Young Teachers Need Clear Class-Management Guides

By Cepeda, Esther J | AZ Daily Star, December 15, 2013 | Go to article overview

Young Teachers Need Clear Class-Management Guides


Cepeda, Esther J, AZ Daily Star


In my first full-time teaching job, a supervisor disabused me of the classroom-management silliness my teacher-preparation program had drilled into me.

A battle-hardened veteran devoid of educational mumbo jumbo, she gave it to me straight: Be firm, show 'em who's in charge.

My teacher-education program had sporadically and ineffectively preached what I called the mommy/best friend philosophy of classroom management. The idea was to coddle and entertain students into engagement, creating a bordering-on-party atmosphere to get kids actively learning.

Traditional methods of conveying authority in the classroom -- such as arranging desks in rows with assigned seating instead of in peer pods or giant circles -- were frowned upon. A classroom was not a teacher's to run, we were told; it was a collective of learners where everyone was equal.

That works well in doses, sure, but "learners" get used to the unconventional quickly. Consistent order is ultimately the only thing that keeps teachers from being eaten alive by their students.

A month into my first school year, the supervisor observed my classroom technique and then wrote up a simple two-page analysis with upbeat and specific tips for keeping my students on task. "Describe good behavior as a model," "Make everyone 'freeze' during instructions" and many others I'd never been exposed to.

The only solid piece of "advice" on the topic of classroom management I can recall from my teacher-training program was to ignore the old high-school teacher rule-of-thumb to never smile until Christmas. Not exactly a wealth of effective techniques, but the prevailing attitude was that trial and error in the trenches was simply how classroom management was learned.

According to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, an analysis of 122 teacher-prep programs found that while effective research-based management strategies exist, most programs don't share this research with prospective teachers. …

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