Classroom Management That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Every Teacher

By Robert J. Marzano; Jana S. Marzano et al. | Go to book overview

5
MENTAL SET

The final factor important to effective classroom management is an appropriate mental set. Of the four elements outlined in Chapter 1, this is probably the most unusual, at least in terms of its title—mental set. But looking at Figure 1.3 in Chapter 1, we see that my metaanalysis shows that this element has the largest effect size. Specifically, the average effect size for mental set is ȡ21.294 as compared to ȡ2.909 for disciplinary interventions, ȡ2.869 for teacherstudent relationships, and ȡ2.763 for rules and procedures. Although the label [mental set] might be unusual in the parlance of education, it is highly descriptive of a critical aspect of effective classroom management. Effective managers approach the classroom with a specific frame of mind—a specific mental set.


The Research and Theory

The construct of a mental set in classroom management is quite similar to the construct of [mindfulness] in psychology. Mindfulness was popularized by Ellen Langer in a series of works (Langer, 1989; Langer & Rodin, 1976; Langer & Weinman, 1981). Langer explains that mindfulness involves a heightened sense of situational awareness and a conscious control over one's thoughts and behavior relative to that situation. This frame of mind is not easy to cultivate and maintain because the human brain is predisposed to focus on a very narrow range of stimuli and to operate quite automatically relative to those stimuli. That is, we typically do not attend to all of what is happening around us. In fact, we commonly operate with very little conscious awareness of our environment, particularly regarding routine activities. An interesting, albeit contrived, way to observe this phenomenon is to read the sentence below once and only once. While doing so, count the number of times the letter F appears. Remember, read the sentence once onlv:

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