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The Dance of the Dolphin

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Classroom Management:
The Dance of the Dolphin

Mark Kennedy

Published 2004, 128-page paperback, $18.95

Traditional courses in classroom management usually emphasize a package of techniques a teacher can use to maintain his or her control over a class. At its root, the command-and-control approach is based on the notion that learning can take place only in a tightly controlled, highly structured atmosphere dominated by the teacher. While acknowledging that chaos is hardly conducive to learning and that some students do indeed flourish in such an atmosphere, Mark Kennedy points out that many students also do not flourish because their learning perspectives are so different. For these students, the facts alone are simply not enough to engage their full attention.

In this book Kennedy shows how every classroom can be organized so that it takes advantage of all of the four learning perspectives that he first presented in the Lessons from the Hawk. The essence of his approach can be found in the metaphor of the Dance of the Dolphin, a process in which the classroom leadership role is constantly changing and evolving, depending on the needs of the moment. The result is student learning that is stronger, more focused and longer lasting.

Kennedy also speaks about the attitudes that teachers must cultivate to make the process work and the auxiliary strategies that support it, including developing student leadership and creating a Micro organization within the classroom. Discipline, based on clearly defined expectations, is handled largely by student leaders and is supported by a token economy that gives students a more tangible and immediate understanding of the value of their commitment to learning, both for themselves and for others.

This is a book that all teachers can use to gain a wider perspective on their educational practice and to make their classes more interesting and effective.


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