Barriers to Decision-Making

A google search will show you that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day. This seems like a large amount, but teachers make 1,500 educational decisions a day. Making such a vast number of decisions can lead to fatigue, among other problems. A greater danger may be making poor decisions. Here we will look at some common barriers to decision making.

Sunk Cost

Sunk cost happens after a decision is made. What has happened is there are signs that a decision is terrible, but the leadership sticks to the decision because of the investment that has already been made. It is common for teachers and administrators to invest in products and services that later turn out to be inferior. However, because a commitment has been made and resources spent, there is a hope that staying the course will allow for an improvement in the situation.

To avoid this trap, administrators must realize that not all decisions are good ones. This means that when an idea is not working, the administrators or teachers who made the wrong choice to own the mistake shrink the mistake’s cost. Ignoring this to look like you’re in control and know what you are doing can be highly damaging to an institution.


Decision-making should be as informed as possible. However, we never have access to all knowledge. This implies that there is always a measure of risk. Due to the uncertainty, leadership generally will choose the most conservative option available to minimize risk. This is wise at times but can leave tremendous opportunities on the table.

An idea related to uncertainty is a concept called bounded rationality. Bounded rationality states that people who face complex or uncertain situations often cannot make entirely rational decisions. In other words, when facing uncertainty, people’s decision-making can become uncertain or unpredictable. This commonly happens in novel situations in which it is unclear what to do. In such cases, people are limited in how much they can process and thus utilize their intuition to overcome.


People generally want to avoid conflict. This is particularly true when decision-making involves conflict. Despite this, there are times when conflict is the best decision, such as when a student will not obey a teacher. If the teacher avoids the conflict, it sends a message to other students to duplicate the disobedient child’s behavior, which will lead to more significant problems and harsher conflict in the future.

There are at least two ways to think of conflict, and the difference is in terms of what people focus on during the disagreement. Process conflict is focused on improving how to do something and can lead to improved performance. Relationship conflict is a conflict between people that can often gt highly personal and should be avoided. The challenge is that people confuse process and relationship conflict. For example, a student is disrupting the class, the teachers reprimand this, and the student takes it personally.

As a teacher or administrator, it is crucial to keep conflict focus on process and behavior and not on people. When people become the problem, relationship conflict is sure to follow.


Decision-making is a crucial component of everyone’s life. Every day we are all called to make many different decisions. The implications of our choices could be tremendous. Therefore, that is why it is essential to be aware of common roadblocks to making sound decisions.

Ambroise Pare and Modern Surgery

For most of the history of Western medicine, doctors rarely performed surgeries themselves, especially among the professors. This is probably surprising to many. However, there was a belief that manual labor (work with your hands) was beneath an educated thinker. A thinker’s job was to think about how to solve a problem.

The people who did the majority of surgeries were the barbers. Today barbers do not do surgeries. However, barbers were especially popular for minor surgeries, and the red and white you see in front of a barbershop represents the red of blood and the white f bandages.

One barber who had a tremendous influence on medicine and surgery was Ambroise Pare (1510-90). Pare was from France and was raised in a poor family. He received a basic education and became a barber’s assistant with the goal of becoming a doctor.

Medical School & Disappointment

At the age of 19, Pare went to Paris to study medicine. Whoever, his dream was crushed when he was unable to pass the entrance exam. The exam was in Greek and Latin, and these were languages Pare did not learn as a child as his poor background did not allow for this.

Disappointed, Pare became a barber-surgeon at a hospital. The conditions were terrible, with low lighting and ventilation. Professors would bring their students there to see applied medicine, with most students eager to leave with a dream of treating the rich when they graduated. However, Pare gained a tremendous amount of practical experience and was beginning to learn when teachers were right and wrong about the body.

During War

During one of the many wars that France was involved in, Pare became a surgeon. The practice of the time was to pour boiling oil on gunshot wounds. This could burn a wounded man alive like fried chicken. However, it was considered the best treatment. Pare did this until he ran out of oil. With the oil gone, he made his own concoction of egg yolk, oil of roses, and turpentine. This mixture was much more successful than the burning oil solution that was standard practice.

Another innovation with Pare was amputations. Surgeons had no problem removing limbs from people without thought to the pain caused. After butchering the patient, a hot iron was applied to stop the bleeding. Often this alone would kill a person who had survived losing an arm or leg. Pare decided to use silk thread to close the wound, which would spare the patient the added pain of the hot iron. The soldiers loved Pare for his approach to medicine, while the real doctors resented his work.

Pare combined all of his practical knowledge into a book. However, he struggled to get it published because real doctors despised him because of his fame. Even a law stated that no book on medicine could be published until doctors from the University of Paris approved. It took four years, but when the book was published, it was highly popular.


Par was a self-made man. He lacked the formal education of a doctor but made up for it through practical experience helping people who were hurt. In the end, the practical experience was more valuable as Pare was able to see the discrepancies between theory and practice.

Learned Needs Theory and Students

David Mclelland developed Learned Needs Theory. In his research, Mclelland states that people have three primary needs: need for achievement, need for affiliation, and a need for power. These three forms of needs are learned in childhood.

Need for Achievement

The need for achievement is how strongly a person wants to have success at completing a task. Some students have a strong desire for achievement, and this is reflected in their grades. For them, the grades they earn are a measure of their high achievement. However, not all students have a strong need for achievement, and this can also be seen in their grades in some other way, such as lack of participation.

McClelland explains the three main traits of high achieving people. One, high-achieving people feel a personal responsibility when they are expected to do something. When a student with high achievement needs is given a task, they are willing to accept the success or failure of the task. It becomes their mission.

Two, high achievement people like to take on projects that have a moderate success rate. In other words, high achievement individuals hate something that is too easy but equally lose motivation for suicide tasks that have a low success rate. Instead, they want to see a return for hard work. For students, a teacher needs to make sure tasks are within the zone of proximal development to be assured that the task is not too easy but preferably within reach of the student with some assistance.

High achievers also have a desire for feedback. This is because they want to know if they have achieved success. The feedback can be positive or negative, but it needs to be there. For students, this means providing clear information to the high achieving student in terms of their progress on assignments and the course overall.

If high achievers are not allowed to achieve, it can disrupt behavior and students who lack motivation. Therefore, when dealing with classroom management issues, a teacher should consider if they are meeting their high achievers’ achievement needs.

Need For Affiliation

The need for affiliation is a need to have positive social relationships with other people. These are your classic extroverts who love the company of others. Everyone has some need for affiliation, but for many, this is a high need.

For people who need affiliation, the task is not essential to them. Instead, people who need affiliation respond to situations in which people depend on them. For students, this can be situations such as group projects and or team sports. Others need them, and this is when the outgoing student will achieve.

Nothing can cripple high affiliated people than isolation. Make a student who needs relationship work alone will lead to potential behavioral problems. In addition, students who have a low need for affiliation will equally cause issues if they are always expected to socialize and be a part of the group.

Need for Power

The need for power is a need to control, which means to influence other people. A person with this need is often talkative, arguing, and giving orders. Many leaders need power.

McClelland indicates two types of power, and these are personal power and social power. Personal power is a power to control others and is often political with a secret agenda. Social power is also seeking to influence others but to achieve the goals of the group or organization.

Students can seek one or both forms of power in different situations. For example, students who want to disrupt the class and distract students from learning are trying to flex their personal power skills. Students trying to get their peers to complete group projects and class assignments are using their social power skills. The students who are mostly influenced by either of these forms of power may not have a strong need for power.

To deal with students who need power, teachers need to provide outlets for this need. A student who is pushing personal power needs to find goals that align with the classroom. When the dissonance between what they want and what the teacher wants is removed, the student can now use their need for power for social rather than personal reasons.


Everyone has slightly different needs. For teachers, it is crucial always to identify what motivates their students. When this is done, the teacher can challenge the needs to enhance learning.

Medicine After the Roman Empire

The age of the Greeks and Romans was, in many ways, a golden era for scientific improvement due in part to the stability that was allowed during these two empires. Naturally, there was still instability, but relatively speaking, the Greeks and Romans’ instability was nothing compared to what was to come.

With the collapse of the Roman Empire, it was difficult for scholars and doctors to focus exclusively on scientific advancement. This is not to say that there were no advancements. Instead, the point is that living in a world of small kingdoms, with barbarian invasions, and rampant disease made it hard to focus on scientific curiosity.

Literacy was one skill that declined considerably. It was common even for monarchs, such as Charlemagne, to lack literacy skills. Great libraries, like the one in Alexandria, Egypt, was also destroyed, leaving behind lost knowledge that had to be perhaps rediscovered in the future.

Among the books that did survive, such as writings by Galen Hippocrates, these books became the final authority on medical care. Remember that the instability of the times and the difficulty of obtaining books made it too challenging to consider questioning these two great authors.

Ancient Beliefs

Hippocrates believed that the purpose of the brain was to cool the blood. I’m afraid that’s not right; most of the body’s heat is lost through the head. In addition, the word “artery” is loosely translated as “carrying air” and the etymology of the term has nothing to do with blood. Lastly, Greeks did not believe in dissecting bodies, which may have been the source of Hippocrates speculating.

The Romans shared the Greeks’ views on dissection. However, Galen did at least dissect animals to learn about the anatomy of living things. However, Galen believed that disease was caused by an imbalance of four vital fluids: phlegm, yellow bile, black bile, and blood. By returning these fluids to their proper balance, a person would recover. The application of this was bloodletting, in which doctors bleed people to death to bring the fluids back into balance. This is the procedure that is believed to have killed the United States’ first president, George Washington.

Middle Ages

Even though Galen encouraged physicians to study for themselves, this was generally ignored, as mentioned earlier. By the 1500s, famous medical teachers such as Jacobus Sylvius would teach students about medicine by reading aloud Galen’s writings. By this time, dissection was allowed, but it wasn’t the teacher who did the cutting of the body but rather an assistant. The teacher’s job was to continue reading the book aloud.

There were several times when the readings of Galen did not agree with the results of the dissection. For example, there were discrepancies in the number of lobes of the liver and the number of breast bone segments. Whenever such disagreement s accord Sylvius would ignore them. We have to remember that Hippocrates and Galen were considered the most outstanding physicians of their time. Even today, the tops of any field are not questioned as much as they should be.


Change is something that many people struggle with. We all have our way of doing something and generally don’t want to change even when the benefits are apparent. Therefore, it may be unreasonable to criticize the lack of progress in understanding the body when doctors lived in a context of instability and a loss of large amounts of knowledge. When things are precarious, and there is no time for curiosity, people often will stick with tried and true approaches for the security it gives them.

Galen: Physician of Rome

Galen was a famous medical doctor during the Roman empire. He was born in the mid 2nd century in Pergamum, Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey). During his life, he spent time in many different parts of the Roman empire. We will now take a brief look at his life and influence.

Becoming a Doctor

During Galen’s life, the Roman empire had laws against dissecting human bodies. The reasons for this are not clear but may have something to do with the rise of Christianity. Some even believe that surgery was illegal, as well. In this context, Galen moved to Alexandria to study medicine.

Alexandria, Egypt, was a Roman city, which means that dissection was still not permissible. Galen made up for this by dissecting animals such as pigs, goats, and even apes. After completing his studies in Alexandria, Galen returned home to work as a doctor for gladiators. For several years, Galen developed practical experience in helping people with serious injuries.


Galen’s next trip was working in Rome. While in Rome, he continued his studies while also writing books about medical practice. It was while he was in Rome that Galen first began to experience fame for his medical knowledge.

Another doctor in Rome was having problems with his fingers. No treatment he was receiving made a difference for him; out of frustration, he called Galen. Galen concluded that his fingers’ issue was because of a problem with the nerves in his neck. It appears that the sick doctor had fallen from his chariot, injuring his neck. Galen knew from his experience with dissecting animals that neck treatment would alleviate the finger problems.

After treating the doctor with finger problems, Galen became famous. He became so renowned that the Roman Emperor made Galen his doctor. Naturally, other doctors were highly jealous of Galen because of his success. This was further exacerbated by Galen’s cocky, over-confidence in himself.


Galen was a prodigious author with over 80 books still in existence today. His medical work was trailblazing and highly authoritative for several hundred years. People believed everything Galen said because of who Galen was. It wasn’t until the Renaissance, over 1,000 later, that people began to openly disagree with Galen and teach medicine differently.

Galen’s influence was so strong that even when evidence was contrary to his views, doctors and teachers would still sick to Galen’s position. Naturally, this slowed and stalled developments in medicine for a long time in ways that may have cost lives.

Galen’s problem may not have been his ignorance but rather the restrictions under which he worked. Since dissecting humans was illegal many of Galen’s conclusions about medicine were from examining animals and not people. This difference in anatomy is the made source of Galen’s faulty findings.


Galen was a trailblazer for his time, which helped define what it means to be a doctor. Through his example, millions of students have gone forward to help and heal those in need. Though he made mistakes like all of us, he has also been praised for his hard work to help.

Egypt and Hippocrates

Many things can be said about the marvels of modern medicine. However, we will take a trip to the past and look at some of the origins of how medicine is practiced today. In particular, we will look briefly at ancient Egypt and its medicine and the life of the Greek doctor Hippocrates.

Egyptian Medicine

Many of the ideas of medicine can be traced back to ancient Egypt. One of the first known physicians in history was the Egyptian Imhotep. Imhotep was not only a physician, but he also was an astronomer, politician, and architect. Some of his work in architecture includes designing the first pyramids of Egypt.

Unlike medical doctors of today who are worried primarily about keeping their patients alive and healthy, Egyptian doctors were focused on preserving the bodies of those who were dead. Egyptian culture was obsessed with the afterlife, and this created a market in which doctors would go to great lengths to preserve the body. This explains the development of mummification and the mummies that are still found to this day. Strangely, medicine during this time was focused on death rather than life.

Due to the pioneering work in medicine in Egypt, the country began to attract people from all over the world who wanted to study medicine there. Among the people who came to Egypt were the Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen.


Hippocrates was a Greek physician born during the 5th century BC. Early in his life, he traveled to Egypt to study medicine. After his studies, Hippocrates spends some time as a traveling teacher before returning to Athens.

Hippocrates’ methods of treating patients were radically different from his peers. During his life, there was a large amount of superstition in treating disease. It was common for physicians to blame evil spirits, demons, and gods for illness. Treatments included making a sacrifice at a temple and spending the night there to be cured.

Hippocrates views were different for him disease had a natural cause. In other words, if you can find what is making a person sick, you can cure the disease. The practical outflow of this was as simple as asking the patient what kind of symptoms they were experiencing—other approaches included nutrition, rest, and cleanliness. Many of the ideas are still practice and also considered common sense today.

Hippocrates was also famous for his integrity. It was common during his time for doctors to be bribed to hurt people. However, Hippocrates apparently never agreed to this. He also would occasionally help people for free. His views on ethics were eventually summarized in the Hippocratic Oath, which lays out ethical behavior for medical doctors.


Imhotep may have been the first, but Hippocrates was one of the most influential physicians of all time. He is called by many the “Father of Medicine” due to his influential work in the medical world.

Decision-Making and Teaching

Decision making is a critical requirement of being a teacher. In any single day, teachers are making dozens of decisions that affect students and others’ lives. In this post, we will look at decision-making methods and the role of emotions in this complex process.

Two Systems of Decision Making

There are two ways in which the brain makes decisions. These two ways are the reactive system and the reflective system. The reactive system is a way of making a decision that does not involve deep contemplative thought. Instead, the teacher is making a decision based on experience and or expertise. Sometimes there is not enough time to go through a thorough thought process, such as during an emergency.

The reactive system is related to the idea of programmed decisions. Programmed decisions are decisions that are made frequently and are often based on some criteria. For example, following a general schedule of teaching is programmed decision-making. Generally, the requirements will be time, but there are instances when the schedule will go off course for learning.

The reflective system is the opposite of the reactive system and is a way of thinking logically, analytically, and deliberately before taking action. This style of decision making is instrumental when facing novel situations or highly complex situations. For a teacher, planning teaching is often a reflective process as it involves deciding the future in advance. When time allows, the reflective system is usually a better choice. However, when time is short, there is no time to think, and the reactive system may be a better option.

Non-programmed decisions are associated with reflective thinking. These types of decisions are for unusual situations in which reflective thinking is needed. When the involvement in the decision is high, the problem probably calls for non-programmed decision making. However, when the involvement is low, then programmed decisions may be a better alternative.


Emotions also play a role in decision making. If feelings are strong, it can often prompt teachers to make poor reactive choices. For example, if a student is disrespectful, the teacher may lose their temper, leading to all kinds of problems. Therefore, when emotions run high, it may be better to wait to decide so that a poor reactive choice is not made.

Emotional intelligence is the skill of recognizing/understanding one’s feelings and the feelings of those around us. When a teacher understands their emotions and their students’ feelings, they can use the information to make better decisions rather than the worst ones. The challenge is feeling the feelings without them overwhelming you. Being in a leadership role in the classroom calls on a higher degree of self-control than what is required of the students. We all know this but it does not prevent people from making mistakes.


Insights into the processes that decisions involve can be beneficial knowledge for teachers. Understanding the harmful yet helpful role of emotions can help teachers avoid pitfalls when it is necessary to make decisions during highly charged situations.

Brief Intro to Critical Theory

Critical Theory is a difficult concept to explain and understand. Some will say that it is an amalgamation of other theories, while others will reject this. It would not be possible to explain all the nuances of Critical Theory in a single blog post of several hundred words, but an an attempt will be made to provide basic ideas concerning it.

Critical Theory is an extension or perhaps a reaction to the ideas of Karl Marx and communism. Marx was pushing for a proletarian revolution of the working class rising up against the bourgeois. However, except in a few places, this never happened. This left supporters of Marxism frustrated, and they began to explore why this happened. Furthermore, many began to despise Marxism because of its failures.

One conclusion that they made was that Marxism was generally a disaster. The average person does not want to live in a communist state. On paper, it looked good, but in practice, it was often worst than capitalism. This led the early shapers of critical Theory to conclude that people fear freedom, which led to the rise and success of fascists governments over communists ones.

What needed to take place was that people needed to be awakened to their oppressed position in life. Marx had more of a deterministic view of the world in that revolution was inevitable because of the suffering. Critical theorists proposed that people needed to be woke to the oppression they were living under, which happened through people becoming critical.

By critical, it is generally meant to criticize the existing domineering culture. Examples of the West’s dominant culture would be male leadership over women, white leadership over minorities, heterosexual leadership of homosexual, etc. By questioning these imbalances in power and accepted norms, people would call not for an economic revolution but rather for a cultural one. All oppressed classes need to rise up and push for change.

The people who formed the foundations of critical Theory were naturally scholars. Therefore, their views began to permeate universities slowly. This long march through the institutions has been compared to Mao’s long march through China. One of the surest ways to have a long career in academics is to find a problem (the significance of the problem is irrelevant) and announced to the world through papers, media, and conferences how your problem is a big problem and how people need to pay attention to this and the solutions that are being proposed. Generally, people are good at finding problems; however, we tend to get into trouble with the answers we implement.

Critical Theory began to question such ideas as perceived privilege differences between groups (privilege has been defined as normalizing one group’s behavior at the expense of another). Other concepts are attacked, such as objectivity, hard work, and even the reasoning process that people use. These ideas were claimed to be cultural constructs of those with power who then impose their worldview on the oppressed. There are even suggestions of implicit bias, which is a form of bias a person has without even knowing it. For example, there have been accusations that some people are racist strictly because their skin color is the majority group’s color. In other words, guilt by DNA rather than by actual evidence.

The conspiratorial bent of Critical Theory is a powerful way of explaining all suffering within a given context. Another way to look at this is that one can say that Critical Theory can function as a narrative that explains where most suffering comes from for minority groups. Can’t get a job; it’s oppression. Can’t buy a car; it’s oppression. You can’t pass your classes; it’s oppression. This may not have been the intention of the original developers of critical Theory. However, students always extend the ideas of their teachers in the wrong direction. The idea that people are not responsible for the situations they are in but instead, it is the dominant group’s fault is an example of a poor application of the worldview of Critical Theory.

Postmodernism and Meta-narratives

There are questions about life that are hard to answer. Some of these questions include why are we here?, where are we going?, why is the world like this? This post will explore the ideas behind meta-narratives, which often play a role in attempting to answer these philosophical questions. We will also look at meta-narratives in connection with postmodernism.


The term meta-narrative is a rather young term with its existence being dated from the early 20th century. A meta-narrative is a narrative or story about the stories/narratives in a society’s culture that attempts to give meaning to life and experiences. In many ways, meta-narratives try to provide answers to the big philosophical questions about life examples of these questions, along with the branch of philosophy they may be derived from are as follows.

  1. What is real (metaphysical)
  2. Where did I come from (axiology)
  3. What is true (epistemology)
  4. What is right and wrong (ethics)
  5. What is beautiful (aesthetics)

The answer to these questions help to provide legitimacy for a society and or religion. Many meta-narratives attempt to answer these questions along with others. For example, Christianity provides answers about reality, the creation of man, truth, strong position on morals and more. Within Christianity, there is a belief in God along with a teaching that the world will eventually end with some living for ever. The ideas of this meta-narrative has led to billions choosing to claim this meta-narrative as the anchor of their beliefs as well as a church structure that has been around for over 2,000 years.

Another example of a meta-narrative, at least for some, would be the theory of evolution developed by Charles Darwin. This meta-narrative has its own explanation of the creation of man, perhaps an implied meaning of what is moral, what is true, and a denial of a higher power that shaped the world. The denial of God in evolution is due to a lack of evidence that meets the criteria set by empiricism. Since the existence of God does not play by the rules of science in terms of how to know what is true, this it implies that there is evidence that perhaps God does not exists. What both religion and science have in common is a desire to try to answer some of these big questions will approaching them from different angles.

Postmodernism & Meta-narratives

Postmodernism is an enemy of meta-narratives. This is partially due to the fact that postmodernism is suspicious of who provided the answers to the questions in meta-narratives. Whoever provided the answer is asserting authority over other people who either choose to believe or were coerced the accept. In addition, by what authority do the people who provide meta-narratives have the right to provide these answers? Religious meta-narrative are grounded in the belief of a higher power and or spiritual experiences, in other words, the source is authoritative. Evolution is grounded in empirical data collected in a scientific manner. However, for the postmodern thinker both of these are tainted ways of knowing because the people who have the power are the ones who provide the answers within the meta-narrative.

The idea of rejecting all meta-narratives, whether spiritual or scientific is a meta-narrative it’s self. Postmodernism’s answer to the big philosophical questions about life is that there are no universal answers to these questions, which is a universal answer against universal answers. It is impossible to say that there are no universal truths without the statement “there are no universal truths” being universal. In addition, it is hard to provide such a statement true without any external authority whether it’s spiritual or empirical.

Within postmodernism, the idea of truth is a cultural construct. What this means is that all the questions that meta-narratives address are answered at a local level only. This is because there are barriers to knowing what is true. However, if we takes these thoughts to one conclusion we would need to ask ourselves why the postmodern response is anymore superior to the religious our scientific one. By what authority or evidence is postmodernism able to make this claim?

Some may claim that lived experiences are the source of knowing in postmodernism but this is not unique. Religions are founded based on the lived experiences of apostles, prophets, disciples. In addition, scientific experiments are highly controlled lived experiences in which an observer watches carefully what happens in a certain controlled situation and then this experience is repeated by others. Rejecting the claims of modernism which involved science and reasoning by using reasoning to reject reasoning seems strange. Claiming that there are no answers or purpose to life with no other authority than confidence should not be enough to move people from the meta-narratives they already have that are also based on confidence.


People want answers to questions and one of the biggest problems with postmodernism is the answer that there are no answers. Instead, postmodernism offers the ideas that there is a power struggle over what people belief that perpetuates a system of darkness without most people even being aware of it. The tenets of postmodernism are just another way of viewing the world without much indication that it is superior to priors models.

Behavioral Self-Management with Students

Behavioral self-management is a tool that requires the student to play a role in their actions and choices. This post will explain how this approach works. There are three steps to behavioral self-management…

  1. Self-monitoring
  2. Self-evaluation
  3. Self-reinforcement

Also, several external factors need to be considered, as well.


Self-monitoring involves having the student determine what the problem is in terms of their behavior. For example, a teacher may ask the student if being disruptive in class is problematic for the other students. Most students will agree to this, and thus this form of questioning allows the student to identify where the problem is in terms of their actions.

Once the student knows where the problem is, they can move to the second stage, which involves self-evaluation.


Self-evaluation deals with the question of what the student should be doing. As the teacher, you would explain acceptable behavior in contrast to what the student does typically. For example, if the student is disruptive examples of non-disruptive behavior, communicate what the expected behavior is.

With this knowledge of what is acceptable, the student can now focus on implementing the desired behavior. The final step is called self-reinforcement.


Self-reinforcement is the final step in behavioral self-management. This step involves making sure that the new behavior is continuously practiced. For example, if a student stops being disruptive, self-reinforcement makes sure that the student does not return to being disruptive again. To be successful, the student must have control over what kind of reinforcement they get beyond verbal ones. For many teachers, this may not be attractive, but this idea of autonomy is a critical aspect of behavioral self-management.

However, several factors must be considered when attempting behavioral self-management. Some of these factors include circumstantial cues, the individual, behaviors, and consequences.

Additional Factors

Circumstantial cues are things in the environment that help or hinder changes in the behavior of the student. For example, a student might be disruptive because of who they sit next to in class. Merely moving the student can alleviate the problem. Another cue that can cause disruptive behavior is boredom. In such a situation, the student may need additional stimulation by assisting the teacher.

Different people have different ways to make sure they do not continue poor behavior. Some students may use self-talk, which involves using encouraging words that the student speaks to themselves to maintain positive behavior. An example of self-talk could be a student saying to themselves, “I can do this.”

Rehearsal is another strategy used by individual students. Rehearsal is the student visualizing in their mind the proper behavior. For example, the student may imagine what a quiet classroom looks like and try to produce this behavior in the real world. Lastly, symbolic coding involves envisioning the consequences of inappropriate behavior. For example, being removed from class and or having their parents called would be things most students would prefer to avoid.

All of the strategies mentioned above can be taught to the student by the teacher. The ones that are pick will vary based on the personality of the student and the behavior that the teacher wants to see changed.


One of the primary benefits of behavioral self-management is that it places the responsibility of change on the student. This form of empowerment can be beneficial for many students who think they have little control over their own lives. However, everyone will not respond positively to this style of management. For example, this approach may be challenging to use with small children who lack self-control in general. Also, some students are so used to coercion that they will not respond to the benefit of participation in choosing how to act. This is why having several different tools available and the flexibility to use them is the best strategy for a teacher.

Behavior Modifications and Students

Behavior modification is focused on bringing about permanent change in a student’s behavior that is observable. The difference in behavior must be what the teacher desires. This involves reinforcement, which is consistent with operant conditioning. For many, this is almost a form of manipulation. Yet, behavior modification is highly effective if it is used appropriately.

The steps explained below are available in most classroom management textbooks and, as such, are not original. The point here is to provide a brief explanation of how these ideas work to save someone the time of reading an entire chapter on this in a textbook. For a typical behavior modification program, you will have the following steps.

  1. Establish the criteria
  2. Complete a performance check
  3. Develop specific behavioral goals
  4. Evaluate results
  5. Praise student base on actual performance

Establishing the Criteria

A teacher needs to first determine what they mean by acceptable behavior from their students. This must also be communicated so that the students can understand, which necessitates the need for simplicity. The criteria are generally vague, and it is refined at step three when you make specific behavioral goals. Examples of behavioral criteria can include such things as being respectful, submitting work on time, etc. Again, how to do this is specified later.

Performance Check

Once a criterion has been established, the next step is to see how well the students are currently doing this. You want to identify where there is serious trouble and focus on developing specific behavioral goals for these problem areas. For example, if students are habitual yelling at each other, this will probably be seen as being disrespectful. AS such, the teacher may want to focus on this particular problem when moving to step 3.

Specific Behavioral Goals

Specific behavioral goals are precisely what individual students need to do to achieve the ideas in the behavioral criteria. Technically, these goals need to be set up for each student individual because no two students have the same performance issues. However, this may not be possible in a large class. Therefore, general rather than specific behavioral goals may have to work. An exception can be made for incredibly challenging students who are disrupting the learning experience.

Goals at this level need to be realistic and measurable. For example, to reduce yelling in the classroom, the teacher might make the following goal.

Upon entering the classroom, the student will never yell at anyone.

The example above contains a condition for entering the classroom. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the student yells outside in this example. Next, the goal states specifically that the student will not yell at anyone. This is the behavior that the teacher is trying to modify. Lastly, the negation never is used as a proficiency. In other words, yelling is not allowed to happen at any time. Expressing this implies perfection in terms of the consistency of the behavior.


Once the goals are set, the student(s) are evaluated over time to see how well they perform. When mistakes are made, students are reminded of the expectations. If it is necessary, disciplinary actions may be used. Although this is generally saved for step 5

Praise and Feedback

Praise and feedback are given once the evaluation is complete. However, when working with children, the last two steps often happen simultaneously in an iterative manner. Children shouldn’t wait too long to be provided with feedback and or discipline as bad habits set in rather quickly.

The goal during this entire process is to shape behavior incrementally over time. The success that you are looking for will not happen immediately. In other words, returning to our example, a student will not stop yelling immediately when the goals are set. Instead, what you want to see is a steady decline in behavior over time. The goal is steady progress rather than instant perfection. This requires patience on the part of the teacher as the student goes through this process.


Behavior modification is one of many tools that a teacher can use to help students. The purpose is to encourage certain behaviors and discourage others. As such, the process mentioned here can improve both teachers’ and students’ classroom experiences. Managing student behavior is a part of the classroom. Students are always trying to test and push the limits of what is acceptable behavior. In response to this, many teachers choose to have some system of reinforcing acceptable behavior. This post talks about several different methods of reinforcement.

Scheduling Reinforcement with Students

Managing student behavior is a part of the classroom. Students are always trying to test and push the limits of what is acceptable behavior. In response to this, many teachers choose to have some system of reinforcing acceptable behavior. This post talks about several different methods of reinforcement.

Systems of Reinforcement

Continuous reinforcement happens every time the desired behavior occurs. For example, if students receive a prize every time they come into the classroom quietly, the award must always be given. Of course, this can quickly become expensive or infeasible for other reasons.

The next three types of reinforcement are all considered to be partial reinforcement. By partial, it means that the students are not reinforced every time they produce the desired behavior. Instead, they are reinforced at various intervals.

Fixed interval reinforcement is a reward to the students, not every single time they performed the desired behavior but at fixed intervals of time. For example, if a teacher promises to give the students extra free time every Friday for good behavior.

One problem with fixed interval s that it is set in nature. Students know when the reward is coming and will adjust their behavior to the nearest of the reward. When the reward is far away, students misbehave, but they behave as the reward comes closer. This could be stressful for some teachers.

A fixed ratio involves giving the reinforcement after the students have performed the desired behavior a certain number of times. For example, if a teacher decides to reward his students every tenth time, they quietly come from lunch. There is no time measurement to this, but it is only based on performance. Some days the students will earn points some days, they will not.

In addition, as students get closer to earning the reward, they become more motivated to monitor their behavior. However, the students may get so good at reaching the reward that it might be necessary to make the desired behavior hard to produce.

Variable ratio reinforcement is the hardest to explain. The word here is ratio, which is a comparison of two amounts. For example, if the number of boys to girls in a classroom is 2 to 1 this means for every two boys, there is 1 girl. It doesn’t matter how many students there are as long as the 2:1 ratio is respect.

Therefore, for a teacher who employs a variable-ratio, the students have to perform the behavior a certain number of times. However, the teacher can now change the number of times the students must perform the behavior to achieve the rewards as long as they respect the ratio. For example, a teacher may decide that the students must come in quietly from lunch with a ratio of 10:1 to receive the reward. The students come in quietly five times the first time and get the reward a little early. The second time the students have to go in quietly 15 times or a little later to earn the reward. If we do the math, we can see the students came in a total of 20 times quietly and receive two rewards (20:2), which respects our 10:1 ratio.

This style of reward is highly successful with adults. However, children who are often weaker at math may see this system as unpredictable and discouraging. Therefore, this particular reward system may not work with children.


The purpose was not to try and indicate which of these systems of reward is the best. There are too many variables with each classroom and teacher to single out the best approach. Instead, a teacher should experiment with these different systems and see which one may work for them.

Work Attitudes of Teachers

A teacher’s mindset is a powerful driver in the quality and commitment of their work. When things are tough, it is possible teachers may not give their best effort. This post will cover a variety of topics related to teachers in the workplace. We will look at job involvement, job satisfaction, and institutional commitment, among other issues.

Job Involvement 

Job involvement is a measure of a person’s interest in their job. For teachers, involvement can vary as with other occupations. A common enemy for teachers is burnout, which is a sign of overwork and perhaps over-commitment to teaching. Burnout symptoms can be fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and or pulling away from social gathers. It is common for people’ who are highly involved to experience burnout because of their passion for teaching.

Naturally, teachers should be highly involved and engaged in their job of helping young people. However, it is also equally important to avoid the trap of burnout. If a teacher is overworked and fatigue from being too involved with their work, they will not support and help students to the level they should.

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is a closely related term to job involvement; this construct is the emotional state a person feels towards their job. For teachers, this can be seen as how much they love their work. A person can be highly involved with their job and hate the situation they are facing. For example, many teachers love teaching, but the stress of misbehaving students can take the emotional joy out of a job they are highly involved with.

Other factors affect job satisfaction. Pay can play a critical role in satisfaction. It is common knowledge that teachers are generally paid poorly compared to other professions.

Supervisor support is another factor. For teachers, this can vary from place to place. Some schools have highly supportive administrators who mentor and help teachers with challenges. However, the opposite is also the case, and that is the administrator who comes when there is a problem.

