What is Classroom Management?

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There are researches that suggest that managing the classroom is a nightmare for the majority of newbie teachers. Even some suggest that it is still a nail in the toe for seasoned teachers.

I have had my fair share of troubles with managing a class efficiently. From my experience and research, understanding the concept puts you in a better position to effectively manage and control student behavior in your class. But what at all is it? Knowing the meaning of the concept will help us in our efforts to master it.

Classroom management has no one accepted meaning. It simply refers to the techniques and skills used by teachers and schools to ensure that the classroom is conducive for effective learning. All in all, effective classroom management should be able to motivate students and promote life-long learning. See the benefits of effective classroom management here.

Differences between classroom management and classroom discipline

Before I continue, it is important to differentiate between the terms. They are often used interchangeably. Understanding the difference will help you break down and identify the best techniques to employ to tackle all the issues in the classroom.

Classroom Management Classroom Discipline
It is how all things are done in the classroom. It concerns how students behave in the classroom.
It is the responsibility of the teacher. It is the responsibility of the students.
It deals with the management of procedures, techniques, materials, and everything in the class. It deals with the management of students’ behavior.
It is general and concerns everything in the classroom. It is a subset of classroom management.

So, why are they sometimes used interchangeably?

This is because the teacher has to, first of all, make sure that the classroom functions before the students can behave. This means you have to properly and effectively manage the procedures and routines in the classroom before you expect your students to behave accordingly.

When you do this, all the issues of discipline will be tackled and your students will know your expectations about their behavior.

Classroom discipline is an important element of classroom management. This is because you can use discipline to instill a sense of responsibility and maturity in your students. When you succeed in doing that your students will see the need to behave appropriately in class.

You must always remember that your classroom management techniques and procedures should help you avoid problems rather than reacting to them. If this is not the case there will always be chaos in your class and you will soon stress out.

Factors that Affects Classroom Management

There are some factors that will help you to properly perceive and understand the concept of classroom management. Your ability to appreciate the importance of these factors will greatly impact your success in managing your classroom.

This suggests that your success is highly dependent on your ability to proactively identify and control, to an extent, all the factors affecting the classroom environment. Let’s briefly discuss some of the most important factors as shown below:

1. Physical Environment: Do you know that research has shown that the physical environment of your classroom plays an important role in student learning? Yes, it does.

For example, I taught a class of 35 students in the early days of my teaching job. My movement in and around the classroom was difficult. This class was always a nightmare for me.

I almost gave up my job. But the main problem was that the class was crowded and students were always uncomfortable, especially the weather gets hot.

2. Personality and Style of the Teacher: It is important for you to understand that your personality type impacts a lot on your ability to manage your classroom effectively. This often influences your choice of teaching style that affects your class control abilities.

For example, a teacher with a clumsy personality will often be reactive instead of being proactive in predicting possible behaviors in the classroom.

3. The personality of Students: What is the personality of your student? Knowing each and every one of your students will help improve your skills in putting in place a classroom setting that will be favorable to all. This is important for learners as behavior among your students will vary greatly.

For instance, the personalities of your students will range from being introverted to being extroverted. It is your duty to organize a classroom environment that is conducive for all these personalities to thrive.

4. Background of Students: Research in social sciences tells us that the family plays a major role in determining the behavior of a person. That is to say, your students will bring the happenings at home to the classroom.

So, your ability to understand, to an extent, the family circumstances of your students will help you to properly manage the behavior of students. This is key to classroom management.

Example, a student whose parents have separated will likely have behavioral issues that will affect your classroom. So, you need to understand and predict this in order to adequately plan your class taking into consideration all the possible disruptive behaviors that will arise from this problem.

5. Student’s Disabilities: Sometimes some of your students will have behavioral and/or learning disabilities. This will always affect your classroom management. Disabilities such as Conduct Disorder (CD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) determines the behavior of your students.

Knowing this will put you in a better position to understand and adopt a proper classroom management style for effective learning to take place in your class.

6. Culture: This is one of the matters overlooked by most classroom management experts. However, this is very important in today’s world. Our classrooms are now made up of students from diverse cultures through migration. This plays a key role in managing your class effectively.

This suggests that you have to be culturally savvy in order to structure your classroom practices to reflect on other peoples’ cultural values and beliefs.

Being aware of others’ cultural beliefs and applying them to your class can be a herculean task for you. To help you in that regard, you need to know how to (1) assess and understand your own cultural values, (2) understand the values of others and not be bias towards them, and (3) try to apply what you learn about cultural differences to improve your classroom routines and practices, in a meaningful and non-threatening manner.      

Example of Classroom Management Issue

The following example of classroom behavior will help you to understand the concept of managing the classroom properly. They are;

Mr. Smalling is a Third-grade teacher. He teaches a group of 34 children. Denilson is one of the students in the class. He is an active youngster who often gets into brawls with his colleagues. The class just had a short recess.

When returning Denilson came with a Lego. While the next lesson was ongoing, Denilson was busy playing with his Lego and making some noise. The teacher realized that and the following transpired;
Mr. Smalling: yells across the room, and asked: “What’s going on there?”
Denilson: replies, “nothing!”

