Community building, empowering students, having fun and learning how to cooperate are not pivotal new ideas in the realm of classroom management and education. However, there was something about Jonathan Erwin’s The Classroom of Choice, Giving Students What They Need and Getting What You Want that really got my attention when I was introduced to it earlier this year in a graduate class.
The heart of The Classroom of Choice lies in William Glasser’s Choice Theory and its five basic human needs: survival and security, love and belonging, power through cooperation and competency, freedom and fun. Erwin takes these five basic human needs and shows teachers how to help students get these needs met in our classrooms. By deliberately creating ways to potentially meet these needs, authentic learning can happen and behavior problems can decrease. This is the key part of Erwin’s message, by giving students what they need, we will create a classroom environment that we want. That equates to all of us being a little happier in our classroom and who doesn’t want that!?!?
The book is set up so that you go through the chapters learning how to meet student needs using a multitude of different activities and techniques. This was the part I found so helpful. It doesn’t just give us reasons why meeting these needs are so important and how it’s going to change your classroom. Instead, it goes into countless ways for teachers to meet these needs in small, deliberate ways. If you don’t have time to read the whole book right now, you could simply skim through the chapters and pull out different activities that will fit with what you do in the classroom already. If you want an even simpler description of some of the community building activities found in this book, check out Teaching Well’s blog Simple Classroom Building Activities.
Teachers may find that many of the activities in this book are things we inherently do because we care about our students, but what I found is that the idea of trying to meet all of the student needs gave me a goal to try to work towards. I wasn’t just doing community building activities at the start of the year because that’s what I’ve always done. Rather, these activities become more purposeful because I had a larger goal to work toward.
Another really great part of this book are the appendices, specifically the Unit Planning Guide. There is an entire section that demonstrates how to create a unit plan for whatever subject you are teaching and work in these techniques throughout in to build and maintain this positive classroom environment. I actually found it helpful to start in this section and work backwards throughout the book because I knew where I needed to build in some extra support and this helped me learn where and how to do this.
So, if you are looking for ways to meet students’ needs but also create a classroom environment where you are getting what you want, please look no further than Jonathan Erwin’s The Classroom of Choice. By creating an environment where all needs are met, there is sure to be more significant strides in authentic learning and growth. If you have any other book recommendations that could help foster a caring, nurturing environment where real learning can happen, please list it below in the comment section. This is a great place to share resources and help one another create our classrooms of choice.