Lastly, coworker interaction can play a role in job satisfaction. Teachers spend the majority of their time only in the classroom. However, there are still plenty of opportunities for positive and negative interactions with colleagues. Meetings, lunch breaks, workshops, field trips, etc., are all opportunities for encouragement and backstabbing from other teachers.

Institutional Commitment

Institutional commitment is the strength with which a teacher identifies with their school or organization. This can involve accepting the school’s goals, exerting effort for the organization, and a strong desire for maintaining a connection with the institution. There are three components to the institutional commitment: normative, affective, and continuance commitment.

Normative commitment is a teacher’s sense of obligation towards their school. This can come from family, peer, or some other form of socialized pressure. Teachers may stay at a school because it is not socially acceptable to people in their social group to quit the job or move on to other opportunities. For many, this is the wrong reason to stay committed to an organization.

Affective commitment is the emotional attachment a teacher hast towards their institution. As the years go by and the memories increase, teachers can often develop a fondness for their employment institution regardless of the negative factors. Affective commitment is often the most valued because it will usually encourage a teacher’s hard work and effort.

Continuance commitment is a teacher maintaining allegiance to an institution because there are not any better opportunities. The teacher is strictly working at that particular school for the money. Many administrators are not fond of this type of commitment, but the reality is that people have to work, and there are times when they are waiting for other doors to open.

The various ideas discussed here do not only apply to a commitment to an institution. Some teachers love teaching and are committed to that regardless of the institution in which they work. They may love teaching or may be pressured to be a teacher, maybe they are waiting to change careers, or it could be a combination of all three.


The attitude and commitment a teacher has towards teaching and even where they work can vary from person to person. What motivates and drives any individual to do anything is a complex process to understand. The purpose here was to provide some ideas into what affects a teacher’s view of their occupation and place of work.

Attitude and Behavior of Students

Attitudes are one of the challenges teachers have to wrestle within the classroom. This post will provide a more in-depth understanding of what an attitude is and the traits of attitudes.


A student’s attitude is their tendency to respond a certain way towards something. Naturally, the student’s response can be on a continuum of positive to negative or good to bad. When a teacher says that a student has a bad attitude, they mean that the student did not respond positively to something they were asked to do. The opposite is also true; a student with a good attitude is likely someone who has a cooperative spirit in terms of complying with what they are asked to do by the teacher.

It is essential to mention that attitude is considered a psychological construct. This means you can see the consequences of the attitude but not the attitude itself. In other words, the behavior is observed to determine the attitude. For example, a child who refuses to follow orders provides evidence that they have a bad attitude.

Components of Attitude

There are three main components of an attitude, and they are cognitive, affective, and intentional. The cognitive aspect of an attitude refers to what beliefs a student has about a person or object. The affective component relates to the feelings a student has towards a person or object. Lastly, the intentional component address the intentions a person has towards a person or object.

Naturally, there is some overlap in these components. If a student has negative beliefs about something, it is probably that they have negative feelings as well.

Attitude Formation

Three common approaches attempt to explain how attitudes are formed. These three approaches are called the dispositional approach, situational approach, and social information processing approach.

The dispositional approach views attitudes as almost the same as a personality trait. Students are born to have a positive or negative outlook in different situations. In other words, if they are happy, they are happy, and if they are sad, they are sad. From a teaching perspective, it is a random chance whether a student will enjoy your class. This is not overly optimistic in terms of changing a student’s viewpoint.

The situational approach states that attitudes emerge depending on the context. For example, if students struggle to understand math, they may develop a negative attitude about math. However, the opposite is also true in that success will cause the development of a positive attitude. This view allows a teacher to try to find situations in which students can have success so that they can shape a positive attitude.

Lastly, the social information processing approach views that attitudes are caught from the people around us. For example, if a student with a neutral attitude is surrounded by students with negative attitudes, they also will develop a negative attitude. Students pick up on the information about various topics from the environment, which can largely shape their attitude towards something.

Intentions vs. Action

Generally, students will try to maintain consistency between their attitudes and actions. Failure to do this can lead to trying to justify inconsistent behavior through excuses. This happens when students do something they know is wrong and blame it on something else or someone. This disconnect between attitude and action is sometimes called cognitive dissonance.


Attitudes are part of life but how we respond is up to us. Whether a student has a positive or negative attitude, it is up to the teacher to find ways to work with this student. The ideas presented here are simply a stepping stone in this process.

Attribution Theory and the Classroom

In this post, we will look at attribution theory from the perspective of the classroom. Attributing behavior to various causes is something that we all do. Therefore, for teachers, it is essential to understand how this can be useful and sometimes detrimental.

Attribution Defined

Students and teachers are motivated to understand what causes certain things to happen in the classroom and at school. This idea is known as the attribution process. For example, if a student is disruptive, a teacher will determine what is causing this behavior. They may conclude that it is due to inattention, another student, family problems at home, etc. If a student sees that another student is given an award over them, they may attribute this to perhaps their race, gender, etc., and decided that there is no hope in achieving the same reward themselves.

Attribution can also be divided into two categories, which are external and internal causes. An example of an internal cause may be that a student was a hard worker, and thus this is why they received an award. An external cause may be that the student was lucky in getting the award. There are many different ways in which people can attribute the behavior and things that happen around them.

Ways Attributions are Formed

According to research, teachers and students can attribute or explain their environment around them from at least three perspectives: consensus, consistency, and distinctiveness. Consensus is how much a person’s behavior is in alignment with the group. For example, if a student is disruptive, a teacher may comment that “no one else is acting like this.” This attributes the bad behavior to the student because their actions are not in alignment with the class. If the entire class were disruptive, the teacher would have to attribute the bad student’s behavior to something else.

Consistency is whether the behavior is normal for the student. If a student is usually well-behaved but suddenly is out of control, the teacher will probably attribute this to something external to the student. However, if the student is behaving normally, the teacher will probably attribute this to some internal cause. This also applies to the teacher. If the teacher’s behavior changes, the student may begin to investigate and ask questions. On the other hand, if the teacher behaves normally, the students may attribute this to the teacher’s character.

Distinctiveness is how varied a person’s behavior is as the situation changes. Low distinctiveness means the person’s behavior never changes, while high is the opposite. For example, some teachers are always calm, no matter what. Therefore, if they are excited suddenly, students will probably look for an external cause for this behavior change. In addition, some students are always difficult and disruptive. If a student is quiet and working one day, the teacher may become suspicious because of this behavior change.

Attribution Error

Making conclusions like this can naturally lead to mistakes. The error of discounting external causes and overly emphasizing internal causes is known as fundamental attribution error. As teachers, we often blame students rather than looking at our classroom management style when they are disruptive. In other words, people like to blame individuals rather than look at factors that led to the behavior.

Another attribution error is self-serving bias. Self-serving bias attributes success to one’s actions while blaming others for failure. For example, when students do well academically or behaviorally, a teacher will often take credit for this. However, when students are misbehaving, it is the students’ fault and not the teachers.


Attribution theory is one of many factors that can play a role in the classroom. Educators need to be aware of the mistakes we can make when trying to understand our students.

Teacher Errors in Perceiving Students

There are times when teachers make mistakes in how we judge and see our students. This post will look at three common ways people can misjudge people with applications for the classroom.


Stereotyping is the process of making generalizations about a group of people. Stereotypes are generally malicious, but there are positive stereotypes that people do not complain about as much. In addition, people will often apply stereotypes to strangers or people they do not know yet. Once a relationship is established, the stereotypes may be discarded.

For teachers, it is common to assign stereotypes to students based on the students’ ethnicity. For example, some minorities may be perceived to have lower academic performance and a higher risk for unruly classroom behavior. If a teacher assumes negative actions from students, it can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which a student attempts to confirm a belief the teacher has. Of course, students can also stereotype teachers based on the teacher’s race, age, or some other metric, and this means that the teacher must work to overcome these preconceived ideas.

Sadly, stereotypes are often confirmed by a student’s behavior. However, there are also times when students disprove a stereotype by their behavior. This idea applies to the teacher, as well.

Selective Perception

Selective perception is the process of removing or ignoring information that we do not want to hear. This is related to stereotyping in that if we are exposed to a person who does not conform to a stereotype we have, we may ignore this information. To make things worst, sometimes people will only see the information that confirms their stereotype of another group.

Returning to the teacher, if a teacher holds a negative stereotype towards a student because of their race or gender and the student disproves this stereotype through permanence, the teacher may ignore this or consider it a fluke. In other words, they have selected to ignore specific information that is contrary to their opinion. This also holds for students when they ignore what they see about a teacher that does not confirm their beliefs.

