Category Archives: classroom management

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Contingency Model and Teaching

Fred Fiedler developed his contingency theory of leadership for management purposes. However, we are going to examine this theory within the context of teaching and the classroom.

Definition

Fiedler believed that management success involved assessing the leader, the potential situation(s) the leader will face, and matching the best leader in terms of the situation. Assessing the leader involved identifying the traits of the leader’s least-preferred coworker (LPC). LPC is the nightmare colleague for the leader. For example, some leaders prefer friendly coworkers and some do not. Fiedler measured this and found two common types of leaders.

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Leaders with high scores on the LPC were considered relationship-oriented. What this means is that the leader needs to develop interpersonal relationships with colleagues. Since relationships are important high LPC leaders see their colleagues positively and task accomplishment was not as important. In contrast, low LPC leaders were task-oriented and viewed their least preferred colleagues negatively. In addition, low LPC leaders were focused on achievement.

The component of contingency theory is the situation or setting. Situational favorableness is a measure of a leader’s perception of the control they have in the outcome(s) of group interaction and or influence of the processes of the group. There are three concepts related to this and they are leader-member relations which is the willingness of the workers to follow the leader, task structure which is the clarity of the task, and position power which is a measure of ability to influence members.

The goal of high-level leaders is to match lower-level leaders with the appropriate situation that matches their LPC. High LPC works best in situations with moderate favorability and struggle in the extremes. This may be because medium favorability allows high LPC leaders to focus on relationships as tasks are generally completed with a high degree of control necessary.

Low LPC leaders work best in the extremes of low and high favorability. In situations where work is not getting done low LPC leaders establish structure. Whereas in highly favorable settings low LPC leaders do not impose on the group because tasks are being completed.

In the Classroom

Teachers may not have an LPC but they may have a least preferred student (LPS). As such, teachers who are more relationship-focused may struggle with establishing order in the classroom. In contrast task, oriented teachers may struggle with supporting students socio-emotionally.

The goal of leadership is to match their teachers to the situation that is best for their needs. Easy-going teachers need a moderately favorable situation in which tasks are often completed and there is not a huge need to impose structure. Task-oriented teachers need settings in which order needs to be imposed or a situation in which order is already established.

Teachers also need to be aware of their leadership style. Relationship-oriented teachers need to be aware of this so that when they are in a setting that does not match their style they can adapt to meet that particular situation. This same idea applies to task-oriented teachers. Task-oriented teachers need to be aware of this preference and make adjustments if they find themselves in a classroom that is not focused on achievement.

Conclusion

It is easy to say that one style of leadership is better than another. However, it is the leadership style plus the setting in which the leaders work that determines what is best. Some situations call for structure and task management while others need a leader who is more in tune with the relationship needs of their students.

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Leadership Grid and Classroom Management

Teachers are called to be leaders of children. This implies that teachers need to understand different leadership styles even if all the details of leadership do not apply in the context of children. Blake and Mouton (1999) developed a leadership grid that helps to identify different styles of leadership that a person may have that apply to the context of the business management world. In this post, we will look at these leadership styles within the context of the classroom

Blake and Mouton identified 5 types of leadership

  • Indifferent
  • Accommodating
  • Sound
  • Controlling
  • Status quo

These five leadership styles are based on concerns for production and concerns for people. Each will be discussed below

Indifferent Leadership

Indifferent leadership is an evasive and elusive style of leading. In this style, people have little concern for production or for the people. Leaders of this type avoid taking responsibility for outcomes and want to avoid problems.

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A teacher with this leadership style is not worried about student outcomes or the students. Such a teacher blames others for poor results and avoids dealing with problems when they arise. It is difficult to have this leadership style as a teacher as students will quickly discern a teacher’s indifference and take full advantage of it.

Accommodating

Accommodating leaders have a high concern for people and low concern for production. The primary goal is harmony and maintaining enthusiasm. A leader of this type is going to yield and comply when facing a challenge.

Teachers with an accommodating leadership style are generally popular teachers. They make students feel good by making the student learn too much. This focus on relationships and indifference to production allows these teachers to connect with students without being the “bad guy.” As mentioned early, students love this type of teacher until they move to the next level of learning and realize they were not prepared for it properly.

Controlling

A controlling leader is an individual that establishes control and states what they want clearly. This type of leader is concerned with production and has little concern for people. People are held accountable and there is no accommodating of excuses. The key characteristics of this type of leader are directing and dominating.

A teacher with this style of leadership is often viewed as a “task-master” by students. This teacher is tough but fair and holds students to high standards. Students may generally hate this type of teacher but will grow to appreciate the strictness when they move forward in life and see how they were prepared for future challenges.

Sound 

A leader with a sound style has high concern not only for production but also for people. This leader encourages involvement and commitment from subordinates and explores multiple positions. Of course, this is a difficult balancing act and thus it is hard to find sound leaders.

A teacher with a sound leadership style will push students while also supporting them. This type of teacher will also listen to and hear the concerns of students while maintaining high standards. As already mentioned, it is difficult to balance performance with the emotional needs and concerns of students.

Status Quo

A status quo leader is an individual with moderate concern for production and people. They look for popular yet cautious results and seek to achieve consensus wherever possible. Generally, this style of leader will do what it takes to keep things the way they are.

Status quo teachers focus on keeping things the way they are. There is little desire for pushing students but rather a desire to make sure they don’t fall behind. As such, this type of teacher is simply looking to do their job.

Conclusion

There is a time and place for each of these styles. An indifferent leadership style can be successful in a highly unique classroom. It is equally possible that a sound leadership style could be inappropriate. What excellent teachers really do is adjust their style to the students they are teaching.

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Subculture Theories and Delinquency

Sometimes, a teacher is confused by a student’s behavior. There does not seem to be any explanation for the student’s behavior. In such situations, it may be beneficial to determine the student’s cultural values. Suppose the student’s values conflict with the school’s and society’s values. In that case, this could be a source of some of the deviant behavior. This post will look at subcultures and their role in delinquency.

Subcultures

Subcultures are cultures that are a part of a larger culture. This is not the best definition and serves as an example of the difficulty of defining the term subculture. The main point is that a subculture has a set of values and beliefs slightly different from the majority culture.

For our focus on delinquency, young people may break the rules and or laws in an attempt to act in accordance with subculture norms over the mainstream cultural norms. However, deviance can also happen if members of a subculture struggle to assimilate into the mainstream culture or may even be rejected by the majority culture.

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Cohen (1955) found that youths from subcultures may experience cultural conflict. Culture conflict involves dealing with a situation in which one set of cultural values may conflict with another. For example, a child from a home that emphasizes athletics may struggle with expectations of academic excellence. Yet, Cohen’s work examining lower-class gang delinquency found that the subculture was malicious, negative, and not useful. In other words, the subculture of gangs had evil intentions that lacked benefit even for the gang members at times. oF course, this is from the perspective of an academic.

Miller (1958) found several cultural values of lower-class juveniles in his own work as follows:

  • Trouble-Delinquent youth are often focused on getting out of trouble or getting into trouble
  • Toughness- Concerned with being macho and masculine
  • Smartness-Street smarts, the ability to manipulate the environment without facing consequences
  • Excitement-Focus on short-term fun rather than long-term consequences
  • Fate-Almost karmic view of life. Whatever happens, it was meant to be.
  • Autonomy-Resistant to being controlled by others

These values are examples of problems kids today struggle with in school. It is common for many children to struggle with trouble, for males to focus on toughness, etc. These values are often values that are not stressed in other cultures.

Excusing Deviant Behavior

Despite the desire to be a part of the subculture, youths in this situation also often want to be accepted by the mainstream culture. Their inability to do this leads to several common excuses that Sykes and Matza (1957) observe. Denial is a common excuse youth make and involves denying responsibility, injury, and the person they may have been victimized.

Denial of responsibility involves the youth stating that whatever happened was an accident or something forced them to do it. For example, students in the class will blame someone else for their inability to stop talking. Denial of injury is a youth’s attempt to deemphasize the harm they did to another person by excusing it as a joke or prank. Denying the victim involves justifying actions based on the idea that what happened was self-defense or retaliation. For example, two kids are fighting, and one is seriously injured.

There are two additional ways that youth try to excuse their inability to fit into the mainstream culture. Young people may attempt to condemn those who condemn them. This is commonly seen in calling the mainstream culture oppressors or racist or some other term to try and demonstrate that the members of the mainstream culture are no better than those of the subculture.

The final justification for deviant behavior is an appeal to higher loyalties. A youth may stick to the views of the subculture and blame these higher values on deviant behavior. Some common terms associated with this are “remember where you came from” and “keep it real.” These ideas can sometimes pressure an individual to act in a way that is deviant to maintain loyalty to the subculture.

Conclusion

There are always reasons for unacceptable behavior. One of the reasons can be a cultural differences. Students will sometimes face a conflict between maintaining the values of their subgroup or the larger values of the school and society. In such situations, the teacher must understand this internal conflict to develop ways to help the student.

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HR and Schools

Human resource management has become highly important not just in business but also in the world of education. Schools now have to hire, support, and sometimes fire personnel. With these various outcomes, it is the role of the HR person to maneuver through these situations.

Who is Responsible for HR

In the school setting, the role of HR can vary substantially. In a small school, the principal may be primarily in charge of the various processes associated with HR. In larger schools, this role may shift to an assistant principal or someone else on campus. Some school districts control this process and may send a new teacher to the district office for processing. The point is that there is no single standard way for a school to handle the aspects of HR.

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Even though every school and district can handle this process differently, several things are generally considered HR responsibilities, including the following.

  • Compliance
  • Employee hiring and training
  • Performance management
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Professional development

Compliance

In the US, there are a lot of laws relating to employer-employee relations that have to be adhered to, and this falls on the HR manager to do. These laws include discrimination, fair labor, medical leave, labor relations, and more. For example, teachers are entitled to maternity leave when they have children. The HR manager needs to ensure the teacher(s) can take this leave; otherwise, the school could be sued in court.

These various laws are laws the HR manager needs to be aware of. As already mentioned ignoring these laws could have severe legal ramifications for an educational institution.

Hiring

HR plays a critical role in the selection of potential teachers. Often, HR is the one who receives resumes and forwards qualified candidates to the administration and other leadership members. HR is also often responsible for scheduling interviews, participating in interviews, and oftener feedback on potential candidates. It is also often HR’s job to congratulate those who have been offered employment and contact those who were not selected.

During this process, HR also ensures all laws are adhered to regarding such topics as discrimination, affirmative action policies, and negotiating compensation for potential candidates. For teachers, it is also important to check if they have the appropriate state credentials and to develop a plan for acquiring them if a selected person does not have them.

Once an employee is tired, it is also the HR manager’s job to onboard the new teacher. This can involve showing the new employee around, introducing them to their new, and explaining policies and expectations. There is also the task of completing a lot of paperwork involving benefits, salary, and acknowledging an understanding of critical policies.

Performance Management

Performance management is another critical task of HR. In this regard, it is common for HR to work with the administration to ensure that teachers’ performance is evaluated. Usually, this is done once a year, but it can be more frequent if a teacher is struggling at their job or if the teacher has less experience.

In this task, the HR manager often serves the role of secretary. They remind administrators of these tasks and maintain a record of the evaluation for legal reasons. However, this may not be the case in every instance that one sees in the field.

If performance is not acceptable, that is where things can be tricky. HR must ensure all laws and policies are followed when dealing with an underperforming teacher. Again, they serve as a guide to the administration, who often do the heavy lifting of removing teachers if needed.

Compensation

Compensation and benefits are often not as negotiable for teaching and even some administrative positions. Things improve a great deal in terms of negotiating at higher levels such as principal and especially at the superintendent and beyond. For rank and file teachers, there often is much to fight for in terms of salary.

Some schools have performance-based pay. The HR manager must explain these policies to new hires in such situations. Unlike other fields, people often do not become teachers for the salary, so compensation is not often a major topic.

Professional Development

A major component of teaching is professional development. This can involve taking college courses and or in-house training. Often it is required by law for teachers to have additional training throughout their careers. Therefore, professional development is a major part of the HR process.

The HR manager or the local needs to ensure that all teachers earn additional education as part of the employment. HR may also assist in setting up training opportunities for teachers. As such, this is a major part of the HR professional job at the school level.

Conclusion

HR has become a critical part of most educational institutions. Whether it’s laws, hiring, training, or managing teachers, HR is often a part of this process.

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Types & Dimensions of Change within Institutions

Change can be beneficial or difficult for an educational institution. This post will look at the types of changes and the various dimensions of change.

Types of Change

There are three common types of change in an institution, and these are structural, technological, and cultural change. Structural change involves revamping the relationship within the organization. This can involve changes to the concentration of power, revising responsibilities, and or enhancing effectiveness. An example would be a larger department divided into two smaller ones.

Technological change is the implementation of new technology within an organization. An example would be schools shifting to online learning because of social distancing requirements. Such a change was incredibly demanding given the short notice of the switch.

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Lastly, cultural change involves adjusting the norms and thought patterns of the organization. Changing how people think and do things within an organization is exceedingly difficult. An example of cultural change could be placing emphasis on providing students with feedback if this is something that was neglected in the past. Such a change forces teachers to rethink how they provide academic support to students.

Of course, these changes discussed above can happen alone or in combination with the other types. For example, the shift to online learning was a technological and cultural shift for teachers and even a structural change for many institutions. As such, none of these changes have to happen in a vacuum.

Dimensions of Change

Dimensions of change help us to determine how strong the change will be. The dimensions of change are scope, level, and intentionality. Scope of change is a way to measure the disruption of the change. Change can be incremental, which involves small adjustments such as promoting an individual. Change can be transformational, which entails major disruption of the organization, such as creating a new department. Lastly, change can be strategic, which aligns an organization with its philosophy.

The level of change is a measure of who is involved with the change. Change can take place at the individual, group, or organization level. Individual change is focused on one person, such as a teacher or student. Group change is focused on helping people to work together better and can be done through socialization and other team-building activities. Organizational change affects everybody and can contribute to changes at the group and individual levels.

