3 Types of Classroom Management You Must Avoid to be an Excellent Teacher
Are you trying to be a terrible teacher?
Yes, you heard me correctly. Now before you pick up your pitchfork and torch and gather a mob to burn my house down, just hear me out for a sec.
I’m guessing you came to this blogpost because you are having problems dealing with your students right? You may not realise it, but the way that you are teaching may be causing your students to act up in the first place.
The most important classroom management skill you will ever learn is to master yourself. Your classroom management style can make or break your teaching practice and even your career.
In this blogpost, you will learn:
1) Why you must assess, analyse and upgrade your own classroom management philosophy – (I will give you an effective model to do that)
2) The 3 types of classroom management styles that you must avoid to become an excellent classroom classroom teacher
3) 15 questions that will help you define your classroom management style and I will give you some links to help you become a classroom management master.
Sounds good? Let us proceed.
What is your classroom management philosophy?
Official government statistics suggest that there are just over half a million teachers in the UK. And every single one of them has a classroom management philosophy. To make things simpler, let's call it your 'classroom management style.' Brill.
In my first book ‘The Action Hero Teacher: Classroom Management Made Simple’ I created a model called the ‘Classroom Management Spectrum.’
In my opinion, teachers need 2 key characteristics to control their classrooms. They are:
1. Authority – The ability to instruct, teach and gain the respect of your students based on your position and expertise.
2. Warmth – The ability to empathise, create rapport and appropriately meet the needs of your students in the classroom.
As a rule of thumb, great teachers seem to have a good mix of both: these teachers are kind, empathetic, caring and yet have the respect of their students and can correct and challenge them when needed.
Your aim is to be in the middle of the classroom management spectrum, which is what I call the ‘leader zone’. 'Leaders' are masters in knowing when to say the right things to the right student at the right time.
Is the ‘leader zone’ the best classroom management style?
I will say ‘yes’, but like with most things in life, there are nuances. It’s not about being dead centre in the middle.’
There are times that you may find yourself slightly ‘off-centre’ — where you may lean on your authority a bit more (left-of-centre) or you may be working on building relationships with challenging students (right-of-centre) and that is perfectly fine.
Whether you are naturally a firmer or warmer teacher doesn’t mean that you are not effective. Different students, different classes, different institutions and different years will require slightly different treatments. Give yourself some flexibility.
However, there are 3 classroom management styles that are almost guaranteed to lose the goodwill of your students and make managing your classrooms almost impossible to do. Never ever go to the extremes on the spectrum.
1) The Dictator – All Authority, No Warmth
Dictators have what is now known as an ‘authoritive classroom management style.’ They tend to have the following traits:
Overly serious about everything (including themselves) that happens in the classroom.
They favour control over communication
Are aggressive and demanding
Sees any vulnerability as a weakness and is ‘strictly business.’
Delivers commands and never asks for opinions
Do not encourage or congratulate their students when they do positive things but berates them for doing wrong
Has inflexible, impossible standards that demotivate their students
As I mentioned in my eBook ‘Teaching Generation Z,’ this style does not sit well with this particular generation of students. Generation Z and Generation Alpha are the most empowered young people in human history & will not be afraid to challenge authority.
Dictators create flashpoint situations through their aggressive and blunt behaviour and their need to control everything and everyone. But this often backfires because of the ill feeling they create in their classrooms, which demotivates their students.
Avoid this style at all costs, otherwise, you will have a classroom full of hurt.
2) The Doormat – All Warmth, No Authority
Doormats are the opposite of Dictators and this trait is known as ‘laissez-faire classroom management.' They tend to have the following traits:
Overly prioritise relationships with students at the expense of healthy boundaries
Failure to correct students appropriately when they have done wrong
Their eagerness to please often lowers their classroom status and the stronger characters take control
Has trouble giving instructions and believes that everything should be put to the public vote
They are often very indecisive, giving control away at every opportunity
Minimises the poor behaviour of their students to ‘keep the peace’ which causes more problems down the line as this emboldens the disruptive students
I can guess some of you are asking yourself these questions: Being kind and empathetic isn’t a bad thing right? Aren’t we meant to care for our students? Yes, but like everything in life, there are limits.