Perceptual Defense

Perceptual defense is a protection mechanism that people use during times that they are receiving information that is personally threatening or not accepted culturally. Generally, this happens when receiving highly emotional stimuli. This emotional experience can lead people to have false perceptions rather than whatever real stimuli occurred. This can frequently happen when people are arguing. It is common for us to describe what we think someone said rather than what they said.

For the teacher, highly negative classroom management experience can trigger a perceptual defense. If a student is rude or disrespectful, a teacher may exaggerate how bad the behavior was. This is a natural behavior for most people. There are several common defenses people use when confronted with views contrary to their own.

  • Denial-A person may outright deny what happened
  • Modify-People explain away what they said
  • Change perception-People change there about what they experience but in a rather subtle manner.
  • Recognize but refuse to change-People acknowledge the disagreement but stick to their original position


As teachers, we must understand how or perceptions influence our thought process and the judgments we make about others. This is because of the authority that we have over students who may be affected by us if we do not understand them correctly.

Social Perception of Students

Every day a teacher steps into a classroom, they are being judged by their students on many factors. This experience is called social perception. IN this post, we will look at social perception and its role in the classroom.

Social perception is how we interpret the people around us through the impressions we make of these people. Students also develop social perceptions of other students as well as teachers. Several categories in which a teacher is perceived socially and several of them are explained below.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

What a teacher says to students and how they say it is a part of verbal and nonverbal communication. The tone of voice a teacher uses communicates the emotional state of the teacher. For example, if the teacher is yelling, it may indicate anger at the students, while a teacher who speaks in a hesitant tone may communicate a lack of confidence.

The precision of the language indicates to many students the level of professionalism of the teacher. For example, a teacher who uses slang may be trying to encourage an informal atmosphere. In contrast, a teacher’s highly formal use of language may be an attempt to set a serious tone in the classroom. Accent also plays a role, but a teacher will have a more challenging time controlling their accent than the precision and tone of voice.

Nonverbal communication is also critical in maintaining a positive social perception. Smiling vs. frowning is a form of body language. Both of these are appropriate in a specific situation. In addition, such things as posture, eye contact can communicate confidence. A slouching teacher who does not look students in the eye may have a greater difficulty in maintaining authority compared to a teacher with erect posture and strong eye contact. This is especially true when students are disruptive. A teacher needs to look like they are in charge even if the situation is out of control. The calm, confident, steady hand of a firm teacher can prevent a lot of problems.

Assigned Attributes

Some of the interpretations students have of a teacher are made merely from the position of the teacher. For example, the occupation of teacher often has high-status in the eyes of students as the teacher is the direct leader and supervisor of students. As such, students will often treat the teacher differently from the janitor due in part to the teacher’s position in relation to the janitor.

This can even be more complicated. Older teachers or teachers who have been at a school longer also have certain credibility that new teachers have to earn. Students know the more senior teachers personally or have heard of them through friends, and this will often make the teacher’s job easier or harder depending on what the students think of them.

Other Factors

Students own personality influences what they notice. Confident people tend to have a more positive view of others. In addition, students who have a better understanding of themselves are often better able to read others. Lastly, students who are comfortable with themselves are more likely to see other people, such as teachers, positively.


A teacher needs to be aware of how they are perceived by others, even students. This does not mean that a teacher should radically change their approach to please students. Instead, understanding this can help a teacher know their strengths and weaknesses in terms of what the students think.

The Perceptual Process and Students

It is common for a teacher to see students staring off into space when they should be paying attention to the teacher. In this post, we will look at perception and its role in a student’s ability to focus in the classroom.


Perception is the process by which a person gives meaning to what they choose to pay attention to. This can be the words in a book that a person sees or the conversation a person hears while speaking with a friend. A student’s perception can take in information from peers, the teacher, or other sources such as a cellphone in the classroom.

Perceptual selectivity is the process of picking a specific stimulus to focus on among several competitors. As teachers, we want our students to focus on learning and or instruction when they try to determine what to focus on perceptually.

To further complicate things, different students will focus on other things, even when they are focused and paying attention. For example, if the teacher is demonstrating how to use lab equipment, some students will focus on the equipment while others will be focused on the teacher’s words. Those who focus on the equipment do not focus on the teacher, while those who focus on the teacher’s words do not see how to use the equipment.

Once a student has focused on the stimulus that a teacher desires, the student enters the next stage, perceptual organization. At this stage, students attempt to make sense of what they are focusing on. This can be instructions from the teacher or an assignment as examples.

Several factors influence what a student will focus on, and these can be grouped into two broad categories: physical properties and dynamic properties.

Physical & Dynamic Properties

Physical properties include size because the larger something is, the easier it is to focus on it. This is why visuals need to be large so that the students can focus on them. A second physical property is the use of contrast or opposing characteristics such as light and dark or small and big. Contrast also relates to visuals. A third physical property is novelty. Nothing will get a student’s attention, like doing something unexpected.

Dynamic properties involve things that change or have an order to them. Two examples are motion and repetition. Motion is self-explanatory, but one example of this for a teacher is to move about the classroom while teaching. This may help some students to focus as the act of motion prevents the zoning out of focusing on a static object. Repetition is another prominent dynamic property. If instructions are repeated several times, it helps with retention.

The properties mentioned above are external factors. However, there are also several internal factors, such as response salience and response disposition.

Response Salience and Response Disposition

Response salience is the habit of focus on objects that relate to immediate needs and or wants. This means that a student needs to be persuaded that focusing on an assignment and or the teacher is meeting an immediate need or want. Often, a student will not pay attention because they do not see the need to. Therefore, teachers need to make sure that they can connect whatever they need to do in the classroom with some immediate relevancy.

Response disposition is a person’s habit of noticing familiar objects faster when compared to unfamiliar objects. Naturally, familiar objects will be things that a student has already learned and or be exposed to. In the classroom, sometimes students will hear what they think they hear when the reality is that they are replacing what the teacher said with something they are more familiar with. For example, it is common for students to mix up directions and or complete assignments incorrectly. Math assignments are often done incompletely because students use the wrong tools to complete a problem. The tool they select is often from ones they are already familiar with rather than the new one they just learned.


It is easy for a teacher to jump to conclusions when a student is not paying attention and focused. However, a teacher needs to familiar with the processes that people, including students, use when deciding what to focus on in the classroom.

Work Behavior of Students

Students all have their unique personalities. These unique traits that students bring into the classroom can influence their ability to perform academically. This post will look at several personality traits that influence students’ behavior and attitude towards work.


Self-esteem is what someone thinks of themselves. Students who have high self-esteem are often more assertive and ambitious in achieving goals. Naturally, the opposite is true of students with low self-esteem. This means that as a teacher, there may be times when the output and quality of a student’s work are influenced by the self-esteem a student has.

Self-esteem can be affected by the family as well as prior academic success or failure. In addition, self-esteem can also change based on the context. A student might be confident in one subject but timid in another. A closely related term to self-esteem is self-efficacy, which is focused primarily on the student’s belief that they can do something.

Locus of Control

Locus of control is how a person sees if what happens to them is due to their actions or something beyond their control. People with an internal locus of control believe that they have authority over their success and failure. People with an external locus of control believe that they do not have power over their success and failure.

Students who have an internal locus of control are often more motivated and see a connection between effort and reward. This implies that students with an external locus of control are less motivated and do not know the relationship between hard work and reward. In addition, external locus of control students often like to blame the teacher for their academic challenges.


Introverts are often solitary and care little for socially, while extroverts are the opposite. For students, the type of activities a teacher gives can help or harm them based on this trait. Introverted students may prefer to work alone and reflect, while extrovert students love group interaction and projects. Therefore, a combination of introverted and extroverted activities will help to have a balanced learning experience.

Authoritarianism & Dogmatism

Authoritarianism is a person’s view of authority. Students who authoritarian are demanding of people lower than them while being submissive to superiors. Furthermore, authoritarian students are rigid, fearful of change, distrustful, and hate restraint. Non-authortarians are more sympathetic to a democratic style of learning while supporting change.

If a student is authoritarian, they may need a rigidly structured classroom. Non-authortarian students, on the other hand, will thrive better in a more relax, negotiated learning experience.


Working with students requires knowing how the students think and are motivated. Insight into personality is one step in determining how to approach and support students for academic success.

Understanding Student and Teacher Abilities

Students and teachers all have various strengths and weaknesses. In this post, we will look at students’ mental skills and the cognitive complexity of teachers. Teachers need to be aware of the student’s mental skills, and teachers and administrators need to be mindful of their cognitive complexity and that of their peers.

For Students

Students are frequently judge and assessed for their mental abilities. Mental abilities can be defined in many different ways. Some of the mental abilities traits are fluency, memory, verbal comprehension, inductive reasoning, and mathematical/logical aptitude.

