Classroom Management Research Paper

Total Length: 3341 words ( 11 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 12

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Classroom Management: Hands on or Hands off?

Introduction

The issue of classroom management is a complex one in today’s world, especially as the issue of how to educate has taken on so many different dimensions over the previous decades. There are so many different schools of thought on the best way to educate that managing the classroom and instilling discipline is also impacted by these myriad voices and perspectives. This paper will focus on the issue of classroom management at the high school level and address the problem by examining whether character education, praise and relationship building can be facilitative types of classroom management approaches that can serve as effective strategies to classroom management.

Problem

The problem of classroom management and whether or not teachers should adopt a hands on or hands off approach to discipline has largely been impacted by the philosophical underpinnings of the modern era, which have largely been rooted in ideas of liberty, fraternity, equality, and other novelties (Koonce, 2016). The problem has been compounded by the fragmentation of political and social perspectives in the modern era, with relativism taking a larger and larger portion of the pie of perspectives so that there is little uniformity or universality in terms of how people approach the concept of discipline in the classroom.

In nearly every case, it appears that discipline and classroom management are topics that are commonly left up to the individual whim of the instructor—some of whom might prefer a preventive strategy while others might prefer a corrective disciplinary strategy while still others might prefer a liberal strategy that is distinctly “hands off” in the idea that allowing students to express themselves without restraint is best (Hinchey, 2010; Bayraktar & Dogan, 2017). While the personalized approach to classroom management may work for some teachers and administrators who prefer to let educators adopt whatever approach to classroom management they like best, the myriad approaches can send confusing signals to students who may feel frustrated, confused, perplexed or exacerbated by so many different approaches to classroom management and discipline, with each teacher seeming to have his or her own strategy and every student having to adjust from one class to the next. This can be especially true for students of different ethnicities who may encounter more or less prejudice from one teacher to the next (Gregory et al., 2016).

Instead of a uniform approach to classroom management that is universally accepted, there is a whole host of approaches—some of which are effective and some of which are not when it comes to managing a classroom and promoting discipline and positive, healthy relationships between educators and students (Aydin & Ziatdinov, 2016; Ersozlu & Cayci, 2016). The idea that character education, praise and relationship building can be helpful in promoting self-management, as Aydin and Ziatdinov (2016) have shown is helpful, could have dramatic effects in establishing a more common sense, universally accepted approach to classroom management and solve the problem of whether educators should be hands on or hands off once and for all. As Kristjansson (2014) shows, by simply re-introducing the concept of character education at an early age, students can be trained to develop self-management skills that help them to be more oriented towards pursuing the transcendental values identified by classical philosophers and educators like Plato and Aristotle. By pursuing such a path, the problem of classroom management and the clash of so many different ideas and techniques could finally be put to rest and a single, common and effective approach to discipline adopted across the board by all educators to help students be better adjusted, confident and able to develop positive relationships with peers and teachers from one class to the next.

Classroom Management Types

The Hands Off Approach

Fransen (2013) showed that when teachers take a more hands off approach to classroom management and discipline and allow students to moderate themselves more or less, the students respond with more demonstrations of maturity and self-regulation than might be expected. The basis of Fransen’s (2013) argument is that if educators want students to show maturity and good behavior teachers must be willing to trust them, allow them to make mistakes but ultimately be willing to tone down the aggressive approach to discipline that more restrictive and punitively-minded educators might prefer in order to keep tight control on a classroom.

What Fransen (2013) found was that when teachers give fewer deferrals for discipline, student achievement actually increases because students are more willing to engage with the material.
Instead of simply sitting silently and waiting out the clock in order to get through the class without at least being punished for becoming animated or lively in response to taking a heightened interest in the subject, students whose teachers are more phlegmatic in their approach to discipline—i.e., who allow students to express themselves so long as student engagement is occurring—are more successful at meeting academic goals overall.

If the aim of education is to acquire knowledge and skills, it makes sense that the hands off approach to classroom management would facilitate engagement and therefore help to engender better scores and better achievement of academic goals overall: after all, the more respected students are and the more they are permitted to be themselves while simultaneously taking part in the active learning process, personalizing the experience and taking ownership of their own education the more likely they will be to accomplish tasks, learn from mistakes, and acquire knowledge.

On the other hand, not every attempt to be hands off ends positively: in some cases, too much freedom can lead to lawlessness and abandon especially if there are no clear parameters or expectations that are communicated to students who, ultimately, require some guidance in terms of knowing what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior—which is where the idea of character education comes in to play (Kristjansson, 2014).

