Classroom Power Relations: Understanding Student-Teacher Interaction

By Mary Phillips Manke | Go to book overview
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Chapter 5
Teachers' Organization of Time and Space: One Aspect of Classroom Power Relations

In almost any classroom, an observer can watch teachers engaged in direct interaction with students that is intended to control student behavior and promote student learning. Yet, this is only one aspect of teachers' efforts to pursue this agenda. Outside the students' view, teachers plan and carry out other actions before students even come into the classroom. Thus, they contribute to the building of the structure called "What Teachers and Students Can Do Here," building walls and creating living space, without the possibility of immediate conflict with students. It is these "invisible" ( Hustler & Payne, 1982) arrangements that are the focus of this chapter.

Teachers often consider the ways they organize time and space in their classrooms to be part of classroom management. Classroom management authorities call this proactive management, management that prevents trouble from happening, rather than dealing with it after it happens. Teachers arrange desks so they can see all the students, provide an activity for students to start on as soon as they enter the room, and leave enough space near the door for students to stand in an uncrowded line. They arrange furniture so that students have to move in a controlled manner from one area to another; they make sure they have more than enough for students to do during each class period, thus, avoiding "dead time" when trouble can occur. All these are tactics teachers use in pursuit of their agenda to control student behavior so that students can learn.

Yet, teachers may also consider arrangements of time and space in terms of curriculum content and instructional methods. They may arrange desks

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