of being human is living with the knowledge that we are impermanent. Life itself is fleeting, complex, and so often filled with unavoidable suffering. So many aspects of our world are contentious, unfair, fractured, unjust, and heartbreaking. Students (and, we ourselves) not only experience individual stressors, but global, national, and contextual (e.g. sociocultural, socioeconomic, and political) ones as well. Oftentimes, this translates into experiences of feeling alone, and marginalized. But, the resource we offer as teachers is the opportunity to share what we ourselves are passionate about...and to be with one another. Teachers bring people together. We work at a community college and our college is a community. If you are feeling marginalized or unduly stressed yourself, remember that you can and do make a difference. Whether intentionally created or unintentionally convened, every classroom (and library, and counseling office) is a microcosmic community that can be a place of learning, exploration, healing, curiosity, inclusion, and truth seeking in our complex world. You, the instructional, library, and counseling faculty, are the leaders of those communities. You hold the keys to making your classroom, office, or space in the library a place of healing in this paradoxically fractured and exquisitely beautiful world. The same classroom management peaks and valleys, headaches and exhaustion, as well as moments of "flow" still apply. But, focusing upon the "big picture" of why we do what we do can reframe those headaches and help energize us - and our students.
What you do matters, and not only that. As students attest, who you are also matters to them. Your presence matters. In short - as faculty, we can and do make a difference to our students and in our classrooms, amidst all of the many expectations, rigors, headaches, and demands that go hand in hand with teaching, we can also find ways to build community and contribute a little corner of beauty and healing in the world.
A final caveat before we begin. There are many perspectives on classroom management. This is but one perspective. I encourage you to become a bit of a classroom management scholar, gleaning many perspectives, and drawing from those that you find the most helpful and relevant. Also, if you are experiencing an emergency or an urgent situation related to your work on campus, I recommend that you address it immediately and return to this workshop at a later time. This is not a substitution for seeking an immediate consultation in "real time". Remember, you are not alone. The resource list at the end of this workshop is intended to help guide your next steps in addressing a classroom management situation. Your Department Chair or Coordinator. Dean, HEAT, ADS, Psychological Services, the Dean of Student Affairs, Title IX coordinators, Student Conduct, the Harper College Police, and many more resources on campus are here to partner with you and provide support. Finally, I will use the term "classroom" in the broadest sense, but primarily intending real-time, physical classrooms as well as other spaces on campus in which faculty counselors and librarians provide instruction, guidance and support....and healing.