Classroom management more than instructional virtuosity

iStock_000018120666XSmallThe belief that high-quality instruction eliminates troublesome student behavior in the classroom (the “false promise of instructional virtuosity”) is one reason many teachers are not adequately trained in classroom management, says a new study from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

“The closest the field comes to an endorsed ‘approach’ is the apparent conviction that teachers should be able to rise to a level of instructional virtuosity that would largely negate any need to consciously and deliberately ‘manage’ a classroom using a variety of defined strategies,” says the report , which examined how classroom management was taught in teacher education programs across the country.

While there is no question that dynamic instruction reduces the need for management, teachers will always need to act in the moment to manage student behavior, whether it’s handling an unusually chaotic return from recess or regaining the attention of a student losing focus, the researchers write.

After reviewing how 122 teacher preparation programs taught classroom management, the researchers concluded that:

  • Very little time is spent on training in classroom management
  • Candidates typically received training in only 2-3 of the “Big 5” techniques (establishing rules, setting up routines, reinforcing positive behavior with praise, consistently imposing consequences for misbehavior and fostering student engagement with interesting lessons and opportunities for participation).
  • Only a third of programs require teacher candidates to practice classroom management skills.
  • Most programs do not appear to draw from the research when deciding which classroom management strategies should be taught and practiced

The researchers identified 213 courses in the that could conceivably address classroom management. As well as instructional coursework, researchers looked at the practica that was aligned with coursework.

Among the recommendations for change:

  • Use videos of real classes taught by real teachers to provide instruction in classroom management
  • Develop foundation and general clinical coursework that address classroom management strategies with the strongest research support
  • Make better use of classroom observations and practice. When teacher candidates view videotapes of their own teaching, they should be required to comment on the specific strategies that were or were not employed
  • Use simulations to develop classroom management skills. In-class simulations can be more valuable than practice in the field, especially at the beginning of training

“Training our future teachers: Classroom management,” National Council on Teacher Quality, December 2013

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