Why Classroom Management Matters
“America’s Teachers Weigh In on the Importance of Classroom Management” video clip by NCTQ
Classroom management most commonly refers to the methods and systems used to establish a productive, safe learning environment (OECD, 2017; Christofferson and Sullivan, 2015). It is through these methods and systems that teachers are able to organize and deliver effective lessons, ensure student compliance with established procedures and policies, and provide engaging instruction, among other pedagogical practices. For many years, research has indicated the effectiveness of well-managed classrooms on positive student achievement. However, pre-service and novice educators, those with less than three years or no experience in teaching, are often under-trained in classroom management strategies and practical applications (Greenberg, Putman, and Walsh, 2014).
A review by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) established five main strategies for classroom management: rules, routines, praise, misbehavior, and engagement (Greenberg, Putman, and Walsh, 2014). However, classroom management represents, as a whole, the foundation upon which a productive learning environment is built. NCTQ’s review also summarized the general assumption regarding teacher management, termed “instructional virtuosity,” the idea that good teachers will inherently know how to manage their students. This flawed assumption leaves pre-service teachers feeling unprepared and unconfident, which contributes to quick burnout and departure from the profession within the first five years of teaching (OECD, 2017). Although classroom management strategies vary widely depending on specific teacher, school, district, social, and economic circumstances, research shows that pre-service, novice, and experienced educators may benefit from classroom management training while also increasing student achievement factors.
Research on classroom management and student achievement
One of the most widely recognized studies on student achievement comes from John Hattie’s meta-analysis of various influences. The highest ranked influence is collective teacher efficacy (1.57), defined as “the collective belief of the staff of the school/faculty in their ability to positively affect students” (Visible Learning, 2018). Although this influence does not directly correlate to classroom management, an educator’s lack of confidence in managing the procedures, instruction, and behaviors in his or her classroom may have negative effects on teacher efficacy. Further, one may surmise that the second-highest rated influence, self-reported grades (1.44), are most effective in a structured, productive learning environment. Indeed, student self-assessments and goals are best produced when behavioral distractions are absent or quickly managed. Classroom management as an influence of Hattie’s studies ranks above average for effectiveness (.52), again indicating that directly or indirectly, a teacher’s ability to manage his or her classroom leads to student achievement.
Effects of Training
“Awareness of and training in [classroom management] techniques can change teacher behavior, which in turn changes student behavior and ultimately affects student achievement positively” (Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering, 2003). However, efforts made to introduce, improve, or expand classroom management training to novice and experienced educators has fallen out of step with the evolution of student behavior and educational expectations. A 1982 study by Sanford, Emmer, and Clements found that classroom management training was not only effective but also easy and quickly achieved. Two full-day workshops conducted by trained district personnel and a half-day workshop by the school’s principal resulted in a significant decrease in behavioral and disruptive referrals (Sanford, Emmer, and Clements, 1983). In the 21st century, demands for classroom management training include hands-on experience, real-life examples, mentorships, and student teaching opportunities. These practical measures combined with feedback from mentors or supervisors provide teacher candidates and even experienced educators with the skills and confidence to create and manage a productive, positive classroom. “Without a solid grounding in the research-based strategies that is reinforced in clinical experiences, classroom management strategies are based less on professional than folk wisdom” (Greenberg, Putman, and Walsh, 2014).
Resources for Educators
As initial or further classroom management training increasingly becomes an initiative taken by novice and experienced educators individually, this website aims to provide helpful, research-based resources. Checklists, videos, programs, articles, and self-assessments are available on the “Tools” page. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list or collection. If you would like to contribute to this page by recommending a resource, please visit the “Connect” page.
NTCQ’s Video Summary on Classroom Management Training
Based on the 2014 report by NCTQ, this video summarizes many of the responses received regarding classroom management training. “Our teachers deserve better,” notes NTCQ, referring to the detrimental effects that minimal classroom management training can have for students and educators.
Christofferson, M. & Sullivan, A.L. (2015). Preservice teachers’ classroom management training: A survey of self-reported training experiences, content coverage, and preparedness. Psychology in Schools 52(3), pp. 248-264. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21819.
Greenberg, J., Putman, H. & Walsh, K. (2014). Training our teachers: Classroom management. Retrieved from https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Future_Teachers_Classroom_Management_NCTQ_Report.
Marzano, R.J., Marzano, J.S., & Pickering, D.J. (2003). The Critical Role of Classroom Management. In ASCD (Eds.), Classroom Management That Works. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/103027/chapters/The-Critical-Role-of-Classroom-Management.aspx.
NCTQ. (2013, December 10). America’s Teachers Weigh in on the Importance of Classroom Management [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP5WmPEJIf4.
OECD. (2017). Teaching in Focus: Do new teachers feel prepared for teaching? (Policy brief 17). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/980bf07d-en.
OECD. (2017). Teaching in Focus: How do teachers become knowledgeable and confident in classroom management? Insights from a pilot study (Policy brief 19). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1787/8b69400e-en.
Sanford, J.P., Emmer, E.T., & Clements, B.S. (1983 April). Improving classroom management. Educational Leadership 40(7), pp. 56-60. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_198304_sanford.pdf.
Visible Learning. (2018). Collective teacher efficacy (CTE) according to John Hattie. Retrieved from https://visible-learning.org/2018/03/collective-teacher-efficacy-hattie/.
Visible Learning Plus. (2018). 250+ Influences on student achievement. Retrieved from https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/250_influences_10.1.2018.pdf.