Some of these so-called mental abilities can be influenced by studying in a second language. For example, most ESL students struggle with verbal comprehension of other people’s words and fluency. Therefore, these students may be thought of as having weak mental abilities when, in fact, they are struggling to function academically in a second language.

This means that when trying to understand students’ mental abilities, it is essential to remember that assessing mental abilities is tricky in the best case situation and that there are unique factors for individual students that need to be considered.

For Teachers

Teachers also have the same mix of ability when it comes to mental capacities. However, because of a teacher’s added responsibility of managing and leading students’ instructional experience, teachers can also be further analyzed in terms of their cognitive complexity.

Cognitive complexity is a person’s ability to sort through information and organize it to be understandable. General, people, can be viewed on a continuum from low to high cognitive complexity.

Teachers who exhibit low cognitive complexity will only see one or two aspects of a problem or challenging situation. In addition, such teachers often rely heavily on stereotypes when dealing with students, causing them to miss each student’s uniqueness. Decision making is fast as the teacher is willing to move on limited information. Lastly, such teachers with low cognitive complexity have a low locus of control, which means they often are not convinced that they have control over external conditions.

Teachers with high cognitive complexity often have a less deterministic, stereotypical view of the world. This means that alternative solutions are sought to deal with problems. The locus of control is placed within the individual, which means that the teacher believes they have authority and influence on their environment.

Teachers with high cognitive complexity are often better at dealing with rapid change and complex situations. In addition, these individuals are better at obtaining and acquiring information for decision making.

However, there are some words of caution. Cognitive complexity is steeped in cultural values. In other words, the traits that are defined as being complex are traits that are valued in a western context. In a different context, such abilities may be seen in an opposite light. What this means is that high complexity is situational, not only cultural but also for a person. For example, a person might demonstrate high complexity in one situation and not in another, such as when going into a familiar situation or an unfamiliar one.

Furthermore, another related idea is that whether a person has high or low cognitive complexity depends on who they are being compared to. Among one group of people, a person may have the highest of the low cognitive complexities. Still, this same person would be viewed differently compared to a different group of people.

Lastly, to label some people low or high in cognitive ability is somewhat discouraging for people who may be labeled as low. The points above indicate that people’s complexity can change due to the situation or who they are compared to. Probably all teachers have exhibited all of these low and high traits at one time or another. Even students can shift back and forth at times.


Teachers and students all have different abilities. It is crucial to understand how people think and work around you and how you think and work to avoid confusion. Students are judge on their mental abilities, while teachers may be judge based on their management style. When this happens, there must be great care to consider the big picture and all the influencing people’s factors so that teachers and students are not judged negatively in an unfair way.

Functions of School Work

Students in school need to work just as adults do but for slightly different reasons at times. This post will examine some reasons for school and or homework for students. For teachers, understanding some of the less traditional reasons for schoolwork may be beneficial when dealing with students and even parents’ concerns.

Common Reasons
Generally, students lack the experience and or training to make a living. Therefore, studying and completing class and homework is often one of the primary functions of a child or a young person. Just as an adult may receive an income from their employment/business, a student receives a grade for their academic efforts.

Class and homework also serve a social purpose for students. School provides a place for students to meet together and talk and socialize. In addition, there is also an opportunity to collaborate on various assignments and projects. It is relatively common for students to spend more time with their friends and teachers than with their parents. Since so much time is spent together at school, this time must be channeled into positive academic endeavors.

Schoolwork can also provide social status in either a positive or negative way. Sometimes students are commended for being excellent students, primarily by teachers. However, it is generally more common for students to be praised and commended for not working hard by their peers. Either way, a certain amount of social status is attached to how a student does at school, which can be perceived positively or negatively.

Concerning the last point, work can play a role in influencing self-esteem as well among students. For strong students, the school allows an opportunity to demonstrate mastery at something. Meaningful and engaging group work allows students to believe that they are doing something that contributes to a group effort, which is highly satisfying for some people.

It is crucial to indicate the difference between schoolwork and busywork. Schoolwork should be engaging and exciting so that students do not even notice as time goes by. Busywork is work for having points to put in the grade book and does not support the student’s intellectual or skill development. Work does not always have to be pleasurable, but it should also not always be drudgery either. If the school lacks engagement, it can lead to serious behavioral challenges and boredom for students.

The teacher’s job is to manage the learning experiences of the students. Schoolwork is just one of the classroom’s aspects that the teacher is responsible for as the instructional leader. Therefore, it is essential to be able to communicate why students work in the classroom.

Management in the Classroom

In the world of business, management has often been described as achieving goals through people. This is highly similar to management in the classroom in which the teacher is trying to helping students achieve mastery of a skill and or a body of knowledge. With excellent management, students can achieve mastery and even beyond that. However, poor management can lead to poor performance of the students and perhaps limit their potential.

Management Responsibilities

Several responsibilities of classroom management include the following.

Mapping the big pictures-Teachers cannot only plan day to day. They must plan for several weeks and months in advance. No teacher can decide on a whim to have a field trip tomorrow. Such an activity must be thought and with permission sought weeks if not months in advance. This is crucial because people who struggle to plan will have a hard time leading a classroom as they do not know where they are going.

Supervising & controlling-Teachers must oversee the work of students, which is a supervisory function. In addition, if there are concerns with performance or behavior, a teacher must have the courage to take corrective action, which is more of a controlling function. Disciplinary action does not always mean discipline. It could also mean providing additional support or reteaching difficult concepts.

Coordinating-A teacher is also like a conductor in that they have to find a way to get different types of people to work together to do something. This involves being familiar with the characteristics and traits of the various pieces involved and finding the best way to achieve the desired results.

Managing Skills 

There are also three primary skills that teachers need as borrowed from organizational management. These three skills are technical, people, and conceptual skills.

Technical skills are the manager’s knowledge, experience, and training. This means that a teacher must be knowledgeable in their field and know how to apply it in the real world in some practical way. For example, a chemistry teacher will naturally know chemistry. However, they must find ways to make this knowledge relevant and useful for high school students. Finding ways to make complex abstract knowledge practical may be one of the most significant challenges in teaching for an expert.

People skills is the ability to connect with people in a friendly manner and to motivate them. In addition, people skills involve finding ways to work through conflict as they arise. Friendly people are good at being friendly but often lack the strength to deal with conflict. On the other hand, confrontational people are often less friendly but can weather the fire of disagreement. A successful classroom manager is able t connect with people while still finding ways to deal with confrontations in a civil manner.

Conceptual skills are related to coordinating, as mentioned earlier. A classroom manager must plan and know where they are going before they get there. Students cannot follow a teacher who is lost. The teacher must know what they want and how to get there before leading the students to this destination.


Every teacher will have a different combination of these skills, and you must understand where your strengths and weaknesses are. This reflective process will help you to know better how to interact and motivate your students

Course Design Consistency in E-learning

It is common for schools to allow teachers a great degree of latitude in designing their online courses. Providing such freedom is good as many teachers are professionals and know what they want to do. However, when you scale this level of autonomy over dozens or even hundreds of teachers, it can lead to chaos for several campus stakeholders.

I say this because if everyone is doing what they want, everyone is adjusting to what everyone else is doing. Given that communication is more problematic over the internet because of the loss of body language and other informal means of communication, allowing everyone to teach as they see fit is administrative chaos often.

This post will look at how institutions need to have a general format for presenting and interacting online to reduce the variability inherent with human nature. One particular way of designing courses will not be encouraged. Instead, the point is that the institution needs to agree on a general way of sharing content online. When institutions have an agreed-upon general instructional design approach, it helps

  • Students to focus on learning
  • Teachers to focus on teaching
  • Support staff to focus on supporting

Students can focus on learning

In the online context, the students may be the most vulnerable to stress and failure of all parties involved. It is their job to perform through passing assessments and completing assignments. Therefore, students should focus on the content and not adjust to every teacher’s unique instructional design style.

If every teacher has their online course setup in radically different ways, students have to spend time just figuring out how a course is set up. One teacher has a link for attendance; another teacher post videos externally on youtube; some teachers communicate through the LMS while others use Facebook. This teacher uses online quizzes, and another teacher has students take a picture of assignments they have taken (this is not a joke). With all the different ways, the students’ cognitive capacity is wasted on something that has nothing to do with learning and interacting.

Again, the stress of the student can be significantly reduced from merely having a general format for the course. The use of standard blocks and activities despite content could help. Having some basic order of the presentation of activities may be beneficial as well.

