There is no doubt that classroom management is an important issue for teachers, both experienced and newbies. As a teacher, you are often faced with questions regarding your philosophy of classroom management either in your evaluations or in interviews for job placement. This is often because of the role of philosophy-guided classroom discipline in ensuring effective teaching and learning in schools.
It is fair to say that strategies for managing classrooms should not be like oranges where you just enter the market and choose one without following a previously laid-down and tested philosophy of making a choice of an orange. But what is the meaning of the concept of classroom management philosophy?
Classroom management philosophy refers to the principles and beliefs that guide our conduct of classroom routines, standards, and rules to provide a productive environment for the effective learning of our students. That is, what are our individual and/or institutional beliefs and principles that shape our day to day interactions with our students such that we will create an environment that is favorable for teaching and learning.
As a newbie teacher, I first started by grabbing classroom management strategies from the internet and apply them to my classes without any philosophy behind them. All that happened was that they will work for me for a semester or a class and start to crumble in the next. From then I started doing research on finding effective pupil behavior management and now I realized that choosing effective classroom management strategies should highly be dependent on a true, a tested, and an approved philosophy.
Why is Classroom Management Philosophy Important for You?
After pondering and reflecting on my student behavior management, it was clear to me that I didn’t have strategies that were based on time-tested and workable philosophies. That is to say, I was like someone who was getting drowned and only needed something to hold onto to support and stop me from drowning. Under this circumstance, I overlooked the need for careful selection of a model for managing my classroom effectively. This marked the beginning of my failure in finding the most effective strategies that will stand the test of time.
I started studying classroom discipline literature and noticed the importance of personal philosophy in adopting appropriate behavior management strategies in my class. In short, my philosophy of student behavior in class determines the kind of managerial strategies to adopt.
Just like me, your philosophy or the philosophy of your institution will play a critical role in guiding you to choose your pupil management model. Your model will then dictate the strategies you should use in managing your class. This is shown below:
1. Philosophy of Education. I have written extensively on this, click to find it here.
2. Philosophy of Classroom Management. To read more on this, find it here.
3. Classroom Management Model. Find one of the models of classroom management here.
4. Classroom Management Strategy
From the above, you should choose or identify your behavior management philosophy first if you want to select a sound discipline model to guide you in determining your strategies. It is important to mention that your pupil behavior management philosophy should be driven by your philosophy of education. That is, what is your philosophy of education? Your answer to this question will shape your philosophy of managing students.
What are some factors you should consider before selecting your philosophy?
Now you have realized the importance of having a philosophy when trying to adopt a behavioral management strategy. What are some of the issues to understand to help you in selecting a philosophy?
- Not so many theories on classroom management
A look at the literature shows that there are no so many theories available on the topic. This means you don’t have the luxury of choosing among several workable theories. Thus, every classroom management expert or material continue to talk about old-aged theories on the topic.
With this, you need to make use of what you have learned on classroom management whether the information appears to be outdated or not. Because they might not be current theories to address the topic in the near future. So, there is no outmoded theory in the case of classroom discipline.
- There is no chance to dump any effective and working theory
Remember, if a theory or model is working for you today there will be no need to stop using it. Thus, there are only a few effective class management models for you to use. So, unless the model you intend to adopt is equally effective like the old one, you don’t have to stop using the old model just because the information is outdated. Therefore, the time the model was formulated doesn’t matter unless it fails to work effectively in your situation.
- Common sense and classroom management
In classroom discipline, common sense does not always work effectively. Unless it has been tested, tried, and proven to be working in the classroom, common sense may not help you to manage your pupil effectively. So, you need to study thoroughly and understand how each model treats various classroom behavior.
For example, I have a student who always passes funny comments in my class looking for attention. How do I manage this behavior? Common sense will demand I tell him to stop passing those comments. If I do that it means I have to give him the attention he was seeking. Do you think this method will be effective? What about if I ignore him and praise the other students who are not doing that? Which of the two methods will be more effective?
- Effective teaching is prerequisite to effective classroom management
No matter how effective a discipline model is, it will not be effective if there is no effective teaching in the classroom. So, you need to work hard by implementing effective teaching strategies alongside effective classroom management strategies. Else your pupil management model will work for a short period and you will lose control of your students and the class afterward. Thus, using positive classroom instruction will keep your students excited and make them feel the need to behave well.
Also, effective teaching will keep them engaged for the most part of the lesson and they will not get the chance to misbehave. Therefore, it is important for you to look for effective teaching tools to complement your models of classroom discipline.
- Classroom management theories are not 100% Blueprints
It is worthy of stating that models of classroom discipline don’t work for all children in the classroom. This is because there is a myriad of factors that affect a student’s behavior. Most of these factors can’t be addressed mainly by the model you have chosen. Because of this, you have to look out for a theory that will address most of the problems in your class.
For example, you can’t solve the health problems of your students by your management style. Due to this, you can always seek the help of other professionals around. All in all, don’t go looking for a perfect since there’s none.
- What is the philosophy of your school?
In choosing a philosophy for behavior management, you must evaluate the school of thought of your institution about expected student behavior. Thus, your philosophy should not be in conflict with that of your institution. This will help avoid future controversies between your way of managing things and the way of your institution.
- Culture is important
In recent times, cultural diversity is an important phenomenon in our societies. This is often because of migration. Because of this, schools now have multicultural classrooms. In light of this, your chosen philosophy should be able to deal with cultural issues effectively. Thus, you must be culturally savvy such that your routines or disciplinary procedures will take care of all the different students in your class.
Your behavior management philosophy should promote a sense of belongingness among all your students. In other words, nobody should be left out of your class because you fail to understand the varying perspectives of your students. For instance, I teach a class made up of Turkish, Ukrainian, and South Korean students. With this, I have to work with all of them to understand their needs so that no one will feel alienated in the class.
- Do you believe in Democracy?
Democracy is gaining grounds in our society. Through this, our constitution has given some rights to children, just like all adults. With this, your system of disciplining students should ensure that their rights are not infringed on. So, values that are considered essential in the classroom may have to include some issues like justice, freedom, equity, equality, fairness, tolerance, etc. even though democracy may not be perfect, the democratic environment of your society will affect the type of management philosophy.
After reading the above, it is time to assess ourselves. Try to answer the following questions about your classroom management philosophy;
- Do you have a philosophy for managing student behavior in your class?
- Do you think it is important to have a philosophy for class discipline?
- If you have a philosophy, what were some of the issues you considered in selecting it?
- Can you defend your classroom management philosophy?
From the above, there is no doubt that it is important to have a classroom management philosophy. This should be driven from your educational philosophy and must be in agreement with the philosophy of your school regarding the expected behavior of students. It is also good to note that it is not enough to have a philosophy and a model to guide you. This is because you also need an effective teaching strategy to be successful. However, no matter the situation, you still need to have a philosophy of discipline which is tried, tested, and proven to be effective in order to properly manage your class. Comment below and tell us your view on classroom management philosophy.