Bringing Reality to Classroom Management in Teacher Education

By Eisenman, Gordon; Edwards, Susan et al. | The Professional Educator, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

Bringing Reality to Classroom Management in Teacher Education


Eisenman, Gordon, Edwards, Susan, Cushman, Carey Anne, The Professional Educator


Abstract

Learning how to manage a classroom effectively is a difficult task for preservice teachers. This is compounded by the lack of attention that classroom management receives in many teacher preparation programs and in the field of education in general. This article offers a rationale for the lack of attention to classroom management in teacher education, a lens through which we can discuss classroom management, and five activities and assessments we can use in teacher education courses to prepare teacher candidates in the area of classroom management. This goal is to focus the attention of preservice teachers on classroom management as a means to enhance student learning as opposed to improving student behavior.

Introduction

The most common concern of beginning teachers is classroom management (Ganser, 1999; Jacques, 2000; Ladd, 2000; McCormacke, 2001). Beginning teachers report that weak classroom management skills and disruptive students are the most significant barriers to being a good teacher (Fideler & Haskelhorn, 1999), and often teachers in their first few years of teaching blame their teacher preparation programs for failing to adequately prepare them for classroom management (Ladd, 2000; Monroe, Blackwell, & Pepper 2010). Merrett and Wheldall (1993) found that a vast majority of teachers felt that classroom management is very important, while 72% were unsatisfied with the preparation they received from their teacher education program in classroom management. This article offers a rationale for the lack of attention to classroom management in teacher education, a lens through which we can discuss classroom management, and five activities and assessments we can use in teacher education courses to prepare teacher candidates in the area of classroom management.

Lack of Focus on Classroom Management

Learning how to manage a classroom effectively is a difficult task for preservice teachers. The reasons for the difficulty lie in the lack of attention to the field by the profession, lack of formal preparation in the field by most teachers, and the lack of reality-based pedagogy in many teacher education classrooms. Beginning teachers face a reality shock in the classroom when their teacher education programs focus on the theoretical side of classroom management (Roache, & Lewis, 2011). Preservice teachers believe it would be more helpful if teacher preparation programs provided more real-life experiences on how to resolve classroom management issues (Stewart-Wells, 2000).

The teaching profession has many ways of demonstrating the relative importance of topics within education. Individual aspects of the profession have well-developed theories; a substantial body of research; common definitions, goals, and evaluations; graduate programs focused on the topic; as well as professional organizations, journals, and conferences all dedicated to the improvement of the specific topic. As an example, the teaching profession has demonstrated and embraced the importance of early elementary teachers' ability and skills in teaching students to read. Every teacher education preservice program has multiple courses dedicated to the topic; there are multiple professional organizations at the state, regional, national, and international level to promote the advancement of reading education, such as the International Reading Association with its corresponding professional conferences and journals. There are hundreds of graduate programs in reading education, thousands of professionals dedicated to researching the best content and pedagogy in reading, and millions of dollars spent each year to improve reading instruction in schools.

In contrast, classroom management receives little attention, professional development, research, or professional discussion. Most teacher preparation programs dedicate less than one course to classroom management (Blum, 1994; Hammerness, 2011; Landau, 2001). …

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