Michael Scott has many flaws. For one, he has a penchant for saying, “that’s what she said,” after anything with the slightest off-color connotation. I can’t imagine a teacher wanting to emulate that. Also, he can err on the side of fun and fail to inspire his workers toward challenging work. Moreover, he can be a push-over in conflict. When Stanley said, “Did I stutter?” he chose the distant, permissive approach rather than dealing with the confrontation.
For all his faults, Michael Scott manages to take a diverse, difficult staff and build a sense of community. While the workers sometimes get out of hand, he gently pushes them back with humor and humility. Humor is one of the best tactics for preventative classroom management. Teachers can diffuse conflict, provide a sense of excitement and create an avenue for fun through the use of humor. For all his flaws, most people would enjoy working in The Office, because of the atmosphere. Seriously, he creates a disco cafe. How cool is that? True, there are moments where he fails to lead, but other times when he takes risks for his staff members. He is creative in his approach, which helps break the monotony.
Michael Scott realizes something that many managers don’t understand. No one wants to be micromanaged. People can be self-directed and groups can often manage themselves. If a manager wants a productive team, it has to be based upon relationships. People have to play together and be together. They have to know one another. For all that he gets wrong, Michael Scott is able to create that atmosphere, because, deep within, he cares about his employees.
Pretentious, Presumptuous and Perhaps Practical Advice
1. Use humor: I mean, not as much as Michael Scott, but seriously consider using it as a part of the classroom routine. If you’re not funny, act goofy sometimes.
2. Build relationships: For me, this means writing positive notes (not as bribes, but as feedback), doing birthday cards, opening class up at lunch and before school and taking the time to give longer feedback during cooperative learning activities. During bell work, I’ll set up mini-conferences with students. In a self-contained class, a teacher could easily meet with ever student individually once every two week for an in-depth conference.
3. Be creative: In terms of lessons, think of ways to catch students off guard and make learning more interesting. It doesn’t have to be a Disco Cafe, but it doesn’t have to be textbooks and packets either.
4. Avoid micromanaging: Before creating a rule or procedure, ask yourself, “Would they already know how to do this?” If the answer is yes, let them figure it out on their own. On a resource blog, I have a list of ways that you can outsource your job so that students do more.
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And for some slightly off-colour humour: