Category Archives: classroom management

Preventing Conflict in the Classroom VIDEO

Conflict is part of the classroom experience. A teacher cannot eliminate all conflict but there are ways to manage and reduce it. The video below provides ways in which to manage the inevitable reality of conflict in the classroom.

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Family Influences and Delinquency

Young people frequently make mistakes that can lead to legal encounters. However, poor behavior does not always happen in a vacuum. There are times when these choices are influenced by the context in which the child is found. Family can be a major influence on delinquent behavior. In this post, we will look at several family influences that can harm youths are their inclination towards delinquency. These four influences within the family are…

  • Conflict
  •  Breakup
  •  Incompetence
  •  Deviance

Conflict

Conflict is part of life. However, too much strife can make the home unattractive for young people. When there is arguing and even violence within the home it can influence a youth’s behavior which can lead to delinquency. Youths who witness conflict and violence within the home often imitate this behavior as they grow older and experience similar relationship problems.

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The same ideas apply in classroom settings. When students have conflicts at home it can make it difficult to focus on their studies. If the young person is angry about their family problems this can manifest itself in poor behavior in school.

Breakup

Sometimes families fall apart. This could be due to conflict or other reasons. When parents separate it can have a strong influence on a young person. The frustration from one parent leaving their life and the reduced attention can lead youths to look for emotional support in other places such as gangs. Broken families may at times cause delinquency.

Within the classroom divorce and separation can have serious consequences in terms of academic performance and behavior. Students from broken families are at a greater risk of academic struggles and even dropping out.

Incompetence

Some parents have no real business being parents. They may struggle with setting boundaries and or enforcing those boundaries. Others may struggle with controlling their emotions when their children make mistakes. Whatever the case, parents who lack the efficacy to handle their children often create children who have no respect for authority and are inclined toward delinquent behavior.

In the classroom, it is sometimes left to the teacher to become a surrogate parent for a child in a home of parental incompetence. This is a highly challenging situation in that teachers often do not have the tools to support multiple children who are not being provided with appropriate instruction and discipline from their parents.

Deviance

Another major influence of delinquency is the parent’s own criminal background. Parents who are criminals are delinquents can set an example that leads their children down the wrong path. There have been arguments that this could be genetic. Another way to look at this is from a social learning perspective in which the child adopts delinquent behavior from following the example of their own parent(s). In some cases, parents and or other relatives will teach children how to be delinquent.

Parental deviance is a difficult influence for a teacher to deal with. Most children want to be like their parents as this is generally natural. Therefore, the teacher may have to point out the result of the decisions that deviant parents have made and the ensuing consequences.

Conclusion

None of these influences described here appear in isolation. In other words, these influences work together to send youth down the wrong path. For teachers, it is important to be aware of these factors to provide students with the appropriate support that they need.

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Differential Association Theory and the Classroom

Differential association theory was Developed by Edwin Sutherland in the 1930s. This particular theory is a part of the social learning school in which youth learn criminal behavior through interacting with others. A youth’s behavior is based on what they see as right and wrong as determined by the actions of others. In his context the focus was delinquency but some of these ideas apply in the classroom as well.

Sutherland explains his theory through several principles. We will look at each of these core principles and connect them to the classroom when appropriate

Principles of Differential Association Theory

Behavior is Learned

Negative behavior such as behaviors associated with criminal activities are learned just as any other behavior is learned. What this implies is that nobody is naturally a criminal but instead is a victim primarily of what they learn. In terms of nature vs nurture, this principle falls squarely in the camp of nurture.

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Sutherland’s principle is not without merit. In most classrooms, students are often imitating the behavior of each other and even the teacher. When this happens it can be beneficial when the example provided is positive but can be detrimental when the example is negative.

Learning Happens through Interaction

People learn through interacting with others. What this means is that behavior, such as delinquency, cannot be learned in isolation it takes the support of others. Of course, this denies a person the ability to learn on their own in a self-directed manner. As individuals are socialized they acquire the ability to obey or break rules and laws.

In the classroom, it is common for students to teach each other things that may not be positive in nature. Youths can acquire questionable abilities through poor peer interactions. Therefore, teachers have to remain aware of the students who provide a poor example to others.

