Classroom management

Classroom management is a term used by teachers to describe the process of ensuring that classroom lessons run smoothly despite disruptive behavior by students. The term also implies the prevention of disruptive behavior. It is possibly the most difficult aspect of teaching for many teachers; indeed experiencing problems in this area causes some to leave teaching altogether. In 1981 the US National Educational Association reported that 36% of teachers said they would probably not go into teaching if they had to decide again. A major reason was "negative student attitudes and discipline".

According to Moskowitz & Hayman (1976), once a teacher loses control of their classroom, it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to regain that control. Also, research from Berliner (1988) and Brophy & Good (1986) shows that the time that teacher has to take to correct misbehavior caused by poor classroom management skills results in a lower rate of academic engagement in the classroom.From the student’s perspective, effective classroom management involves clear communication of behavioral and academic expectations as well as a cooperative learning environment.
Classroom management is closely linked to issues of motivation, discipline and respect. Methodologies remain a matter of passionate debate amongst teachers; approaches vary depending on the beliefs a teacher holds regarding educational psychology. A large part of traditional classroom management involves behavior modification, although many teachers see using behavioral approaches alone as overly simplistic. Many teachers establish rules and procedures at the beginning of the school year. According to Gootman (2008), rules give students concrete direction to ensure that our expectation becomes a reality.
Rote discipline
Also known as "lines," rote discipline is a negative sanction used for behavior management. It involves assigning a disorderly student sentences or the classroom rules to write repeatedly. Among the many types of classroom management approaches, it is very commonly used

Rewards in the Classroom

Children can be categorized as intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. Children who are motivated intrinsically exhibit a desire to learn. Usually they pursue a subject for the pleasure of learning or for a feeling of accomplishment. Intrinsically motivated students tend to prefer challenging tasks and to understand information in depth. They are more likely to choose projects that demand greater effort than extrinsically motivated children who usually work to receive some reward or to avoid a penalty. Extrinsically motivated students tend to gravitate toward easier tasks and are inclined to put forth the minimal amount of effort for the maximum reward. Even though children who enter school are often inclined to be either intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, a worthwhile goal for educators is to foster intrinsic motivation in children.

Many teachers believe that student motivation can be "jump started" by providing tangible rewards such as stickers, candy or prizes. They assert that reinforcing appropriate behaviors can have positive results since children tend to continue or repeat an action that is rewarded. They state that some parents do not encourage their children to do their best at school and hence the students are indifferent to learning. These teachers insist that tangible rewards can help these students develop a reason to apply themselves. They state that through the use of rewards children learn to listen, to complete work, and to behave appropriately.

Others argue that rewards devalue learning and counteract the development of self-discipline and intrinsic motivation. For example, when a child does an assignment to get a piece of candy, you have not taught him or her the value of hard work or learning. These opponents assert that tangible rewards produce short-term changes and only serve as motivators if children want them. They contend that the use of rewards fosters competition and the "What's in it for me?" attitude; the more they are used, the more incentives students expect. They maintain that rewards can have a negative effect upon student initiative and performance because they are seen as bribes used to control, and that older children in particular may feel insulted and/or manipulated when rewards are offered. Critical observers point out that rewards have not been shown to change behavior when children are left unsupervised.

If a teacher decides to use a tangible reward program it needs to be simple to manage. Involving a student or students in selecting a reward can contribute to its successful use. School supplies and/or foods that have some nutritional value are preferable to candy, unhealthy snacks or prizes. Ideally, after the rewards are given and the desired results are obtained, the teacher will modify the program by raising his or her expectations, reducing the rewards and phasing them out altogether.

Many teachers report that they prefer intangible rewards over tangible ones. These teachers provide opportunities for their students to earn points or tokens that can be exchanged for special privileges. Some examples are free activity time, reading time, computer time, choosing a book to be read to the class, assisting the librarian, extra recess, leading a class game, eating lunch with the teacher, or having their picture taken with the principal (see Effective Praise and Motivating Children). when a teacher calls a parent to comment on a child's progress. Or, when a class has worked particularly hard on a project, having a surprise popcorn party can serve as a reward that promotes a feeling of classroom community.

Rewards can involve a contract with an individual child, be offered to a class or used to acknowledge a school-wide accomplishment. Counselors or teachers may contract with individual children to extinguish inappropriate behaviors such as fighting, not completing homework, talking out in class, or truancy. Having a child or children participate in goal setting increases their interest in attaining it. For a class-wide reward, the students may decide on a weekly goal; for example, that each class member will follow the lunchroom rules without one reminder. The intangible reward could be an extra fifteen minutes of free time on Friday afternoon. Achieving a school-wide goal of reading one thousand books with each student participating could be celebrated by having a special event for all students.

