Positive reinforcement is key to good classroom management

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Jan. 4, 2014 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 3, 2014 at 7:04 p.m.

Cade Middle School Band Director Miranda Partida was in the cafeteria on morning duty when she asked a student if he was finished with his breakfast.

"As soon as I tapped him on his shoulder, he flipped out and started cussing me out," Partida, 30, said. "He wouldn't stop; he just kept yelling."

Cussing, Partida said, is a common behavior problem at the middle-school level, which is why she thinks classroom management is important to master.

The better behaved a student is in the classroom, the more likely they'll behave throughout the rest of the campus, Partida said.

"You don't want that to be going on in a classroom because you don't want other kids to start doing it," Partida said.

A report recently released by the National Council on Teacher Quality, argues that education schools are not investing enough in preparing student teachers for how to manage a classroom.

Arthur McGee, managing director of Teacher Preparation Studies at the National Council on Teacher Quality, said, education schools need to add more structure to the way they teach classroom management.

"There's a lot that needs to be done in order to make student teaching work more effectively," McGee said. "The only way student teachers are going to get better is by getting good feedback."

For teachers returning to the their classroom with hopes of an improved second semester, McGee suggests that teachers review their classroom rules and get their students to put them into practice.

For the Victoria school district, which has a 63 percent economically disadvantaged student population, McGee suggests being more explicit about rules.

"Do a quick inventory," McGee said. "Do my kids know what the rules are?"

Praise, McGee said, is another important tool.

"Praise should be connected to the activity that generates it," McGee said. "Verbal praise is cheap and highly effective."

Praise should be given when a student is authentically engaged in the classroom, said Susanne Carroll, Victoria school district executive director of curriculum, assessment and instruction.

"Authentic engagement can look like a lot different things," Carroll said. "For example, it could be four students sitting in a group discussing a passage."

A key element to authentic engagement, Carroll said, is enthusiasm.

Since the appointment of a new superintendent in the summer of 2012 and the shuffling of leadership throughout the district, the stakes have increased for Victoria teachers this year, Carroll said.

Walk-throughs, in which a principal or an assistant principal drops in on a classroom to observe a teacher's performance, have increased, she said.

"It's good for students to see their campus leaders in the classroom," Carroll said. "And it holds the students accountable, too."

Partida, who is in her eighth year of teaching, suggests setting expectations the first day of school and never letting off of them.

"If your classroom sees you not get onto to one student for disobeying your classroom expectations, then the rest of the class will start to push you to see how far they can act up without getting reprimanded," Partida said.



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