Zooming in on classroom management in The Teacher Prep Review

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No matter how well a teacher knows her stuff, if she doesn't know how to bring order to a classroom and manage student behavior little actual learning may occur.  The results from the Classroom Management Standard in this year's Teacher Prep Review show just how little training many new teachers receive.

The Classroom Management Standard this year is new and improved, with the addition of a new indicator focusing on specific praise.  Given the strength of research supporting classroom management techniques focused on reinforcing appropriate behavior through specific praise and/or recognition, we were disappointed to find that only one out of four programs provide their teacher candidates with feedback on this essential skill.

University of Washington - Seattle’s graduate special education program provided a bright spot: in addition to providing its candidates with feedback on using positive reinforcement, it also provides feedback on whether candidates use more positive than negative statements--including explicit guidance on that ratio (4:1). While no specific ratio is explicitly supported by research, research does indicate there should be more positive than negative feedback.

Also of note is the distribution of programs that submitted new data for analysis in 2014: compared to programs which did not submit new data, a higher proportion of programs that submitted new data nearly meet and meet the Classroom Management Standard.

The following example from Murray State (KY) illustrates how simple changes to language in an observation or evaluation form can provide much more specific and helpful feedback to candidates: “Uses methods of respectful classroom discipline” is replaced by “Uses proximity and other non-verbal communication to redirect off-task behavior. […] Consistently applies consequences when a student misbehaves. […] Uses effective classroom management to reinforce standards of behavior through praise, rules, routines and/or procedures.”