Intentionality of change indicates the level of planning involved in change. Change can be either planned or unplanned. Planned change was developed with foresight with the goal of implementation. Unplanned change means that nobody saw it coming or that it was extemporaneous.

Conclusion

Change is a complicated concept that can come into an organization in many ways. Even though it is hard to clearly explain all the dynamics of change, it is clear that change is the only constant that all institutions face.

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Organizational Concepts and Schools

This post will look at an educational institution’s organizational makeup and important ideas to consider when developing an organization or addressing the need to make changes.

Terms in Organizations

The organizational structure of a school is its approach to connecting ideas and people to complete tasks within the organization. The design of the organization involves the actual setup of the structure. For example, most schools have a principal at the head, vice principals, department heads, and teachers. For the sake of communication and discipline, this is a common structure that is employed.

However, the example above is an example of the formal organizational structure of an institution. With formal organization, everything is laid out in terms of relationships within a professional. Another form of organizational structure is the informal organization, which is the interpersonal relationships within an organization. For example, the principal might be close to the English department because he was an English teacher before going into administration, and one of his former students works in this department. The principal’s relationship is stronger in English than in other departments.

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Organizational change involves the constant flux within an organization’s structure. People come and go, new roles are created, old roles are removed, etc. Occasionally institutions have to experience organizational development, which involves change management.

Traits to Consider

Educational institutions are often bureaucratic by nature. Despite this, several questions need to be addressed.

Degree of SPecialization

The degree of specialization is the level of expertise a person must demonstrate. For example, high schools generally of single-subject experts, whereas this is not always the case with elementary teachers who teach multiple subjects. Therefore, high schools emphasize specialization more than some elementary schools do.

Command and Control

Command and control refers to how teachers report to each other and the principal. It also involves how people work together to accomplish a task. For example, teachers often do not have to report to each other but do have to explain their actions to administrators and concerned parents.

Span of COntrol 

Span of control has to do with the breadth of responsibility a person has. Generally, as you go up a hierarchy, the span of control broadens. For example, teachers are responsible for their classroom, while principals are responsible for the entire school.

Centralization

Centralization is an indication of who has decision-making within an institution. Highly centralized schools mean that a handful of people make all decisions, while a decentralized school is one in which decision-making power is spread among more people. This is one trait in which schools take a wide variety of positions. Many schools can be centralized, but some schools do not share this value.

Formalization

Formalization is the level of strictness to the structure and responsibilities within institutions. The military is a highly rigid system that is heavily formalized. Schools tend to be much less formal as teachers often wear various hats at any moment. In addition, there are not many layers of hierarchy at the local school level, which helps to further encourage an informal preference.

Conclusion

There is no single structure that is best and works for all organizations. The point here is to make one aware of the ideas behind organizations to make changes to an organization or to develop a new one.

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Goals Development for Administrators

A prior post began a discussion about strategic management for administrators. There are about six steps in this process, which are shared below.

  • Vision and mission
  • Strategic analysis
  • Goal development
  • Strategy development
  • Implementation strategies
  • Evaluation

The first two bullets were addressed previously. Now we will continue the discussion focusing on goal development.

Goals Development and Strategic Levels

Strategic goals are broad goals that involve the big-picture of the goals of the institution. Generally, these goals are performance-oriented. For example, a school may set a goal to boost academic performance among its students.

There are also different levels at which objectives can be set. This will vary from place to place, but an institution can have levels at the following as an example

  • Student-level
  • Class-level
  • Department-level
  • Grade-level
  • School-level
  • District-level
  • City-level
  • County-level
  • State-level
  • National-level

We will not go over all of these for the sack of time. A teacher may set goals for individual students, particularly those struggling. These can be behavioral, academic, or some other focus the teacher is working on with the student. For example, a teacher may set a goal with a student that the student will improve their math performance. This is vague enough to be a goal but also gives the student some to work on.

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The idea above applies to all the other levels. The main difference is that the number of stakeholders increases, which necessitates that the goals become broader in nature as they try to encompass more people. In addition, different people are involved in setting goals at different levels. For example, teachers will probably set goals at the student, class, department, and grade level. Administrators will begin to set goals at the school level to the district level, and politicians and government bureaucrats will set goals at the city level and beyond.

One method for developing goals is the SMART framework. The SMART framework is an acronym that means

  • Specific-Goals should be understandable.
  • Measurable-There should be a way to tell if you are achieving them.
  • Achievable-It should be possible within the context to accomplish a goal.
  • Relevant-The goal should be relevant to the mission of the institution and, or to the level of strategy the goal is under
  • Time-Bound-There should be a limit on the time it takes to achieve a goal.

Whether or not a goal meets the criteria above is subjective, but an example of a smart goal is below.

The school will raise academic performance in reading comprehension on average by one grade level at the end of two years.

The goal above is specific, as you can tell what needs to be done. It is measurable because the metric is the average reading comprehension score. The score is achievable as students have plenty of time to improve. It is relevant to the mission of most schools, and the objective is time-bound as it states that this will take two years to complete.

Conclusion

Planning and strategy development is difficult to do. There are many moving parts, and it is hard to determine what needs to be achieved. However, a basic process can be adopted to guide the development of goals and for planning that can hopefully make this easier.

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PESTEL Model

The PESTEL model is an alternative risk assessment approach to the more famous SWOT analysis. IN this post, we will look at the application of the ideas of this model within the context of a school. PESTEL is an acronym that stands for

  • Political factors
  • Economic factors
  • Sociocultural factors
  • Technological factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Legal factors

Political Factors

Political factors can include local laws and ordinances that may impact an institution’s ability to function. Examples can include labor laws for faculty and staff, privacy laws, laws regarding children such as the number of days of study per year, etc. All of these legal concepts fall within the purview of political factors.

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If a school is overseas, this can become more complicated. Now the school; has to deal with immigration laws and visas. The school must also address Language and customers as well as addressing the hiring and even the firing of local faculty and staff.

Economic Factors

Economic factors are related naturally to money. Schools, particularly private and tertiary schools, are affected heavily by the economy. Tuition-driven schools can be destroyed by an economic downturn. Government schools are often immune to this to a certain degree because of government support, but no institutions survive an economic downturn unscathed.

Other problems can include obtaining loans and buying things on credit for private institutions. Interest rates may change, and cash may not be available. Private schools may not receive an influx of cash except when tuition is paid several times yearly. This necessitates borrowing money in the short term to cover expenses until tuition for the next semester comes.

Sociocultural Factors

Sociocultural factors relate to awareness of local demographics and culture. How a school addresses upper-class kids will be different from how they help immigrant kids who do not speak English. In addition, like everything else, demographics and values change over time. If schools are not keeping track of this, the community around them will change while the school is holding on to ideas that worked in the past but are no longer appropriate now.

Schools usually keep track of local cultural needs as meeting needs is a main philosophical component of education today. However, it is still important to be aware of this aspect of an analysis.

Technological Factors

Technology changes at a speed that cannot be appreciated or understood. Everybody struggles with the latest improvements in technology. However, the challenges of technology are not only the speed. Sometimes the availability of technology can be a problem as well.

For example, there is an idea called the digital divide. The digital divide is the separation in terms of technology between various countries. Within education, what can be done can be limited in part by access to education.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors relate to such things as weather, energy, etc. Schools that provide transportation have to take into account the price of this. In addition, dormitory schools have to look at the cost of energy and water as students live on-campus. Environmental factors can also impact hiring. Suppose faculty and staff cannot find local housing because of environmental concerns. In that case, it can complicate things for the school.

Looking at the environmental factors can also include the appearance of the school. For example, no-gum rules are often put in place so that gum is not found all over campus, ruining the school and its appearance.

Legal Factors

Legal factors are similar and related to political factors and can overlap with economic factors. The real point here is to understand that the ideas in the PESTEL model overlap and indicates that the divisions discussed here are artificial. To make a clear report of the context a school is facing having categories like those presented by the PESTEL model is convenient.

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Leadership Preferences and the Classroom

Dorfman et al. did a study back in 2004 in which they looked at how people from different cultures rated leadership. The team broke leadership down into six components listed below.

  • Charismatic-The ability to motivate and inspire others.
  • Team orientation-The ability to develop a highly functioning team.
  • Participative-The ability to get others included in the decision-making.
  • Humane-oriented-The ability to show empathy and compassion,
  • Autonomous-The ability to be independent and reflect this to the team
  • Self-protective-The tendency of the leader to use face-saving approaches

Naturally, different countries identified differently with each of these components. For example, Asian countries considered self-protective skills highly important, while participation wasn’t as important. Western English-speaking countries were the opposite. The point is not to dwell on the details of the research but to point out that if countries have various skills they find important in leaders, it is not unreasonable that students at an individual level are going to want specific skills in teachers who are leaders of classrooms.

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For the teacher, some students are going to want a charismatic teacher, while other students may want a teacher who is human-oriented. The teacher may naturally tend to emphasize autonomy in their leadership approach. The point is not to condemn one approach over the other but rather that the teacher must be aware of what the students are looking for in a teacher while also being aware of their own natural tendency as a teacher.

Suppose a teacher tends to be participative in their approach, but this is not working with students. In that case, a teacher needs to look for ways to overcome this situation. Perhaps a more authoritative approach is appropriate in particular situations. This often goes against what one is taught when becoming a teacher, but the most important tenet of education is helping students to be successful. Helping students be successful may involve ignoring other tenets of education, such as developing a participative classroom environment.

Traits and Behaviors of Leaders

Den Hertog et al. did a study in 1999 looking for traits and behaviors that people admire in leaders and people in general. The positive traits are listed below.

  • trustworthy, smart, honest, planning, encouraging, positive, dynamic motivator, confidence builder, dependable, decisive, bargained, problem solver, administrator, communicator, informed, team builder

These traits mean that if people see them in an individual, such as a person who is in authority, they will admire these traits in that person. The study was worldwide, so these are traits that may be universal. What is also important to point out is these are traits that students like to see in teachers. Students want a teacher they can trust, who solves problems, is positive, and can plan, among other things. If such traits are missing, the students may conclude that the teacher is bad.

On the flip side, these traits listed above are traits teachers like to see in their students. Many teachers would love to have students who are dependable, honest, informed, etc. When students lack these traits, many teachers can identify them as bad students. Teachers need to develop these positive traits to inspire students who may lack these traits while also being able to meet the definition of a good teacher.

In the study, there was also a list of negative traits are listed below

  • loner, antisocial, uncooperative, egocentric, ruthless, dictatorial, inexplicit

For students and teachers, the list above are traits to avoid. Teachers who are dictatorial and unclear (inexplicit) will be seen as bad teachers. Students who are loners, antisocial, and uncooperative will be viewed as bad students. The benefit of this list is that it allows a teacher to clearly articulate and define desirable and undesirable traits in a student. This also applies to administrators who are assessing teachers and teachers trying to explain the quality of leadership they are under.

Conclusion

Everybody is going to possess good and bad traits in different combinations. The point is not to criticize the weaknesses we all possess in our characters. Rather it is better to be aware of one’s weaknesses to make adjustments to help those who are around them.

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Why Students Break Rules

Sometimes bad students become criminals. The warning signs are there, and teachers may do their best to try and prevent something like this from happening. However, kids will still make poor choices no matter what others do to prevent this.

In this post, we will look at why criminals commit crimes and try and compare this to why students break the rules.

Rational Choice Theory

Rational choice theory states that criminals break the rules because it makes sense to them and is reasonable. The criteria for this decision are the risk-reward prospects. Suppose the punishment is not significant or highly unlikely to get caught. In that case, a person inspired by rational choice might think the risk is worth it when breaking laws. Therefore, to eliminate criminal behavior, society needs to have punishments that are strong enough and common enough to deter criminal behavior.

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Few people are quite this logical in their decision-making, which applies even more to children. Students may make rational decisions to break the rules, but their behavior is generally more focused on random resistance than strategic anarchy. However, just as with adult criminals, poor behavior will be less likely to happen if there is a sufficient presence of harsh detergents.

Social Disorganization Theory

Social disorganization theory proposes that the makeup of a neighborhood is associated with the level of crime in the neighborhood. Therefore, areas with high levels of dysfunction in broken families, unemployment, drug use, etc., will also be areas of higher crime rates. Therefore, reducing crime is as simple as finding ways to revitalize communities.

This theory seems to align with ideas in teaching strongly. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds often exhibit more behavioral problems in the classroom. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs touches on these ideas as lower-level needs are often neglected in dysfunctional situations. Therefore, supporting students’ basic needs may help alleviate aberrant behavior from difficult students.

Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory states that lawbreakers learn to break laws from other lawbreakers. A criminal’s peer group and family are among the most powerful influences in the individual’s tendency to break the law. Reducing crime is as simple as removing kids from negative influences.

Social learning theory is also found in education. The theory has the same position as found among criminologists in that individuals learn from those around them. Therefore, if a student likes to hang out with the “wrong crowd,” they will accept and learn the behavior of those people.

Conclusion

Anyone who has made a theory in the social sciences will tell you that no theory adequately explains everything. Human beings are unpredictable and erratic in their behavior. As such, multiple theories are developed to provide insights into different situations. There are times when multiple theories can help or when one theory is the most appropriate insight into developing interventions to help wayward students. Therefore, condemning any of the approaches mentioned here would not benefit all the different types of people with different problems.

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Culture and the Classroom

Culture is a major topic in education. As people travel worldwide, they encounter people who are similar and different from them. Naturally, the diversity that is found today can e beneficial and a headache, and this applies in the classroom as well when teachers and students come together from all over the globe.

This post will look at Hofstede’s Cultural Framework, which involves five dimensions (power distance, individualism, uncertainty, long-term orientation, indulgence). We will examine these concepts as they apply to the context of teaching and the classroom. Furthermore, rather than discussing these terms at the country level, we will look at the aggregation of the individual level, as most classes are small enough to work at this level.

Power Distance

Power distance measures how accepting a student is of hierarchical authority. Students who have a high power distance that a difference between authority between the student and teacher is acceptable, while students with a low power distance want a more egalitarian relationship with their teachers. Naturally, this also applies to teachers, teachers with a high power distance expect a large degree of authority and deference in the class, while lower power distance, teachers view students more as peers and collaborators.

