Current Personal Philosophy of Classroom Management
1) Consider your current view of classroom management. Write an annotated list of those points you currently believe, in bullet format. Include four to five points in each of these categories:
a) How the teacher should act.
b) How students are expected to behave.
c) What the classroom might look and feel like.
d) How the teacher helps students conduct themselves properly.
e) What the teacher should do about misbehavior.
f) How students should be taught what is expected of them.
- Read chapters 1-5 in Lee Canter’s classroom management for academic success.
- Read chapter 1 in Building classroom discipline.
- Read “ENGAGE: A Blueprint for Incorporating Social Skills Training Into Daily Academic Instruction” by Schoenfeld, et. al., from Preventing School Failure (2008, Spring) located in the GCU e-Library at http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=32013634&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Read “Learners Need Purposeful and Systematic Instruction” by Ross, & Frey from Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (2009), located in the GCU e-Library at http://library.gcu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=44054572&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Read and review “EDU 450 Classroom Engagement and Management Benchmark Assessment and Rubric Benchmark Assessment and Rubric,” located in the Additional Resources folder in Canyon Connect.
Review the following resources in the Student Success Center:
- “APA Format, Citations, and References PowerPoint”
- “APA Template”
- “e-Portfolio FAQs”
- “e-Portfolio Student Guide”
“Classroom management refers to all of the things that a teacher does to organize students, space, time and materials so that instruction in content and student learning can take place” (Wong & Wong, 1998, p. 84). Student engagement refers to the investment in and effort by which students acquire knowledge and skills through the learning process, especially those cognitive, behavioral, and affective indicators of involvement in learning activities (National Research Council, 2004). Student engagement will be addressed in Module 6.
Classroom management and student engagement are two of the most important concepts for teacher candidates to grasp early in their educational careers. Teachers need to be ready to exercise good classroom management and engagement skills from the first day of school forward. This is not simply setting in place a teacher-developed set of dos and don’ts. A teacher’s role involves two major functions: (a) facilitating learning through student engagement, and (b) establishing and maintaining order. In order to do this, the teacher has to be both a manager and a leader. A manager oversees and guides people and processes through the practices, procedures, rules, and physical layout of a classroom; teachers are managers. A leader motivates learners through engagement strategies, sets goals, and works toward achieving those goals. As leaders, teachers develop and present lessons, and guide the learning process for all students. A good management system is the basis for a strong instructional program that keeps students engaged in learning. A good leader is proactive rather than reactive, and is a change agent, someone who takes students to a new place or plateau. Without good classroom management or engagement skills, this change cannot take place.
Discipline Versus Punishment
There are some important differences between discipline (which means to teach) and punishment (which is based on power). Punishment is an expression of personal authority based on retribution or revenge. It is arbitrary, imposed on children, does not leave any options open, reinforces feelings of failure, and is based on anger. Although punishment may stop unwanted behavior in the short term, it does not stop it in the long term. Discipline is based on logical and natural consequences; it is concerned with the present. Options are kept open so students can choose to improve behavior and gain self-control. Discipline is an active teaching process involving communication; it is organized and ensures involvement of all stakeholders.
Discipline is not what is done to someone, but rather what is done for someone. Effective teachers do not punish students; rather, they develop a discipline plan meant to teach appropriate behavior in a variety of situations. A systematic method or philosophy concerning the behavior of students lends itself to effective teaching and learning. Misbehavior by one or more students must be managed so that other students can learn. Unruly, disruptive behavior detracts from both the teacher’s ability to teach and the student’s ability to learn to the fullest. One important goal of good classroom management is student self-discipline; students know what is expected of them and act accordingly.
Basics of a Solid Discipline Plan
Teachers need to develop a plan to ensure that an appropriate environment for teaching and learning exists and is maintained. Each teacher, class, subject, and situation is different; no plan will fit every situation and expectations should correspond to the grade level and the subject being taught. For example, the behavioral expectations in a math class should be different from those in a physical education class.
Good rules help promote positive behaviors and maintain order in the classroom; this is a key element of the success of the learning process. Some of the general concepts of classroom rules include:
- Rules should be designed to help the students learn responsible behavior.
- Rules must be observable and specific, and there should be no more than five of them.
- Rules should be couched positively, not negatively.
- Consequences should be reasonable and logical.