The Hands On Approach

Character education. What makes character education so enticing in terms of classroom management is that it is subtle and reinforces the parameters and expectations without obliging the educator to come across as an enforcer, as an authoritarian, or as an aggressor. On the contrary, the instructor can come across with the same love and affection as was demonstrated by Socrates towards his peers and pupils in ancient Greece, or by Plato or Aristotle towards their students—primarily because the approach is based on education of the mind and will and not on the implementation of the rod or whip as the main intervention (Kristjansson, 2014). Instead of trying to enforce an arbitrary code of rules or ethics in the classroom, the character educator adopts a policy of explaining why students should engage in self-management, what transcendental ideals they should pursue—i.e., beauty, truth, oneness, and so on—and why virtue is something to be cultivated in the students’ daily lives (it is the true path to happiness, according to Aristotle). As Kristjansson (2014) shows, the more that students are able to recognize the virtue of good behavior and the more they are able to identify what constitutes good behavior, the more accustomed to behaving appropriately in the classroom they will become. This hands on approach to character formation and therefore classroom management ultimately allows teachers to adopt a hands off approach to classroom management because the groundwork has already been laid so to speak.

In other words, if students are trained to behave virtuously and properly from the beginning, there is less need for educators to be authoritative, punitive, or aggressive in terms of discipline because the students will already be used to monitoring themselves and managing their own behavior effectively. The students will, additionally, have more confidence in themselves, will demonstrate greater facility in terms of engaging in healthy relationships with their peers and teachers, and will generally reflect more positive social demeanor overall (Kristjansson, 2014). This finding corroborates the findings of Ersozlu and Cayci (2016) and the idea that self-control is an effective means of promoting classroom control, as shown by Aydin and Ziatdinov (2016) in their study of educational concepts from Turkey.

Using praise. The idea that praise can also be effective in promoting effective classroom management has been shown to be supported by evidence in the study conducted by Floress, Beschta, Meyer and Reinke (2017). Floress et al. (2017) showed that when teachers use praise to promote self-worth in students, students reciprocate by conforming to behavioral norms and expectations promoted by the instructor. The idea behind this approach is similar to that at the root of character education and at the root of the concept of respecting students so that they can have the wherewithal to manage their own feelings and actions effectively. The more confidence and esteem that students are able to cultivate, the more responsibly they are likely to act.

Praise from teachers is helpful because it gives students one of the basic needs that they require according to Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of….....

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References

Aydin, B., & Ziatdinov, R. (2016). How Students Acquire Self-Control: Primary School Teachers\' Concepts from Turkey. European Journal of Contemporary Education, 18(4), 390-397.

Bayraktar, H. V., & Dogan, M. C. (2017). Investigation of primary school teachers’ perception of discipline types they use for classroom management. Higher Education Studies, 7(1), 30.

Ersozlu, A., & Cayci, D. (2016). The Changes in Experienced Teachers\' Understanding towards Classroom Management. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 4(1), 144-150.

Floress, M. T., Beschta, S. L., Meyer, K. L., & Reinke, W. M. (2017). Praise Research Trends and Future Directions: Characteristics and Teacher Training. Behavioral Disorders, 43(1), 227-243.

Fransen, S. L. (2013). A Study of Student Engagement Activities, Discipline Referrals, and Student Achievement in Reading First Schools (Doctoral dissertation, Lindenwood University).

Gregory, A., Hafen, C. A., Ruzek, E., Mikami, A. Y., Allen, J. P., & Pianta, R. C. (2016). Closing the racial discipline gap in classrooms by changing teacher practice. School Psychology Review, 45(2), 171-191.

Hinchey, P. (2010). Finding Freedom in the Classroom. NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Koonce, G. (2016) (Ed.), Taking sides: Clashing views on educational issues expanded (18 Ed.). McGraw Hill Publishers.

Kristjansson, K. (2014). There is something about Aristotle: the pros and cons of Aristotelianism in contemporary moral education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 48(1), 48-68.

Kwok, A. (2017). Relationships Between Instructional Quality and Classroom Management for Beginning Urban Teachers. Educational Researcher, 46(7), 355-365.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370.

Stetson, R., Stetson, E., Sinclair, B. & Nix, K. (2012). Home visits: Teacher reflections about relationships, student behavior, and achievement. Issues in Teacher Education, 21(1), 21-37.
 
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