Preparing teachers

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  • 1. THE DELTA KAPPA GAMMA BULLETIN 41 Preparing Teachers for Classroom Management: The Teacher Educator's Role BY MARY C. CLEMENT In this article, the author calls for teacher educators to prepare education candidates with a foundation in classroom management theories and strategies before graduation. Classroom management courses that are offered during student teaching, and also in the master's program, are described. Personal stories and results from surveys of teachers and student teachers build the case for management courses to be offered by professors and any other teacher educators. When I was in my undergraduate teacher education program, classroom management was handled with one line by several of my professors: "If you write a good enough lesson plan, you won't have discipline problems." Now, 30 years later, I use a very different quote with my own student teachers: "You will not even get to teach your perfectly written lesson plan if you don't have a classroom management plan in place." Just as the teaching profession struggled for decades to define its knowledge base in the methodologies of effective instruction, theorists and writers in the teaching profession are still defining the knowledge base of classroom management and discipline. Yet, one can hardly be considered a highly-qualified teacher without a mastery of sound best-practice strategies for managing classroom time, space, and student behavior. The purpose of this article is to describe management classes offered during the student teaching semester and in a master's program at the college level. This paper describes some of the resources available to teacher educators the professors and those who work to prepare and support new teachers. Although teacher education courses are generally taught by professors of education, some who prepare teachers work in schools or in regional offices of education. They are also teacher educators and might include a cooperating teacher or staff developer.

2. 42 Fall 2010 Need for Preparation in Management A benchmark study in the perceived problems of beginning teachers, Veenman's 1984 meta-analysis listed classroom discipline as the number one problem of new teachers. Education majors are still very concerned with "discipline" as they enter and progress through their college programs (Parkay & Stanford, 2004). As teachers face continual pressure to raise student achievement, researchers remind us that "classroom management is perhaps the single most important factor influencing student learning" (Callahan, Clark, 8C Kellough, 2002, p. 161). Without sufficient knowledge of classroom management strategies, new teachers may begin their careers striving to manage as they were managed. WTiile some of the "folk wisdom" of classroom management may be worthwhile, there are many myths perpetuated by teachers that not only don't work in today's classrooms but are harmful to the classroom atmosphere and to students. These myths include the following: 1. There is no way to study classroom management and discipline; you just have to experience the classroom and then learn how to deal with students and their behaviors. 2. Start out mean. 3. WTien all else fails, turn the lights on and off. 4. Don't smile before Christmas. 5. Figure out the ringleaders and pick on them. Make them an example and the others will be scared and fall into place. Although many student teachers have heard these lines, they have no context for understanding them. The college class in management provides the readings and background to debunk these myths, while providing a clear system on what to do in the classroom. WTien the knowledge base of management is shared in a college classroom, the student teacher goes into student teaching equipped with strategies and can cope with management even if few techniques are taught by the cooperating teacher. Although student teachers definitely need the help of their cooperating teachers and mentors in learning to manage a classroom, relying only on these teachers in field experiences may not provide the student teacher with sufficient theory and strategies, as many practicing teachers may never have had any training in management. In my own research (Clement, 2002), I found that 50% of a group of 48 cooperating teachers could not even name a writer or theorist in the field of classroom management. Additionally, comments from this group of teachers indicated that they wanted college professors to "teach general techniques for establishing management systems"" and to teach "student teachers to know how to decide on appropriate consequences for certain behaviors' (pp. 56-57). Results from this survey and from other discussions on my campus led to the requirement of a classroom management course in the undergraduate teacher education program and the addition of an elective classroom management course for practicing teachers in the masters of education program. Getting Started in Teaching Classroom Management I was first asked to teach a seminar in classroom management in 1991, as part of a program for beginning teachers. Having never taken a course in management myself, I started researching, looking for practical, hands-on strategies. I eventually taught these seminars for 6 years, using components of Lee and Marlene Canter's Assertive Discipline (1992) and Succeeding with Difficult Students (1993), Harry and Rosemary Wong's The First Days of School (1991), and Carol Fuery's Discipline Strategies for the Bored, Belligerent, and Ballistic in Your Classroom (1994). (Canter's Assertive Discipline is now out in Dr. Mary C. Clement is a Professor of Teacher Education at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia. She is the author of eight books, including TJjc Definitive Guide to Getting a Teaching Joh and First Time in the High School Classroom. In .addition to being published in the DKG Bulletin, her articles have appeared in the Kappan, the American School Board Journal, Principal, and Principal Leadership magazine. She received her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a member of the Psi State Iota Chapter in Rome, Georgia. 3. THE DELTA KAPPA GAMMA BULLETIN 43 the newest edition, 2010, and the Wongs' book is are like anthologies in their structure, introducing available in the 2009 edition. The author encourages any reader to use the newest editions.) In one of these seminars, a first-year teacher asked, "You have shared three authors and their strategies with us today. Which one is right? Which one will work all the time?" My answer was that there is no one correct way to establish classroom management and discipline. All new teachers must find their own comfortable balance between friendliness and assertiveness. They must find a way to become established in their classrooms. Teachers can, however, read widely from available resources to construct their plans (Clement, 1996). Resources for Teaching Management While preparing this article, I did an online Google search for classroom management, and it netted more than 5 million hits. A quick Amazon, com search showed more than 11,000 books under the category of classroom management. Because I am a professor who teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the subject, book publishers inundate my mailbox with sample books. No teacher today, or no teacher educator, can say that there is a shortage of material for courses on classroom management. In fact, the issue facing those preparing teachers is what to teach from the vast array of literature. When adding a course about management to the teacher education curriculum, much thought should be given to the focus of the course, the needs of the students in the course, and finding the right balance of theory and practicality. The books on management can be categorized from the extremely theoretical to the overly-simplistic "how-to" books. Some books include all research-based work, while others do not even have a reference listthey are based on what worked for one teacher in one situation. Some books "When adding a course about management to tbe teacher education curriculum, much thought should he given to thefocus of the course, the needs of the students in the course, and finding the right balance of theory and practicality!' a wide number of theorists, writers, and models to the students (see, for example. Burden, 2006; Hardin, 2008; and Manning 8 Bucher, 2007). My graduate students tend to like these types of books, as they are practicing teachers and have survived in classrooms long enough to know what ideas to sort out as useful for them. Reading what has been written is still not enough to prepare teacher education candidates for management. They must then discuss, write about, and apply what they have read. In order to help students do this, I assign graduate students research papers for which they read original materials by the writers who are summarized in their textbooks. Often they find that the original work by the writer was different in tone or in strategies than the summarized chapter in their textbook. This method of "going to the source" teaches valuable research lessons while also teaching classroom management strategies. Marzano's (2003) Classroom Management that Works serves as a good resource for graduate students who need to learn about management before becoming staff developers and administrators. Other books are the summary of one or two authors and their programs. Some of the programs are commercialized, with DVDs and other teaching materials available for the instructor. Many of the most prolific writers have created their own video products, and my students feel that they are closer to "the source " of the writers when they hear them present their own material. The Canters, Harry Wong, and Fred Jones are among those who offer video materials that can be very useful to teacher educators. When I use the work of these