ENVoY approach to classroom management


#1

Last week I had the good fortune to attend a 2-day class with a few other 287 staff on ENVoY “7 Gems” for Classroom Management. I’m currently aware of one or two teachers in our district who practice this approach with good results. I’m wondering if there are others who are familiar with ENVoY and any thoughts you have on it.

For those who are not familiar, ENVoY is a set of non-verbal techniques for getting students attention, the teaching phase, transitioning students to “seatwork” or whatever activity you want students to do, and reinforcement during seatwork/activity time.

While I have one or two outlying questions about ENVoY – overall this training was a big “Wake up call” for me. I learned that I’ve truly undervalued some of the important core principles behind the ENVoY gems. Things like body posture, position of my hands, settling before I speak, my physical location in the classroom, using silence very intentionally, etc. Some of those things I knew were important, but now I have a set of strategies to be able to do them. Anyhow - this post is just to find out who else knows about ENVoY, does anybody use it, and any thoughts people have.

Thanks!


#2

I’m very curious about this, thanks for sharing. I think delivery, voice, and movement of teachers are often so overlooked in traditional professional development. But it’s an area where every teacher can improve, and some of the improvements can be significant.

Based on a conversation with Ben, I ordered the book and will share impressions. I got a used copy for $15, not one of the new options for $120. :slight_smile: If others are interested in reading this, let me know.


#3

I’ve been having some face-to-face conversations about this, and here’s some of what I’ve learned.

  • There are many districts locally that use ENVoY. I’m told that Anoka-Hennepin trains virtually all their teachers.

  • One teacher at NEC had a class on ENVoY at Augsburg, as part of her teacher preparation.

  • Others have worked in buildings where some teachers were trained. Teachers who use it have usually spoken very highly of it. One frequent comment made is, “I feel a lot less exhausted at the end of the day” after using this approach.

  • Multiple people who have taken the 2-day class (including me) have come away with the same nagging thought: this seems like a heavily teacher-centered approach, and based somewhat on antiquated modes of instruction. ‘Get attention, teach the whole group, assign seatwork.’ In my conversation with others, we’ve been able to come up with several valid counterpoints to this. One being, if a teacher is using the ENVoY approach, the the ‘traditional’ teacher-centered classroom doesn’t feel so bad. In fact, it feels quite nice to me. And even in the most student-centered classroom that I can conjure up in my mind, there would still be frequent, if not daily occurrences, where we’d need to get the group’s attention, communicate something or teach the group something, and then transition to an activity or other “work” that then needs to be reinforced by the teacher.


#4

I had an introduction to ENVoY while I was getting my teaching license at Hamline. I have the book. I used it to try to improve my classroom management when I was first teaching in WBL, especially at the Sr High where I had 35-42 students per period. It helped to have a spot in the room I went to when I gave instructions and I did the hands facing down thing; it was no magic bullet - I still struggled mightily with classroom management. It has fallen by the wayside as I got awesome training at 287 like CPS, CPI, and RJ. I have not looked back at it since I got here 6 years ago. I may have permanently incorporated some of it without being aware.


#5

That’s super interesting, Leslie. It sounds like you learned it early, incorporated it for a while, and then moved onward. That really fits in with something I was thinking about ENVoY – that it seemed like a “missing piece” for me, having taught a while and not known about it. I feel like it should have been a class in my teacher prep program. Upon reflection now, I can see places where I’ve sent mixed messages between my words and my non-verbals without knowing it.

One example of a thing I would personally correct since going to this class: immediately helping students after giving directions or an assignment, rather than waiting silently for 30-seconds or a minute for students to move through their natural progression and begin working. I see now how helping immediately builds teacher-dependency and doesn’t help students build needed independence and academic stamina.


#6

It’s funny that you mentioned Anoka-Hennepin as a district that trains almost all of their teachers in ENVoY since that was what I was going to bring up. My wife formerly worked for A-H and went through a number of ENVoY classes to become certified. She really had nothing but positive things to say about the methods that were taught. After employing the techniques in her classroom disruptions decreased, positive student participation increased, and students completed much more of the seat time work that was expected.

I would love to see the ENVoY methods in action myself as I think just watching others and then discussing the methods that they employed would be useful. I know that the actual training is very expensive and requires a continuing contract to use them. From what I understand we technically can’t formally teach each other since the methods are proprietary.

In short, from what I can glean ENVoY works although to become an ENVoY School/District would take a fairly large injection of professional development dollars.


#7

Rob, good point, and personally I would never recommend that ENVoY become a major top-down initiative in District 287. Our programs are unique, and I don’t imagine it would be received too well by instructors if it came as a District wide “we’re all going to start doing this now” kind of thing. (In fact, I’m not sure ANYTHING really gets off the ground that way). However, the 2-day class was only $350, and you could walk away from that and be ready to start using the techniques. My vision would be that we could send interested instructors to the 2-day class whenever we have the opportunity. Then those teachers can try the practices and grow them internally in a more grass-roots approach.


#8

My book has arrived, so I’ve gotten that far. :slight_smile:

Regarding training opportunities, does ENVoY specifically include any equity elements in the instructional methods? This isn’t aimed as a criticism. I’m mainly thinking about how funding for training might work.


#9

The quick answer is no. There’s a more complicated answer, too, where I could link a lot of what is taught in the training to culturally responsive teaching.


#10

Okay, makes sense. That would be just as good, perhaps, if there are enough obvious overlaps and clear connections that we could make the case for ENVoY helping with equity in the District.

Along those same lines, are there connections we could make to some of the CITW concepts?


#11

I’m sure we could draw a few connections but no, ENVoY is not about instruction. It’s about classroom management, and specifically about non-verbal strategies for classroom management.


#12

So perhaps more obviously to other pieces of the McRel framework?


#13

I think that the ENVoY gems could set the stage for a teacher to be able to meet the demands of the McRel CUES framework. Again, the McRel rubric is mostly about instruction. ENVoY is about conducting a class in such a manner that distractions, disengagement, and off-task behaviors are minimized, and thus, quality instruction can take place.


#14

I think you’re absolutely correct regarding that minimizing behaviors will result in higher quality instruction. Although McRel is mostly about instruction there are aspects of it that look at engagement and classroom behaviors.

I wonder if ENVoY could come to our district and train a larger group of interested individuals at a lower cost? I would assume that they would be open to a unique partnership since it isn’t applicable to all of our settings.


#15

I have been trained in ENVoY and have used the classroom management techniques in my classroom. I have found it to be really helpful in keeping a calm and caring environment in the classroom as it emphasizes non-verbal communication. There are some instructional pieces to it even though it’s more focused on management. I think there would be connections to CITW with the types of instruction-whole group, partner, collaborative learning, etc. I have only been trained in the gems but a friend of mine did the second book which is Cat in a Doghouse, I believe. My friend was not a fan of that training because she was concerned about it being culturally responsive.


#16

I’ve spent some time with the book and came away with some big positives and some reservations.

The positives were mainly along the lines of it articulating some of the finer points of classroom management that I’ve never seen described before. They seem super helpful, and classroom management is often a huge consumption of mental energy for teachers at all levels, but especially in their first few years. I think a teacher could save years of effort and frustration by learning some of the techniques described. Even after teaching for 15+ years, I’m sure I could improve elements of my instruction by learning the content.

The negatives were along the lines that it seems to reinforce a teacher-centric, traditional model of instruction. I think you could use the techniques in any model of instruction, but the framework they put it in is quite traditional. I also caught a few references to “right-brained/left-brained” students, and that makes me cringe from a brain research perspective.

I’m on the fence on how dogmatic the content might be. Classroom management can often be more case-by-case, and I didn’t read enough to get a sense whether they take a “you must always do it this way” approach or not.