Coping Styles as Mediators of Teachers' Classroom Management Techniques

Article excerpt

Classroom management

Classroom management skills are a significant aspect of professional practice, with broad implications for student learning and welfare. In the most recent Phi Delta Kappa Gallup Poll of the public's attitudes towards the public schools in the U.S., lack of discipline was identified as parents' second highest concern about schooling, after lack of funding for schooling (Bushaw and McNee, 2009). In addition, a 2009 OECD study on Teaching and Learning (TALIS), which surveyed principals and teachers in lower secondary schools across 24 countries identified classroom disciplinary practice as a key factor in developing effective learning environments and highlighted its importance in relation to teachers' self-efficacy.

Recent research has addressed the effectiveness of a number of classroom management techniques (Lewis, 2001; Lewis oí al., 2005). We have reported the impact of various techniques on levels of misbehavior and responsibility (Lewis, 2001; Romi et al., 2009), attitude to schoolwork, teachers and to the students who misbehave (Lewis, et al., 2008) and connection to school (Roache and Lewis, 2009). Some of these studies have been carried out in Australia and others in Israel and China. The overall results suggest those two techniques, hinting and involvement appears moderately successful in all three national settings. Recognition of responsible behavior, and discussions with misbehaving students about the impact their behavior has on other students, are ciearJy productive because students experiencing these techniques are more responsible, less distracted, and more positive towards their teachers and schoolwork. In contrast, teacher aggression, comprising strategies such as group punishment, humiliation and yelling in anger, appears to be associated more with student misbehavior and higher levels of negative student attitudes towards learning in classrooms in Israel, China and Australia (Lewis et al, 2005; Lewis et al., 2008). The role of punishment, defined by the application of a series of non-aggressive punishments which increase in severity when resisted or ignored, appears to be complex. When used in conjunction with more 'inclusive' techniques such as Recognition, Hinting and Discussion it promotes responsibility in students, but when used in the absence of a working relationship with students it does the opposite (Lewis, 2001; Lewis et al., 2005; Lewis et al., 2008).

In light of these findings, it is of interest to note that the most often used management techniques in Australian, Israel and China are recognition, discussion and hinting. Student involvement is noticed to occur a little less frequently than these three techniques, as is the use of aggression in Israel or Australia, although there is less aggression in China than in these other two settings.

Finding the most effective techniques to cause behavior change and preventing the development of classroom discipline problems is a moderately stressful part of many teachers' professional lives (Fields, 1986; Hart et al., 1995; Johnson et al., 1993; Lewis, 2001; Oswald et al, 1997). Some report it as a major concern for teachers, administrators, and the public (Hardman and Smith, 2003; Macciomei, 1999) and a major reason for job dissatisfaction (Liu and Meyer, 2005). The ability to manage students effectively is a critical component of teachers' sense of professional identity (McCormick and Sm', 1999). For example, the role of 'disciplinarian' ranks third, after 'leader' and 'knowledge dispenser' in the metaphors teachers provide for their work (Goddard, 2000).

Teaching, stress and coping

The cost of workplace stress is a critical issue in many professions, especially those involved in social services, such as teaching (Roache, 2008). If a teacher has limited or ineffective coping responses, the result of high levels of workplace stress can be burnout causing a condition resulting in cynicism, depersonalization of students, and emotional exhaustion in response to chronic stress. …


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