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More often than not, a student’s achievement is impacted by how their teacher acts in the classroom than how school policies on curriculum, assessment and community involvement drive the student.
A teacher’s actions in class include classroom management – which is a key teaching component and the most important job of any teacher while in a classroom. What is classroom management?
This comprises the set of steps a teacher takes to ensure that classroom lessons run smoothly, students pay attention, they do not distract each other and concentrate on their tasks.
Distinctions between Classroom Management and Classroom Discipline
The two are quite distinct, and neither one of them should be confused with the other. Discipline is just one part of management, i.e. It refers to the consequences teachers gives students for not following the rules – it is how teachers respond to problems caused by students. Classroom management, on the other hand describes a set of procedures that students should follow to avoid problems.
The Importance of Classroom Management:
An effective classroom management plan includes rules, procedures and consequences – these all pave the way for the teacher to engage the learners in productive learning as described in the points below.
• Efficient Use of Time
Rules and procedures should be developed before school begins. Then discussing and guiding the students on what to do regarding the set rules should follow. When students know what to do at any particular time, it becomes a natural routine to them.
Eventually, you will not need to be telling them what to do for every occasion – you will have avoided the repetitive task and hence saving time for other learning purposes. For example, if one of your procedures is for students to begin working on a mathematics problem once they get to class in the morning, it will become a natural part of them. You will not have to go to the classroom every day to tell them that.
• Effective Teaching
It is impossible for effective teaching to take place in a chaotic classroom environment. Without proper procedures and rules, students will not know what to do and might cause unnecessary disruptions. There is the tremendous loss of crucial teaching time when a teacher keeps redirecting students. Hence, effective classroom management strategies create an environment that is conducive to learning and instruction.
• Reduces Behavioral Problems
Teachers set up routines and rules so as to reduce misbehavior in the classroom. Effective classroom management leaves no chance for students to promote mischievous activities. Because students understand the consequences of their actions, they will know what they need – most of the time and will know they need to do the right thing.
Clearly, outline classroom routines create consistently for the students. The students know what to do every day and what to expect based on their actions. If the teacher is not able to come on a particular day, and he/she had established a set of routines and rules to be followed, the students will know what to do.
Even in circumstances where the teacher sends a substitute to the classroom, students will already be in order based on what they are used to doing, hence, the substitute will have ample time to teach.
Problems of Poor Classroom Management:
Having classroom management skills is fundamental for all teachers, lacking these core competencies could lead to poor classroom management and result in entirely negative behaviors in students as shown in the following points.
There is some level of noise that is allowable in classrooms, like low tones during group discussions. However, when these noise levels are not mastered, the effects can be detrimental to students. The students will end up deviating their attention to things out of class. Also, noise affects a student’s ability to perform complex cognitive tasks.
• Disruptive Students
Some students have made disrupting a classroom their top priority. Without precise routines, rules, and consequences, this behavior can affect the whole class and disrupt learning.
• Lack of Effort
Not all students like to do work or assignments, yet at the end of a learning session, they are supposed to submit their completed assignment. If students know there are no consequences of not doing their assignments, they will not bother even concentrating in class, and they will not do their assignments. In the end, the results will be poor.
Does a teacher’s ability/inability to effectively manage their classroom has any effects on student achievement?
The answer is, “Yes!”
For students to learn effectively, they need a positive classroom environment, that is free of distractions, they need to know there are set routines and rules to follow, they need to know that if they do not follow them, there will be consequences.
Now, if the students can learn effectively, their achievements will improve – this is all a result of a teacher’s ability to effectively manage a classroom. A teacher’s inability to manage a classroom will lead to mediocre achievements for the student.
Classroom Management According to Jacob Kounin and Harry Wong.
Harry Wong says that most teachers mistake classroom management for classroom discipline. As a result, they emphasize on discipline rather management while in class.
That is, the teachers end up focusing on controlling the children, rather than setting routines to be followed. He also says that classroom management is about getting kids to do things in the classroom while discipline is about how the students behave in the classroom.
Excellent classroom management skills should involve how to come up with a plan to prevent the problems that students may cause from occurring. Students should be taught procedures they are expected to follow, and teachers should not expect them to do whatever they tell them to do.
Harry Wong refers to Jacob Kounin as the father of classroom management. Jacob Kounin stated that the teacher’s behavior as opposed to the student’s counts in determining whether a class runs smoothly. What matters is what the teachers do, i.e. how they manage the classroom – a class that has procedures and routines will
most probably run smoothly.