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There is no right or wrong place in terms of power distance. Education has gone toward minimizing power distance, but this is a trend and not a moral argument. What really matters is that a teacher is aware of where they stand in terms of power distance and aware of where their students stand regarding this. Understanding that a student needs a more egalitarian power-sharing teacher can reduce conflict and stress for the teacher. In addition, understanding that a student(s) needs a strong authoritarian teacher is also beneficial in improving classroom management.

Individualism

Individualism is in contrast to collectivism and is the emphasis placed on the person or the group. Highly individualistic students do what is best for them at the group’s expense. Students who are low in individualism will put the group’s needs ahead of their own. Rewards should be determined by effort rather than based on equality. Lastly, highly individualistic students will put the task ahead of relationships.

For teachers, it is important to know how to manage individualistic and collectivistic students to have success in the classroom. An individualistic student will demand autonomy and space, which entails the teacher may need to back off a little. There is a need for harmony and relationships for a collectivistic student, which may mean the teacher needs to back off on being demanding as this is not valued by the student.

Uncertainty Avoidance

Uncertainty is a measure of people’s comfort with risk and unpredictable situations. Young people tend to act recklessly with their own decision-making but are overwhelming condemning of parents and teachers who are unpredictable and erratic. I have seen almost no exception to this in my personal career. Students generally have low acceptance of uncertainty.

This does not imply students don’t like surprises. The point is that change should be slow and occasional with lots of warning. With many unstable families, students are looking to schools to provide constancy and stability in this day and age. As such, uncertainty is something, many students want to avoid as they desire the role of being unpredictable over the teacher. Therefore, teachers probably want to limit uncertainty through clear management and consistent expectations.

Masculinity 

Masculinity measures how desirable traditional masculine traits are to a student. Highly masculine students value work and high grades compared to less masculine students. Masculine students live for work while low masculine students are more focused on friendship and doing less, and “smelling the roses.”

Masculine teachers are usually aggressive and ambitious. Naturally, this could cause conflict with students who are more focused on enjoying their time. This is another example of how teachers need to be aware of their own cultural preferences and their students.

Long-Term Orientation

A student’s orientation is determined by whether they focus on the short-term or long-term. Young people tend to focus more on the here and now, while adults often think further into the future. Therefore, like uncertainty avoidance, this may be an example of where there is not as much variance in the position of students.

Generally, students are focused on the moment, but they expect teachers to have a long-term orientation. The reason for this may be the idea of stability. Students want the freedom to be foolish, knowing that they have a support system around them to help them if something goes wrong. IF the supporters cannot plan ahead, it would be difficult for them to help careless students.

Indulgence

Indulgence is the view of the student as to the role of the society or school to fulfill the student’s desires. For example, highly indulgent students think that the school or classroom should be fun and enjoyable. Students who are low in indulgence see school as a place to restrain desire through rules and regulations.

Each student and teacher is going to vary in their orientation of indulgence. The clashes come when teachers and students view this differently. Again, it falls on the teacher to be flexible and reflective to adjust to the students while being aware of their own preferences.

Conclusion

Each person is unique and has their own view of the world and their own preferences. Hofstede’s work was done at the level of countries. However, teachers deal with individuals, not entire nations, which implies that there will be uniqueness among the students in terms of what they value. Therefore, the teacher needs to be aware of what students’ needs and personalities want so that they can help students to be successful

people sitting at the table

Taylor Principles of Management and the Classroom

Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) developed his management principles in response to the problems he was seeing in the workplace. IN this post, we will look at these principles and the backdrop to their origins.

Industrial Revolutions and its Problems

The Industrial Revolution led to major changes in the production of goods. Items went from being produced at home to being produced in factories. The work went from families working as a team to individuals working away from home. Natural these changes had pros and also cons.

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The main pro has already been mentioned and involves the boost in productivity. However, among the cons was a lack of motivation, issues with determining how much to produce with workers and managers manipulating each other, and a general lack of standardization. Lastly, workers were concerned with wages, working conditions, and justice.

Life of Fredrick Taylor

In this context, Fredrick Taylor (1856-1915) emerges. Unable to go to college due to an injury, Taylor went to work in a factory and saw workers destroy tools to prevent overproduction, which they believed could threaten their employment. Witnessing this, Taylor decided to take an empirical approach to this problem.

Taylor applied several different methodologies to examine production, such as time series, standardization, division of labor, time management, and incentives in such context as piecework production. He was also a huge proponent of finding the right person for the job and moving people as necessary to achieve this benefit to the person and the employer.

Four Principles of Management

Below are the four principles of management according to Taylor

  1. Managers should use science for each aspect of a job.
  2. Select and train workers scientifically.
  3. Workers and management should work together to make sure work is done according to principles of management
  4. Responsibility and work should be divided equally between workers and managers

Managers need to make sure science is the tool used for making decisions. Science relies on and observation and analysis of data. Using a scientific process is considered superior to making intuition or gut decisions. When science is used, employees may not agree, but they can see the thought process behind the decision. The principle of data-driven decision is a foundational concept in data science today.

Workers should also be trained and selected scientifically. Again this gives the impression of objectivity and fairness in the decision-making process. Using intuition or other means makes management decision-making questionable.

The third principle emphasizes that everyone should work together from a scientific perspective. Through a united worldview, the assumption is to improve cooperation. The enemy appears to be subjectivity, and both workers and management should avoid this.

The final principle speaks to how management and workers must have a joint interest in responsibilities. The motivation behind this idea is to reduce the hostility that can sometimes arise in the workplace. Suppose everyone is a part of the decision-making. In that case, everyone should have a vested interest in the endeavor’s success.

Taylor and the Classroom

It is hard to see how Taylor’s principles apply in the classroom at the surface level. However, two ideas that come out of Taylor’s principles for teachers are the idea of fairness and dialog. A teacher must demonstrate fairness through the decisions that they make. Students will not agree with a decision at times made by a teacher, but it is important to know that the decisions teachers make are not arbitrary and capricious.

Dialog is also important. Students need to raise concerns openly even if their commands are not implemented. When people are allowed to share, they are often invested in the achievement, which is the same for many students.

Conclusion

Taylor’s principles of management were groundbreaking for them. Even after almost a century, the ideas laid down here inspire managers and leaders in various fields.

man raising right hand

Brief Intro to the History of Management

A simple definition of management would be coordinating a task(s) to achieve a goal. This often involves people, and such management is about coordinating people. Managing people can be viewed negatively and as a form of manipulation or positively in a way that empowers people to accomplish things. In either case, management has a long history. People have been trying to achieve goals for all recorded human history.

Ancient Management

Early forms of management date all the way back to ancient Sumer. The Sumerians, people from Mesopotamia, developed writing to manage their training empire. Merchants needed a way to keep track of their records regarding what was bought and sold, among other things. Writing was developed for this purpose, perhaps because the trade volume was too high to track by memory.

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In the ancient city of Babylon, Hammurabi developed his Code of Hammurabi to manage behavior and control his people. The significance of the Code of Hammaruabi is that it is one of the oldest examples of law ever found. One of the more famous examples from this code is quoted below.

If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. [ An eye for an eye ]

Code of Hammurabi Line 196

The example above is the law of retribution or lex talionis. The law of retribution is found in many other places. One example would be the Bible. A later King named Nebuchannezer developed the idea of incentives by providing more food to workers who produced more.

Ancient Egypt also had contributed to management when they developed ideas behind the division of labor. Dividing labor is taken for granted; however, when agrarian cultures moved towards developing trade and cities, everyone did not have the time to farm. By dividing labor, people could focus and become highly competent at something. In addition, division of labor allows some of the Egyptians to develop the pyramids.

Management In China and the West

In China, Sun Tzu and his “Art of War” lays down many ideas related to management. Ideas behind resources management, inspiring the people, and examining oneself are all addressed in this classic. Countless managers have read and received inspiration from this practical book.

The Han dynasty of China (206 BC – 220 AD) also contributed to management through its development of bureaucracy. The large governmental system that was important at this time helped the dynasty control and monitor the people while also providing opportunities to people good enough to pass the various civil servant exams.

The Greeks and the Romans have also made their contributions to management. The Greeks also developed division of labor, or perhaps they borrowed the idea from the Egyptians with who they had frequent contact through trade. The Romans gave the world standardization. Standardizing everything allowed the Romans to produce things much faster for conquest. The Romans could pave the world because the roads were generally built the same way, saving time and resources.

Conclusion

Management will continue to play a role in the world as the world becomes more complex. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what the next generation of innovations will be.

brain inscription on cardboard box under flying paper pieces

Challenges to Decision-Making

Decisions are a critical part of the life of people, whether teachers or leaders. Even though this is an important skill, many people struggle with making decisions about important and even mundane matters. In this post, we will look at several challenges to making decisions.

Sunk Cost

There are times when a decision is made, and after some time, all parties involved begin to realize it was a bad decision. The challenge in this context is that since time and resources have already been devoted to this bad choice, maybe if everyone is patient, things will begin to work out. Generally, this is not the case.

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Organizations and schools make this kind of mistake all the time. For example, a new curriculum or technology is adopted by the school. It is clear that this software or tech is not working, but a commitment has already been made. Such a situation can lead to a great deal of frustration among faculty and staff.

Uncertainty

Nobody can predict the future. When it is unclear in terms of what to expect, it can lead to analysis paralysis, which essentially means that leadership or the teacher tries not to make a decision until new evidence arises. Unfortunately, new evidence is normally not forthcoming except that there is now less time to decide, and options begin to disappear because of lost time.

Since there is no way to be 100% sure of anything, the next best approach may be to make small incremental decisions and or take a step forward and be bold and see what happens. Neither of these alternatives is attractive, but there are times when a decision must be made.

Temporal Constraint

Due to procrastination, there are times when there is not enough time to decide. Again, some teachers and leaders what as long as possible and then go with the only viable option when they are forced to decide. When this happens, the teacher can blame the context for what happened when the reality is that they did not want to make a decision. There is no better excuse than a lack of time in many situations.

Time can be an ally in decision-making if used for thinking rather than for avoiding making a decision. Too often, people fall for the temptation of letting circumstances dictate their choices.

Limits of Reasoning

While thinking is good, there are limits to what reasoning can accomplish. There is no way to collect all data and process all possibilities when it is time to decide. Eventually, there comes the point where a teacher has thought enough about a decision and must make a decision. However, not too many people fall for the trap of limited reasoning as reasoning is not generally encouraged in this day and age.

Bias

People are often more comfortable with situations in which their own ideas and beliefs agree with the decision to be made. For example, a group of teachers may agree on something because they share similar backgrounds and thus have a similar perspective on a matter. This is an example of confirmation bias in which a person looks for information in agreement with their own position. Such examples can include people who agree with you or information that supports your position.

Bias is not always bad. If a decision needs to be made quicker, then a group of people with similar views can agree fast. However, suppose the goal is a creative or innovative solution. In that case, a diverse group is more likely to challenge and stretch each other to a novel idea.

Conflict

The final barrier to decision-making is conflict. Most people want to avoid conflict as it can lead to disharmony and other problems. However, people will not agree in the decision-making process, and they often like their idea at the expense of other people’s ideas.

There are two forms of conflict. Process conflict is disagreements about doing something and is not about an individual. Relationship conflict is personal and involves attacks on the person rather than the process or idea. Process conflict can lead to better processes, but once it becomes personal, it can collapse the decision-making process. It is difficult for many people to separate themselves from their shared ideas, but learning to do this is highly beneficial for the decision-making experience.

Conclusion

Decisions need to be made alone and in groups. Whatever the case may be, there are impediments to the decision-making process that people need to be aware of. The ideas presented here are just some of the challenges awaiting people who need to make up their minds about something.

man sitting in front of three computers

Decision-Making and the Brain

Decision-making generally takes place in one of two ways. The two ways are the reflective system and the reactive system. The reflective system is the analytical way of making decisions and is often characterized as methodical and logical. Although the thought process is carefully laid out when using the reflective system, the downside is that reflecting is much slower than reacting. Therefore although often viewed as superior, the reflective system is not always the optimal choice.

Two Systems

The reactive system is intuitive and relies more on emotions when compared to the reflective system. Although much faster than the reflective system, the reactive system is much less accurate and or careful. As such, the benefit of reactive is when spending is needed, and the complexity of the problem is not significant. Children tend to rely more on the reactive system as they lack the cognitive ability and experience to ponder reflectively.

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The system that people use often depends on their emotional states. When people are calm, and at peace, they are more likely to use the reflective system. However, if people are angry, sad, happy, etc., they may use the reactive system. We have all been in situations where our emotions control us when dealing with students. This may be an example of the reactive system taking over reasonably. The choice of which system is also associated with personality as some prefer one style over another regardless of their emotional state.

Different decisions can rely on different systems. If a teacher faces a routine decision, they may choose to use the reactive system to make a fast decision. If the situation is novel and unusual, the teacher may adopt a reflective approach. This is one reason why experienced teachers can work faster. The speed is based on using prior knowledge to make a quick, insightful decision that reactively while a new teacher has to reflect on every single experience because they are all so novel.

Types of Decisions

Decisions that are repeated frequently and based on rules are called programmed decisions. These can include things such as when to take a break, how much time to give for a test, etc. The ability to autopilot these decisions comes from experience.

Non-programmed decisions are decisions in a context in which clear criteria are not available. Examples of non-programmed decisions in the classroom may include equipment breakdowns, accepting new students, etc. This implies that reflection will be necessary to decide in this unclear situation.

Conclusion

The point here was not to try and make a case that one form of decision-making is superior to the other. Each system has its pros and cons and what really determines what’s best is the context in which the decision needs to be made. There is little time for reflecting if there is a fire in the class. In addition, it is equally harmful to determine students’ grades reactively.

woman in red long sleeve writing on chalk board

Responsibilities and Skills of Teachers

Every job has its list of responsibilities and skills required for the position. This post will look at some of the common skills and responsibilities associated with teaching.

Planning/Coordinating

Teachers are expected to spend a large amount of their time making daily and long-term lesson plans. Developing these plans can include setting long-term goals, short-term objectives, procedures, assignments, and more. However, Once plans are developed, they have to be implemented, which involves coordinating students’ behavior and, at times, working with people outside of the class for various reasons.