Learning is Personal

The closer a youth is to an individual the stronger the influence that person has on a youth’s delinquent behavior. In other words, a corrupt best friend will have more of an influence on a youth’s behavior for worse than a stranger who is an upstanding citizen. The level of intimacy in a relationship is a predictor of delinquent behavior.

In the classroom, children learn from children but they learn best from friends. What this means for the teacher is that they want students to have strong relationships with kids who act appropriately rather than with kids who are having behavioral issues.

Criminal Techniques Require Development

Delinquents are often mentored by a more experienced offender. For example, a youth would need someone to show them how to steal a car or how to sell drugs profitably. In addition, youths need to be socialized into how to deal with the police when interactions occur.

Bad students must also develop skills through mentoring or acceptance. Mentoring can involve how to steal or bully other students without getting caught. Acceptance can involve performing various disruptive behaviors to solicit laughs from other students while in the classroom. For students who need feedback isolation can stifle this process.

Rule Perception and a Child’s Perception

Rule perception is how others view rules. Some people are conscious of rules while others have no respect for rules and have an open disdain for them. For youth, seeing contrasting views on rules can be confusing and lead to internal conflict. The reason for this conflict is that young people haven’t formed their own posirion on following rules and are trying to decide whether or not to follow and take rules seriously.

Children in the classroom face a similar dilemma. They see the teacher stressing obedience, that some of the good kids obey, but that the other kids do not. The final decision a child makes during this conflict can be based on family values and or which peer group the child values more than the other.

Differential Association Varies

Submitting to authority can also depend on the dosage of the relationships a youth has. The dosage of a relationship can be measured in terms of duration, frequency, and intensity. Duration is the length of a relationship. In other words, a long-term friend has more influence on youth than a new friend. Frequency is a measure of how often the youths interact. Someone who sees the youth every day has more influence than someone who sees the youth once a year. Intensity is a measure of the amount of respect the youth has toward the influence. An example would be that a parent has more influence than a friend in most situations.

The same concept mentioned in the previous paragraph applies in the classroom. Long-term friends, who see each other frequently, and with the most respect will shape the behavior of a student the most. Relationships are critical to the formation of positive or negative behaviors.

Lastly, Sutherland claims that good and poor behavior does not have the same source. The only reason for delinquent behavior is what the youth has learned. Being rich or poor doesn’t matter. What really matters is what the youth has learned over time.

Conclusion

Sutherland’s work is highly influential in explaining delinquent behavior. His work provides one viewpoint on the way youth’s go down the wrong path. For teachers, watching the relationships students develop may be key to addressing challenges in the classroom.

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Deterrence and the Classroom

Deterrence theory is a theory found within criminology that states that policies that encourage fear, high risk, and punishment will discourage delinquent behavior. Without knowing it, many teachers support this view in their classroom management philosophy.

In this post, we will look at deterrence theory as defined in criminal justice while providing applications of this approach in the classroom with teachers. For our purpose, there is general deterrence, which is the heart of deterrence and then there are several variations of general deterrence.

General Deterrence

General deterrence believes that harsh punishment will reduce crime in society or poor behavior in the classroom. Examples of general deterrence would be mandatory sentences, three-strike laws, etc. In schools, it is common to see zero-tolerance policies for specific behaviors such as drug use.

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Despite the best efforts of advocates of general deterrence crime and poor behavior persists. This is due in part to the underlying assumption that delinquents and students are rational individuals who weigh the pros and cons of their actions before doing them. Frequently this is not the case students and people frequently do not think things throw before doing them and this is especially the case when emotions are involved or substance abuse.

In addition, people are often convinced that the odds of getting caught are low and thus they can get away with it. Statistical this is correct as the majority of crimes go unsolved. However, in the context of education, it is generally hard to get away with misbehavior because there are usually only 30-40 suspects when something happens in the classroom.

Lastly, general deterrence when it is working well can overwhelm the system as more and more people are arrested and or placed in a facility. As people are caught it simply strains the system rather than stops crime. In the school, if enough students are breaking strict rules it can strain the administration as they try to process all the kids who are causing problems. This simply moves the chaos from the classroom to the office.

Variations of Deterrence

There are several variations of the implementation of deterrence as well. Specific deterrence focuses on making punishment so horrible that the offenders change their behavior. As already mentioned this often does not work and can harden the youth to resist. In addition, if offenders or bad students are labeled because of their mistakes they may commit themselves to live up to the label or reputation that they have now.

