When it was discovered that the largest dropout rates in a high school occur in the ninth grade, university teaching programs changed their teaching pedagogy to provide their graduates with the knowledge to assist school districts in combatting the increasing dropout rate. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2015), at least 17% percent of first-year teachers choose not to return after their first year of teaching in the classroom. Even though university teaching programs know that the attrition rates are affecting student learning, most university programs have not adjusted their teaching programs to combat the issues faced by new teachers. This paper will examine teacher education programs and review first-year teacher experiences to determine a solution to teacher attrition.
Keywords: classroom management methods, first-time teaching, practicum experiences, effective classroom management
As educators, the first time a teacher steps into a classroom can be one of the most anxiety-filled moments in that person’s life. New teachers are expected to enter a classroom with the skills, confidence, and teaching pedagogy required to provide quality education to each child in a cohesive learning environment. Effective classroom management is the key to teachers and students coexisting in a diverse world where active learning tasks take place. Effective classroom management is “the actions teachers take to create an environment that supports and facilitates both academic and social-emotional learning” (Everton and Weinstein 2006, pp. 4-5). Without effective classroom management strategies, teachers risk not establishing helpful learning environments, which can lead to frustration, an increase in misbehaviors, and, finally, a teacher leaving the classroom for good. Jacob Kounins’ (1970) examination of classroom management issues led to the development of an approach referred to as instructional management. While studying classroom management, Kounins (1970) observed that teachers who used certain instructional practices had fewer instances of unwanted behaviours. Based on that information Kounins (1970) posited that a teacher who has prepared lesson plans would have fewer instances of unwanted behaviours and more time for active learning. This paper will examine new teachers and the classroom management strategies that they were taught while enrolled in college/university and how effective those strategies learned
Specifically, I will be focusing on the following research question. What types of classroom management methods you learned in college/university prepared you for your first-time teaching experience as an elementary school teacher?
Learning Theory Association
Jacob Kounins (1970) determined that the mastery of classroom management must include the ability of the teacher to teach by organizing lessons in a way that benefits the entire group of students. Kounins’ theory (1970) posited that the goal of classroom management is to create an environment which not only stimulates student learning but also motivates students to learn. His approach is in line with both William Glasser (1997), who developed the Choice theory, and Alfie Kohn (1995), who also agrees that the key to successful and effective classroom management is in preventing problems from occurring in the first place.
Kounins’ theory directly conflicts with the concept that teachers need to control their student’s behaviours in the classroom to have them engaged in the classroom. Kounins’ (1970) research indicated if teachers carefully planned engaging lessons and used practices to keep lessons flowing smoothly, management issues would be reduced or prevented completely. The underlying concept of Kounins theory is “lesson movement.” One would think that he was referring to constantly moving throughout the classroom to keep a student’s attention from wandering. Still, he is referring to keeping the lesson from becoming stagnant. Kounins (1970) identified five key teaching practices needed to achieve good lesson movement. They are with fitness, overlapping, momentum, smoothness, and group focus. Withitness refers to being aware of what’s going on in the classroom at all times. Overlapping refers to a teacher being able to multi-task when in the classroom. Momentum refers to the teacher being able to keep the lesson flowing by having multiple activities planned within the class period and ingadapting during a lesson when something doesn’t go as planned. Smoothness refers to a teacher staying on track and focused/organized during a lesson. And finally, group focus refers to a teacher’s ability to engage the whole class in learning and in the instructional activities that are part of the lesson. The entire concept is based on the idea that a teacher must plan each lesson to provide optimal learning and engagement for students to be less disruptive, learn the lesson and follow the school curriculum.
Glasser (1998) developed the Choice theory, also commonly known as the Control theory. A number of principles within the theory have been applied to classroom management. Quite a few educators base their classroom management style on the concepts associated with choice theory. Glasser (1998) identified five key needs that all humans strive to have fulfilled. They are survival, belonging, power, freedom, and fun. Survival refers to a student’s basic needs being met, like sleep and nourishment. Belonging refers to a student’s sense of being a part of a group or a community and feeling valued. Power refers to a student’s need to have choices and responsibilities. Freedom refers to a student’s need to have a sense of control over their destiny. And finally, fun refers to a student’s need to experience joy and humour.
Glasser posited that a teacher must recognize when a student’s needs are not being met. Inappropriate behaviours are the result of a student’s needs not being met by the teacher within the classroom. Therefore, all teachers must first get to know their students to identify when things may be amiss. Additionally, a teacher must be vigilant in planning lessons and activities to ensure that all needs are being met at the appropriate levels to ensure active learning in the classroom.
As an educator, Kohn (1995) researched consequence-based classrooms, reward-based classrooms, and democratic classrooms to determine which setting displayed fewer disruptions by students. He stated that the consequence-based classroom and reward-based classrooms both tried to manipulate the student by either punishing unwanted behaviour or trying to bribe the student to complete a behavior. His research determined that both approaches worked but only for the short term because students eventually want more or they stop caring about the punishment or reward. Threats and rewards are essentially two sides of the same coin. Kohn (1995) posited that in order for teachers to effectively manage their classrooms, they had to have a student buy-in. This introduces the democratic classroom, where students are active in making decisions to further their learning. Teachers can begin by giving students a voice in their learning, which gives them a sense of onus in the classroom. Children learn to make good choices when they are given the options to choose. Most students do not learn when they are not given any other choice but to follow directions.
Classroom management is the most important aspect of a teacher’s career. Teachers must work hard to establish a beneficial learning environment within the classroom. The three theories discussed thus far have been researched and written about for the last twenty years or more. The theories provide detailed information on the importance of classroom management for both the student and teacher, so why do new teachers have more incidents of misbehaviour within the classroom, which lead to stress, and burnout, and eventually cause the teacher to leave the profession? Are new teachers being provided with these tools before they enter the classroom? Or is it trial by initiation?
Key Terms Defined
Classroom management methods refer to the variety of skills or techniques that teachers employ to maintain control in a classroom or other educational environment. First-time teaching refers to an individual’s initial experience of being placed for their first teaching assignment in a classroom with students. Practicum experiences refer to a school or college course within a specialized field of study. In education, this is a supervised class that provides a student with the practical application of educational theories that were learned previously. Effective classroom management is a collection of powerful strategies that teachers use to create a favourable environment for learning, which displays minimal behavior disruptions.
Bonni Gourneau, (2014) and Floress, Rock, and Hailemarium (2017) both conducted studies to determine the cause of teacher attrition. Floress Et al, used a single-case experimental design to study the effects of a particular classroom management system, whereas Gourneau (2014) completed a longitudinal qualitative study of six resident teachers with permission from both the university and the school district.
Gourneau, (2014) researched the challenges faced by teachers during their first year of teaching. It is a researched fact that most teachers have significant challenges during their first year. The author believed that a longitudinal qualitative study of six resident teachers what provide information to determine the reasons for teacher attrition. The participants of the study were graduate students who were a part of the resident teacher cohort at a university. The program was a joint effort between the university and a local public school system. Participants will give a stipend during their participation in the study, they were provided with mentors that worked directly in the school system to help combat any issues that they faced during their practicum experience and their first year of teaching. Additionally, the participants enrolled in the same graduate courses at the same time as other members, which formed a cohort where all the individuals experienced the same things at essentially the same time. They also met weekly with an academic adviser at the University to discuss teaching methodologies education series and skills needed to become successful teachers. Even though these first-year teachers had an abundance of support in their program there were still some identified issues that caused them to falter. Gourneau (2014) identified five main challenges after reviewing journal entries and video reflections made by the participants. These included classroom/time management, working with parents and other family members, differentiated instruction, handling difficult student behaviors, and how effectively assessing student learning.
Flores, Rock, and Hailemariam (2017) conducted a single-case experimental design that was used to evaluate the effects of the caterpillar game, which is a classroom management system. The classroom management system was used on disruptive behavior in a general education first-grade classroom. This article focuses on the results of the research conducted and the effects of behaviour after the game was introduced into the setting. In the article, the authors note that even though disruptive behaviours are a major concern for teachers in the profession, most teachers do not receive adequate training in classroom management when enrolled at university. When teachers have to deal with frequent disruptive behaviours, it elicits stress and results in teacher attrition.
The authors also discuss the rates that are associated with teacher burnout and teachers who leave their assignments within the first five years. The authors introduce the concept of behavior-specific praise or BSP and how its correct delivery by teachers can have a profound impact on a classroom. The authors also note that teachers should focus on BSP rather than unwanted behaviors. By creating an environment where specific wanted behaviors are recognized, students will try to model the wanted behaviors to receive individual praise and decrease unwanted behaviors.