Teachers can focus on teaching

Sometimes freedom can be the enemy of efficiency. When teachers can do whatever they want in online teaching, they may struggle with making decisions about doing anything. If their options are limited in a helpful way for their own benefit and that of their students, it allows the teachers to focus on becoming familiar with this new context of online teaching.

Having a general format presented by the institution provides training wheels for inexperienced teachers and restrains experienced teachers from departing to far from a standard. Of course, we all want to support freedom and innovation, but the stress of a crisis may not be the best time to have the authority to do whatever you want.

A cookie-cutter approach to teaching online may not be exciting, but it is efficient, and it removes the strain of unnecessary decision-making when there are so many other things to be concerned about.

Support staff can focus on supporting

If all the teachers are doing whatever they want online, it can strain the support staff, such as IT. IT is now being forced to provide custom-made support for every teacher’s unique ideas. Having a general approach that is agreed to can allow IT to conserve resources and work with common problems rather than individual and distinct issues.

For example, I once had to check the course design of teachers at an institution. Fortunately, it was during summer school at a small university, but it was still about 50 courses, which was about one per teacher. If I had had to provide the same support during a regular semester, it could have easily been almost 200 courses. However, if all the teachers are sharing their content in a similar manner, it speeds up the supervision process because the level of scrutiny is lower. In addition, people can be trained the distinct university style of designing and can provide feedback and that of the support staff expert.


The challenges and concerns of teaching online mean that there is a need to streamline the process so that everyone involved can focus on what they need to do. Naturally, there should be some flexibility in the design of courses as different teachers, subjects, and students have different needs. The point here is to make sure there are agreed-upon boundaries to limit the variability from course to course.

Distance & Displacement

This post will take a look at distance and displacement—two core ideas in classical physics.

To understand concepts such as distance and displacement, you first need to understand position. Position is the location of an object. When we are speaking of distance and displacement, this involves an object changing position. However, an object can only change position if it is relative to something else. For example, if a person walks 5 meters from their bedroom to the kitchen, this distance can only exist because there are two positions

  • The bedroom
  • The kitchen

The position of the person is defined by what we call a reference frame. The reference frame is a stationary object from which position is determined. In the example above, there are three positions

  • The bedroom
  • The kitchen
  • The walking person

The bedroom is the reference frame. In other words, wherever the walking person goes, their position is measured in relation to the bedroom. The kitchen is simply the goal destination or where the walking person is going.


Distance is a measure of the length of the path between a person’s initial and final position. In our walking example, the person traveled 5 meters from the bedroom to the kitchen. This 5 meters is the distance.

bedroom walk 5 meters to the kitchen

Displacement is a little more complicated. Displacement is the net change in position. In other words, displacement compares your final position to your initial position and determines if there is a difference in these values. For example, if we use the walking example again, the displacement is the same as the distance. This is because the person walked 5 meters and did not move anymore. Doing some simple math, we can calculate the displacement as shown below

Final position – original position = displacement

5 – 0 = 5

The person traveled 5 meters to the final position of the kitchen. The original position is 0 meters because the bedroom is where the person started at and is the reference frame.

The value of the distance and the displacement are not always the same. For example, if the walking person goes to the kitchen and then returns to the bedroom, we get the following numbers

bedroom walk 5 meters to the kitchen

Kitchen walk 5 meters to the bedroom

The distance travel here is 10 meters as we went 5 meters to the kitchen and 5 meters back to the bedroom. However, the displacement is zero because our final position and our initial position are the same in that we left the bedroom and came back to the bedroom. There was a change in the distance but not in the person’s position when the walking was over.

Scalar and Vector

Distance is a measure of magnitude (amount of) length. In this situation, only the magnitude is being measured, so this is a scalar quantity. In the example above, the person walked 5 meters. We know the direction, but this is not needed to understand that the person walked 5 meters

Displacement is a measure of magnitude and also direction. When magnitude and direction are considered, it is called a vector quantity. In our example above, the person walked to the kitchen and then walked backed to the bedroom. Walking to the kitchen could be considered a positive distance while walking back to the bedroom would be regarded as a negative distance. This is why the displacement is zero in the second example. Walking back and forth essentially cancels the values out.

This examination of motion is called kinematics, which is the study of motion without being concerned with what causes this motion.


Distance and displacement are foundational concepts in physics on which many other complex ideas are built upon. Therefore, understanding how things move in relation to space is critical to appreciate for students studying this subject.

Providing Feedback in an Online Context

Often feedback is automated in the online context. This can include the use of multiple-choice, matching, true and false, etc. Since there is only one answer, the computer can score it, and a highly ambitious teacher can even provide automated feedback based on the answers the students select.

However, a lot of assessment cannot be automated. This means that the teacher must provide feedback manually to such assignments. The purpose of this post is to provide strategies for providing feedback in the online context.

Feedback for Individuals

The ways to provide feedback for students at the individual level are similar to how you could do this in a face-to-face teaching setting. Here, we are going to provide online equivalents of standard forms of intervention.

After checking an assignment, a teacher can message a student to provide feedback. Most LMS have a form of messaging, so this should be possible. In addition, most LMS provide some way to provide feedback to all the assignments and activities in the system, which is highly convenient for most teachers. If this does not work, another option is to send an email. If email is used, you can also attach a rubric for the student. This is time-consuming but highly doable for the weakest at technology.

Among those who hate to type, recording short videos explaining how you marked the assignment can be highly practical. Often you can provide much more detailed feedback to the students. Of course, this is a little bit more technical challenge, so it may not be practical in all situations. However, you can show the assignment on your screen and do a play-by-play of the student’s progress.

Feedback for the Whole Class

Students often make the same or similar mistakes. Therefore, instead of giving individual feedback to each student, you can share feedback with the entire class. The tools mentioned above apply in this setting, as well. When marking assignments, you look for common mistakes and explain them to all students in one message or video.

General whole class feedback is highly time-efficient. It satisfies most students who are generally happy with a general idea of how they are doing rather than a detailed report of every shortcoming.

Other Options

Of course, you can do a combination of the two strategies above. For example, students who are doing well may only receive general whole class feedback. Then for struggling students, you may opt to provide more detailed feedback to help them pass the course.

Peer evaluation is also highly popular but challenging to do online. Just like teachers, students do not like to provide a lot of written feedback. It can also be challenging to monitor this process and make sure students are trying to help each other.


Providing feedback is essential, but it is highly time-consuming. Giving feedback can be even more tedious in the online context if you are trying to do it the same way as in a traditional classroom. However, making some small adjustments, such as giving feedback only to those who need it, can make this experience less painful.

Natural Philosophy

In this post, we will do a brief history lesson on the term natural philosophy and the branches of sciences that sprang from it. From there, we will look more closely at the world of physics

Natural philosophy was a catch-all term for the study of nature. Some of the fields associated with natural philosophy include biology, astronomy, and even medicine. With time, as knowledge grew, various subjects began to be spun off from natural philosophy into their own separate area of expertise.

For example, the subjects under natural philosophy have been divided into the natural sciences such as zoology and botany, and the physical sciences such as chemistry and physics.


The term physics comes from the Greek word “phusis,” which means nature. Therefore, physics is the study of nature or reality because nature is what many people consider to be real. Physics, in particular, has been further divided into classical and modern physics.

Classical physics covers the topics and discoveries of physics from the Renaissance until the end of the 19th century. As such, classical physics covers what the average person encounters in their day to day life and can be understood intuitively. The explanations that classical physics provide must fall under the following assumptions…

  1. Matter must move at a speed less than 1% of the speed of light or about 3,000,000 meters per second.
  2. The objects dealt with must be large enough to see with the naked eye.
  3. Only weak gravity, like earth’s, can be involved.

Again, this is where life is for most of us. Classical physics must be understood before trying to understand modern physics. Modern physics throws out the three assumptions above with two main contributions, which are the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

Einstein’s theory of relativity states that the measured length of an object traveling at high speeds is shorter than an object at rest. By high speeds, we are talking about faster than 1% of the speed of light (this is breaking the first assumption mentioned above). For example, time, which is a measure of change, moves slower for an object traveling above 1% of the speed of light compared to an object at rest. This means that if you could travel this fast, you would age slower than someone at rest. Gravity can also affect time as satellites in space have to readjust their clocks to sync with the earth. This is called dilation.

Quantum mechanics deals with the very small, which is breaking the second assumption. We are talking about objects on the atomic and subatomic levels. The rules at this level are often bizarre because these tiny particles can travel almost the speed of light, thus breaking assumption 1. As such, this area of physics has its own distinct rules.


Natural philosophy is perhaps a term that many people are not familiar with. This is because the term has been chopped up and divided into many different branches of science. Within the sciences, even physics has several subdivisions as people continue to learn more about the world around them.