Controlling/Supervising

Teachers have to constantly observe the behavior of their students and make adjustments to what plans or goals they have in mind. For example, if students are struggling, the teacher needs to slow down and reteach. Suppose the problem is not comprehension but a rather poor attitude. In that case, the teacher needs to modify how they enforce rules.

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Teachers also have to track resources such as paper, pencils, books, time, etc. These things must be observed while also trying to move forward in the curriculum and maintain learning.

Professional Development

Teachers also must stay abreast of the latest developments in their field. This includes changes and innovation in teaching and in one’s area of expertise. Different fields change at different speeds, but all teachers have to stay current to help students to be prepared for the workforce and or college.

Staying current in one’s profession is not overly time-consuming. The real challenge is doing this along with the other responsibilities of teaching and the demands of one’s life outside the classroom.

Skills of Teachers

The skills of teachers can be broken down into three categories

  • Technical skills
  • Human relation skills
  • Conceptual skills

Technical skills are essentially the expertise of the teacher. For example, a math teacher knows math and can use it practically. In addition, teachers must have technical knowledge of teaching, such as familiarity with pedagogy and various approaches to instruction. Generally, a teacher must have a high degree of technical skill because they are a teacher to others.

Human relation skills are the ability to work with other people. Teachers need to have ways to connect with students to inspire enthusiasm and growth. In addition, teachers also need to maintain relationships with other teachers, parents, and the administration. Working with others is often dicey, and surprisingly, teachers can often struggle to maintain a cordial relationship with their peers, students, and community members.

Conceptual skills relate to planning and seeing the big picture. Developing this skill comes with experience. For example, new teachers often cannot see beyond developing daily lesson plans, while more experienced teachers can plan months or semesters at a time. Conceptual skills become more important if a teacher moves more in the direction of leadership after a few years in the classroom.

Conclusion

Teaching is a challenging field in that it calls on a person to keep track of several important tasks while also developing themselves and working with others. Since doing this is no easy task, perhaps that is why so many teachers can find their jobs challenging.

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Teachers as Classroom Managers

Henry Mintzberg (1973) researched what business managers do within companies. His results indicated that managers have three primary roles, which are…

  • Interpersonal
  • Informational
  • Decisional

We will examine each of these roles within the context of a teacher as a classroom manager.

Interpersonal Roles

The interpersonal role of a manager involves dealing with many people during a given day. Managers serve as figureheads, and this involves such tasks as greeting guests, participating in various ceremonies/formal activities, and being the general face of whatever they are in charge of. Teachers are frequently involved in figurehead-type roles as classroom managers. For example, teachers are often responsible for flag ceremonies in the morning, participating in graduation, responding to guess who comes to the classroom, etc. As such, teachers have a lot in common with business managers in the role of figurehead.

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A second interpersonal role for managers is that of liaison. The liaison role involves maintaining connections outside of the group or unit that the manager is in charge of. It also involves connecting people within the organization with those outside and keeping track of information gained through external and internal relationships. For teachers, serving as a liaison is not as common in my experience. Often the student has access to the same people like the teacher. One exception may be if a teacher helps a student obtain a job or get into a college by providing connections to such opportunities.

A final interpersonal role of managers as a leader. The leader role involves training, motivating, and communicating with subordinates. When most people think of managers, this may be the first thing that comes to mind. This is also a primary function for teachers as they are expected to lead the classroom and communicate expectations with students.

Informational Roles

The informational role defines itself and involves obtaining pertaining data relating to the goals of the manager’s team. One role that falls under this category is that of a monitor. The manager is supposed to gather information from various sources to improve decision-making, among other things. Teachers also have to play this role as one of their primary functions is communicating what they have learned with their students. Teachers and managers who like knowledge or expertise will generally struggle with their role as a manager.

A second informational role is that of a disseminator of information. As mentioned with the teacher, the manager gathers information to share it. There are various lines of communication such as telephone, email, chat, etc. Whatever channel(s) is chosen is just how the manager shares information. We have already discussed how teachers spend the majority of their time sharing information, so we do not need to add much but to mention that it is important to consider how the information is shared in that do the students understand.

Lastly, managers serve as spokespersons, which means sharing information with people outside the unit or team. Sharing information like this can involve speaking with superiors, members of the community, etc. For teachers, the role of spokesperson may involve sharing concerns of their students with administration or with other teachers. Students sometimes like to raise concerns about things that the teacher can speak about because the teacher has a higher status. Thus the spokesperson role may be an advocacy position for a classroom teacher.

Decisional ROles

The final collection of roles of managers involves decisions. A manager is also an entrepreneur, which involves taking the initiative in projects and delegating responsibilities. Teachers are often implementing new ideas and teaching approaches in their classroom, and when possible, they will delegate responsibilities to students.

Managers also must handle conflicts and other emergencies. These conflicts can be among coworkers, with people outside the team, and even with the manager themself. As such, diplomatic skills are an important aspect of a manager’s skill set. Teachers may deal with even more conflicts than managers, given the age of the students. Both managers and teachers have in common the must know how to handle conflict and surprises.

Managers are also resource allocators, and this involves sharing not necessarily information but tangibles things such as budget resources, determining schedules, and setting wages. Teachers also serve as resource allocators as they determine who gets to use the computers, when it’s time to play, what rewards students get for good behavior, and much more. Care must be given to resource allocation as hints of unfairness and favoritism can lead to conflict.

The final role of a manager is that of a negotiator. This role is often paired with many of the other roles already mentioned. For example, the manager may negotiate as a spokesperson for their team, negotiate a conflict between subordinates, etc. For teachers, the same ideas apply. Teachers have to negotiate for themselves, their students, and with parents as just some examples.

Conclusion

From the examples presented here, we can see that teachers as classroom managers have a lot in common with managers in the business world. Both teachers and manger need to perform roles that involve interpersonal skills, informational skills, and decision-making skills. As such, a knowledge of management in the context of business could help teachers in their classrooms.

Making Groupwork Work

For many students, working in groups can be a serious challenge. Different people have different temperaments regarding communication, work style, and ability to cooperate. It can be difficult to have success when a student is compelled to work in groups.This post will provide three tips for improving the group work experience of students.

Example Projects

Perhaps one of the best ways to get students going when it comes to completing group work is to show them how other students have dealt with this problem/project in the past through showing examples. When students see examples, it helps them process what is possible and what the expectations are for earning a certain grade.

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Often the struggle with groups is trying to determine what to do. This is usually the first impediment to the project. Examples of prior work help a group determine which ideas they have are reasonable as they try to pivot off what the teacher has shown them as potential projects.

Checkpoints & Communication

It is often common for teachers to assign the entire project and only collect or comment on the final submitted project. This is a high-stakes approach that can lead to frustration when cooperation is not happening for many people working in groups. This is one reason why many students want to work alone to control everything.

A better approach is to break the project into pieces and provide feedback and support at each checkpoint. Students are provided with an opportunity to check in with the teacher as a group and feedback before the final submission. In addition, this also allows the teacher to communicate with students about expectations and address any problems that may have arisen proactively. Sometimes, students will just suffer in their group until the last minute. However, the teacher can guide the group towards success rather than failure and frustration by breaking the project into smaller pieces with frequent feedback and communication. 

Separate Grading

Freeloading is a common problem in group projects. There are always students who believe in doing minimum and even nothing when working in a group. This practice may be one of the main reasons students dislike group work. The project often becomes a solo project in which the smart student does everything. One way to deal with this problem is through separate grading.

Instead of giving one grade that is exactly the same for all members, a teacher can give separate grades based on the contribution of individual members. Often, two grades are provided, one for the entire group project and a second grade for the individual contribution. Doing this makes group members individually accountable for their part.

HOw the individual grade is calculated can vary. Some teachers lick to have peer evaluations as part of the final grade in which members of a group evaluate each other’s contributions. This works in cultures that accept conflict more. However, in more collectivist settings, students will often mark everyone high to maintain harmony even if there is evidence that many did not contribute.

Another approach involves the teacher marking the specific contribution of the individual members. However, there must be some sort of rubric for this to work. Essentially, every group must follow the same process for the teacher to mark them similarly. In other words, the group project becomes a collection of individual assignments that are lumped together as a project. Doing this would limit the flexibility of each group with the tradeoff of higher accountability.

Conclusion

Groupwork has a place in the classroom. It allows students to develop communication skills, compromise, and work in less-than-ideal situations. However, the teachers must find ways to help students succeed in the context of group work so that everyone can perform.

unhappy black couple sitting on bed after having argument

Leas Levels of Conflict

Speed Leas shares five levels of conflict based on his own research into conflict management. In this post, we will look at these five steps in the context of the classroom.

Problem to Solve

The problem to solve is the lowest level of conflict. The level of conflict is so low that it is often not even perceived as conflict by those involved. The focus is generally on the problem rather than on the people involved. This encourages an objective stance and desire to solve the problem rather than attack each other.

In the classroom, a problem to solve level of conflict can involve minor disagreements between children or the teacher that are worked out quickly with a few moments of talk. For example, if a student takes another student’s personal belongings and returns them when asked, this is a simple problem to solve the conflict.

Disagreement

Disagreement leads to the realization that the parties involved have different opinions about what to do or think. With the threat of real conflict, possible people begin to take strategies to mitigate the risk. For example, they avoid speaking about the problem, or they do not share what they really think about the matter.

In the classroom, disagreements are common. Students may avoid telling a teacher about a problem with another student to avoid conflict. A teacher may ignore poor behavior to avoid conflict with the student or the student’s parents. Teachers may also try to avoid disagreement by not speaking about various problems at the school with each other or with the administration.

Contest

At the contest level, the goal is to win without necessarily hurting your opponent physically or emotionally. Things have escalated to proving that you are right at the expense of the other person. Therefore, things are still often intellectual in nature rather than raw emotion. Emotions are invited, such as fear and trust have broken down, yet things are out of control. Passive aggressiveness goes up; body language gets defensive, the tone of voice changes, and more.

In the classroom, students can argue over many things considered at the contest level of conflict. Examples can include who gets to use a particular item, who was first, who won the game, who cheated, etc. It can also involve demands for apologies for behavior.

Fight

Fighting involves hurting the other person without being hurt. It is about being right at the expense of the other person being wrong. Here things can start to get messy and even dangerous in some situations. Both parties see the other’s actions as aggressive. The goal is to get the other person to give up so that one side can declare victory.

This is where the classic playground fight comes in as an example. Both sides are posturing, hoping that the other side gives up so that it never actually becomes physical. There is no discussion, there is no trust, and the goal no is victory at the expense of the other person. It is now a zero-sum game.

Intractable Conflict

At this final stage, the result is mutual destruction of the relationship and people involved. The destruction does not have to be physical; it can also be emotional, financial, reputation, etc. The people involve separate after a bitter conflict with a long road towards reconciliation. Even with separation, passive-aggressive swipes may continue as those found in soap operas.

This level of conflict is found in high school and beyond. At this level, conflicts harden into wars of attritions. Students also begin to master the art of manipulating each other for political gain. Rumors, gossip, and jealousy, all things foreign to small children, begin to manifest among teenagers. This naturally implies that this level of conflict happens among teachers as well. Indeed, teachers frequently argue amongst each other and fight over resources. There can even be wars between departments over resources that can be highly toxic.

Conclusion

The ultimate goal of dealing with conflict is generally to keep it at level one or bring it back to level one. This means dealing with problems when they are small and harmless or letting them grow until it destroys a relationship. Strategies that can help deal with conflict include communication, finding mediators, and negotiating. Conflict is a part of life, and people must learn to deal with it rather than ignore it.

city group people police

Classroom Management and Theories on Deviance

Deviance is something teachers and administrators deal with every day when managing students. Deviance is simply a fancy word for the breaking of social norms and rules. In other words, in the context of classroom management, deviance is the everyday misbehavior of students.

There are two types of deviance. Primary deviance is misbehavior that does not have a long-term effect in terms of the perception or reputation of the person. For example, a student talking out of turn may be primary deviance if it is not too common. Secondary deviance is misbehavior that can give a student a label that strongly harms how others perceive him. For example, getting into fights, drug use, and academic dishonesty often give a student a poor reputation that is hard to overcome. When this happens, the student’s status is linked to deviant behavior.

Fighting Deviance

Schools work to maintain social control of their campus by enforcing rules and norms. Doing this helps to maintain the social order and stability of the organization. Common tools used to achieve this include the use of sanctions, both positive and negative.

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Positive sanctions are rewards; those familiar with behaviorism may be more familiar with positive/negative reinforcement. Negative sanction is the giving of consequences in behaviorism. Another term for this is positive/negative punishment. Another type of sanction is a formal sanction which is an official way of giving rewards or punishments. For example, citizenship awards might be a formal positive sanction, while suspension would be a formal negative sanction.

Theories of Deviance

Theories are several theories that attempt to explain deviance. Strain theory states that having a way to achieve a goal influences deviance. For example, no money for college may turn a student towards a life of crime as they see no other options. However, this is not the only potential response. Students may confirm and set aside their goal until an opportunity arises, if ever. Students may innovate, such as our example of turning to a life of crime. Students may lower their goal to achieve whatever they can, such as finishing high school and learning a trade. Students may also simply give up. Lastly, students may rebel with a desire to tear down the system. This last action partially explains the protesting in many places.

Strain theory does not have to deal with weighty issues such as going to college. Students can simply deviate because they are not allowed to go outside and play. As such, a teacher can anticipate certain behaviors from students through being familiar with strain theory.

Cultural deviance theory states that students may deviate if they conform to lower-class society norms. This implies a difference in class being a primary means of deviance. For example, students who grow up in gang culture will probably learn behaviors that are considered deviant by middle-class teachers. This will lead to problems in the classroom.

Cultural deviance theory is supported by at least two other theories. Differential association theory states that students learn deviant behaviors from others, and labeling theory states that those with power (teachers) determine acceptable behavior. Gang culture is considered deviant by most teachers, but whether this is considered deviant by gang members?

