Classroom management

Children at desks in a classroom.  One child raises her hand.
Establishing procedures, like having children raise their hands when they want to speak, is a type of classroom management techniques.

    Classroom management is a term teachers use to describe the process of ensuring that classroom lessons run smoothly despite disruptive behavior by students. The term also implies the prevention of disruptive behavior.

    It is a difficult aspect of teaching for many teachers. Problems in this area causes some to leave teaching. In 1981 the US National Educational Association reported that 36% of teachers said they would probably not go into teaching if they had to decide again. A major reason was negative student attitudes and discipline.[1] Classroom management is crucial in classrooms because it supports the proper execution of curriculum development, developing best teaching practices, and putting them into action. Classroom management can be explained as the actions and directions that teachers use to create a successful learning environment; indeed, having a positive impact on students achieving given learning requirements and goals (Soheili, Alizadeh, Murphy, Bajestani, Ferguson and Dreikurs). In an effort to ensure all students receive the best education it would seem beneficial for educator programs to spend more time and effort in ensuring educators and instructors are well versed in classroom management. Teachers do not focus on learning classroom management, because higher education programs do not put an emphasis on the teacher attaining classroom management; indeed, the focus is on creating a conducive learning atmosphere for the student (Eisenman, Edwards, and Cushman ). These tools enable teachers to have the resources available to properly and successfully educate upcoming generations, and ensure future successes as a nation. According to Moskowitz & Hayman (1976), once a teacher loses control of their classroom, it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to regain that control.[2] Also, research from Berliner (1988) and Brophy & Good (1986) shows that the time a teacher must take to correct misbehavior caused by poor classroom management skills results in a lower rate of academic engagement in the classroom.[3] From the student’s perspective, effective classroom management involves clear communication of behavioral and academic expectations as well as a cooperative learning environment.[4] Douglas Brooks (1985) reports seminal research on the first day of school activity selection and sequence of novice middle school teachers compared with experienced, successful classroom managers. Brooks reports that effective classroom managers organized their activities on the first day of school consistent with the emerging needs of the students. These middle school student needs were the following:

    1. Am I welcome?
    2. What are we going to do today?
    3. Am I in the right room?
    4. Is the teacher interested in me?
    5. What are the rules for this classroom?
    6. What are the goals, instructional methods and assessment systems for the class?
    7. Is the teacher interested in how I learn best?
    8. What interests does the teacher have that I can relate to?
    9. What are we expected to do for tomorrow?
    10. Will the teacher answer a question I have after class?

    In response to these emerging and sequential student needs effective middle school teachers organize the first day activities in the following sequence:

    1. Personally greet students
    2. Advance organizer for the session at the bell
    3. Roll and seating
    4. Student information cards
    5. Introduce 5 core rules (entry, listening, raising hands, leaving other's stuff alone and finally exiting the class)
    6. Describe class goals, instructional methods and grading system
    7. Assess preferred learning styles
    8. self-disclosure
    9. Preview of next session
    10. Access after class.

    Middle school teachers that meet these 10 student needs with specific activities tend to communicate competence and effectively communicate behavioral and academic expectations.[5]

    Classroom management is closely linked to issues of motivation, discipline and respect. Methodologies remain a matter of passionate debate amongst teachers; approaches vary depending on the beliefs a teacher holds regarding educational psychology. A large part of traditional classroom management involves behavior modification, although many teachers see using behavioral approaches alone as overly simplistic. Many teachers establish rules and procedures at the beginning of the school year. According to Gootman (2008), rules give students concrete direction to ensure that our expectation becomes a reality.[6]

    They also try to be consistent in enforcing these rules and procedures. Many would also argue for positive consequences when rules are followed, and negative consequences when rules are broken. There are newer perspectives on classroom management that attempt to be holistic. One example is affirmation teaching, which attempts to guide students toward success by helping them see how their effort pays off in the classroom. It relies upon creating an environment where students are successful as a result of their own efforts.[7] By creating this type of environment, students are much more likely to want to do well. Ideally, this transforms a classroom into a community of well-behaved and self-directed learners.