Both authors conducted experiments to determine the cause of attrition and they essentially came to the same conclusion, most teachers regardless of the level of training received in each of their experiments are not adequately trained in their profession and are more likely to leave the classroom within the first five years.
Andrew Kwok (2017) and Jonathan Eckert (2014) both reflected on classroom management in urban settings. Both authors discussed the possibility of having novice teachers start their careers in urban or diverse school districts as being more beneficial for the individual. Interestingly, they both felt that teachers placed in diverse school districts tend to manage their classrooms based on their own perspectives and beliefs.
Kwok (2017) conducted research on first-year urban teachers’ classroom management beliefs and actions. He found the relationship between teachers’ classroom management and their beliefs and actions to be quite complex. By looking at what a teacher is taught in college/university and what they actually do when they enter the classroom, the author was able to find the variables that caused one classroom environment to be successful and another to not be successful. Kwok (2017) found that several studies conducted previously displayed a wide variety of results. One study stated that urban teachers exclusively focus their efforts on controlling student behaviour through discipline, rules, and procedures. Another study indicated that most teachers tried to implement classroom management practices that align with their own beliefs. The author also states that none of the previous studies conducted actually investigated beginning or urban teachers and their use of classroom management. The general conclusions of Kwok’s research (2017) indicate that participants understand that classroom management includes behavioural, academic, and relational aspects of the classroom. He also states that there needs to be more of a connection between higher readings of instructional quality, teacher educators, and district support personnel.
Jonathan Eckert (2014) completed his research on classroom management by initially reviewing his own career as a first-time teacher. Classroom management is considered the greatest challenge for beginning teachers and remains a crucial element throughout a teacher’s career. The author felt that there is quite a bit of information to glean from a beginning teacher’s own reflection and perspective of their experiences. The author also notes that there is a large distinction between novice teachers and veteran teachers in their ability to manage the classroom. The author has developed an aspect of a teacher’s program that places student teachers in diverse areas throughout communities to give them first-hand experience in teaching the masses. The author developed seven strategies to assist beginning teachers in their careers. The strategies that can help improve classroom management are: maintain a growth mindset; try new ideas, reflect, then accept, reject or modify; do not dismiss extrinsic motivation; give students a reason to pay attention; be demanding; build important relationships; and fill the classroom. The author provides guidance on how to establish these strategies within the classroom.
Both authors reflected on the need to have teachers who are capable of entering urban school districts and being successful by providing an optimized learning environment.
Bezzina and Michalak (2009) and Hare and Murawski (2015) researched the universities that produced teachers in their respective countries. They both discussed the infinite number of roles that a teacher must do in order to be successful in the classroom. They felt that programs might be too idealistic and not geared toward differentiation.
Bezzina and Michalak (2009) raised concerns that teacher education courses may not address the realities that teachers face in schools when they start a new job. They acknowledge that teachers play various roles in the classroom. As such a teacher must be capable in lesson planning, implementation skills, and classroom management while nurturing their own professional and personal qualities. The authors note that the real test of any education program occurs when the student teachers are placed in a classroom and they can implement the things that they have learned without incident or deviating from what they have been exposed to in their courses. One thing to point out is this study was conducted at the University of Malta. Each country has its own teaching practices but the ultimate goal remains the same for every teacher employed in a school district, beginning teachers have to show that they have mastered specific competencies expected of them at different stages in their careers. Bezzina and Michalak (2009), state that most teacher education institutes realize the importance of teacher education and therefore provide specific learning opportunities or classes to teach each individual what is expected of them. However, they found evidence that supports the fact that teacher education programs may be too idealistic. Essentially, university programs have to be more in line with actual school districts and the student population.
Hare and Murawski (2015) immediately provide information to dispel a misconception regarding classroom management and discipline. They go on to say that classroom management includes behaviour management and instructional management. The authors also feel that classroom management should involve both proactive and reactive strategies to have a thriving classroom environment. A strong well-managed classroom is more directly related to the teacher’s behaviour than the students. It has been researched and documented that classroom management is one of the top concerns of all teachers and the most difficult aspect of an elementary teacher’s job. Hare and Murawski (2015) identified nine areas that promote effective classroom management: organizing the physical arrangement of the class, choosing rules and procedures, managing student work, planning and conducting instruction, managing cooperative learning groups, maintaining appropriate student behaviour, communicating effectively, addressing problem behaviors and differentiating for special groups. They acknowledge the large amounts of research-validated best practices that are available for teachers to study however, because teachers are different and students are different best practices may have to be adjusted to accommodate different situations.
