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Advanced Teaching Skills for Classroom Management
The importance of classroom management has been highlighted across numerous research studies as the major variable that affects student achievement (Marzano, 2003). The most obvious reason for this is that effective classroom management sets the stage for teaching and learning.
This makes sense since a classroom that is chaotic and disorganised as a result of poor management is highly unlikely to enhance student achievement and might, indeed, inhibit it. What is less obvious, however, is that a teacher's classroom management practices are major socialising influences on the students. Each one of the teacher's actions communicates, subtly or otherwise, explicit messages about social norms, expectations and emotional behaviour. Even if teachers are unaware of it, their students are constantly developing a repertoire of social and emotional skills - both good and bad - through modelling, experimentation, and reinforcement (Elias and Schwab , 2006).
All of the activities that we group under the heading of 'classroom management' can and do help students to develop lifelong healthy habits and behaviours.
Defining Classroom Management
The term 'classroom management' is often used interchangeably with 'behaviour management'. Traditionally, the term was used to refer to disciplinary methods used by teachers to respond to problem behaviour (Cotton, 1990). However in the 70s the work of Kounin changed this perspective, shifting the focus on to the larger picture of managing the whole classroom environment to prevent problems occurring rather than just dealing with managing student behaviour.
Classroom Management has been defined as
According to Marzano (2003, p. 89). Only when effective practices in these 4 areas are employed and working in concert is a classroom effectively managed.
Creating an Effective Learning Environment
Creating an effective learning environment starts with the teacher and one of the main characteristics of effective teachers is their ability to create and maintain an orderly, stimulating and motivating learning context. This is a place that is organised and purposeful, safe and supportive while being positive and enjoyable. It is also a place where self-discipline, responsibility and creativity are fostered and where students develop an awareness of the consequences of their own behaviour.
5 Steps to Effective Classroom Management
1. Classroom Management and Organisation
A look inside any classroom, primary or post primary, reveals many telltale signs of the teacher's style of management. A well organised environment seems to run itself and there is a positive buzz of teacher and student interaction. Simple things like books and other essential supplies are organised and easily accessible; general organisational requirements and rules are posted for all students to see; expectations, both academic and behavioural, are displayed and can be observed in action all contribute to a well organised, positive learning environment.
2. Rights, Responsibilities and Rules
The purpose of rules is to give formal and public recognition and protection to rights. Fair rules also highlight and encourage responsibilities. It is important that students understand the rationale for each rule, and are clear about what exactly is expected of them. The beginning of the year provides an ideal opportunity to raise pupils' awareness of the links between behaviour and learning and their impact on each other. An understanding of rules sets expectations between students and teachers and students with each other helping the cultivation of respectful relationships.
3. Behaviour and Learning
The management of behaviour in the classroom is critical because of its impact on learning and teaching. Cotton (1990), in a synthesis of 57 research studies, noted that over half of classroom time is spent in activities other than those of instruction and the greatest loss of classroom instructional time was attributed to discipline problems. Effective classroom managers anticipate problems before they occur and implement proactive and supportive strategies to keep students actively engaged in learning. Teachers need to respond to students' lack of social skills, or lack of knowledge of what constitutes acceptable behaviour, in exactly the same way as they would to a student's inability to perform an academic task; with systematic instruction. Teachers must identify their expectations, clearly communicate these and teach the appropriate behaviours directly.
4. Effective Instruction
Effective instruction and effective classroom management go hand in hand. With instruction that is well-planned, fast-paced, and engaging, teachers are able to increase student achievement while at the same time preventing disruptive or challenging behaviour in the classroom (Gettinger and Kohler, 2006). The complexity of the teaching process demands that teachers make decisions about effective practices within the context of their own particular teaching situations. You will need to tailor and customise your approach to instruction and classroom management to the needs of your students and your own teaching context. Choosing materials and curricular content that tap into the student's strengths and personal experiences can be a great motivator.
5. Managing the Physical Environment of the Classroom
The quality of the physical environment sends a powerful message to students about how they are valued and significantly influences the overall classroom climate and ambience. There is also substantial evidence that the physical environment of the classroom can affect the behaviour of students and their attitudes towards school and learning (Anderson, 2004). To put it simply: Learners who spend time in well-designed, well maintained, classrooms that are comfortable, well-lit, reasonably quiet and properly ventilated with healthy air will learn more efficiently and enjoy their educational experiences. (Mitchell, 2008, p.92)
Better teaching, better behaviour and higher achievement are all intertwined.
A crucial aspect of effective classroom management is the ability to stand back and examine your approach to instruction, your attitudes and responses to student behaviour and the wider relationships and environmental factors which may influence your current style of classroom management.
Having reviewed over 100 studies on classroom management to determine the effects on student achievement, Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering (2003) concluded that individual teacher's effectiveness was one of the most significant determinants of student success. Identifying the 'secret' ingredients of effective classroom management allows us to incorporate evidence- based approaches and strategies into our own classroom practices.
A well-managed classroom does not happen magically - it takes planning, effort and commitment to create effective and responsive classrooms. For many teachers their craft is implicit, they have learned over many years what works and their skills operate at an intuitive level. But once made explicit, these same skills can be learned and practiced even by novice teachers; studies show that understanding and using specific strategies for effective classroom management can improve teaching and learning.