Lastly, control theory states that the strength of social bonds influences a student’s desire to perform deviant behaviors. In other words, students do not like to submit to strangers but will respond to people they know and respect.

Control theory proposes several ways to curtail deviant behavior. Attachment, if students are close to you, they will not want to deviate. Commitment, if you as the teacher are invested in the students, they will not want to deviate. Involvement, if you participate in activities with the students, they will not want to deviate. Belief, if students agree with what you want or think, they will not want to deviate.

Conclusion

Deviance is to be expected. Students want to push the limits, and it is the teacher’s job to deal with this. However, students need to learn from their mistakes so that their deviance does not become a major problem for them or the learning experience of others.

green trees between white concrete buildings

Organization, Bureaucracies, & Schools

A school is a type of formal organization. An organization is a group of people who are working together as a body to do something. A formal organization is an organization that has rules and regulations. Another trait of many organizations is that they often have traits of bureaucracies. This post will explore different types of organizations and also explain the characteristics of bureaucracies.

Organization Types

There are several types of organizations. A voluntary organization is an organization that is based on a common interest. Many of the clubs that one would find in a school would qualify as a voluntary organization. Examples would include student council, art club, photo club, or drama club. These are generally voluntary in that students can choose or not choose to participate, and they often involve hobbies students enjoy. For teachers, voluntary organizations might include associations such as the National Education Association (NEA) or Kappa Delta Pi. Teachers are often the leaders of various after-school clubs and thus members of these organizations at the local school level.

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Coercive organizations, as the name implies, are organizations people are compelled to join. School is a coercive organization for many students as many young people do not want to be there. Another example is a prison, as most inmates do not want to be inmates. This leads to the point that different people have different views of organizations. A teacher will probably not think of their school as a coercive organization, but a student might.

Total institutions are organizations that have sweeping powers over the lifestyles and choices of the members. Prison is one such example. In addition, many cults can have a large influence over the lives of their members in a way that is totalitarian. With time, schools have been given more and more responsibility for students’ lives to appear as total institutions. Schools’ responsibilities now include transportation, breakfast, after-school programs, sports, sex education, supporting students with disabilities, second language instruction, etc. Some of these examples are so old that they seem comical. However, there was a time when schools did not do these things.

Lastly, a utilitarian organization is an organization people join for a reward such as a salary or prestige. For example, teachers may see the school at which they work as a utilitarian organization because of the money. A student who goes to college may see the college as a utilitarian organization because of the reward of a degree at the end of their studies. Again, how a person views an organization can vary as one voluntary organization is another person’s utilitarian organization

Bureaucracies

Organizations often become bureaucracies which are simple, highly formal organizations. It is difficult to tell when an organization is a bureaucracy. However, organizations exhibit several traits of bureaucracies when they reach this stage of development, and they are…

  • Strong hierarchy
  • clear division of labor
  • explicit rules
  • impersonal
  • meritocracies

Burecraies have a strong hiearchy. At schools, it is clear who is in charge. Often, you will see a picture of the principal somewhere and the rest of the administrative team. At the university level, you will have a president, VPs, Deans, Chairs, etc., clearly mapped out for everyone. There are also clear lines of labor. Teachers teach while administrators deal with administration only at smaller organizations do these lines blend. When an organization is larger enough, clearly delineating these things is critical to order.

Bureaucracies also have clear, explicit rules. Again, we all know how obsessed schools are with rules. There are rules for the cafeteria, the library, the classroom, the playground; there are general school rules. Then there are policies for teachers, parents, administrators, and the list goes on and on. The large number of policies and rules are overwhelming, especially if one moves to the district or state level.

Bureaucracies are also highly impersonal. For schools, this applies if the school is really big, perhaps several thousand students. Universities are often viewed as impersonal monsters where nobody cares, and they are often personified when people or students want to complain about them. A common name is “the system,” as in “the the system fail such and such.” Another term common today is “systemic racism”; however, systems are not alive and thus cannot actually be racists. People can be racist through the rules they implement and enforce within the system, but the system has no life or conscience of its own.

Lastly, bureaucracies are based on merit. Within the government, promotion is generally based on years of service and some sort of assessment. To become a teacher, a person has to receive a certain amount of training. To become an administrator, the same idea applies. Honor students earned good grades, which is the way they are being honored. The point is that in bureaucracies, merit is a common trait.

Conclusion

Organizations are a necessary part of the human experience. Everyone belongs to one organization or another for whatever reason. With time, organizations can grow and become bureaucracies that have their own pros and cons.

Coping with Teaching Stress

Stress can be highly detrimental to teaching. High stress can lead to such problems as turnover/absenteeism, burnout, and health problems. All of the examples mentioned are enemies to the teachers. Teachers need to find ways to process stress to be available to support and guide their students. IN this post, we look at strategies for dealing with stress in the teaching profession.

Social Support/Group Cohesiveness

Social support involves a teacher’s sense that they have colleagues they can trust and that the teacher is not alone in facing the stressful challenges of teaching. Teaching can be a uniquely isolating experience because you often work alone in a classroom with children the entire day. Outside of breaks, lunch, and meetings, a teacher does not have the same adult-to-adult interaction level that is found in many other occupations.

Stress Balls

As such, schools often need to work on developing group cohesiveness among their teachers. Group cohesiveness is a measure of a social strength of a group. One way to develop this is to have team-building exercises and opportunities to socialize.

Hobbies

People need to have other interests besides teaching to take a productive break from the classroom. The type of hobby is up to the individual, but anything that allows for a break that encourages rejuvenation can potentially be beneficial to the teacher.

Just having a hobby to look forward to can reduce stress. Hobbies can also lead to insights in teaching or stories to share with students for illustrative purposes.

Exercise

Little needs to be said of exercise. Unfortunately, skipping exercise is typical behavior among virtually everybody. However, exercise is a powerful way to destress after a hard day in the classroom. Often, when people are stress, they may also feel tired and drain. This is all the more reason to move around so that you can release the tension with movement and sweat.

Self Awareness/Hardiness

Self-awareness involves understanding one’s self. Examples include knowing what brings stress into your life and avoiding it. Knowing one’s limits is also essential, as well as knowing when to withdraw from a situation.

Hardiness involves the ability to channel negative stress into positive challenges. One example is making it a challenge to deal with a difficult student or implement a flawed policy. The challenge is in getting the child to work or to use one’s talents and skills to realize poor policies. Instead of getting discouraged or stressed, looking at stressors as challenges can help develop the motivation to make it happen.

Professional Development

Professional development is an overlooked way of managing stress. However, by developing new skills and abilities, a teacher can solve existing problems, work more efficiently, and thus potentially reduce stress. For example, if a teacher is struggling with classroom management, this will probably cause stress. IF this same teacher receives training in classroom management, they can use this knowledge to deal with students and reduce their frustration.

Relevant professional development helps teachers solve problems that may cause stress. Therefore, a teacher should always look for ways to improve their talents as this may come in handy when a stressful situation arises,

Conclusion

Everyone deals with stress, but the real success is in how we all deal with it. Teaching does not have to be stressful if a teacher changes their perspective and sees stress as an opportunity to meet a challenge.

Common Stressors for Teachers

Teaching has its stress as any other job. This post will identify some of the familiar sources of stress in a teacher’s life.

Role Ambiguity

Role ambiguity is defined as a person who is unclear in terms of their job responsibilities. Teaching is a field where high ambiguity can be expected, and academic performance can be highly subjective. Attempts have been made to remove the ambiguity through such things as standardized testing. However, people, including children, are unpredictable, and adequately doing everything does not ensure the results that leadership expects.

When expectations are unclear, it can lead to a great deal of frustration and dissatisfaction for a teacher. There can even be a sense of powerlessness as if the teacher has no control over what happens to them in their classroom. The ambiguous nature of teachers may be why teachers quit, as it is challenging to obtain the expected results without a clear sense of what the expectations are.

Role Conflict

Role conflict is the placing of contrary expectations on a person. For example, teachers are expected to be gentle and nurturing while also maintaining order. An expectation of being nice and being mean simultaneously may be an example of role conflict. Teachers are often put in the position as others are in other occupations.

The effects of role conflict are similar to role ambiguity and generally lack job satisfaction and higher stress levels. Teachers may also lose confidence in leadership as they struggle with competing aspects of their job responsibilities. One common coping mechanism is withdrawal or avoiding others.

Role Overload

Role overload is essentially feelings or a sense of being overworked and unable to complete all assigned tasks. Overload can take two forms. Quantitative overload is having more work than time, while qualitative overload is being pushed beyond one’s skill set, such as being asked to teach math when you are a music teacher.

Teaching can be overloading in either way. Teachers frequently have more to do than time, especially with the amount of documentation, preparation, and grading that are a part of the job. In addition, as mentioned above, having to teach outside of one’s expertise is a common experience for many.

The opposite of overload is underutilization and is another stressor for teachers. Underutilization is a lack of the use of a person’s skills and abilities. This can lead to the stress of boredom, low self-esteem, and job dissatisfaction. The experience of role utilization may happen with experienced teachers who need new challenges.

Personality 

There are several factors concerning the personality and the teacher’s life that can cause stress. For example, teachers with a type A personality are often at a greater risk of stress. Type A personalities are characterized as people who are impatient, restless, and competitive. Type B personalities are generally the opposite of type A and have a more easy-going attitude.

Another personal life stressor is the amount of change and turmoil in a teacher’s life. Illness, death of a loved one, divorce, or any other major life catastrophe can manifest itself in a teacher’s life and lead to a great deal of stress. This may carry over into the classroom and impact job performance as well.

Conclusion

All jobs have stress, but we all need to be reminded of how this stress can occur. Teachers have to know what stressors they may experience so they can find ways to deal with them. Otherwise, the job challenges may be too much for them, leading to the loss of people who have committed to helping others.

Stress & Strain in the Classroom

Stress is a bitter part of any job. Even a job that is not stressful can cause stress from boredom. Teaching can be a stressful occupation as teachers have to deal with many unique individuals with distinct personalities. This post will look at stress, how people deal with it, and the types of negative stress.

Stress & Strain

Stress is the physical and emotional responses people have to various aspects and experiences within their environment. Stress can be harmful, which we call distress, or it can be positive, called eustress. Examples of distress in the classroom can include disruptive students, marking assignments, or dealing with parents. Examples of eustress can include working with engaged students, developing new teaching methods, and learning something new to share with students.

When teachers experience stress, it can lead to something called strain. Strain is the damage inflicted on a person because of stress. In other words, strain is the cumulative effect of stress. It is not one or two stressful moments that wear a teacher down but rather the stress over time.

Stress is pervasive in a classroom as dealing with young people generally is. However, no two people handle stress the same way. Some strive in a stressful environment while others struggle tremendously. One person’s classroom of chaos is another person’s classroom of collaboration. However, there is a model of how people respond to stress.

General Adaptation Syndrome

General adaptation syndrome is the name for the steps people take to deal with stress. The three steps are…

  1. Alarm
  2. Resistance
  3. Exhausation 

Alarm is the initial response to stress and is often known as the “fight or flight” experience. In the classroom, this can be a teacher reacting to students arguing over something. Step two is resistance and is how a person tries to return to a state of equilibrium. For example, when the teacher notices the arguing, the intervening to break up the fighting and get everyone back on task. Lastly, exhaustion results from experiencing the first two steps and represents the long-term effects of stress such as illness or high blood pressure.

Types of Negative Stress

There is positive and negative stress. Under negative stress, there are also two types, which are frustration and anxiety. Frustration is a person’s reaction to not being able to achieve a goal. For example, a teacher is excited about teaching a new concept or idea to the students, only for the students to be completely disruptive. Since the teacher cannot teach, it is probably that frustration will set in that can lead to exhaustion or, worst.

Anxiety is a sense of helpless to rise to the challenge of a stressful situation. For example, if a class gets out of control, a teacher may experience anxiety as they have no idea how to handle that current situation. Anxiety can also happen in a novel situation. For example, an experienced teacher may suffer anxiety when dealing with their first special needs child or a challenging child.

Conclusion

Even though stress is a reality for a teacher, it does not have to take and lead to discouragement. Understanding what stress is and how it manifests itself is one practical way to deal with this enemy of teaching.

Adjusting to the Classroom for Teachers and Students

Adjusting to the workplace or school is a challenge for teachers and students. This post will look at five ways people respond to the adjustment, as first researched by W.S. Neff.

No Motivation

The first type of person who struggles in the classroom is a person who has no motivation. They have a negative view of their role in the classroom and want to avoid work to avoid discomfort.

Teachers who lack motivation are often considered to be suffering from burnout. In other words, these were teachers who use to be on fire but have struggled to keep the flame burning. Burnout and loss of motivation have also become acute problems with the move to online learning. Essentially some teachers have lost motivation because they are struggling to cope with the changes in teaching that have hit the entire world.

It is more common to see students who lack motivation. In an entertainment-driven world, sitting still in class is challenging and lacks relevance for many young people. With learning online, it can be even more torturous to have to endure sitting in front of the computer for hours. Some students have to study through their small cellphone for hours each day.

The Fearful

Some people respond with fear and or anxiety about coping with work or school. The stress and demands of work can weigh heavily upon them. Teachers, as an example, may be worried about students who have real and severe problems. They also may be struggling with the workload of teaching as they try and support dozens of students at any given moment.

Any student can suffer from anxiety and fear about the school, but students who suffer from bullying and/or high performers are often at risk for this. The bullied student has to worry about the people who are mistreating them, while the high performer is worried about maintaining high performance.

The Hostile Ones

Some react with anger and aggression towards stress. These are the people who are identified as having a short temper and are hard to get along with. Such individuals dislike the strain of their role by attacking those around them. Teachers do this, but it can be challenging to keep a position long-term with this sort of behavior.

Students also do this, and given their age; there is more effort to work with them through aggressive, emotional issues. Students are already dealing with change as they mature into adults, and coping with their role at school could cause problems. For example, students who have family problems may also act aggressive at school as they try and cope with the issues they face at home.

Dependency

 People who become dependent cannot take the initiative for anything and have a sense of helplessness. For a teacher, this can manifest itself with a lack of decisiveness in the classroom and unclear instruction. The teacher is so overwhelmed that they literally cannot think and make choices. Anybody who is in a highly stressful situation will look for guidance to attain the stability and/or safety that they crave, which happens to some teachers.

