In this excerpt, Carolyn McGown talks about managing classroom behavior.
About this Chapter
Classroom management refers to all the systems, routines, philosophies,
and procedures that make a teacher effective. It refers to all the elements
that make a classroom run well. Good classroom management improves
attitudes, builds community, generates enthusiasm and loyalty, and it
significantly increases learning. Classroom Management is also one of
the few things under the full control of the teacher.
It is the responsibility of the teacher to manage his or her classroom. It is
the expectation of parents and the rights of students to have a classroom
that is a safe, inviting, well-organized place, where different kids can be
heard and their opinions respected, and where engaged teaching and
learning take place. Creating such a learning environment is not an easy
task; it takes true commitment, vigilance, and compassion. Classroom
management is, however, part of the job of being a teacher; a teacher who
does not manage a classroom well is not doing the job for which s/he was
hired. In addition, such a teacher will be frustrated with teaching, almost
from the start. Students in that room, regardless of intelligence, aptitude
or achievement, will fail to complete assignments, refuse to cooperate or
help one another, forget notes and papers, run through the halls, quibble
with neighbors, and exhibit a thousand other irritating and counterproductive
behaviors. Worse than that, they have been given permission
for these behaviors by their teacher.
As many an unkind new teacher mentor will say, "Teachers get the
classrooms they deserve."
Classroom Management is not a skill that is separate from instruction.
Classroom Management is not something a teacher "does" once, or
occasionally, or for a short while, and then stops. A good teacher weaves
classroom management techniques and practices into all lessons,
assignments, activities, and games. Effective classroom management is
on-going; it is part of everything a good teacher does. This whole book is
really about Classroom Management, even though this is the only
chapter that gets the title.
Despite the importance of effective classroom management, few teacher
training programs devote much time to teaching the skills and techniques
of effective management. There seems to be a feeling that classroom
management is not worthy of attention, that it is too practical, too "nuts
and bolts." Many teacher educators seem to criticize any emphasis on the
practicalities of teaching, as if this somehow detracts from the "art" of
teaching. What this means, in practice, is that new teachers are routinely
sent into classrooms unprepared to deal with the many details and
logistics of teaching. They have few "tools," spotty information about
management strategies, and rarely a clear idea of what classroom
management means and requires - what classroom management "looks
like." New teachers, therefore, have very little chance of being successful.
An effective classroom management strategy will have the following four
• Effective classroom management must reflect teacher confidence: The
teacher must believe that s/he can manage the classroom and control
behavior. S/he must believe that the elements of the management
systems are important and that the management systems will work.
Teachers must act confidently even when they are new and, quite
probably, not confident. Kids can sense "hesitancy" a mile away, and
they tend to push and test the overly-hesitant and under-confident
teachers. Whatever classroom management systems a teacher chooses,
s/he must study them, internalize them, and stand by them.
• Effective classroom management must involve student buy-in: Students
must believe that the classroom management systems implemented are
good. It is the teacher's job to ensure this; the teacher must explain why
s/he is covering certain rules, consequences, and rewards. The teacher
must discuss how the management systems will contribute to a
comfortable environment where students will learn and have fun. S/he
must invite questions and response from the students about the rules
and systems. The teacher must actively work to ensure that students
accept and "buy in" to the classroom systems.
• Effective classroom management must be positive (not negative or
punitive): Positive reinforcement trumps negative reinforcement every
time. Kids should be doing the "right thing" to earn privileges rather
than to avoid punishment. Negative reinforcement and "punishment"
are seductive, because they get response immediately. Their effects,
however, are rarely lasting. Positive reinforcement is a part of all good
• Effective classroom management must be consistent and predictable:
Any system a teacher uses must be consistent and predictable; every
student should know exactly what will happen, given specific
Chapter 4: Classroom Management
Classroom Survival Pages 54-55 Carolyn McGown