Where Doormats fall down is their classroom management style is not motivated by love but fear. This fear stops them from asserting boundaries and standards and before long, their classes are out of control.
Many Doormats become frustrated, especially when they are targeted by the more disruptive students and then weakly try to assert their boundaries. But when they do that, the disruptors resist and put them back in their place, making the Doormat's life a living hell.
3) The Yo-Yo – Swings between Authority and Warmth in a short period
Yo-Yos are very erratic in how they implement their classroom management strategies: They tend to have the following traits:
There are no clear rules or procedures to deal with anything in the classroom – their class motto would be ‘anything goes’
There are no clear rewards or punishments – one day, they crack down on a particular behaviour, and the next, the same behaviour is ignored or even rewarded
Their personality baffles students and teachers alike – one day, they are kind and bubbly, and the following day, they are moody and blunt
They do not stick to their word – they make promises or threats, but are either too harsh or too soft
Their classroom relationships are drama-filled. One day a child may be favoured and the next day, because of an issue, they are the worst thing since sliced bread
Although on paper, this behaviour may seem extreme, it is more common than people think. This is often the case for teachers who may be new to classroom management and haven’t been shown how to create a system that benefits everyone in the classroom.
If you are reading this and thinking, ‘ Karl classroom management seems so stressful – how do I get it right?’ Have no fear, this is what ‘The Action Hero Teacher’ is all about. Stick with me and I will give you a hand.
So what if I don’t know my classroom management philosophy?
It’s OK not to know – especially if you have never been shown. Grab a notepad and a pen (you can use your phone if you like – I don’t mind) and answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions.
Do you feel you have to give the same instructions to the class and they do not listen to you at all?
Are there cliques of students in your class who feel that the rules do not apply to them?
Is there constant low-level disruption when you are teaching? Do people constantly fidget/talk/play with things rather than focus on your agenda?
Do the students constantly talk over you?
Do students constantly come late to your lesson and are unapologetic about it?
Do students take an extremely long time to settle down once the class has started?
Do your students constantly make jokes/comments that either provoke you or the other students in class? When challenged, are they sarcastic or aggressive?
If you have answered the majority of these questions, it may suggest that you haven’t built up enough authority with your students, and you may have to re-assert your boundaries and make clear systems of rewards and sanctions.
Here are some links to some blog posts I written before that will help you do that:
But let’s look at the other side. Answer these questions:
Do you feel that your classes, in general, tend to be lifeless and dull?
Do you find yourself constantly shouting and firefighting?
Do your students find it difficult to answer your questions?
Do your students find you approachable?
Are your students engaged in what you teach? When you have interactive sections of your lesson, are the students reluctant to join in?
Do your students constantly make excuses to leave the class?
Do your students display negative body language i.e putting their heads on their desk, leaning back in their chairs or avoiding eye-contact with you?
If the second batch more questions look more like your classroom, this could be a sign that your students could be disengaged and unmotivated. In these circumstances, they are just complying with your requests but not engaging with you or the subject.
The following links are to my blogposts that are designed to help you increase engagement, fire up your students and have a better time in the classroom.
Thank you for reading! This blogpost has given you the lowdown on behaviour management styles, but there are a lot more things that you need to learn to truly engage and motivate this new generation.
I believe we are living through one of the most remarkable periods in Human History. The COVID pandemic was just the beginning & things will never return to normal.
Our students are called 'Generation Z' - & they have a front-row ticket to these radical changes in our world. The 'old-skool' ways of teaching are done.
Grab my FREE eBook "Teaching Generation Z" to give in-depth analysis and practical tips that will help you inspire your students & take your teaching to the next level.
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See you around!