Dependency among students can happen if they lack support at home. When home support is missing, friends are often the ones who provide stability. These students turn to friends for advice and decision-making in place of what could be provided by parents.

Socially Naive

Some people have no idea how their actions affect those around them. They have no clue about the feelings and needs of others. These individuals are classified as socially naive. Task-oriented teachers and students often fall into this category. They are so focused on achieving something that they lose track of the people around them.

Introverts can also suffer from being socially naive as they have their minds that they are trying to keep track of and thus do not focus on what is happening in the heads of others as much.

Helping these Types

There is no single way to help people who fall into one of the examples above. It takes a holistic view of the life of the teacher or student to determine how to help them. Teachers often want to do at least the minimum to keep their jobs (hopefully). Therefore, if they are not even meeting the lowest standard, exploring causes can help them rebound in performance.

Students are more complicated as they often do not have the life burdens of bills and family. As such, they can be in a perfectly stable environment and still not perform or care as the struggles of reality have not hit them yet. In such a situation, it will take serious work to help them.

Conclusion

Everybody is different, and we all respond in different ways to the same situations. This post provided five types of roles people assume when coping with stress.

Kotter’s Change Model and Schools

This post will look at Kotter’s Change model, another model of change for an organization. In all, there are eight steps for this process, as shared below. There will also be several brief examples of how one educational leader has perhaps unknowingly used this model, at least in part.

Establish Urgency

Step one of bringing change, according to Kotter, is to develop a sense of urgency. Since most people are emotional by nature, they may need an emotional push to accept and work for change. Urgency can be developed through creating a narrative about why change is necessary and sharing some of the prophesied consequences if change does not happen.

I once worked with an administrator, and we will call him Jim, who was a complete master of establishing urgency. Whenever he wanted something done, Jim was sure to mention how the entire school was endanger if what he wanted was not done. However, because everything he wanted was a “do or die” scenario, people started to ignore him. What happened to him is similar to “the boy who cried wolf” or chicken little and the sky is falling.” Urgency can be a great tool, but it must be used sparingly; otherwise, it will lose its power to mobilize.

Form Coalition

Once urgency is established, a leader needs to build a team of influential people within the organization to shape the change. The people involved in this colation should be influencers who are affected by the change. These people serve as local go-to contacts to influence the masses within the institution to support and make change happen.

Jim was also an expert at building coalitions. When he wanted to change, he knew he needed help and had the political acumen to build complex alliances. One mistake I think he made was that sometimes he would team with people who were established and influential but maybe not popular. When unpopular people are pushing change, it is often rejected because people often value relationships over performance.

Make a Vision and Communicate it

Once the team is in place, they work together with the leader to develop the scope and rationale for change. By scope, it is meant the breadth and depth of the change and rationale are the motives behind the change. Creating this vision helps the team determine what they are focusing on for a change and how they will know when they are successful.

Once the vision is set, it needs to be communicated with the institution. People need to know where they are going and how they will get there. Communication can help people to buy in and accept the change.

Jim was always good and sharing the vision even if nobody else contributed to it. Once his colation was aware of the plan, it was shared with the institution. One thing to be careful of is how much of the vision to share. If your plans are overly ambitious, people may be intimidated by what you want to do. Tell people enough to get things started and slowly reveal more details as small goals are achieved.

Remove Obstacles and Strive for Small Wins

Removing obstacles is about problem-solving. Whenever people try to accomplish anything, some surprises try to disrupt the process. The leader must solve these problems by providing training, resources, encouragement, supplies, etc., so that the vision can be achieved.

Small wins relate to sharing the vision. Many people struggle with the big picture as they are more detail-oriented. If you tell some people all the work they have to do, they will become discouraged. Breaking the large vision into small wins or goals is critical for managing people psychologically.

Small wins are created when the leader develops milestones that help to achieve the vision. These milestones are shorter and less complex in nature compared to whatever the final vision is. Therefore, they are easier to attain. When people begin to have success completing small goals for wins, it helps motivate many individuals.

Consolidate Improvements and Anchor Changes

Consolidation involves reinforcing what has worked well so far and removing what has not worked well. As success is experienced and momentum develops, people begin to get excited about the changes they have been a part of making happen. In other words, focus on sharing the success to help push people to finish the changes.

The final step is anchoring changes. Anchoring changes involves making what changes were made permanent. Doing this requires discipline to support change long-term. It is common for people to get so excited about the change that they do not make an effort to maintain the new normal. The same energy that was brought to bringing change must be used to maintain it.

Conclusion

Change is part of the journey of any institution. Having a process to guide the change process can help leaders who need to push for change. Kotter’s model for change is one tool for walking through change and making it a reality.

Lewin’s Change Model

Lewin’s change model is a famous model that tries to describe the experience of change as it happens in an organization. This post will explain Lewin’s model of change in the context of educational institutions.

For Lewin’s model, there are three phases: unfreeze, move, and freeze. We will learn about each below.

Unfreeze

Phase one of change, according to Lewin, is unfreezing. Unfreezing involves examining the current situation are state of the organization. This is often called a needs analysis in education. Once it is clear what problems the organization is facing, the next step is to identify what needs to change and create motivation for accepting change.

Accepting change can be challenging to do in large institutions such as schools. Therefore, leaders must look for ways to lower resistance to change. This is often done in the second step of Lewin’s model.

Educational institutions are frequently conducting needs analysis for accreditation and are thus often experienced with the unfreeze phase of Lewin’s model. For example, a school may make adjustments to its curriculum based on input from stakeholders. This is an example of change that requires unfreezing the courses offered at the institution.

Move

Lewin’s second phase is called “move.” The move phase involves taking action or making the plan developed in the previous step a reality. If a school needs to make changes, it may support the transition through training, support, or information about the change. The goal is to empower people to adjust to the change that is necessary for whatever reason.

Another important aspect of this step, according to Lewin, is involving stakeholders. Letting people be a part of the solution often helps these same people accept change. This means having a dialog and considering the concerns and fears of the people who will be affected by the change.

It is common for organizations, not just schools, to miss the opportunity to include others in the change process. For example, administrators often will announce a change that is needed, such as changes to submitting grades, without talking to teachers about how this works. Sadly, many leaders will address complaints or concerns from their subordinates, but they never go to these same people when trying to solve the problem.

Refreeze

The final step of Lewin’s model of change is “refreeze.” Refreeze involves making whatever changes that were implemented permanent. Accomplishing this involves putting in place a system of accountability that is palatable to the stakeholders. The word that is commonly used today for refreeze is “the new normal.”

Refreezing may be the most challenging stage of the change process because it involves maintaining discipline for behavior that becomes a habit. For example, schools often implement many great ideas that are not sustained for the long term, such as grading policies, attendance, or even protocols for discipline. This usually happens because human nature often wants to be responsive rather than prescriptive.

Conclusion

Lewin’s model provides a basic idea of the change process that many of us have experienced in one way or the other. It does assume that organizations are freezable, which in today’s dynamic environment is perhaps unlikely. Despite this, Lewin’s model is a traditional way of envisioning the experience of change in an institution.

Factors of Change

This post will explain the various factors related to change. In particular, we will look at the scope, level, and intentionality of change.

Scope of Change

The scope of change relates to the amount of disruption change will cause. The scope of change can fall along a continuum with two main categories: incremental change and transformational change. Incremental change involves making minor adjustments to an existing organization or school. For example, a university might adjust the attendance policy to be consistent across departments.

Transformational change involves change that has a more significant influence on the function of the institution. An example that many educators are familiar with over the last few years was the sudden shift to online learning. This has had a tremendous influence on all stakeholders involved in an educational institution.

Although not related directly to scope, strategic change is a type of change that helps an institution align its tasks with the mission and objectives of the institution. For example, when schools moved online (transformational change), they had to continue providing quality education. AS such a strategic change might provide training to faculty to deal with the change to online learning while also providing a quality experience.

Level of Change

Another factor in the change process is the level of change. Level change is another way of saying how many people are affected by the change. The level of change moves along a continuum of three levels: individual, group, and organization. These levels are primarily self-explanatory, but individual change involves helping individuals make changes to rectify a weakness or boost performance. For example, a teacher struggling with classroom management may work with administrators to develop strategies for dealing with students.

Group-level change focuses on helping people work together and involve team-building activities and or training as examples. For example, the English department at a high school may put together training on classroom management for all teachers and not just individual teachers.

Finally, organizational change is change across the entire institution. For example, many schools have some sort of training or announcement of new policies at the beginning of a school year. This often indicates changes that impact almost every one involves in the school.

Intentionality

Intentionality relates to the fact that the changes brought, regardless of scope or level, were either planned or unplanned. Planned change is thought out in advance and implemented at the discretion of the individuals involved. For example, an institution develops a new attendance system to improve efficiency. Such a change helps to achieve the specific goals of the institution. Naturally, this is the preferred way of doing things for most institutions.

Unplanned change is a change that is ad hoc or in response to an emergency. Generally, this type of change may not necessarily help an institution to achieve various goals and objectives that it may have. For example, moving online was an unplanned change. Few schools were dreaming of such a move, and it had a considerable impact on achieving the goals and objectives of providing education for students.

Conclusion

Change is a significant factor of life that impacts the world in various levels of breadth and depth and whether it was planned or not. Leaders need to be aware of these multiple factors that shape the change experience their institutions may have.

Organizational Culture and Schools

The culture of an organization is one of the main factors in motivating the actions and attitudes of employees. The culture of an organization is what brings people together for a common purpose. As such, since these ideas on culture come from business, this may be something that administrators and teachers need to be aware of as they set up the institutional culture or classroom culture.

Therefore, this post will look at several common types of organizational cultures and their relationship or similarity to what happens in a school context. The ideas discussed below come from the Competing Values Framework and include four main quadrants in which cultures can be found, and these are.

  • Clan
  • Adhocracy
  • Hierarchy
  • Market

Clan

An organization that has a clan-style culture is perhaps the one most similar to most schools. A clan organization emphasizes relationships, mentoring, development, and other personal growth characteristics. Most teachers want to see their students develop into responsible young adults and take satisfaction from this. The same can be said of many administrators regarding seeing their teachers and their students grow and develop healthy relationships.

Adhocracy

An adhocracy culture is one in which there is an emphasis on innovation, experimentation, and risk-taking. This style of culture may not be the most common in schools. Schools often tend to focus on preserving the social structure rather than pushing the edges of the envelope. However, this is not to say that no innovation and experimentation is happening in schools. The real point relative to the industry and companies like Google and Facebook is that schools are not highly innovative.

Hierarchy

Efficiency is the name of the game for hierarchy culture. In this culture, there is a focus on precision, expertise, cautiousness, and conservatism. A hierarchical culture has found a system that works and does not want to disturb said system. Like the clan culture, the hierarchy culture is widespread in the educational setting.

Market 

Last but not least is the market culture. This culture focuses on delivering value, fast decision-making, and a general sense of getting things done. Educational institutions are not generally known for their speed and decision-making. However, this may be because of the focus on relationships and a preference for a clan-like culture.

Conclusion

The main benefit of this information is reflection. Every teacher and leader needs to ask themselves what kind of culture do I want to develop. Having insights into what types of cultures are common can help any leader develop their unique approach. The culture of a school can be firmly in one style or the other or be a mixture of various techniques to facilitate success.

Reducing & Preventing Conflict in the Classroom

Conflict is a part of the classroom experience. Students constantly disagree with each other and with the teacher. No matter what a teacher does, there will always be someone upset or disappointed about what has happened. As such, this post will look at several strategies to reduce and prevent conflict in the classroom.

Rules & Routines

Nothing can prevent conflict and disagreements like clear rules and procedures. Rules help students to know what they are supposed to do and when. When rules are established, expectations for behavior are also in place.

Routines are similar to rules and maybe the same. The purpose of routines is to guy students during specific moments in the classroom. Examples can include coming in from the playground or putting materials away at the end of a period. Whereas a rule applies at all times (i.e., be respectful), routines apply in certain circumstances.

However, the strength of rules or routines is limited by the enforcement of them. Many classrooms and teachers have reasonable if not excellent rules but do not consistently enforce them. It is a disaster to apply rules part-time. Students will see the inconsistency and will become eager to test whether or not they can get away with something, which leads to conflict.

Limiting Interaction

Conflict happens when students interact. Therefore, another way to limit conflict would be to limit interaction. Used intermittingly, limiting interaction can be beneficial, especially as a deterrent to poor behavior. If students know that conflict leads to no more interaction, it may motivate them to monitor their behavior.

The key again is consistency. Consistent behavior from the teacher leads to consistent behavior from the students. If limiting interaction is an appealing strategy for you, it must be used predictably based on the students’ behavior.

Avoid Win-Loss Scenarios

When there is a conflict between students, there are times when one student gets all that they want while another student gets nothing. This is an example of a win-loss situation. When such cases occur, it leads to hostility between the losing student towards the winning student and all kinds of accusations against the teacher who chose one side over the other. For example, if two students are fighting over a ball and the teacher sides with one. The other student will be upset, which will lead to future conflict.

Of course, there are times when this is appropriate, but if it’s possible, a teacher should try and make sure that both sides give and take in a disagreement. There are even times when both sides should lose. For example, if students are fighting over a ball, the teacher may choose to take the ball away, which leads to everyone losing. Being “mean” to everyone is perceived as fair, even if students do not like it.

Conclusion

Teachers must develop ways to help students through conflict as well as to learn how to avoid it. The strategies presented here provide some ways to work for some teachers who are facing challenges with conflict.

Common Conflict Resolution Strategies of Leadership

As people generally dislike conflict, it would make sense that leaders use some familiar strategies to avoid conflict. Below are several strategies leaders use to avoid conflict.

Administrative Orbiting

Administrative orbiting involves a leader looking like they are doing something when in reality, nothing has happened. For example, a teacher goes to the principal with a problem. The principal acknowledges the problem and communicates to the teacher that they will look into it. When the teacher returns for a status report, the principal stalls by saying, “we are still looking at this” or “these things take time.” The reality is that the administrator isn’t going to do anything and is just presenting an air of action.

