Study on Student Diversity and Classroom Management

Classroom Management can be viewed simply as a specific instance of management in general. At the most general level, management of a classroom requires the same basic strategies and skills as management of a school, a small business, or a professional sports team. In each case, the effective manager is a person who coordinates the acquisition and use of the materials and personnel necessary to produce a product or outcome.

Managers in extremely productive organizations tend to manage working conditions in such a way as to link workers with other workers to solve problems faced by the organization. Likewise, we can view successful classroom management as depending on how well teachers can orchestrate collaborative learning and empower students to solve problems and to achieve important outcomes.

Kounin – With It Ness

The term “With-It-Ness” has been coined to describe a teacher’s ability to be aware of what is going on in all areas of the classrooms at all times (Charles, 2011). Teachers with “With-It-Ness, not only see or hear but also understand what is happening around them in the classroom. Teachers that use this insight avoid mistakes that are commonly made by the “out of touch” colleagues. With-It-Ness teachers are more likely to select the right student to stop a behavior that the teacher considers disruptive. The selection of the correct student for reprimand is one of the most important factors of effective discipline. Teachers that practice the With-It-Ness model are more likely to attend to the more serious problem when there are two or more problems occurring at the same time. They show better timing, knowing when to let a minor problem go without reprimand, but when to intervene before a problem becomes serious. Having With-It-Ness is one of the best characteristics a teacher can have, because they are able to maintain a high degree of learning in the classroom with having minimal interruptions. Classroom management based on Kounin’s theory is a result of the teacher’s behavior as much as it is a result of the student’s behavior.

Examples using Kounin’s With-It-Ness can depend on student’s being convinced that the teacher does in fact know what is occurring everywhere in the classroom (Charles, 2011). The success of Kounin’s model depends on several factors such as:

taking care of the worst misbehavior when two or more problems occur at one time;

being mindful of the student who is being corrected, in other words, having a feel for the response that will follow each correction given;

pick the best time to intervene so the misbehavior doesn’t escalate;

be aware of the ripple effect, because when one student is corrected, other students will see this and more than likely will conform (Charles, 2011).

A teacher with great With-It-Ness skills can handle multiple events at one time rather than stopping one event to handle the other, or ignoring the second or third event. Such examples of multiple intrusions are:

when a visitor comes to the door in the middle of a lesson,

when a child from out of the group of students in the classroom comes up to the teacher during reading group time,

several students get into a squabble while the teacher is busy while the teacher is busy helping other children across the room.

Regardless of the circumstance, the teacher instructs the class to keep working, or start new work and then deal with the interruption. By reacting promptly to the interruption rather than overreacting, the teacher is able to use simple measures that will not interfere with ongoing activities or distract the class as a whole. Good movement management is achieved through momentum and smoothness of the teacher who has With-It-Ness.

Guinott – Sane Messages

The Guinott model is about sane messages that address what the student is doing without attacking the student’s behavior. This model says that the teacher should praise the act not the student because praising the student could jeopardize how other students feel about their peer (Charles, 2011). Discipline through sane messages is a series of little victories that are brought about when the teacher addresses the situation rather than the character of the student. This is to guide the student away from inappropriate behavior towards more appropriate behavior (Charles, 2011).

Examples of sane messages are:

“The class moves along much better Tony when you raise your hand and I call on you.” (This addresses the student’s action rather than their character.)

“Jennifer, would you please show our guest where the restroom is? I would, but we are expecting other guests coming into the classroom.” (This invites cooperation between the student and the teacher.)

“Robert, I realize that you would prefer not to give the speech at the student council induction, however, your classmates would be disappointed if you let this opportunity pass. One day you might feel terrible about not seizing the opportunity.” (Congruency through communication accepts and acknowledges the feelings of the student and the teacher.)

Examples of inappropriate messages are:

“Lucy, do not act like a clown when you walk up the hall and touching everyone.” (This allows and even emphasizes name-calling and labels.)

“Joe, you haven’t completed this assignment yet. You spend a significant amount of time giving me bad excuses, maybe if you spent more time working on your assignments and less time thinking of some sort of excuse to give me, then you would be much more productive.” (This denies the student’s feelings and attacks the student’s character.)

“JoAnne, you will complete your assignment tonight, maybe you would rather stay in during recess so that you can get a good head start on it?” (This is demanding rather than inviting to cooperation.)

Dreikurs – Acceptance Theory

Rudolf Dreikur’s acceptance theory recognized a student has need and desire for acceptance by their peers and teachers (Charles, 2011). If the student’s behavior does not succeed in getting him/her positive acceptance, the he/she will continue the behavior. If the behavior does not win him/her acceptability, they he/she may turn to other types of behavior, which most likely be negative. Then the student will be able to achieve the recognition that he/she seeks. Some examples of such students are the class clown, or class bully (Charles, 2011). According to Dreikur’s theory, the negative behavior can be referred to as a mistaken goal (Charles, 2011).

The acceptance theory requires educators to determine the goal of the student’s behavior by utilizing the “if/then” analysis – this is a way to tactfully in a non-threatening way to confront the student with his/her behavior and work with the student to change the behavior (Charles, 2011). One thing to remember is that the student is still responsible for his/her behavior and must be able to accept well-defined consequences for any repeated misbehavior.

