Probably, any parent would say that parenting is not easy. But parents have to deal only with their children, whom they know and love. School teachers, in contrast, have to manage big groups of children or teenagers who do not have any strong connections with them; moreover, teachers have to deal with the consequences of the mistakes of all the students’ parents. It is hardly possible to do such a job without any special preparation, as problematic situations can (and do) arise at school. In our paper, we will discuss such concepts as school management and discipline, and then we will consider some strategies of the teacher’s behavior in problematic situations that arise at school.
One the important concepts of contemporary pedagogy are the classroom management and discipline. It is considered that classroom management refers to the teacher’s skill of creating the proper environment, organizing the lesson, motivating students and maintaining own authority (Savage & Savage, 2010, p. 6-7). The effective classroom management includes thorough lesson planning and active involving the students into it (the teacher needs to be able to tell what their students will be doing every minute of the lesson). It should prevent the students’ boredom, engage them in the classroom activities, and thus, avert many kinds of misbehavior.
The word “discipline”, on the other hand, is often associated with punishment (Savage & Savage, 2010, p. 8). But it is argued that it is better to understand discipline as “part of continuous process of teaching or educating” which aims at developing desirable behaviors in students and preventing misbehavior (Khalsa, 2007, p. 2, 6). Discipline is a method to nurture students’ character, responsibility, and self-control (Savage & Savage, 2010, p. 8).
Classroom discipline and management are related, as the activity of organizing lessons and creating environment that is good for studying involves developing the proper attitude in the students.
Edwards (2007) distinguishes three main roots of students’ misbehavior: problems at home, problems in the society, and conditions at school (p. 4). The teacher on their own cannot do anything about the students’ circumstances (such as excessive control or the lack of love or attention at home, drugs and gang activity, peer pressure, conflict between races and social classes etc.) (Edwards, 2007, p. 4-9). On the other hand, these factors usually combine with other aspects at school.
For instance, poor discipline (when e.g. the teacher in general doesn’t know how to react to student’s actions) frequently trigger misbehavior. Ineffective classroom management (for example, when students are bored, or are given less attention than other students) can also lead to students’ choosing to misbehave.
As Landrum, Scott, and Lingo (2011) point out, students’ bad behavior is both predictable and preventable (p. 3). So, to a large extent, it is the teacher’s responsibility to avoid disruptive behavior. It means that skills of effective classroom management and discipline are necessary for any teacher.
Sun and Sheck (2011) give a list of common types of students’ misbehavior in the lesson (p. 4-5). We can name some of them:
- Doing something in private (texting, doing home assignment, drawing);
- Talking out of turn (e.g. calling out, talking to classmates);
- Disturbing other classmates (rocking chairs);
- Being out of seat (wandering or changing seats);
- Verbal aggression (bad language);
- Disobedience and disrespect towards the teacher.
We have arranged these disruptive behaviors in order of gravity. Doing something in private hardly influences anyone except the student. Talking out of turn, disturbing others and being out of seat bother people around the student and may lead to a major disruption. Loud verbal aggression creates a major disturbance, while open disobedience and disrespect threats to spoil the whole lesson.
Each of these kinds of misbehavior can be caused by different problems (Edwards, 2007, p. 6). For example, excessive control at home often makes children feel the lack of freedom, and they start rebelling at school: practise being out of seat, verbal aggression, disobedience. Lack of attention or love at home leads to trying to get attention, often by misbehaving. It includes calling out, disrupting others, asking the teacher meaningless questions etc. (Edwards, 2007, p. 6-7). The most minor named types of misbehavior (doing something in private) often may result from poor lesson management and plain boredom in the lesson.
A useful method is the teacher’s keeping physical proximity to their students, for they feel much safer to misbehave when there is no teacher around (Jones, Jones, & Jones, 2007, p. 32). Another good idea of classroom management is keeping students constantly engaged in the lesson. These two tips can often prevent misbehaviors of types 1-4. However, if they emerge, addressing them immediately, in a minimized way that does not involve much emotion is recommended. For example, the teacher can offer some simple physical cues (making an eye contact and a calming sign with their hand), stop talking briefly, tap against the student’s desk while passing by.
It is hard to provide a universal single answer to any of the major problems if they emerge. The teacher, though, should always stay calm, respectful towards students and reasonable. An effective way to deal with such situations is to point out that students choose what to do on their own, and to reasonably show them the best choice. While implementing some disciplinary consequences for the student’s misbehavior, the teacher should stay effective, consistent and respectful.
To sum up, it should be noted that applying school management and discipline strategies requires effort from the teacher, but the results of these strategies can be very positive. Avoiding problematic situations and properly dealing with the students’ misbehavior is an important skill for any teacher, and good strategies can be very fruitful.
Edwards, C. H. (2007). Classroom discipline & management (5th ed.). New York, NY: Wiley. Web.
Jones, F. H., Jones, P., & Jones, J. L. (2007). Tools for teaching: Discipline, instruction, motivation (2nd ed.). Santa Cruz, CA: Fredric H. Jones & Associates. Web.
Khalsa, S. K. (2007). Teaching discipline & self-respect: Effective strategies, anecdotes, and lesson for successful classroom management. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Sage Publications. Web.
Landrum, T. J., Scott, T. M., & Lingo, A. S. (2011). Classroom misbehavior is predictable and preventable. Addressing challenging behavior in the classroom: Prediction, prevention, and instruction. Phi Delta Kappan, 93(2), 30-34. Web.
Savage, T. V., & Savage, M. K. (2010). Successful classroom management and discipline: Teaching self-control and responsibility (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Web.
Sun, R. C. F., & Sheck, D. T. L. (2012). Classroom misbehavior in the eyes of the students: A qualitative study. Scientific World Journal, 2012. Web.