This is naturally frustrating, but it is hard to prove that the leader hasn’t done anything. Who wants to call their supervisor a “do nothing liar.” Administrative orbiting is a brilliant strategy for dealing with a problem without dealing with the situation.

Due Process Orbiting

Similar to administrative orbiting is due process orbiting. In this approach, it is not the administrator who is not doing anything. Instead, the petitioner is kept busy with an endless assault of rules and regulations they have to go through to get a problem addressed. This approach aims to exhaust the complaining teacher to get them to give up their conflict or problem.

This approach gives the appearance of transparency and conflict resolution by creating a bureaucratic nightmare. The brilliance involves keeping the complainer busy while doing nothing until they tire. However, if the complainer is persistent enough, it raises the stakes for the administrator to do something when the process is completed. This is because now there is documentation that the teacher cooperated with the process, but their problem was not addressed.

Non-action

Non-action, as its name implies, means doing nothing to address a problem. The leader assumes that if they ignore a conflict or problem that it will go away. There are times where the cure is worst than the disease. However, ignoring a conflict can also lead to it growing larger and becoming a significant distraction.

Non-action can be helpful if experience shows when to use it. The problem is that it is hard to tell when to use this strategy. There are times when people need to work things out themselves and when the leader needs to intervene.

Character Assassination

Character assassination involves acting the person who is complaining. For example, a teacher complains about a serious safety concern on-campus. The administration labels this person a “troublemaker” or someone who is not a “team player.” This ostracizes the teacher from others and can set the stage for eventually turning the school against them.

If this happens, the teacher may be quiet, or they may quit. Either of these works for the administrator, but the conflict was never really resolved. Instead, it was silenced through psychological means. Naturally, all this is happening discretely through rumors and gossip, which is distressing for most people.

Secrecy

Secrecy is related to character assassination while also be a different strategy. The purpose behind secrecy is to complete controversial actions without others knowing. Doing this minimizes resistance and supposedly reduces conflict. However, when people finally find out what is going on, they are generally more upset because of the secretive nature.

Whenever administrators move secretly, they run the risk of losing the trust of their teachers. Any action that must be done secretly is probably a poor decision. If you can’t tell the people under you what you are doing, why should they be open with you? This can lead to a passive-aggressive climate in which everyone is moving around in the darkness.

Conclusion

Conflict avoidance is something we all desire. However, when this is taken to an extreme, it only delays the inevitable. Leaders must develop the courage to address conflict because people will respect this even if they do not like the conflict results. Using the strategies above will cause people to lose faith in the system and respect for the leader.

Types & Levels of Conflict in the Classroom

Conflict is a reality that few people enjoy. Whether we like it or not, students often disagree and challenge each other and even the teacher at times. In this pos4t, we will look at conflict types and levels of conflict.

Affective Conflict

Affective conflict is emotional conflict. In other words, there is an emotional incompatibility between two individuals or groups of people. Students are notorious for hurting each other’s feelings leading the teacher to sort out the problem. When affective conflict takes, there is often a general lack of getting along among the parties involved.

A student’s emotional state can be unpredictable. As such, avoiding affective conflict can be tricky at times for students and teachers. What is does cause harm one day can lead to a severe outburst the next. Many people want to be sensitive, but the line of sensitivity can be hard to determine at times.

Cognitive Conflict

Cognitive conflict involves a significant difference of opinions. When people argue about the best way to do something or ideas, it often involves cognitive conflict. Many conflicts can begin cognitively but quickly devolved into affective conflict. Generally, cognitive conflict is not as common as people often rely more on their emotions than their intellectual capacities when in conflict. Evidence of this is how people substitute “I feel” with “I think.” For many people, these two phrases mean the same thing.

Behavioral Conflict

Conflict can also occur because of the actions of a person or group that offends another. When the behavior of one person or group offends the other, it is an example of behavioral conflict. A student talking in class could lead to behavioral conflict with the teacher, for instance. Like affective conflict, behavioral conflict can be tricky because people can be unpredictable in terms of acceptable behavior.

Goal Conflict

Group desiring different outcomes can come to a significant disagreement. Goal conflict happens when people are fighting over achieving different goals. A classic example is watching any sports game. It is generally not possible for both sides to when the game.

All of these different forms of conflict can be interrelated. For example, a student is talking in class, which leads to behavioral conflict with the teacher. During the behavioral conflict, the teacher or student may become angry, which is affective conflict. To further confuse things, goal conflict can be happening because the teacher wants the talking to stop while the student wants to keep going. Lastly, cognitive conflict can occur because the teacher thinks it is wrong for the student to be talking while the student doesn’t see anything wrong with it.

Therefore, it may be wisest not to focus so much on the type of conflict but instead focus on defusing the conflict.

Scope of the Conflict

Conflict can happen at several levels. Interpersonal conflict is conflict within an individual. An example of this is a student struggling to decide or do the right thing. This internal struggle is a form of intrapersonal conflict.

Interpersonal and intergroup conflict is conflict between individuals and groups. Lastly, inter-organizational conflict is conflict between organizations. Each of these forms of conflict can involve complex alliances and negotiation. For example, two students in the same group or school who generally hate each other may work together if an outsider offends the group. This is similar to the proverb, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” For the sake of the group, these two enemies will unite temporarily because of the outside threat.

Conclusion

Conflict is part of life. Students need to be aware that conflict is something they will always have to deal with. Teachers need to understand the forms and levels of conflict to help students learn from the battles they face when dealing with each other.

Interactions & Power in the Classroom

Power is the ability to influence others. Several things affect power in the classroom. In organizational behavior, these factors are called power dependencies. Some common power dependencies in the classroom include student values, the relationship between the teacher and student, and counterpower.

Power Dependencies 

Student values can play a significant role in whether or not the teacher’s power influences a student. In other words, if the student cares about what the teacher wants them to do, it is more likely they will be affected by the teacher. For example, it is common for students to love PE. If the teacher wants the students to complete specific assignments to have PE, students will comply because they care about PE. However, the converse is true that if students do not care or value PE, they may not comply.

The second dependency of power is the relationship between the student and teacher. If the two parties hate each other, there will be little hope of compliance except through coercion. A bitter truth of teaching is that sometimes a teacher can foster good relationships with students, and sometimes they cannot. It is essential to realize that there could be student resistance to the teacher’s power if there is tension between a student and teacher.

Counterpower is essentially the power the student has to influence the teacher. If a student possesses a high amount of power, it is possible to expect a high resistance level. For example, there is a common stereotype of the student-athlete not complying with completing academic assignments. The athlete can do this because they possess some counterpower due to their athletic status. This stops the teacher from holding the athlete accountable for not completing assignments.

Use of Power

There are also several ways that a teacher can use power. A teacher can control the flow of information to students. This is common when the teacher is still making decisions about something or withhold information to elicit a desired behavior. For example, a teacher may not share the details of the amount of PE time students will get if they complete assignments. This may be because the teacher is unsure how much they can give at that moment and need to work it out. Information can also be shared to encourage behavior, such as a teacher being honest about why the students can not play outside due to unforeseen circumstances.

Teachers can also control access to people. For example, it is common for teachers to separate from students who might be talking too much when together. This is a classical power move to encourage compliance with on-task behavior. A teacher can also award good behavior by allowing students to work together.

Another everyday use of power in the classroom is controlling the choices that are available to students. A teacher may want to give the students a specific range of options for various activities. By shaping the choices, the teacher exercises power while also allowing the students a say in what happens in the classroom.

A final exercise of power is the students’ perception of the cooperation between the teacher and the administration. If students know that they will not get in trouble if they are ever sent out of class to the higher administration, this can seriously hamper the power of a teacher. Therefore, the teacher and administration must show that they have a strong alliance and work together to address students’ misbehavior.

Conclusion

Power is a an important aspect of the teaching experience. Teacher need to be consciously aware of how different factors can affect their power. Without this knowledge a teacher can struggle with determining the best way to handle a particular situation in their classroom.

Power, Authority, & Leadership in the Classroom

Power, authority, and leadership are terms that are used frequently. In this post, we will look at these three terms in the context of the classroom.

Power

Power is the ability to get something done despite resistance. In other words, a powerful person can get what they want. The assumption in education is that the teacher is the primary source of power in the classroom. However, a powerful person may not necessarily be in a leadership position. For example, a problematic student can be extremely powerful through disrupting class. Their behavior can grind instruction to a halt while the teacher looks for ways to remove the distraction.

There are several forms of power that a teacher or even a student can tap into in the classroom. Coercive power is the ability to make someone comply with orders. Such as when a parent makes a child do something they do not want to do. Normative power is a form of power that implies that the people in the organization or classroom should act a certain way. An example of this would be peer pressure which can get even adults to do crazy things.

Utilitarian power is a form of give and take. In other words, a student might cooperate to gain or avoid losing a privilege. These forms of power are derived from a teacher’s expertise, ability to reward, and there role as a teacher. What this means is that if a teacher knows their material, it can be a source of power. If Teachers can grant or take away, privileges students will notice this as well. Lastly, the position of the teacher ensures that whoever is the teacher will by their title have a specific power in the classroom.

Students can also tap into some of these forms of power. FOr example, athletic students have shown expert power in sports which is often an appreciated skill in school. Older students often have a form of legitimate power due in part to their age and, in some cases, size.

Authority

Authority is the context in which power can be exercised. For example, a teacher has the authority, or permission, to tell a student what to do. However, it is a rare situation in which a teacher can tell an administrator what to do. The same applies to students. Generally, students lack authority. Yet, there are situations in which a teacher will obey a student, such as when they are having problems with technology or their cellphone.

A common mistake teachers and students have is understanding the boundaries of their authority. There are times when a teacher has the right to exercise power, times when they can exercise power and shouldn’t, and times when they cannot exercise power. For example, teachers have the authority to give out assignments and homework. However, generally, a teacher has the authority but probably should not fail all the students on a given assignment because it indicates that the students were not adequately prepared for the assessment.

In addition, teachers have less authority over students who are not directly in their classes. As such, when one of these students is disruptive, the teacher should typically communicate with the disruptive student’s teacher. Crossing disciplinary lines like this can become confusing due to the lack of a prior relationship with the problem student.

Leadership

One definition of leadership is the ability to get others to do things willingly. Leadership is more of a measure of a teacher’s soft skills when compared to power or authority. When students are choosing to cooperate because they want to, this is an example of leadership. When a student stops misbehaving of their own volition, this is another example of leadership.

Leadership is another tool along with power and authority that can mix to make each teacher’s unique approach to classroom management. It is impractical to say that power and authority are not acceptable tools for student compliance. The only mistake a teacher can make is to use any single approach exclusively. A one-tool teacher is always going to alienate students who do not respond well to the only tool the teacher has. Some students need coercion, while others need inspiration. A good teacher identifies the needs of the students and makes adjustments appropriately. This is yet another form of leadership.

Conclusion

This post look at power, authority, and leadership in the classroom. Each of these are practical ways to work with students. It is also important to realize that all of these tools work together to help students succeed in the classroom.

Leadership Substiutes and Neutralizers in the Classroom

Leading in the classroom is a serious challenge for even experienced teachers. However, teachers can take actions to enhance their leadership in ways that do not require more work. This post will look at leadership substitutes and leadership neutralizers and how these ideas help and hurt a teacher in the classroom.

Substitutes

Substitutes for leadership are things that are in place in the classroom that do not require leadership from the teacher. In other words, substitutes replace the teacher so that certain things run by themselves. The more substitutes a teacher can put in place, the less active management they have to do because the students already know what to thanks to the substitutes that are put in place by the teacher.

One example of leadership substitutes would be to have routine or procedures in the classroom. When students know what to do in various situations based on the training they received in the past, it is unnecessary for the teacher to actively control these situations, such as procedures for coming into the classroom or going to lunch.

Developing student leaders is another way to create substitutes for the teacher’s leadership. How this is done varies from school to school and from teacher to teacher. However, the point is that if students can assist in the supervision of the students, it can serve as another form of substitution of the teacher’s leadership.

There is a term in education call withitness, which means knowing almost subconsciously how to respond to a problem in the classroom or having “eyes in the back of one’s head.” If students understand that a teacher is “withit,” it can serve as another form of substitution of leadership in the classroom because students know they cannot get away with whatever they are thinking of doing.

There are also more intangible ways in which leadership substitutes can be established. If a teacher has a strong reputation for expertise and leadership among the students and the school, this reputation alone can serve as a substitute for leadership. The students know that this teacher is good and will sometimes modify their behavior because of the teacher’s leadership ability.

Neutralizers

Neutralizers are the opposite of substitutes in that these are things that block leadership and lead the teacher to spend time trying to manage instead of leading. An example of a neutralizer would be the absence of any of the ideas presented in the substitute section of this post. When these ideas discussed above are missing from a classroom, a teacher cannot get many other things done because the focus of their work is on managing behavior.

Another neutralizer is a poor or a lack of communication. This is related to the previous paragraph. If students do not know what the teacher wants them to do, they will find something to do themselves. Again this takes away from the learning experience and leads to chaos in the classroom.

Some neutralizers are outside the teacher’s control. One example would be family problems in the homes of students. In this day and age of broken families, students often have unstable home situations that often bleed over into the classroom. There is little a teacher can do about the home setting, and if home problems impact student behavior, it will also neutralize leadership.

Conclusion

When there are a lot of neutralizers, this means that there will be little leadership. The teacher is not able to set aside management challenges and has to focus on controlling students. People generally do not like to be controlled but would instead manage themselves. If there is no system in place to allow this, the teacher has to be the one to control students. Rather the goal should be for the students to follow the example of the classroom through the expectation of the teacher and the standard of peers, which serve as substitutes to overt control of behavior.

Identifying Leadership in the Classroom

It is always hard to predict who will make a great leader. Some students do not seem to show any potential for this but eventually become highly influential. Other students who show great promise never seem to reach the level that many anticipate. Despite this, there has been a great deal of research that tries to predicate who will become a great leader and who will not.