Both authors identified the need to have first-year teachers that are capable of managing every situation within the classroom. They also felt that universities must provide specific learning opportunities and validated best practices to ensure that new teachers are prepared for their first-year assignments.
Each article that was presented provided a different view of the issues surrounding first-year teachers and their readiness for the classroom experience. There is a need for more focused research information to be available for all stakeholders to ensure that students are provided with the best teachers who are capable of creating optimized learning environments regardless of the student or school district.
Gaps in the Research
It is important to conduct future studies in classroom management with a diverse population of all stakeholders within the school system. Future research should be done to examine specific instances that occur within the classroom and how both students and teachers respond to those occurrences. Additionally, more research needs to be completed to help change teacher behaviour, most teachers read the theories but they don’t implement the evidenced-based classroom management techniques within the classroom setting.
Moreover, teacher practicum programs have to be reviewed and refined to provide the best and most diverse environments for first-time teachers. Based on the preliminary research, most education paradigms only give students one or two semesters of practicum within an actual school. This does not appear to be enough time for student teachers to develop effective classroom management skills. If teachers are not successful during that first teaching experience, something to be changed to combat the situation.
From a Christian standpoint, classroom management is one of the keys to learning and teaching students to become productive Christian members of society. One of the first lessons that are taught in a classroom is the Golden Rule. Matthew 7:12 states, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this the law and the prophets.” When teachers introduce classroom expectations to their students each year, this expectation takes precedence whether they are in a traditional public school or a Christian school. Another aspect that assists with classroom management refers back to the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:30-37. Random acts of kindness with no reward help to build character and altruism in students. They feel good about themselves for helping and students observe the kind behaviours and model the same behavior. It improves the classroom and school culture, which in turn promotes a positive learning environment.
While reviewing Sire’s text (2009), I identified the worldview most closely related to the educational theories that I examined was Christian theism. In a classroom, the teacher wants her students to be good and she also wants her classroom to be orderly. Sire (2009) talks about God creating the universe to be orderly and without chaos and confusion. God wants us to exemplify clarity and understanding of his love. He is the source of all real things and as such all of our thoughts, behaviors, and actions are derived from him. God himself is the standard for morality. He says what is right and what is wrong. Jesus is our supreme image of what is right. Classroom management is essentially the same thing. Educators want to show their students that they are loved and cared about in the classroom. The classroom is an optimal learning environment that promotes peace, love, understanding, and kindness. These are attributes that are considered desirable in a classroom. If classrooms demonstrated this daily, classroom management strategies would be a thing of the past.
I chose to examine this topic because of its personal nature. Like many others identified in the literature review, I struggled as a first-year teacher. I thought that I was alone in my struggles until I talked to other teachers who had similar experiences.
Because of my struggles, I decided to stop teaching and pursue a degree in counseling, so I stayed in education, just not as a teacher. Idealistic teacher preparation programs at universities and colleges continue to teach classes that only demonstrate the ideal student. In reality, classrooms are more diverse than ever and first-year teachers are not equipped with the skills or knowledge on how to teach the children they are assigned. Incentive programs practically force teachers into the most diverse school systems without any real training. The Department of Education’s Teacher Loan Forgiveness program requires first-year teachers to teach for five years in a low-income school district to satisfy their debts without the tools necessary to complete the five-year bid. Most teachers who are assigned to low-income school districts quit their jobs because of behaviour issues with students. We may be losing some good teachers because we do not place enough emphasis on the important issue of making certain that the first-year teacher has the skills to effectively manage a classroom.
So whose responsibility is it to ensure that first-year teachers are adequately trained? The first-year teacher? The University or College program? The accrediting agencies? It appears that everyone is responsible if we are going, to be honest. According to Schunk (2016), the climate that exists in classrooms and schools has a major impact on learning and achievement for students. Climate refers to the atmosphere, tone, or school culture that is present within the school. The climate is derived from shared understanding, interactions, common practices, and accepted routines within the classrooms and school. The school climate is a function of all stakeholders, which include teachers, students, administrators, parents, and the community. The fate of the American education system is becoming substandard because we are unwilling to make changes in the essential area of classroom management.
Bezzina, C. & Michalak, J. (2009). Preparing Student Teachers for Teaching Practicum. In: Swennen A., van der Klink M. (Eds,) Becoming a Teacher Educator. Springer, Dordrecht. doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8874-2_12.
