Of all the controversial subjects in the world of teaching, few strike closer to the heart and soul of educators than the topic of classroom management. Depending on who is doing the talking, classroom management can exemplify the best or the worst aspects of teaching. First of all, to understand the scope of this subject, it must be acknowl edged that there are several defining elements of classroom management existing in our collective consciousness and at odds with one another. Many view the whole sub ject with contempt, labeling it as nothing more than a “bag of tricks.” In fact, the sta tus of classroom management as a subject is so widely looked down upon that many teacher preparation programs no longer even include it in their courses of study. Even if it is not viewed with disdain, the nature of what classroom management can and should be is commonly misunderstood. The opinion of the general public is that “Anyone can do it. Yo u just need to get tough.” And the subject is the most feared — especially by new teachers but also by those with years of experience. Managing any group of students effectively accounts for more than one sleepless night per teacher per month. For students, it can be the greatest source of stomach churning. Children fear going to school when angry, resentful, and frustrated teachers attempt to manage their classrooms. And finally, when it is done well, thoughtful management practices can be the underpinning of safe, nurturing classrooms. The caring, respectful teacher is often the most cherished memory people have of their school experiences.
In part, the controversial nature of the topic is reflected in a shared uncertainty as to what the process of creating and sustaining peaceful learning communities even should be called. There are those who call it classroom discipline, but that term carries the implication of one person controlling another, making it a less than desirable descriptor for others who are committed to constructivist practices. On the other hand, the term classroom management can include everything from rules and consequences to keeping accurate attendance and grade records. The broad scope encompassed by that term makes it similarly undesirable particularly to those who wish to focus solely on effective strategies for building and sustaining quiet, productive classrooms. Some writers attempt a compromise by referring to the topic as classroom management and discipline — an unwieldy approach that is typically only used for book titles. For the purposes of this chapter, the term class room management, rather than discipline, will be used precisely because the term describes a comprehensive effort to create classrooms that function to support the best interests of teachers and students.
KeywordsMoral Development Corporal Punishment Classroom Management Physical Punishment Teacher Preparation Program
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