What is classroom management?
With the increased rate of problematic student behavior in the classroom in the last 40 years, teachers are now obligated to possess classroom management skills, in addition to knowledge and expertise, in order to create the best possible learning environment conducive to positive student behavior and academic success.
The topic of classroom management is too broad, and for that reason, we will try to explain the basics – what exactly classroom management entails, why it is necessary in every classroom, what practices are used to encourage/nurture discipline among students, and what principles allow students to acquire the best possible education in the classroom.
Ever since the emergence of formal educational institutions, strong classroom management was a must, because traditional schools nurtured a culture of strict discipline, which, if observed by today’s standards, violated many children’s rights. However, in the mid-1970s, teachers were no longer able to control disruptive behavior in elementary and middle schools due to the lack of classroom management skills, resulting in a decline in the quality of teaching and education in general.
Therefore, in the process of researching this problem in the classroom, all potential solutions and research findings obtained by educational sciences and presented to teachers fell under the umbrella term classroom management, which did not even exist in everyday communication of education professionals before that period.
Although the term is very broad, classroom management can be defined as a process in which teachers use certain techniques, strategies and principles to ensure a classroom environment conducive to facilitated learning and teaching, better focus on learning, and elimination/suppression of poor behavior in class.
The importance of classroom management
Classroom management is perhaps as necessary a skill as expertise in the given field, because it affects a number of factors which, ultimately, result in quality education and proper development of the child. The indicators of effective classroom management are:
- Improves students’ academic learning (general teaching skills)
- Reduces the rate of problematic behavior, such as bullying and distractions
- By creating a pleasant and friendly classroom environment, it enables social and emotional learning, i.e. development of interpersonal communication, emotion regulation (self-control), as well as self-awareness
- Good classroom management gives the teacher more time to support students’ individual learning needs
- Students’ academic engagement increases when their teachers are willing to listen to them.
Classroom management and discipline
Thanks to various research in the field of educational sciences, we now know that children will be least willing to accept discipline if they are subjected to aggressive, external, and imposed rules and restrictions that insist on consequences. Given this fact, in the last four decades, teachers have used certain behavior classroom management practices (i.e. modifications of traditional approaches and new insights into child rearing) which have proven successful in encouraging discipline and positive behavior in students.
Basic/general rules are needed
No matter how much teachers may have adapted their teaching approach to the spirit of the time, some boundaries must exist in order to maintain any kind of order and organization in the classroom. Basic/general rules include the following:
- Copying from other student’s test and cheating are prohibited
- Interrupting the teacher or a classmate when they are speaking is prohibited
- Being late to class after 5-minute breaks will not be tolerated
- Talking in class is allowed only during interactive or group exercises
- Mobile phones are not allowed in class, because they cause distraction.
Students are required to make a promise
The implementation of this practice cultivates a sense of responsibility, which is sorely lacking in today’s society. By making a promise, the student accepts a certain responsibility, and a failure to fulfill it demands an explanation in front of the teacher and classmates. So, the responsibility becomes even more significant when we introduce a social dimension, which can have a major educational role.
Consistency in expressing beliefs
One of the basic things that encourages students to be disciplined is by recognizing consistency in their teacher’s words. Therefore, by frequently repeating the same universal beliefs as to what is expected of them in teaching, and what kind of behavior will be valued, teachers will create a sense of obligation in students who will then try to respect and fulfill that obligation.
The teacher should not react to every student mischief
Every student seeks attention. Some use virtue signaling (flaunting their sports results or good grades), while others use mischief to grab the attention of their teachers and peers. It is up to the teacher and his/her experience, insight and knowledge of the child to recognize what behaviors violate the general rules mentioned above, which are worth reacting to, and which can be overlooked. Children are by nature restless and exuberant, so reacting to each of their mischiefs can interrupt the cohesion in the classroom.
Main principles for successful classroom management
In order for a class to work, the teacher must gain and earn their authority with students in order to be able to implement classroom management. The following principles of successful classroom management should be implemented by all teachers.
1. The teacher must be honest with students in order to build rapport with them
Students, especially those in junior grades of elementary school, are natural-born detectives capable of instantly recognizing honesty/sincerity in adults. Therefore, the teacher must be ready from the outset to admit their own mistakes so as to build mutual trust with students, and become their role-model. After gaining students’ trust, the teacher must learn to recognize situations when he/she needs to address the student, i.e. when his intervention is necessary, whether it is about praise or criticism.
The teacher must be careful when telling the truth to students, because they can misinterpret his intentions, especially in junior grades of elementary school. So, it is up to the teacher to adapt their life and pedagogical experience to students so as to achieve the best possible class organization.
2. The teacher must be friendly and humble
The teacher must leave their problems outside the classroom and approach teaching with a smile. In addition, they should let go of their ego and admit when they don’t have an answer to a student question.
3. The teacher must practice what he/she preaches
Given the fact that children learn best by inquiry (usually from authority figures/adults), the teacher cannot expect them to behave a certain way if he/she behaves differently. Therefore, the teacher is obliged to practice what he/she “preaches” in order to become a worthy role-model for their students.
4. Parental involvement
The experience of teachers so far shows that harmony in the classroom is much easier to achieve when the teacher has previously established contact with the students’ parents. The time spent in school does not come even close to the time children spend with their parents, so, no one understands and knows children better than their parents. This is why parents can be the best help to the teacher in identifying difficulties a student encounters, and thus adjusting his organizational skills to better fit the child’s needs.
One last thing about classroom management
We have tried to present the basic facts about classroom management, and its practices and principles that have proven successful. However, this is just a fragment of a very broad topic that is classroom management. There is no single pattern or rule for its successful implementation, on the contrary, it depends on the teacher and his/her creativity which practices and principles will be used to ensure good behavior and effective classroom management.