    Corporal punishment

    Until recently, corporal punishment was widely used as a means of controlling disruptive behavior but it is now illegal in most schools. It is still advocated in some contexts by religious leaders such as James Dobson, but his views "diverge sharply from those recommended by contemporary mainstream experts" and are not based on empirical testing, but rather are a reflection of his faith-based beliefs. [8]

    According to studies taboo physical punishments like spanking or procedures used in Asia in the classroom such as standing do not make students or children more aggressive. Consistency seems to play a greater role on whether outcomes could be negative.[9]

    Rote discipline

    Also known as "lines," rote discipline is a negative sanction used for behavior management. It involves assigning a disorderly student sentences or the classroom rules to write repeatedly. Among the many types of classroom management approaches, it is very commonly used.

    Preventive techniques

    Preventive approaches to classroom management involve creating a positive classroom community with mutual respect between teacher and student. Teachers using the preventive approach offer warmth, acceptance, and support unconditionally – not based on a student’s behavior. Fair rules and consequences are established and students are given frequent and consistent feedback regarding their behavior.[10] One way to establish this kind of classroom environment is through the development and use of a classroom contract. The contract should be created by both students and the teacher. In the contract, students and teachers decide and agree on how to treat one another in the classroom. The group also decides on and agrees to what the group will do should there be a violation of the contract. Rather than a consequence, the group should decide on a way to fix the problem through either class discussion, peer mediation, counseling, or by one on one conversations leading to a solution to the situation.

    Preventive techniques also involve the strategic use of praise and rewards to inform students about their behavior rather than as a means of controlling student behavior. To use rewards to inform students about their behavior, teachers must emphasize the value of the behavior that is rewarded and also explain to students the specific skills they demonstrated to earn the reward. Teachers should also encourage student collaboration in selecting rewards and defining appropriate behaviors that earn rewards.[11]

    Good teacher-student relationships

    Some characteristics of having good teacher-student relationships in the classroom involves the appropriate levels of dominance, cooperation, and awareness of high-needs students. Dominance is defined as the teacher’s ability to give clear purpose and guidance concerning student behavior and their academics. By creating and giving clear expectations and consequences for student behavior, this builds effective relationships. Such expectations may cover classroom etiquette and behavior, group work, seating arrangements, the use of equipment and materials, and also classroom disruptions. Assertive teacher behavior also reassures that thoughts and messages are being passed on to the student in an effective way. Assertive behavior can be achieved by using erect posture, appropriate tone of voice depending on the current situation, and taking care not to ignore inappropriate behavior by taking action.[12]

    Systematic approaches

    Culturally responsive classroom management

    Culturally responsive classroom management (CRCM) is an approach to running classrooms with all children [not simply for racial/ethnic minority children] in a culturally responsive way. More than a set of strategies or practices, CRCM is a pedagogical approach that guides the management decisions that teachers make. It is a natural extension of culturally responsive teaching which uses students' backgrounds, rendering of social experiences, prior knowledge, and learning styles in daily lessons. Teachers, as culturally responsive classroom managers, recognize their biases and values and reflect on how these influence their expectations for behavior and their interactions with students as well as what learning looks like. There is extensive research on traditional classroom management and a myriad of resources available on how to deal with behavior issues. Conversely, there is little research on CRCM, despite the fact that teachers who lack cultural competence often experience problems in this area.[13]

    The Good Behavior Game

    The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is a "classroom-level approach to behavior management"[14] that was originally used in 1969 by Barrish, Saunders, and Wolf. The Game entails the class earning access to a reward or losing a reward, given that all members of the class engage in some type of behavior (or did not exceed a certain amount of undesired behavior). The GBG can be used to increase desired behaviors (e.g., question asking) or to decrease undesired behaviors (e.g., out of seat behavior). The GBG has been used with preschoolers as well as adolescents, however most applications have been used with typically developing students (i.e., those without developmental disabilities). In addition, the Game "is usually popular with and acceptable to students and teachers."[15]

    Positive classrooms

    Robert DiGiulio has developed what he calls "positive classrooms". DiGiulio sees positive classroom management as the result of four factors: how teachers regard their students (spiritual dimension), how they set up the classroom environment (physical dimension), how skillfully they teach content (instructional dimension), and how well they address student behavior (managerial dimension). In positive classrooms student participation and collaboration are encouraged in a safe environment that has been created. A positive classroom environment can be encouraged by being consistent with expectations, using students' names, providing choices when possible, and having an overall trust in students.[16]

    Assertive discipline

    Assertive discipline is another systematic approach of classroom management. Lee and Marlene Canter discuss the ideas behind this approach in several published books.

    Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards

    Discipline without Stress (or DWS) is a K-12 discipline and learning approach developed by Marvin Marshall described in his 2001 book, Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards.[17] The approach is designed to educate young people about the value of internal motivation. The intention is to prompt and develop within youth a desire to become responsible and self-disciplined and to put forth effort to learn. The most significant characteristics of DWS are that it is totally noncoercive (but not permissive) and takes the opposite approach to Skinnerian behaviorism that relies on external sources for reinforcement.

    As a process

    In the Handbook of Classroom Management: Research Practice and Contemporary Issues (2006),[18] Evertson and Weinstein characterize classroom management as the actions taken to create an environment that supports and facilitates academic and social–emotional learning. Toward this goal, teachers must (1) develop caring, supportive relationships with and among students; (2) organize and implement instruction in ways that optimize students’ access to learning; (3) use group management methods that encourage students’ engagement in academic tasks; (4) promote the development of students’ social skills and self–regulation; and (5) use appropriate interventions to assist students with behavior problems.

    Dr. Tracey Garrett also describes classroom management as a process of key tasks teachers must perform to develop an environment conducive to learning. These tasks include:

    Classroom Management Essentials, created by Dr. Tracey Garrett, is a classroom management app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch that guides teachers through the tasks of classroom management.

    As time management

    In their introductory text on teaching, Kauchak and Eggen (2008)Kauchak, D., and Eggen, P. (2008). Introduction to teaching: Becoming a professional (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. explain classroom management in terms of time management. The goal of classroom management, to Kauchak and Eggen, is to not only maintain order but to optimize student learning. They divide class time into four overlapping categories, namely allocated time, instructional time, engaged time, and academic learning time.

    Allocated time

    Allocated time is the total time allotted for teaching, learning, and routine classroom procedures like attendance and announcements. Allocated time is also what appears on a student's schedule, for example "Introductory Algebra: 9:50-10:30 a.m." or "Fine Arts 1:15-2:00 p.m."

    Instructional time

    Instructional time is what remains after routine classroom procedures are completed. That is to say, instructional time is the time wherein teaching and learning actually takes place. Teachers may spend two or three minutes taking attendance, for example, before their instruction begins. The time it takes for the teacher to do routine tasks can severely limit classroom instruction. Teachers must get a handle on classroom management to be effective.[19]

    Engaged time

    Engaged time is also called time on task. During engaged time, students are participating actively in learning activities—asking and responding to questions, completing worksheets and exercises, preparing skits and presentations, etc.

    Academic learning time

    Academic learning time occurs when students 1) participate actively and 2) are successful in learning activities. Effective classroom management maximizes academic learning time.

    Common mistakes

    In an effort to maintain order in the classroom, sometimes teachers can actually make the problems worse. Therefore, it is important to consider some of the basic mistakes commonly made when implementing classroom behavior management strategies. For example, a common mistake made by teachers is to define the problem behavior by how it looks without considering its function.[20]

    Interventions are more likely to be effective when they are individualized to address the specific function of the problem behavior. Two students with similar looking misbehavior may require entirely different intervention strategies if the behaviors are serving different functions. Teachers need to understand that they need to be able to change the ways they do things from year to year, as the children change. Not every approach works for every child. Teachers need to learn to be flexible. Another common mistake is for the teacher to become increasingly frustrated and negative when an approach is not working.[20]

    The teacher may raise his or her voice or increase adverse consequences in an effort to make the approach work. This type of interaction may impair the teacher-student relationship. Instead of allowing this to happen, it is often better to simply try a new approach.

