Classroom DisciplineImagine a preparatory teacher classroom where a beginning teacher could actively learn how to deal with classroom discipline problems without the risk of "damaging" a student's academic or emotional abilities.  Every teacher has made a mistake in the classroom where they say something they shouldn't have by responding to a student sarcastically or by losing their self control and yelling.  The problem for beginning teachers is that until now there has been no real way to practice such classroom management techniques without putting themselves directly into a classroom.  Now, thanks to a research project between Lockheed Martin and the University of Central Florida teachers may one day be able to learn how to deal with classroom discipline problems without ever coming within earshot of a real student. 

Virtual Classroom Trains Teachers In Real Life Situations
The University of Central Florida's new Virtual Classroom is a computer generated class of five typical students, each with his or her own unique characteristics.  A teacher steps into a room with her "class" projected on the wall in front of her and begins to teach a lesson.  As time goes on various problems arise, each one controlled by a real life person in another room.  This one person can control any of the five students, speaking for them, and reacting to the teacher as if in a real life situation. 

For now the system is tailored to math and science classes, but one day wouldn't it be great for new teachers to be able to stand in front of an entire virtual band or choir classroom and learn the basics without having to go through the school of hard knocks as we do now?  The benefits both to the teacher and to the students in their care would be incredible.  It would be a fair guess that a great many teachers quit the profession because they cannot adequately deal with classroom behavior issues.  This type of training could help teachers be better from day one instead of having to learn everything through first hand experience.
To see a video of the Virtual Classroom in action visit the Orlando Sentinal Web Site.

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