Sunday, May 11, 2008

Classroom Management

What's it all about? I was taught classroom management is all about control and power. As the teacher (a term I abhor) I control the students through the power which resides within me.
I reject this outdated notion. I do believe it is very important that all learners act with respect for all individuals. I do believe that classroom time is for assignment completion and not for goofing off. Right now about 90% of learners with whom I share space are working very hard and are engaged in tasks. It is the other 10% that are sold out to industrial age learning that I have not yet reached. All but a few are returning next fall, so I still have hope for these learners.
So my question is, if I am rejecting the model of classroom management which I was taught, is there a model to replace it? Should there be? What are pre-service teachers being taught?

Photo courtesy of longo schools available at


Mathew said...

Rather than power, I prefer to think of it as boundaries. I set boundaries rather than exert authority. People generally like boundaries even though they test them, they feel most comfortable once they learn that those boundaries are firm because it makes for a safe environment.

However, if you're boundaries are unreasonable, like requiring students to be silent while collaborating or sit with legs crossed for hours at a time without a break, then you can expect a mutiny (think the Boston Tea Party equivalent of rejecting your classroom rules).

So the goal is reasonable but firm boundaries that respect the students.

Ruth Wells said...

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IMC Guy said...

I think administrators look at classroom management more now as students being engaged in learning. In the past, I think they looked for quiet kids sitting in desks working.

I'd much rather have a noisy classroom with everyone working and learning than a quiet one where most kids are half asleep.

I disagree with the statement about classroom management being about power, I don't believe that at all.

Elona Hartjes said...

I think that classroom management that leads to a positive teaching and learning environment is more a function of mutual respect and positive relationships than power and control- at least that's been my experience teaching reluctant/struggling adolescent learners.

Seganti said...

Matthew, when you set boundaries you exert authority. There are all of these concepts that call traditional authority outdated, because of getting caught in trends about modern always being best.

Academic rigor and excellence is also becoming outdated--is that a positive thing?

When I hear about mutual respect and positive relationships, that is all fine and well. But what if you show a student respect and they don't show you respect? This is pretty common these days. Is it okay to be the authority then?

I ask teachers to challenge a lot of the rhetoric being fed in the universities, because it is often not practical; wishful thinking doesn't translate necessarily to a positive classroom environment.

I would encourage teachers not to get caught up in pop terms--for example, imc guy seems to think that sitting quietly working is not being engaged in learning--it is, in fact, a crucial part of learning, though not of course exclusive.

Our schools are declining, so I don't understand the criticism of many things that work. I would also invite you to see my blog entry on 'Positive' Discipline at:

Your fellow teacher