Incapacitation is an implementation strategy that focuses on incarcerating delinquents. The thought is that if the youth is locked up they cannot terrorize the community. In schools, this strategy might manifest itself through suspending and or expelling rowdy students. Within the context of juvenile justice, this approach often does not work due to restrictions on resources and the problem that youth who are locked up are often corrupted within the facilities. For schools, students who are removed simply fall behind academically, and when this happens simply will continue to disrupt the learning experience.

Lastly, situational crime prevention involves removing opportunities and increasing the risk of committing a crime. For example, many homes now have cameras which naturally discourage crime because of the threat of being caught. Within schools, the use of cameras has become ubiquitous as well. This approach leads to the protection of potential victims, increases the effort to get away with delinquency, and prevents any excuses because of the silent witness of video recording.

Conclusion

Deterrence is a view that promotes a tough approach to dealing with disobedience. As with any approach, this style works in some cases and not in others. Since there is no single solution to the problem of delinquency deterrence should be viewed as one of many tools that can be used.

Behavior Modification and Students VIDEO

Students often have attitudes and demonstrate bad behavior. When teachers face this one strategy to solve this problem is behavior modification. In the video below several examples of behavior modification are shared along with other tips for supporting behavioral change if students

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Planning Process of Managers

In this post, we will look at planning from the perspective of business managers. The five-step process below explains how managers plan. While considering this we will look at how teachers address planning in a slightly different way.

  1. Developing Awareness of Current Situation

Before plans can be made a manager must be aware of the current state of the context. Developing this knowledge of the current state of the situation is called developing awareness. It is hard to plan when one does not know what is already going on. Within education, a needs assessment is sometimes used to develop a map of the current challenges the institution is facing

Once a manager has an idea of what is going on within the setting for which they are needed for decision making they can now move to actually develop a plan.

2. Establishing Outcome(s)

Step two involves making outcome statements. Outcome statements explain where the team is trying to go or is heading. These statements are end statements that indicate how things should be different once the plan is over. An example of an outcome statement would be “improving customer retention by ten percent.” This statement clearly has something that can be measured and thus can be used as an outcome.

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In education, it is common for teachers to have goals and objectives. Goals tend to be broader and unmeasurable but still serve the function of guiding a teacher. A simple example of a goal would be “be the best.” On the surface, this statement does not have meaning have much meaning but it does establish a general sense of direction. Objectives are much more narrow but easily measured. An example of an objective would be “after training, the salesmen in appliances will boost sales of appliances by 10% within 6 months. In this example, everything seems to be laid out. When planning is focused on goals and action it is called goal planning.

3. Premising

Premising involves analyzing the assumptions that managers have about the current plan. In addition, premising can be used to determine what resources and materials are needed to complete the plan.

For example, a manager is planning to place their kitchen supplies on sale. Obviously, the manager is assuming they have enough supply of kitchen supplies that a sale is warranted. In addition, the manager is also assuming they can advertise on the days they want. These assumptions need to be checked because assuming them could be disastrous.

In education premising is not as common in the middle of the context as it is in the very first step.

4Course of Action

In step 4, a manager starts to determine how to move their team from the current state to the outcome state. This can involve creating action statements which are statements that indicate the way a goal will be achieved. For example, if an organization is trying to boost sales an action statement might involve sending people for training in new products. In other words, product training is the action for achieving the outcome of increased sales.

The ideas in this process are highly similar to what is done in education. Instead of an action statement. The main difference is terminology in which education is focused on objectives while management is focused on action statements.

5. Supportive Plans

Supportive plans are additional plans that help to achieve a larger plan. For example, it was mentioned how workers might need training to boost sales. Boosting sales is the main plan but it might be needed to make a supportive plan to get workers trained on new products.

Teachers might make supportive plans on accident and probably don’t see or consider them as supportive plans. For example, if a teacher is teaching math that is too difficult for the students, the teacher might make a supportive plan to provide remedial reteaching to help catch the students up.

Conclusion

Planning is a critical part of management. Teaching involves extensive planning. The goal here was simply to show a different way of planning as derived from the business world. The ideas presented here may be useful for some.

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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.

black and white dartboard

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.

person using a laptop

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.