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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Classroom Management: The Hardest Skill

Classroom Management: The Hardest Skill

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Just came across a great article, "Controlling a classroom isn't as easy as ABC" via the LA Times.

It mentioned classroom management as the hardest skills to master:"It is probably one of the things that's least understandable and most complex about teaching," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. "This is the hardest skill to master."

It also mentioned that "Among the top reasons why teachers are deemed unsuccessful or leave the profession is their inability to effectively manage their classrooms, according to records and interviews."

What are your thoughts? Is classroom management by far, the "hardest skill?" What does your school to support you to increase your classroom management skills?

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Alice Mercer's picture
Alice Mercer
Elementary Computer Lab Teacher

I think different teachers start out with different strengths and weaknesses. I started out substitute teaching on an emergency credential without any education coursework. I learned and mastered classroom management first, but what is referred to as "delivery or instruction" was not so great. I could get away with that for the short stints I did as a sub.

Other teachers start out as tutors working with one or a small group of students where they master teaching, but don't learn how to handle larger groups of students in a classroom setting.

With most of us, discipline is part of a complex pas de deux with pedagogy (teaching). Many teachers think they have a classroom management problem, when what they may have in part is a problem with student engagement.

The more I teach, the more I appreciate how complex the whole thing is, and not just the classroom management.

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

We talk about this at my school all the time. It is virtually impossible to achieve anything without classroom management. I agree with Alice, that some teachers seem to have a knack for it. Although I've found that for most teachers, it's the hardest thing to master.

I've seen teachers with such good, interesting, creative lessons who cannot implement them because of lack of classroom management. I've also seen teachers achieve miraculous things because they did have excellent classroom management (even if their lessons weren't the most interesting).

Like everything in teaching, there are many ways to go about classroom management; however, you'd be hard pressed to get anywhere without it!

Paige Kinnaird's picture
Paige Kinnaird
Eighth Grade English Teacher

Classroom Management is the key to success in the classroom, yet we spend more time in professional development classes working on themes, centers, lessons and forget that without the management piece - many of the other pieces will not work in the classroom.

Ron Shuali's picture
Ron Shuali
Keynote Speaker and Workshop Trainer at Shua Life Skills

Being a professional development provider who focuses on classroom management, I agree 100% that it is the key to success. If the students are focusing on a child who is constantly winning the attention game, then the teacher now has to work to get the focus back on the him or her. Trying to get the attention seeker to be the classroom helper or leader might help get the focus back on the teacher. Two tips I talk about that are effective are the following:
1. Get out from behind the desk and teach while standing right next to the attention seeker. Don't respond to them unless they have the bravery to keep being disrespectful as you stand right next to them.
2. The Power Look - Look at the top of the child's forehead while humming ABCDEFG... to yourself. As long as you don't drop your gaze down to the students eyes, this look removes all emotion from your face and stops the typical action that the child usually looks for when seeking attention. Try it. I promise it works. SHWAH!

Brenda Brisco's picture
Brenda Brisco
8th grade inclusion teacher from Monroe, Louisiana

Classroom management is one of the hardest skills in the classroom. In fact, if the classroom management was not a problem than teachers could teach and students would be learning. But new teachers have difficulty in this area usually when they walk into the classroom before the first week of school is over.
Therefore, new teachers come to school with the desire to teach but with very little behavior management skills. As a mentor for my school, one of the first assistance that I endeavor to offfer to my new teacher is to get a handle on their classroom. I offer tips based on that new teacher needs; it may be a seating arrangement; it may be providing extrinsic rewards or even just writing that student name on the board while the teacher continue to teach. Whatever the situation is, the procedure must first be taught.
Our school began our year with behavior management techniques. The school attempts to provide a safe climate for all students and their teachers. All teachers must participate in a school wide positive behavior training which everyone is expected to implement during the year.

Donna's picture

I loved all of the above comments. I have an interesting suggestion to propose in the form of a question: Since Classroom Management is such an essential element of good teaching, why don't school professional development sessions provide more and extensive training on it? I cannot remember such a session EVER in my district, yet it is ALWAYS an evaluation topic! HMMM?

Susi Sensei's picture

I completely agree! When students are engaged, there are few to no behavior problems. The trick is involving ALL students:)

Doris Anigboro's picture

I agree to all of the above. A teacher must be able to control the classroom by engaging the students in discussions, and a teacher must have a good knowledge of the subject matter expecially new teachers.

Kala's picture

I agree that maintaining a classroom is by far one the hardest skills. Teachers are dealing with students from different cultures and backgrounds. How does one person control an entire classroom?! The answer is not simple, yet there are many effective solutions. Keeping the students interested from a variety of possibly activities could be a good outcome. The teacher must also stay firm, yet pleasant with their students. I also agree with Donna that their should be more training, as a matter of fact, hands on training with classroom management.

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