What do new teachers learn about classroom management? Not nearly enough

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Time and again, new teachers report that their biggest challenge is classroom management. Without the fundamentals of effective management in place, even the most brilliantly crafted lesson can fall on distracted ears - or worse, be upended by disruptive behavior. Understandably, student learning suffers, and teachers who in time might excel in the classroom are frequently so demoralized that they abandon the profession altogether.

Today, NCTQ releases a new report digging into the specifics of teacher preparation on classroom management to determine why so many new teachers start the school year unequipped to succeed.

As centuries of received wisdom about education has told us - and decades of careful research has confirmed - there are in fact effective strategies to keep students on track so that learning can take place. We call these effective strategies the "Big Five."

  • Rules: Establish and teach classroom rules to communicate expectations for behavior.
  • Routines: Build structure and establish routines to help guide students in a wide variety of situations.
  • Praise: Reinforce positive behavior, using praise and other means.
  • Misbehavior: Consistently impose consequences for misbehavior.
  • Engagement: Foster and maintain student engagement by teaching interesting lessons that include opportunities for active student participation.

Our review of 122 elementary and secondary, undergraduate and graduate programs indicates that nearly every teacher prep program does address classroom management in some way. But few programs are addressing all the strategies they should, and some are addressing one or none:   

What's worse is that even if teacher candidates learn these strategies, they still may not practice them until they reach student teaching months later. Overall, only about a third of programs provide teacher candidates with opportunities to practice these strategies as they learn them. 

Check out our report to learn more about some bright spots among programs, the research on the Big Five and common sense steps teacher prep programs can take to improve their classroom management training.