The Art of Classroom Management
As an effective classroom manager, you should be well prepared for lessons, anticipate difficulties and react immediately before problem escalate and execute with “verbal deftness”. In their report on Classroom management Wragg and Dooley (1984) highlighted five main areas:-
1. The establishment of good personal relationship with students.
2. Effective preparation of lessons
3. Organization of materials and students work during lessons
4. Specific pedagogic skills
5. Personal characteristics of the teacher
The teacher’s professional competencies which influence classroom management. Under this topic you will get to now the following:
• Knowledge of learner’s characteristics
• The mastery of subject matter
• Effective communication ability
• Creating good rapports
• Teacher’s personality
• Effective management of instructional materials.
Knowledge of Learner’s Characteristics
Learner’s characteristics will include age, sex, attitude, socio-economic background, level of influences, previous knowledge, interest and so one.
The knowledge of the above will equip the teachers to be able to understand student’s behaviours and performances. This will also make him to assist the students more promptly and effectively and by so doing you will become friends of the students and thus enjoy their cooperation and respect.
The knowledge of children’s psychological development, pretest, interviews and discussions with students helps the teacher to know more of his students’ characteristics which will help him to determine the student’s interest and ability more accurately.
The Mastery of the Subject Matter
An ill prepared teacher will not only embarrass himself but also lose self-respect. Students often look unto the teacher as an authority in the subject matter he teaches. A good teacher should prepare very well and know far more than he intends to cover.
Students know when a teacher does not know more of the subject and they often seize this opportunity to ridicule and embarrass the teacher by asking questions and making counter productive observations.
Effective Communication Ability
Successful teaching implies effective communication. Generally speaking good classroom communication should include the following:
• Explain ideas clearly
• Pronouncing words distinctly and correctly
• Writing legibly on the chalk board
• Using instructional media correctly
The ability to express your thought and feelings accurately to the other person is very important in human interpersonal communication process. As a teacher you should be learned in communication skills to be able to teach successfully. The teacher is usually the source of the message.
He should therefore use simple but appropriate words for his message. He should also select effective channel/medium of communication. In addition to these he should reduce or eliminate communication barriers along the channel of communication. His writing should be familiar to the students.
In order to remove misinterpretation and ambiguities, instructional media should be used to illustrate concepts.
Creating Good Rapport
The teacher should be able to create good rapport between the students and himself and among the students themselves. In other words the teacher should create a friendly environment in the classroom. When the teacher develops interest in the students they are likely to reciprocate by loving and respecting the teacher.
“Teachers can show friendliness by being consistently polite, taking time to listen and avoiding situations that undermine student’s self concept” (Oyinloye G. K. 1988). Being friendly with students, however is not to make one too intimate to the point of developing an unhealthy relationship.
Other important ways to build rapport with students is to regard them not as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge, but as individual in their own right.
They must be given permission not only to consult with the teacher in the classroom alone, but also outside it, when students have such free access to the teacher, it helps to narrow down the psychological distance which normally exists between the teacher and the students.
Qualities of a good teacher
“The way the teacher dresses, speaks and conducts himself in front of his class will go a long way in helping him to control the class effectively” (Bello, 1981).
A well dressed teacher will command more respect than a shabbily dressed teacher. A teacher should dress moderately well and not to call attention unduly to himself. He should therefore not be sensational. The teacher’s dresses should be neat, simple and well tailored. The choice of colours is important, therefore his clothes, shoes, caps should be selected to complement each other.
In short, there should be no colour riot. The manner in which the teacher carries himself (deportment) whether smartly or sluggishly, and the way he conducts himself whether with dignity or debasement (comportment), portrays him to the students as either agile and business like or lazy and carefree.
Mannerisms such as foaming in the mouth, using of meaningless words, scratching of the body repeatedly, could put the teacher to ridicule and earn him nick names from the students.
The attitude of the teacher to his work and the type of leadership he adopts are important as that can affect control. A teacher that is always punctual to class will by his or her example discourage late coming and truancy by students. The teacher’s leadership style whether democratic, authoritarian or laissez fair is also important. For example, a democratic class where the students take part in decision making process will be more acceptable to them than an authoritarian class; but care must be taken by the teacher so that students do not abuse this privilege and erode the authority of the teacher.
Effective Management of Instructional Materials
Instructional Materials are no doubt very useful in facilitating learning. It may however constitute a problem if not handled properly. In the first place, production of these materials should not be solely a teacher’s affair; students should be involved in the production of some of the locally produced ones.
Their involvement in the production will enable them to see the work as their own creation and thus help in their preservation and storage. Instructional Materials needed for the day should be selected and stored in such a way that the teachers can easily lay his hand on them when needed.
Great care needs be exercised to avoid disruption of lesson by running here and there for instructional materials. This could result in a rowdy or noisy classroom. The class monitor or any student designated to be in charge of instructional materials can be called upon to help in their display.
Students could also be engaged in the arrangements and fixing of apparatus for performing experiments. If the equipment is electrically operated, for example electronics, teachers should have learned and mastered its operation before using it in the classroom or otherwise bring in a person who knows how to operate it.
If he fumbles with the equipment in the presence of the students, it could undermine his effective control of the class. Instructional materials need to be stored in places provided for them when not in use. They should not be left in places that will make them visible to students and thus distract their attention from the new and subsequent lessons. Charts may be left hanging on wall for some days but could be removed when they are no more relevant to the students’ needs.
A class librarian could be appointed to be in charge of the class textbooks. He should be made to distribute the textbooks to students during the class. A situation where students struggle for instructional materials should not be tolerated and should be discouraged.