Eckert, J. (2014, October). Teach like a novice: lessons from beginning teachers: all teachers can add to their classroom management toolkit by reflecting on the lessons they learned early in their careers. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(2), 13.
Eisenman, G., Edwards. S., & Cushman, C. A. (2015). Bringing reality to classroom management in teacher education. The Professional Educator. 39(1), 1-12.
Everston, C. M., & Weinstein, C. S. (Eds.). (2006). Handbook of classroom management: Research, practice and contemporary issues. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Floress M, Rock A, Hailemariam A. (2017) The caterpillar game: A classroom management system. Psychology In The Schools. 54(4), 385-403.
Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory: A new psychology of personal freedom. New York, NY: Harper.
Gourneau, B. (2014). Challenges in the first year of teaching: Lessons learned in an elementary education resident teachers program. Contemporary Issues in Education Research (Online). 7(4), 299-318. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=https://serach-proquest- com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1613027079?accuntid=12085.
Hare, L. & Murawski, W. (2015). Classy classroom management. In Murawski, W. & Scott, K. (Eds.), What really works in elementary education, (140-156).
Kohn, A. (1995). Discipline is the problem – not the solution. Learning Magazine.Retrieved from https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/discipline-problem- solution/?print=pdf
Kounins, J. (1970). Discipline and group management in classrooms. Oxford, England: Holt, Reinhart, Winston.
Kwok, A. (2017). Relationships between instructional quality and classroom management for beginning urban teachers. Educational Researcher, 46(7) 355-365. doi:10.3102/0013189X17726727
Schunk, D. H. (2016). Learning theories: An educational perspective – With access (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Sire, J. W. (2009). The universe next door: A basic worldview catalog (5th ed.).Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.
We’ll write everything from scratch
Understanding classroom management in this assignment, you will create a classroom management plan based on classroom instruction, course readings, and research. Your plan should be 5 pages, excluding cover and reference pages, or less in 12-point Times Roman font. Your plan can be doubled spaced and should include references.
Your plan should include the following:
- Theoretical or philosophical statement on your beliefs about classroom management and how students learn.
- What type of classroom climate will you create?
- Classroom rules
- What are the classroom rules?
- How are rules created?
- How are rules communicated to students and their parents?
- Classroom procedures
- Describe the daily procedures for student entering and leaving the class.
- How are lessons started and ended?
- What procedures are used for lunch and bathroom time?
- How are transitions handled in the classroom?
- What are your expectations for each student?
- What should students expect from you as the teacher?
- Behavior Management
- Plan/procedures for managing positive student behavior?
- Plan/procedures for managing disruptive student behavior?
- What behaviors do you want to encourage and promote in children?
- Will you utilize rewards for positive behavior and consequences for negative behaviors? If so, what? If not, why?
Remember to review and refer to the grading rubric often as you work on your project.
Indicators, Competencies, and Skills for this Assignment
The classroom management plan addresses the following standards.
FEAP/PEC & Indicators
- Applies the established rules and standards for behaviors consistently and equitably.
- Recognizes cognitive, linguistic, and affective needs of individual students and arranges learning environments and activities to meet these needs.
- Uses techniques to align student needs, instructional settings, and activities.
- Provides clear directions for instructional activities and routines.
- Evaluate the appropriateness of the physical environment for facilitating student learning and promoting safety.
- Identify strategies to involve students in establishing rules and standards for behavior.
- Foundations of Education/PEC
- Identify contemporary philosophical views on education that influence teaching.
- Identify ESOL approaches, methods, and strategies (e.g., materials adaptation, alternative assessment, and strategy documentation) appropriate for instruction.
Pre-K/Primary Subject Area Competencies and Skills
- Identify the components of effective organization and management, such as classroom rituals, routines, and schedules.
- Identify ways to organize furniture, equipment, materials, and other resources in an indoor or outdoor environment in order to support early childhood curricula and the development of the whole child.
- Identify the components of and techniques for creating a print-rich environment (e.g., classroom libraries, labeled objects, student work displayed, word walls) reflecting diverse cultures and the impact of such an environment on classroom instruction.
Knowledge of Child Guidance and Classroom Behavioral Management
- Identify developmentally appropriate components of a positive and effective classroom behavioral management plan.
- Apply developmentally appropriate positive strategies for guiding children’s behavior and responding to challenging behaviors.
- Identify developmentally appropriate conflict resolution strategies and guidelines for implementation.
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