The acceptance model is based upon teachers encouraging students without praising their work or character (Charles, 2011). Encouragement is a useful technique for preventing discipline problems because it corresponds so well to student’s goals. Encouraging students in the choices they make and the work they do shows support to the student. According to Dreikurs, “praise needs to be differentiated from encouragement. Praise focuses on the level of accomplishment or achievement. Encouragement highlights the value of learning. Praise is given for high achievement and is ordinarily reserved for those who are more successful according to some measure of performance” (Charles, 2011).

Canter – Assertive Discipline

The assertive discipline model requires teacher articulation and clear expectations regarding all aspects of classroom management. Specific rules, procedures, and clear consequences for disobeying the rules are implemented in this approach. There are few rewards for positive behavior, because positive behavior is expected. With assertive discipline, Canter explains that immediate and consistent response to student’s misbehavior with selective praise is necessary.

For teachers to correctly follow the assertive discipline model, Canter makes it clear that teachers should assertively insist on proper behavior for the students and should be well organized in their classroom policies, procedures and consequences (Charles, 2011). Assertive discipline is about meeting the needs of the student’s by managing behavior through attending to their needs through good classroom rules, proper teaching behaviors and an environment of respect and trust (Charles, 2011).

Assertive responses from the teacher must be clear and consistent and express classroom expectations. The rules of the classroom should be limited to a maximum of five and should always be stated in a positive manner, and the students will be able to observe the positive manner from the teacher. According to Canter’s philosophy, the teacher shows students how to behave so they can learn and relate to others, while the classroom discipline plan encourages student cooperation (Charles, 2011). For teachers that use positive recognition, the students who are behaving according to classroom expectation receives the personal attention from the teacher.

Negative words such as not or no should not be in the classroom rules, words that should be used are ones that promote positive behavior rather than negative. The positive behavior must be stated to allow students to know what is expected of them. When students are on task and behaving in a positive manner, it is important to verbally recognize those students, for example, sentences such as “I appreciate everyone working hard on this assignment, this is how all of you should work every day”; “Thank you for raising your hand, raising your hand shows me that you have something important to say”. This type of positive reinforcement involves the class in its entirety and allows students to learn as a community.

Glasser – Choice Theory

William Glasser believes that a student’s misbehavior is a reaction to an environmental or instructional condition that is unsatisfying to them (Charles, 2011). Some of the possible conditions could be the student/teacher relationship, the student’s success rate, or the overall classroom environment (Charles, 2011). Glasser further believes that the student’s behavior is a matter of choice and that it is a teacher’s duty to help students make good choices instead of poor ones. Good choices lead to increased self-esteem and self-confidence, which therefore leads to good choices (Charles, 2011).

The teacher needs to provide a classroom environment and curriculum that meets the basic needs of each student for belonging, fun, power, and freedom – this is used as a means of motivating students and reducing misbehavior and promoting positive behavior. In a positive classroom environment, the teacher also makes it a priority to help students learn to make good behavior choices that will then lead to success (Charles, 2011).

Glasser’s choice approach is built on several premises that lead to a student centered approach to learning and teaching. Having teacher conferences with students on a regular basis and involving each student in classroom meetings by discussing important issues or student interests help students choose positive behavior options. More importantly, the teacher must never accept excuses for the student. This approach is widely approved by teachers and the discipline method is used in many different schools from elementary through secondary (Charles, 2011).

Glasser suggests that when students like the topics that are being studied, they will want to learn more about the subject. This in turn will keep negative behaviors to a minimum because the student is actively engaged in what they are learning. A good curriculum is based upon topics that students will find useful and interesting. The subjects of discussions between students and teachers should encourage and promote the exploration of a subject more in depth. Students should be motivated to discover new ideas, and be allowed to make decisions in the classroom. This shows the students that they are a valuable part of the classroom community and that they are needed.


In Building Classroom Discipline, Charles (2011) presents very clear and concise summaries of the major ideas of the above theorists plus guidelines for utilizing these ideas into one’s personal classroom management plan. Even though authority is an important factor in the classroom, it can be often misunderstood. Having effective authority does not mean that there has to be a dictatorial teacher that demands obedience from students. The atmosphere in the classroom should have an inclination of cooperation and it begins with the teacher. One can say the most effective application of authority in the classroom by the teacher is authoritative rather than being of authoritarian in style. Teachers should use their authority wisely and demonstrate a willingness and ability to accept a leadership role. The leadership role should be used through appeals to reason and persuasion instead of through demands for obedience.

It is important to understand that teachers who have the respect of the students and maintain an atmosphere of authority and that employ any of the classroom management theories above will have occasional misbehavior problems from their students. There will be students who will be off task and disruptive regardless of the best laid plans of the teacher. There are reasons that may be affecting the student that have no bearing on what is going on within the classroom such as economic pressures, sociological issues, and parental frustrations. Even though problems will and do arise for whatever reasons, teachers must be prepared to deal with them in order to return the classroom to an environment that is more conducive to learning. The above theories provide the foundational work for classroom management and the ideas will always influence classroom management.

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