Classroom management involves many interrelated and interdependent activities in management. Such activities can be grouped under the following – planning, organizing, leading, coordinating, directing, supervising and reporting. Specifically, physical resources must be properly and efficiently utilized.
Students must be properly arranged and carried along in the teaching-learning process, while the performance of the students and the teachers must be evaluated on regular basis. Management activities in the classroom are under the following activities.
This is a systematic process of preparing for a lesson. It involves preparing a set of decisions in advance about the classroom encounter. It is a process of addressing issues related to “what to teach”, “how to teach”, “when to teach”, “with what to teach” in the most effective and efficient manners possible.
Classroom planning is a short term type of planning and the paper work on this is referred to as the daily lesson plan.
Organizing the students as well as the physical and material resources available in the classroom demands your managerial skills and knowledge as a teacher.
This involves the teacher’s ability to anticipate classroom needs and ability to deal effectively with them at the appropriate time (Fawant 1980) A class ought to be organized so that little opportunity as possible is afforded for disruptions, noises and disorderly behaviours (Awoniyi, 1979). This may involve grouping students or allo0wing a free activity class.
Classroom organization also involves the selection of competent class leaders, thus, the teacher should watch out for leadership qualities in the students and help develop such qualities by assigning certain duties to such students, as class monitor, group prefect etc.
Developing students for leadership role is part of education. Instructional materials should be arranged within the reach of the students. These materials should be properly cared for and maintained to be in good condition for use at all times. Since these materials are meant to be organized for optimal utilization, safeguarding them or keeping them out of students’ reach could result into under-utilization or wastage.
Leading in the classroom is the process of influencing the behaviour of the students to perform in a manner which will help the class achieve its goals efficiently and effectively. A teacher is seen as a person who because of rich or unusual experience or education or both in a given field is able to contribute to the growth of other persons who come in contact with him (Good 1973).
Teacher behaviour patterns have been found to be significant determinants of students’ academic performance (Morrison and McIntyre 1973).
For effective classroom management the teacher as a leader should:
1. Be warm, understanding and friendly rather than being aloof, egocentric and restricted.
2. Be responsible, business like and systematic rather than being evading, unplanned and slipshod
3. Be stimulating and creative and imaginative rather than being dull and routinely.
The teacher should therefore be concerned with the development of students’ trait of self reliance, independent thought and cooperative activities right from the classroom setting.
Coordinating the efforts and activities of students by the class teacher is a crucial aspect of classroom management activities. Coordinating is the systematic process of integrating and synchronizing the class efforts to achieve the desired goals.
This is a group-process coordination, which is much more emphasized in the classroom than self-process coordinating, in which any student may relate his activities to those of others by either collaboration, cooperating or observation.
For effective coordination, you (teacher) must be able to translate your plan into activities involving the students. The teacher is expected to apply theories of behaviour and development (learnt in psychology) and techniques of teaching learnt in methodology to actual classroom situations.
The teacher is the director of knowledge, who motivates, influence and guides the student’s actions in the classroom towards the attainment of the lesson objectives. These are various teaching or instructional techniques for teacher’s use.
These include lecture method, questioning method, group teaching, individual instruction, project method, activity method, story telling technique, play way method and non-graded instruction. Details of these techniques are beyond the scope of this course.
However, you should be conversant with these techniques to know when and how to use them effectively. Any technique chosen must be relevant, appropriate and adequate for the lesson.
To be an effective classroom director, the teacher must know the subject matter and must use clear, fluent and appropriate language to communicate. Furthermore, the teacher must ensure two-way directional communication, that is, communication from the teacher to the students and vice-versa, in a free and democratic atmosphere.
This is the process of ensuring that the objectives of the subject are achieved possibly with minimum effort. This involves using expert knowledge and experience to oversee, evaluate and improve the conditions and methods of doing things connected with the teaching-learning process. This is also known as supervising (Nwankwo 1981)
Controlling in the classroom management enables the teacher to maintain order (rules and regulation) in the class. The teacher assumes the role of a pacesetter, an innovator, an evaluator, a guidance-counsellor and indeed a model to the students.
He should, however, be loyal to his ideals and ideas, while he should respect the beliefs, right, worth and dignity of the students. He should be approachable. For instance, a teacher who comes late to the class or who chews (gum, kolanut etc) in the classroom might find it difficult to check these activities among his students.
This is judging class activities in relation to the stated objectives. Evaluation depends on clearly stated objectives and efficient instruments for measuring extent to which change has taken place towards objectivities (Farrant 1980).
Evaluating students may be summative (which is meant for certification or grading of students at the end of a course) formative (which is meant for a feedback on student progress through a unit), or diagnostic (which is meant for determining prerequisite skills for placement).
Students could be evaluated using objective or subjective (essay) tests, self-report technique or observational technique. The teacher must ensure that whatever method is used must be valid (that is, the evaluating procedure should measure what it is intended to measure) and be reliable (that is, it must be trust worthy and must not be doubtful)
The teacher needs to give constant progress report of the students in his class. This would serve as a means of promptly intimating the appropriate authorities, for instance, the school, the parents, the employers, the scholarship or bursary award institutions and even the students themselves with performances and problems in the classrooms so that necessary actions could be taken for improvement.
The teacher acts as information manager. In order to do this, the teacher keeps adequate records of the student’s performance. The report form classroom manager (the teacher) serves as a means of feedback in classroom management activities.
In this unit we have covered some ground in the very important and wide subject of class management. It is obvious that the purpose of classroom management is to ensure that the students learn in a comfortable and conducive environment.
The students, the teacher and the physical aspects of the classroom are all involved. The teacher must therefore familiarize himself with the various elements in the classroom such as ventilation, lighting etc and ensure they are appropriate.