    Inconsistency in expectations and consequences is an additional mistake that can lead to dysfunction in the classroom.[20] Teachers must be consistent in their expectations and consequences to help ensure that students understand that rules will be enforced. To avoid this, teachers should communicate expectations to students clearly and be sufficiently committed to the classroom management procedures to enforce them consistently.

    "Ignoring and approving" is an effective classroom management strategy. This involves ignoring students when they behave undesirably and approving their behavior when it is desirable. When students are praised for their good behavior but ignored for their bad behavior, this may increase the frequency of good behavior and decrease bad behavior. Student behavior may be maintained by attention; if students have a history of getting attention after misbehavior, they may continue this behavior as long as it continues to get attention. If student misbehavior is ignored, but good behavior results in attention, students may instead behave appropriately to acquire attention.[21]

    See also


    1. Wolfgang, Charles H; Glickman, Carl D (1986). Solving Discipline Problems. Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0205086306.
    2. Moskowitz, G.; Hayman Jr., J.L. (1976). "Success strategies of inner-city teachers: A year-long study". Journal of Educational Research. 69 (8): 283–289.
    3. Berliner, D. C. (1988). Effective classroom management and instruction: A knowledge base for consultation. In J. L. Graden, J. E. Zins, & M. J. Curtis (Eds.), Alternative educational delivery systems: Enhancing instructional options for all students (pp. 309–325). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists.Brophy, J. E., & Good, T. L. (1986). Teacher behavior and student achievement. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 328–375). New York: Macmillan.
    4. Allen, J.D. (1986). Classroom management: students' perspectives, goals, and strategies. American Educational Research Journal, 23, 437-459.
    5. Brooks, D. M. (1985). The First Day of School. Educational Leadership, 42(8), 76-78.
    6. Gootman, Marilyn E. (2008). The caring teacher's guide to discipline: helping students learn self-control, responsibility, and respect, K-6. p. 36. ISBN 1412962846.
    7. Pintrich, P.R., & De Groot E. V. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 33-40.
    8. Bartkowski, John P.; Ellison, Christopher G. (1995). "Divergent Models of Childrearing in Popular Manuals: Conservative Protestants vs. the Mainstream Experts". Sociology of Religion 56. 1: 21–34. doi:10.2307/3712036.
    9. "The Truth About Physically Punishing Children | ESLinsider". Retrieved 2015-11-21.
    10. Bear, G.G. (2008). Best practices in classroom discipline. In Thomas, A. & Grimes, J. (Eds.), Best Practices in School Psychology V (1403-1420). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists
    11. Bear, G.G., Cavalier, A., & Manning, M. (2005). Developing self-discipline and preventing and correcting misbehavior. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
    12. Marzano, Robert J. (September 2003). "The Key to Classroom Management". Educational Leadership. 61 (1): 6–13.
    13. "Culturally Responsive Classroom Management Strategies" (PDF). Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
    14. Responding to rule violations or rule following: A comparison of two versions of the Good Behavior Game with kindergarten students. Journal of School Psychology, 48, 337-355.
    15. Tingstrom, D.H., Sterling-Turner, H.E., Wilczynski, S.M. (2006). The Good Behavior Game: 1969-2002. Behavior Modification, 30, 2, 225-253.
    16. Lucero, Rodrick. "Building a Positive Classroom Culture and Climate". Teaching @ CSU. Colorado State University. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
    17. Marshall, Marvin (2001). Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards. Los Alamitos: Piper Press. ISBN 0-9700606-1-0.
    18. Weinstein, edited by Carolyn M. Evertson ; Carol S. (2006). Handbook of classroom management : research, practice, and contemporary issues. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0-8058-4753-7.
    19. "Teachers: Classroom Management Plan". Retrieved 2015-11-02.
    20. 1 2 3 Barbetta, Patricia M.; Norona, Kathleen Leong; Bicard, David F. (2005). "Classroom Behavior Management: A Dozen Common Mistakes and What to Do Instead". Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth. 49 (3): 11–19. doi:10.3200/PSFL.49.3.11-19. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
    21. Madesen, Charles (1968). "Rules, Praise, And Ignoring: Elements Of Elementary Classroom Control" (PDF). Applied Behavior Analysis. Retrieved 5 March 2015.

    External links

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