Although teachers have a sense of the four to five general classroom rules they require in their classrooms, it behooves them to work these out with their students, essentially allowing students to participate in their development. Discussion is one way to include students in this development phase. One way to begin is by asking students why adults have rules such as obeying traffic signals, paying for items at the grocery store, or arriving to work at a set time each day. Another is to help students consider how rules benefit people who must work together. This topic places the focus clearly on the advantages each child derives from class members’ acceptance of the rules. For example, students may state that rules are important because if everyone did whatever they wanted, the classroom might become too disruptive for effective learning. If students feel a sense of ownership in the rules themselves, they are more likely to follow them.
All students need to understand and respect the rules. One approach that is especially helpful with elementary-age students is to have them take turns acting them out. The teacher can ask each student to role-play both appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. The remainder of the class can be asked to identify what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. In the upper grades, including middle and high schools, a general discussion will usually suffice and the teacher can answer any specific questions which arise.
Once the rules have been determined, their prominent display encourages peer enforcement and compliance. The way in which they are displayed will change, of course, whether the classroom is on the elementary level or the high school level, but display at all levels is helpful.
Interestingly, when students are given the opportunity to participate in the development of the rules and their consequences, they may determine a consequence that is beyond what the teacher may have determined. Helping students to own the discipline process lends itself to greater compliance with the rules.
When students know the rules and choose to break or ignore one, they should expect an action to follow. Because misbehavior disrupts a class and should be dealt with at the lowest possible level, consequences should be hierarchical in nature. There are many ways to do this, but they are usually grouped into verbal and nonverbal corrections. Usually the verbal means a simple warning to the student, and in many cases, this will stop the misbehavior. However, if a student continues to misbehave, a greater consequence should be imposed; nonverbal consequences may be in order. These consequences should become more severe until the misbehavior stops. Remember, the philosophy of discipline is to change behavior. These consequences should be something the student feels are undesirable, but not emotionally or physically harmful. Possible hierarchical consequences which the teacher might impose for the same misbehavior are the following:
- First misbehavior–verbal warning.
- Second misbehavior–time out, or a meeting with the teacher after class for an older student.
- Third misbehavior–detention with the teacher and a positive corrective plan.
- Fourth misbehavior–parental contact either by phone or a note home.
- Fifth misbehavior–referral to the counselor or principal.
There should always be a Severe Clause. If an action is so severe as to possibly be a health or safety hazard, the student should be sent immediately to the principal. Naturally, the hierarchy of consequences would not come into effect in such a case.
Consequences should be determined within the policy guidelines of the school. Discussion and teaching also needs to occur at this juncture. Students should be helped to understand that a choice to misbehave is a selection of consequence. Most students do not respond well to surprise, and they may rebel against arbitrary, unexpected consequences. To prevent this reaction, teachers should take time to discuss and practice students’ responses to disruptive behavior. This is a particularly critical step for teachers in middle and high schools.
If a rule is made, be ready to enforce it. There is nothing that will destroy a teacher’s credibility in a classroom faster than nonenforcement of rules. Be firm, fair, and consistent; adolescents especially are sensitive to issues of equality and justice. For the most part, students will accept disciplinary actions if they know what they are and feel they are fair. It is also recommended to provide notification to parents in some manner, whether through a newsletter or memo, and to solicit their support where possible.
Behavior and Misbehavior
Students act within acceptable limits in a well-managed classroom. This might include behavior in which students are maintaining self-control, acting with a measure of responsibility, respect, and concern for others, or where there is a sense of cooperation evident. However, there are times when students tend to get off track, where their behavior is inappropriate for a particular setting or situation. This is misbehavior: behaviors or actions that interfere with the rights of others to learn, those that are psychologically and/or physically unsafe, or those that might be deemed by society as morally, ethically, or legally problematic. Off-task behavior is action which is not focused on the instructional activity but may not be misbehavior. It is important to understand the difference between these.
There are differences between discipline and management, and behavior and misbehavior. An effective teacher understands this, builds it into a personal management philosophy, and applies it in a well-managed classroom because the goal is to increase student achievement and learning.
National Research Council. (2004). Engaging schools: Fostering high school students’ motivation to learn. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Wong, H. K., & Wong, R. T. (1998). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc.
- Read chapters 4 and 8 in Building classroom discipline.
- Access the ChangingMinds.org. web site and peruse the various theories of Motivation to be discussed in the Discussion Forum. http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/a_motivation.htm