Traditional Classroom Management Revisited in the Urban School

By Matus, Don E. | American Secondary Education, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

Traditional Classroom Management Revisited in the Urban School


Matus, Don E., American Secondary Education


ABSTRACT

This paper describes several traditional urban classroom management strategies employed in four eleventh grade English classes during a single academic year in a large urban high school in the northeast. A rationale for the implementation of each strategy is given, along with a discussion of its success or failure.

Much of the research on classroom management focuses on helping teachers control students. Research offers numerous ways for teachers to secure students' cooperation and involvement in classroom activities in order to create an environment conducive for learning and teaching. Research on classroom management usually emphasizes its importance in teaching and learning content.

However, research on urban classroom management also emphasizes other ways that classroom management can benefit students. Effective urban classroom managers can help students feel good about themselves, both educationally and socially. Many urban students have a low self-esteem, dislike school and teachers, and have poor academic skills. Effective urban classroom managers can help those students find success both personally and academically. Thus, effective urban classroom management stresses benefits to both students and teachers.

This action research project employed several traditional urban classroom management strategies that emphasized the role of classroom management in helping both students and teachers. The selected strategies were implemented in four eleventh grades English classes during the course of a single academic year in a large urban high school in the northeast.

I came to this urban high school after an eighteen-year teaching career in a suburban high school and three years as a college teacher educator. In my new position, I saw an opportunity to implement some of my doctoral research on secondary urban classroom management.

THE RESEARCH

For this action research project, I employed the findings of two bodies of research. The research of Emmer and Evertson (1980), Emmer, Evertson, Sanford, Clements, and Martin (1982), Emmer, Evertson, Sanford, Clements, and Worsham (1982, 1984), and Emmer (1984), focuses on helping urban teachers, while the research of Brophy (1979), Moskowitz and Hayman (1974, 1976), and Murnane and Phillips (1978) emphasizes the importance of urban classroom management for students. The research of Moskowitz and Hayman is more student-oriented while the research of Emmer et al. is more taskoriented. Both research applications conclude that effective urban classroom management is directly related to how students feel about themselves and their potential for academic success. Students who find personal and academic success in the classroom are less likely to misbehave.

Research on effective urban classroom management is not limited to those works cited above, but the author believes that the studies included in this paper are the best examples of the two schools of thought on effective urban classroom management.

In 1974, during the first month of the school year, Moskowitz and Hayman observed behaviors of teachers in three urban junior high schools in the northeast. Teachers in this study were placed into one of three groups: #1 - the "best," teachers as identified by students; #2 veteran teachers randomly selected; and #3 - first year teachers. Using the Flint system of interaction analysis developed by Moskowitz, the researchers were able to look at the actions and behaviors that "best" teachers used to effectively manage their junior high school classrooms. Included among the "best" teachers' behaviors were: recognition of the importance of students' feelings, use of students' ideas, extensive use of praise, and smiling.

In 1976, Moskowitz and Hayman replicated and expanded this research project in two other urban junior high schools during the full school year using only "best" and "first year" teacher groups. …

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