To instill intrinsic motivation in children teachers need to create a noncompetitive, caring environment in which each child feels valued, respected and acknowledged (see Educator's Guide to Enhancing Children's Life Skills or Successful Teachers). Cooperative learning that recognizes improvement in each child is a way to enhance intrinsic motivation among students so that classroom management is not dependent upon the use of rewards.

Classroom Management: Punishment

Managing student behavior
Managing student behavior in the classroom is important. Classroom management describes the task of maintaining an organized learning environment. Punishment  play different roles in classroom management. How a teacher addresses undesirable student behavior can make the difference between a classroom that is a haven or war zone.
Corporal punishment
Until recently, corporal punishment was widely used as a means of controlling disruptive behavior but it is now no longer fashionable, though it is still advocated in some contexts by people such as James Dobson.


o    Punishments are reactionary measures meant to be severe enough to discourage students from repeating undesirable actions. Teachers with discipline strategies incorporate preventative and consequential measures when governing their classrooms.


o    Teachers may use punishment to regain control of a classroom, but this may jeopardize their chances of gaining students' respect. Instead, identify the unwanted behavior and discuss ways to correct it.


o    Punishment within the classroom is not favorably looked upon, but there is no consensus. In his article, "Building Classroom Discipline," C.M. Charles notes that classical behavioral theorist B.F. Skinner was against classroom punishment. "Punishment often has negative effects in behavior modification and hence is not used in the classroom." In the same article, Charles notes that group behavior theorists Redl & Wattenberg support punishment when necessary, but generally as a last resort.

Punishment As An Incentive

It would be easier to teach a classroom full of children if there were no children misbehaving. According to Student Teacher Advocate, one third of new teachers leave the teaching field within the first 3 years. The teachers questioned said that they spend an overwhelming amount of time doing other tasks (disciplining included), beyond actual instruction. Forty percent of those teachers surveyed said that they spend more time than expected on disciplining (Miller, Higgins).
Teachers sometimes find punishment to be effective as a classroom behavior management tool, especially as a short term solution. Because punishment tends to rapidly stop problem behaviors, the teacher in turn is positively reinforced for using it (What Every Teacher Should Know About Punishment 2008). Teachers may be tempted to use this technique over and over because of its quick response, but this very sort of punishment can have side effects. Students who are generally punished in this way can overtime develop negative attitudes toward school, can develop an uncomfortable relationship with their teachers, and perhaps feel apprehensive about participating in class activities (What Every Teacher Should Know About Punishment 2008). Discipline and punishment are important parts of rearing children not only at home but in school settings as well.
When people use the word “punish”, it is usually used to describe a negative consequences for a violation. In some schools around the United States punishment can mean physical punishment. Corporal punishment is still allowed in 21 out of 50 states, but is only practiced in 4 of those states; Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee (Farrell). According to C. Farrell, a writer for School Corporal Punishment, paddlings were given in the classroom or right outside the door, but then only the principle had to do the paddling or it was done in front of his or her presence in a private room. Some of the people I spoke to remember being paddled or being hit on the palms with a ruler for horse playing. Educators must be careful and administer punishment with care, especially if it comes in the form of corporal punishment. "Punishments are an expression of violence of the more powerful adult against the weaker child

Alternative Ways Of Punishment

Punishment can take on many forms; it can be a reprimand, or a type of punishment known as response cost. Response cost means that a student can have rewards, or privileges taken away when he or she demonstrates problem behavior even if it is only momentarily (What Every Teacher Should Know About Punishment 2008). An example would be that a student on time-out would not be able to join his or her classmates when it is time for playtime until their time-out was over.
Disciplining does not necessarily mean having the child sit in the corner with a dunce hat on, getting paddled, whacked on the hands, or writing sentences. Experienced teachers will say that remaining calm can diffuse an angry disposition more effectively than responding in an equal tone. One of the teachers that I interviewed, Kristin Gorsuch, a high school math teacher from Isle of Wight County, said that when she has a continually disruptive student, she simply asks them to step outside for a minute until she can go outside and discuss in private what she expects. The point is not to intimidate or belittle them in front of their peers. Disciplining does not have to be an aggressive act is what she believes.You will see and hear what other teachers believe is a good way of “punishing” a student without it being demeaning or embarrassing. Visit this web site for the videos under “What Would You Do?”


Time changes everything. The material taught in schools, the thoughts on child creativity, and classroom management have all been revised over time. The question as to what is a better way to develop productive adults has perplexed people for ages. Should we pat our children on the back for a mediocre job and hope that next time they do better, or should we whoop them into shape, tell them what we expect and show no mercy since the “real world” won’t show them any? As educators we need to build up our children and young adults, evaluate what the problem really is, if any and make a decision based on each child. There is no cookie cutter solution.