The other boy next to Denilson said, “he is playing with a Lego”
“Denilson, stop that and pay attention,” says the teacher.
Denilson grumbles and said, “But, I am bored”

The teacher approaches Denilson to take the Lego from him. He yells louder, “Nooo, I can’t give it to you!”
The teacher took the Lego. In anger, Denilson starts to threaten the boy who told the teacher about the Lego. He even wants to slap the boy in the class.
The teacher yells again, “Stop that!” while trying to answer a question asked by someone.

After a moment, Denilson starts to pierce a child’s pencil case with a sharp object he brought from outside. A fight broke out between him and the girl. The girl shouts, “take your hands away from my table”

Mr. Smalling heard the struggles and noise, and asked, “what is happening.” The girl said, “teacher, he is trying to create a hole in my pencil case” Denilson replied while laughing, “she is telling lies”

The teacher said while standing at the front, “Denilson, will you stop what you are doing before I call your parents?” Denilson yelled and said “you are a bad teacher. Go ahead, call my parents. They are separated and my dad doesn’t care.”

This continued until the end of the lesson. If you were the teacher, what will you have done to manage a behavior like that of Denilson? What are some of the crucial factors you will consider when looking for appropriate ways of managing a class like that of the one in the example above?

Approaches to Classroom Management

In your attempts to understand the concept, it is important to appreciate how it can be approached. From research, a classroom can be managed proactively or reactively. It is appropriate to understand that good classroom management will always combine these approaches. This is explained below;

1. Proactive Classroom Management: The focus of proactively managing a classroom is to create a sense of belonging among all the students. You try to encourage positive behavior in the class by promoting strong student-student and/or student-teacher relationships.

When you adopt the proactive approach you collaboratively set standards, rules, routines, and activities with your students. This is often considered to be the best by most teachers, especially when implemented appropriately.

2. Reactive Classroom Management: With this approach, you use some effective strategies to ensure that student behavior is checked in the classroom. These strategies are reactive in nature and use to prevent misbehavior in the classroom.

This includes strategies such as classroom discipline plans, mediation processes between/among conflicting students, and pre-planned alternate activities to students who are quick to finish their activities.

Classroom Management Styles

Another essential issue to consider in your efforts to understand how to manage your classroom is the type of classroom management styles. Read here for inspiration in selecting your classroom management style. This important because it helps you to properly analyze and make improvements to your teaching styles for better results in the classroom.

Below are the four styles and/or types of classroom managers according to the well-known clinical and developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind in 1971;

1. Authoritative: If you are this type of teacher, you will always be considered as a caring, a loving, and concerns yourself about the success of your students.

This is because you establish clear and consistent expectations of behavior for your students. With this, you actively associate and promote good behavior in your students.

Students from your class will have the freedom and exercise it within the set limits regarding activities in the class. Your students will grow up to be empowered, sociable, and responsible in life. This is the style recommended by most teachers.

2. Authoritarian: If your style falls under this type of class management, it means you don’t encourage collaboration between you and your students in providing a conducive classroom environment.

You are obsessed with overly controlling everything in the class without the involvement of your students. This classroom doesn’t provide freedom for your students.

You will always be unfriendly, unreasonable, and uncaring in the eyes of your students. Even though you might have some success in controlling some students, some will definitely rebel and they will be chaos in your classroom.

You will likely produce students who are not empowered, social and less innovative. Example, you will set classroom rules for your students without involving them in the process if you are an authoritarian. Click here for a philosophy backing this style.

3. Indulgent: If you are an indulgent classroom manager, you are relaxed and allow more student involvement than control. This means you don’t care whether your students behave in accordance with behavioral standards, even if they are there.

This extreme freedom can undermine your ability to promote positive and good behavior, giving way for misbehavior or chaos in the classroom. For instance, you will likely give in quickly to student demands for free time if you are an indulgent teacher.

4. Permissive: Permissive teacher is a lazy one who has a lackadaisical attitude towards the management of her/his class. There will be total freedom in your class if you are a permissive teacher.

Thus, you will put no standards of behavior for your students. The condition created in your classroom will not conducive for effective learning.

Even though your students may see you to be “cool,” they won’t learn much in your class. You are also likely to lose your respect in the sight of your students. In the end, your students will exhibit immaturity, inability to control their impulse, and lacking leadership skills.

Note: It is important to know that no teacher will exhibit only one management style. Most teachers tend to combine these styles at least occasionally. but you should always work hard to have the authoritative style as your predominant way to classroom management.

Self-Reflection

Having gone through all the above, it can be interesting to assess your understanding of the concept. In doing so, ask yourself the questions below:

  1. what do you think is classroom management?
  2. How different is classroom management from classroom discipline?
  3. What are some of the most important factors to know to help your understanding of classroom management?
  4. How do you approach your classroom management? Proactively? Reactively? Or both?
  5. What is your style of classroom management?

Conclusion

To conclude, it can be noted from the above that having a broader and a clearer understanding of classroom management will help you to adopt proper and all-encompassing strategies to make you class a conducive one for all students to learn effectively. If you find this helpful, please share it with your friends. Don’t forget to comment below and tell us your understanding of classroom management. 

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