being a teacher, being me, classroom expectations, classroom setup, hidden rules, our classroom, student driven, systems

No Size Fits All – Some Thoughts on Prescribed Systems in the Classroom

I am sometimes asked what system I used in my classroom; which system do you prescribe to to get them to act this way, which system do you believe in for your philosophy.  I always feel like a disappointment when I tell them, “None.”  It is not that I am pioneer within education, or a maverick, but rather that I don’t believe in systems.  A system to me means prescribed, a system means rigidity, rules to follow, and scripts to use.  I tried that for 2 years when I first started teaching and it failed, horrifically and miserably.  My classrooms doesn’t work that way, it doesn’t fit into a book description.   So while some people may say I fall under whatever system they think, I always giggle a little because the truth is much simpler.

I follow the Pernille system.  The one that says to listen to your students, give them a voice, get out of the way, and then change your mind when needed.  The system I use has no book or no guidelines but only common sense and a lot of reflection.  I don’t manage my children, they are not stress I must constrain.  I guide them, they guide me and we trade spots more often than I can count.   I do not read a book to see how I should train my students the first week of school; they are not circus animals getting ready for a performance.  Instead we get to know each other and we laugh a lot because laughter is a key ingredient in my life.   I do not hide the “real” Pernille from my students because I believe education must be authentic to be meaningful.  My students share their emotions and opinions whenever they can.

I know that if I wanted a book-deal or masses of followers I should call my system something, my husband jokes about that all the time.  That way people could refer to it and ask themselves, “Well what would Pernille do?”  And then they would be confused as to why my system wouldn’t work as well for them, because  a system has to be as personal as your classroom.  You borrow, you steal,  you get inspired by others, but in the end your voice and that of your students is the one that needs to  shout the loudest and it needs flexibility and adaption skills.  So trust in yourself, sure read the books, ask the questions and then reflect; what will you do and what will your students do?  Hint:  It requires conversations with your students to create your own system.  Good luck.

4 thoughts on “No Size Fits All – Some Thoughts on Prescribed Systems in the Classroom”

  1. Every classroom is its own system, which is nested within other larger still systems. As soon as you try and line them up and organize them into a system of your creation, you are destroying any systems that may emerge from the collective.Great post. WWPD. Could be a bumper sticker.

  2. I agree with you that systems don't work for everyone. In the end, the best "systems" are a mix of ideas and inspiration combined with your core beliefs,just like you said.I really loved this line:"I guide them, they guide me and we trade spots more often than I can count." Your students sound very lucky to have such a flexible, respectful guide for their education journey.Thanks for the reminder to always be thinking critically about what we read and hear!

  3. I'm so thrilled to have read this. It's the way I felt from the first day of teaching courses at age 35ā€”I was no kid. Everything I heard was, well, NOT me! That was 25 years ago. I've never duplicated anything without knowing I might toss it the first week of school, or the 38th. Great to know there are others out there who still buck the "system." Every class is a unique set of individuals acting and reacting in a forever uniquely way, and it can't and won't ever happen that way again.Parents write me needing my help with their kids with reading problems, and they want a one line answer as to what I "use." I have one. It is: "Use books. Reading and only reading will get your kid, well, um…reading. You do it, or share every other word, or do anything it takes. But get rid of worksheets, programs, everything. "Dang. Now I've ranted! I didn't mean to. I meant to say:I LOVE this post! šŸ™‚

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