One overarching theory of leadership is called the “Great Man Theory of Leadership.” This view holds that some people are born with the traits of leadership. Essentially, this view holds that nature and not nurture are the primary factors in leadership development. Within this paradigm, scholars have wanted to know what these traits were, and we will look at some of them right now.

Leadership Research

One researcher in this field was Stogdill. This research found that leaders often exhibit such traits as a strong drive, problem-solving skills, persistence, initiative, self-confidence, tolerance of interpersonal stress and general frustration, a sense of personal responsibility, and are influential in others’ behavior.

The real question is whether these skills are skills students are born with or can be developed. This is a difficult question to answer. The teacher’s job is to put students in a situation in which these traits can be developed. Some students may grow in such situations, while others may not. In other words, it’s more important that students are allowed to develop leadership skills rather than that they become leaders. Everybody is not interested in influencing others, whether formally or informally.

Another researcher named Locke found results similar to Stogdill. Locke found that leaders are often driven, motivated to lead, display honesty, self-confidence, demonstrate expertise and cognitive ability. Lesser skills that leaders show are charisma and creativity.

What is essential for students regarding Locke’s research is that there are different ways to lead. Some students may be traditional leaders who are often people who always stand at the front and are at the center of the action. However, another way to lead is through expertise. For these types of leaders, the maybe in charge during certain situations are serve as advisors for the main leader. This is a way for people who don’t want the constant stress of leadership to have their moment in influencing the team. If students are not aware of this, they may believe that they are not cut out for leadership, which is rarely the case. Some people lead all the time, but everyone should lead some of the time.

Other traits that leaders often possess are high energy and enthusiasm. Energy is contagious, and enthusiasm helps people to keep pushing through discouragement because of the emotional boost. This implies that the cheerleader type personal can be advantageous. However, a leader cannot only be enthusiastic as they must show that they can work and have skills to offer the team besides encouragement.

There is also this idea of self-monitors. These are people who observe verbal and nonverbal cues and adjust their behavior to influence others. People who are highly sensitive to monitoring themselves are often better leaders because they are worried about influence. People who don’t care usually lack the popularity and social capital to be in leadership positions. Students tend to be highly sensitive to what others think, but only those who are the best at monitoring their actions will achieve the leadership positions in many situations.

What leaders do

So far, the focus has been on what leaders are. Now we will look at what leaders do. Leaders often show a willingness to trust others, which is difficult to do these days. Leaders also have a vision of what they want and either know how to make it happen or find someone else who can. Leaders also show a willingness to take risks and encourage others to do so. Failure is where learning begins, and this is something that many people do not like.

Leaders help teams focus on tasks and even encourage dissent or disagreement because challenging ideas help determine what works and doesn’t work. Lastly, many leaders can stay calm in the face of adversity, at least outwardly. This strengthens the team that may be experiencing strong emotions during a problem or crisis.

As teachers, we must show these actions in our classroom. Showing students that we know what we want and how to get there and that we want students to take risks in their learning is essential. Furthermore, teachers need to encourage discussion and dissent to develop critical thinking skills.

Conclusion

Perhaps the best way to develop leaders is for students to see excellent leadership. The real problem may be that it is so hard to see examples of leadership. If students can witness leadership rather than hear theories about it, this may lead to more leaders who can make a difference. The primary purpose is to provide students with the tools they need for success. However, it is always the students’ decision if they want to develop and use these tools to benefit themselves and others.

Classroom Leadership Styles

Classroom leadership can take one of many forms. Here we will look at several different leadership styles. The purpose is not to determine which is best but rather to suggest when it might be better to use one over another. Looking at these leadership styles may help teachers see what their preferred or natural leadership style is.

Tannenbaum and Schimdt

In the 1950s, researchers by the name of Tannenbaum and Schmidt created what they called a continuum of leadership styles. For them, leadership was a combination of one of the three below.

  • autocratic-Leader centered dictatorial style
  • participative-Workers are involved and consulted about decision-making
  • free-rein-Work is assigned, and the workers determine how to complete it

The three examples above are a part of a continuum that means that a leader can be somewhere between these categories in what could be considered a gray area.

In the classroom, depending on the context, any of these styles of leadership may be appropriate. Younger students may need more of an autocratic leadership style, while it may be appropriate to have more of a participative style of leadership for students such as high school. A free rein may also be right at times, such as with advanced or highly mature students.

Theory X and Y

Another older model of leadership is Theory X and Theory Y by Mcgregor. According to this theory, a theory X leader thinks that the average worker, or in our case, student, dislikes work and does not have the self-control to get things done. Therefore, the leader must maintain a high degree of control. Theory Y leaders believe the opposite that people motivate and desire self-control. Thus, theory Y leaders allow more participation and autonomy for their workers.

The context should dictate the leadership style. However, most leaders and perhaps teachers often support Theory X when dealing with students. Self-motivation and discipline are rare traits to find in many students today. Another concern is that participative leadership is a slow process, as anyone who has lived in a democracy may be familiar with. There are specific time constraints in teaching that make it difficult to allow for the democratic process to play out in the classroom, even with willing and cooperative students.

Directive/Permissive Leadership Style

The final model in this post is the Directive/Permissive Leadership style. This style involves four types of leadership, as explained below.

  • Directive Autocrat-High control in decision making and directing people. Applicable when there is little time for discussion, such as during a crisis or emergency. Also useful when the expertise of the followers is low.
  • Permissive autocrat-High control of decision-making but low power in directing the people. The leader makes the decision, but the workers decide how to get it done. Similar to the free rein style.
  • Directive democrat-Decision making involves participation, but the leader highly controls the execution. Useful when the followers have valuable expertise or opinions to strengthen decision making, but strong leadership is needed to make it happen.
  • Permissive democrat-Decision making involves participation, and followers are allowed the freedom to determine how to implement the decisions.

Moving to the classroom again, each of the styles has a place as determined by the context. The maturity of the students plays a vital role in trying to decide which type to choose. As maturity increases, participation in decision-making and execution should be able to increase as well. As responsibility is placed on the students, it lessons the management of the teacher of the classroom. As such, looking for ways to switch to a more democratic leadership style empowers students and lowers the burden on the teacher. However, the students must be ready for the freedom unless chaos erupts, and this requires the teacher to switch styles as the students mature gradually.

Conclusion

There is no such thing as the “best” leadership style. A classroom leader must be able to adjust to whatever situation they are facing. At times, freedom is appropriate, but there is also a time when even a dictator is needed to maintain stability. In general, the less directing a teacher has to do, the less of a burden on them and also on the students who may have to suffer at times from a lack of autonomy that they may desire.

Classroom Leadership vs Classroom Management

Leadership and management are two skills teachers need as they work with students. We are now going to try and understand the similarities and differences between leading and managing, along with trying to understand the role of followers are.

Leadership Defined

Leadership is defined in a variety of ways. One way of looking at leadership is to see it as an interpersonal influence. In other words, great leaderships have great relationships with people. This focus on relationships means that it is common for leaders to focus on maintaining group needs in their position of leadership. This means supporting others with the skills they need, materials, and or supporting group norms of behavior. Often, a person will lose a leadership position when they are no longer able to meet group needs.

Leadership also involves making sure things get done and a vision for the followers to follow. In other words, a leader knows where they want to go and can find ways to inspire others to follow.

This naturally applies to a teacher as well. A classroom teacher, like a teacher, must be able to connect with students and support students to have academic success. This can involve providing a stable learning environment, expertise, ad social support for students. If any of these things are considered missing by the students, the students may reject the teacher’s leadership. A teacher also must make stuff happen in the classroom while inspiring students to enjoy the journey of learning.

Leader, Manager or both

managers and leaders have overlapping yet different functions and origins. Leaders often emerge while managers are appointed. Leaders are focused on influence, while managers are focused on control. This is because a manager’s power comes from the organization, while a leader’s power comes from their expertise, charisma, etc.

Perhaps it is clear that managers and leaders have a lot in common. Successful managers often have leadership ability, while successful leaders show some management ability. A teacher is appointed as a manager by the school but needs to be seen as a leader by the students. This requires the ability to both managed and lead.

Followers

Followers are generally the people who are not seen as having a leadership or management position. A follower’s primary role is to accept or reject leadership. Accepting is good news, but rejection may lead to the followers picking their own leader.

When dealing with followers, a leader must look at the group’s general characteristics because different types of people need different types of leadership. Some followers need authoritarian leadership, which is strong direct leadership. This type of individual needs a leader who tells them what to do, and there is little need for a large amount of choice. Followers who need authoritarian leadership also tend to have less self-confidence and require more motivation to have success.

The other extreme in terms of followers are followers who want autonomous leadership, which means they want to participate in decision-making. These followers are often more confident and require support from leadership. Rigidness in leading does not usually work with this group of people.

In the classroom, a teacher needs to determine what style of leadership their students need. In addition, the style may not always be the same with the same students. In some situations, the students may need authoritarian leadership while requiring autonomy in another situation. Furthermore, as the students mature over the school year, this may mean an adjustment in the leadership style.

It is also vital to avoid condemning any particular leadership style as inferior because the situation determines how to lead. Authoritarian styles are viewed negatively at times. However, what’s terrible is always using the same style no matter the situation. A leader needs to provide his followers with what they need, whether authoritarian or autonomous.

Conclusion

A teacher must possess skills in leadership and management to support and help students. However, these skills must also be flexible because different students have different needs at various times from their teacher. As such, few would say that excellent teaching is something that is easy to do.

Roles of the Teacher

All teachers are called to a variety of responsibilities in their position. This post will look at the significant roles teachers play in their position as instructional leaders in and outside the classroom.

Interpersonal Role

The interpersonal roles of a teacher can be broken down into two main categories, and these are interpersonal roles within the classroom and outside the classroom. The primary interpersonal relationships a teacher has within the classroom involves their role with students. The teacher must find ways to balance being the classroom’s authority and disciplinary leader while also maintaining warm relations. This is generally difficult for even the most experienced teacher to do.

A teacher also has interpersonal relationships with people outside the classroom. This can include dealing with parents, school leadership, staff, the local community, and other teachers. Each of these unique relationships has slightly different rules for engagement and success regarding communication and interaction.

The dangers and pitfalls of dealing with any of these people are numerous, and a teacher much show caution. For example, how a teacher would communicate with a teacher is different from how they would speak with leadership or a parent. The context is influenced by the role of the person the teacher is talking to.

Informational Role

Teachers also have a role in conveying and obtaining information. A teacher can share and receive information in such context as the classroom, meetings, over the phone, through email, etc. Information can be formal or informal, or it can be announced or gossip. All these various forms of communication are challenges through which a teacher shares and receives information.

AS a conduit of information, teachers often serve as liaisons to several parties to transfer information between groups. For example, the leadership might have the teachers share something with students or parents. A community member may want the teacher to share something with the administration. The point is that information flows from and through the teacher to people in their immediate social network.

Decisional Role

One of the primary roles of a teacher is making decisions. Decision-making may be a primary role of the teacher. Teachers have to decide about policies, assignments, how and what to teach, classroom management, resource allocation, etc. Making these decisions involves communication and interacting with others.

Teachers must also make decisions about negotiating matters. This can involve gathering information and working with others to develop an agreeable plan for both sides. Decision-making is critical because a wrong decision can cause a lot of problems for a teacher and students. However, sound decisions usually are not noticed as it seems to be human nature to see negative situations over positive ones.

Conclusion

Versatility is a critical skill that a teacher needs to develop in order to help the people they come into contact with. Awareness of the roles a teacher plays can help anyone who finds themself in a position where teaching plays an important role.

Group Effectiveness in the Classroom

Teachers need to balance the joy of group work with the need for academic performance. This post will explain what group effectiveness is and what the teacher can do to make sure students produce while working in groups.

Group Effectiveness

Group effectiveness can be measured through the quantity/quality of the group’s output, the satisfaction of the individual group members, and the potential for future cooperation. If a group can produce a large amount of work, high-quality work, or the ideal, which is a huge quantity of high-quality work, this is a highly effective group. The challenge in the classroom may be to find ways to measure the amount and quality of a group’s work.

A hard-working group can still be a dysfunctional one if the members struggle to tolerate each other. Therefore, needs satisfaction is another way to measure a group’s effectiveness, especially in situations where production was not the primary purpose of the group.

Potential future cooperation is yet another way to measure the effectiveness of a group. If people look forward to working together again, it is reasonable to assume that the performance will be strong and the satisfaction of the needs met. As such, determining people’s willingness to work together in the future is a vital insight into effectiveness. However, with students who are not under the same performance pressures as adults, future cooperation may mean future socializing and off-task behavior.

Other determinates of group effectiveness include effort, knowledge/skill, and strategies for performance. Students who are willing to work hard are often students who will help groups be more effective in terms of the quantity/quality of the output. Naturally, the more knowledgeable a student is, the increased effectiveness of the group as these skills the student possesses help to achieve goals. Performance strategies are essentially specific skills that are used to enhance the efficiency of the group.

Teachers and Group Effectiveness

There are several things that teachers can do to improve the effectiveness of groups working in the classroom. Withitness is an idea in which the teacher is always aware of what is happening in the classroom. It is similar to having “eyes in the back of one’s head.” When students know that the teacher knows what is going on, they are more likely to be on-task and contributing.

Setting general rules is another beneficial way to improve group effectiveness. Basic protocols like how to act in a group, the roles of group members, how to handle off-task behavior or conflicts, etc., can all be used to give the students clues about how to proceed. In addition, directions for completing the assignment are also essential, and it may seem obvious that this is needed. However, many teachers forget to provide this kind of crucial information.

Despite having general rules, each group must establish its own set of norms. These can be such things as who is the leader and the quality or quantity of work the group wants to produce. It often takes time for these norms to work themselves out. Therefore, complex projects need more time for these norms to be developed than more straightforward projects.

Encouraging cohesiveness is another useful tool. This means making sure the group frequently meets, is not too big, has clear goals, etc. Are all beneficial in improving effectiveness. When students have relationships with one another and have a clear sense of purpose, good things can happen.

Conclusion

Maintaining productivity and effectiveness in groups can be challenging for many teachers. However, understanding some of the fundamental underlying factors for encouraging effectiveness can help teachers know where to look when there is a problem.