How does Managing a Classroom compare to managing a Thriving Business?
Managing a class involves setting procedures, routines, and rules that students should follow to avoid problems and thrive in the educational achievements.
Managing a business requires examining the marketplace environment, the creation of employment, and maximizing on profit opportunities that provide the financial viability and potential growth of the business.
Teachers set rules and procedures to be followed by students to run the classroom smoothly; business managers set duties and tasks for their staff so they can know what to do and grow the business profits.
In managing a classroom, students are gauged by their grade achievements. In operating a business, employees are measured by their profits to the firm.
Types of Teacher Power:
Teachers require power to influence the behavior of students; this power gives a teacher the right to ask a student to do something. There are five teacher power bases as described below.
• Referent Power
In this form of power, a teacher relies on relationship building, their personality or on the fact that they share some common interests with the student. This power is developed through emotionally investing in and getting to know the students.
• Expert Power
Students perceive teachers as being knowledgeable, intelligent, well prepared, and have expertise on a particular subject. In this case, is referred to as expert power. This power is driven by the urge of the students to know, and the fact that they the teacher is knowledgeable and whatever he has to say is important.
• Legitimate Power
This particular power base relies on the fact of the teacher can manage a class based on the governing authority of the school. No one else can fulfill the teacher’s role in the classroom.
• Reward Power
Teachers can reward their students in many forms depending on set criteria, e.g. good performance. Those rewards are employed to influence student’s behavior, e.g. entice them to perform better, improve discipline. This form of power is referred to as reward power’.
• Coercive Power
The teacher has the power to set rules, withholding privileges, and give consequences or punishments to students. In such a case, they are using coercive power’. Coercive power implies that if a line is crossed, there will be dire consequences to the student. This power prohibits students from misusing their freedom.
Theories of Influence:
When teachers are considering how to make their teaching effective, they look for a method that could be beneficial to all students. Three approaches can be considered under this:
• Teacher-centered theory of teaching
In this theory, students put all their focus on the teacher. Students listen and act on the instructions of the teacher. The teacher has the ultimate authority, and there is no collaboration
• Student-centered theory of teaching
In this method of teaching, the focus is on the students. The teacher guides the class, but the emphasis is on involving students in developing critical thinking
• Collaborative theory of teaching
This theory has a variety of approaches that involve joint intellectual effort by students and teachers, or students and other students.
Some of the most Effective Classroom Management Strategies include:
• Proximity Control – involves movement towards the disruptive student.
• I-Message – this is a three-part message, i.e. (1) a brief description of the disruptive activity, (2) a brief description of its effect on other students and the teacher, (3) a brief description of the teacher’s and student’s feelings about the impact of the disruptive behavior. The message is sent to the disruptive student to help him/her recognize the negative consequences of their disruption.
• Be prepared at every level (rules, procedures, materials, etc.)
• Name dropping – involves calling out the students name, to answer a question or participate in the class activity as to redirect them from their disruptive behavior.
• A reminder of the rules – when the teacher had set clear guidelines and rules to be followed in class, the disruptive student can be reminded of them.
• With-it-ness – be aware of what’s going on in the classroom at all times.
• Relationship – get to know your students. Build a trusting and respectful relationship with them.
• Change the pace of the lesson – slow down or speed up.
• Non-punitive Time Out: send the “disruptive” student on an errand to the front office to take some paperwork or next door to borrow some chalk, eraser, construction paper, crayons, etc.
• Signal Interference – eye contact, hand gestures, clearing the throat, snapping your fingers
• Planned Ignoring – if the behavior is done to “push your buttons”, then ignore it. As long as it does not include other students, it usually wears off because the student realizes he/she is being ignored and not getting the attention they were seeking.
In conclusion, managing a classroom is serious business. New teachers have been known to leave the teaching profession within 0-5 years because they cannot handle the behavior of their students. Their frustration levels build and boil over to the point that they merely quit.
While managing a classroom is no easy fix, some approaches are useful and have been known to work. It is important to know the difference between classroom management and classroom discipline and not to confuse the two.
Knowing your teacher power base is also crucial. Poor classroom management skills can cause teachers a plethora of problems. Keep students involved, motivated and engaged. Make sure your rules and consequences align and that the “punishment fits the crime.”
While no teacher should want a classroom full of robot-like students, they also do not want their class to become so disruptive that the ultimate goals are defeated: teaching and learning.