Tag Archives: classroom management

Coping with Teaching Stress

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

Social Support/Group Cohesiveness

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

Stress Balls

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

Hobbies

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

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

Exercise

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

Self Awareness/Hardiness

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

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

Professional Development

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

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

Conclusion

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

Common Stressors for Teachers

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

Role Ambiguity

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

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

Role Conflict

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

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

Role Overload

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

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

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

Personality 

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

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

Conclusion

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

Stress & Strain in the Classroom

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

Stress & Strain

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

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

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

General Adaptation Syndrome

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

  1. Alarm
  2. Resistance
  3. Exhausation 

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

Types of Negative Stress

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

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

Conclusion

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

Adjusting to the Classroom for Teachers and Students

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

No Motivation

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

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

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

The Fearful

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

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

The Hostile Ones

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

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

Dependency

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

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

Socially Naive

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

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

Helping these Types

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

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

Conclusion

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

Lewin’s Change Model

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

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

Unfreeze

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

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

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

Move

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

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

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

Refreeze

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

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

Conclusion

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

Factors of Change

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

Scope of Change

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

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

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

Level of Change

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

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

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

Intentionality

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

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

Conclusion

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

Types of Change and Schools

Change is a part of life, and one thing most people have in common is a dislike of change. This post will look at change and its relationship with the organization of schools.

Types of Change in an Organization

There are at least three ways that an organization, such as a school, can change. These three ways are structural, technological, and cultural.

Structural change relates to redesigning how the school is organized. For example, a school might add or remove departments, change job responsibilities, and or create new positions within the institution.

Technological change refers to having to make adjustments to the use of various electronics. It is common for there to be resistance to changing technology because people generally do not want to waste time learning new things. Technology can also, at times, lead to downsizing, which is something people do not like as well.

The final form of change is cultural change. This form of change has to deal with how people think about the organization. In other words, cultural change causes a shift in the beliefs and assumptions about the company and how things are done. Each school has its unique way of seeing the world and teaching and helping students—cultural change involves modifying these views.

Points to Ponder

The scope of change can affect people’s willingness to accept it. For example, suppose a school hires an additional teacher because of the overload of the current teachers. In that case, there will probably be little resistance to this form of change because the current system was so intolerable. However, if the change calls removing teachers, it is safe to assume strong resistance.

This same line of thought applies to the other forms of change, technological and cultural. Minor changes will be tolerated, and significant changes will be tolerated if they relieve a significant problem. However, if the changes are unpalatable due to their size or inability to solve a problem, resistance is more likely.

It is also important to realize that all of these types of change can happen simultaneously in a school. For example, a technological change such as incorporating e-learning could lead to a need to change things in terms of the organization. For example, it may be necessary to restructure the IT department by splitting responsibilities and hiring additional people. In addition, cultural changes may also be affected by e-learning adoption through the need for the organization to be more receptive to the rapid changes of the IT world.

The point being made here is to remember that change cannot happen in a vacuum. Unfortunately, when change comes, it will affect things that the leadership did not want to be changed. This has led in part to disdain by many leaders of change. It is not so much the change that is the problem but the unforeseen consequences of the change that bothers many educational leaders.

Conclusion

Change will always be a threat to a school. However, when it is time to make a change, leaders need to know how change can impact an organization.

Organizational Culture and Schools

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

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

  • Clan
  • Adhocracy
  • Hierarchy
  • Market

Clan

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

Adhocracy

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

Hierarchy

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

Market 

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

Conclusion

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

Reducing & Preventing Conflict in the Classroom

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

Rules & Routines

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

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

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

Limiting Interaction

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

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

Avoid Win-Loss Scenarios

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

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

Conclusion

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

Common Conflict Resolution Strategies of Leadership

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

Administrative Orbiting

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

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

Due Process Orbiting

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

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

Non-action

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

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

Character Assassination

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

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

Secrecy

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

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

Conclusion

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

Types & Levels of Conflict in the Classroom

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

Affective Conflict

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

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

Cognitive Conflict

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

Behavioral Conflict

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

Goal Conflict

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

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

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

Scope of the Conflict

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

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

Conclusion

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

Interactions & Power in the Classroom

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

Power Dependencies 

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

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

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

Use of Power

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Power, Authority, & Leadership in the Classroom

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

Power

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

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

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

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

Authority

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

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

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

Leadership

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

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

Conclusion

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

Leadership Substiutes and Neutralizers in the Classroom

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

Substitutes

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

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

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

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

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

Neutralizers

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Identifying Leadership in the Classroom

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

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

Leadership Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

What leaders do

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Classroom Leadership Styles

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

Tannenbaum and Schimdt

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

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

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

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

Theory X and Y

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

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

Directive/Permissive Leadership Style

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Classroom Leadership vs Classroom Management

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

Leadership Defined

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

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

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

Leader, Manager or both

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

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

Followers

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Roles of the Teacher

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

Interpersonal Role

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

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

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

Informational Role

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

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

Decisional Role

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

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

Conclusion

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

Group Effectiveness in the Classroom

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

Group Effectiveness

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

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

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

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

Teachers and Group Effectiveness

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Groups types and the Classroom

Groups are an essential part of the classroom and learning experience of students. As teachers, we often form groups and or even disband them. In this post, we will look at the different types of groups that develop in a class and the reasons students join groups.

Types of Groups

The types of groups that develop organizationally can be defined in terms of two dimensions: formal vs. informal and permanent versus temporary. This means that there are four potential types of groups which are listed below.

  • Formal and permanent
  • Formal and temporary
  • Informal and permanent
  • Informal and temporary

Formal groups are usually set up by the teacher, while informal groups develop naturally due to student preference. How long a group lasts often depends on the purpose of the group. We will now go through each of these four group types in detail.

Formal & Permanent 

Formal and permanent groups are called a command or functional groups. The teacher develops this type of group to complete a specific long-term task. Examples of this would include assignments, projects, or even teams for sports competitions.

Formal & Temporary

Formal and temporary groups have the same criteria as formal and permanent groups. The main difference is how long the group is together. Therefore, the difference between the first two groups is how long the group will exist. In addition, what is considered permanent or temporary will vary from teacher to teacher and from student to student.

Informal & Permanent

Informal and permanent groups are also called friendship groups. The purpose of this type of group is for socializing and generally having a good time. This type of group will develop naturally without the influence of the teacher. However, sometimes this type of group’s interest can clash with the teacher’s goals in the classroom when socializing becomes too important.

Informal & Temporary

Informal and temporary groups are also called interest groups. These groups often last as long as the members have a similar interest—for example, a book club or a study group.

Reasons for Group Membership

There are several reasons why people join groups. The teacher creates formal groups, but for informal groups, there are distinct reasons.

Socializing is the main reason for group membership. Students are social creatures like everyone, and they enjoy each other and even the teacher at times. Therefore, students will join groups just to appreciate being around each other.

As mentioned previously, students will join groups to enjoy various shared interests. Some activities require more than one person (i.e., basketball), which provides an opportunity for an informal group to develop to pursue this shared interest.

Sometimes groups are joined because of proximity. Students who may not become members of the same group may do so because of physical proximity. For example, students from foreign countries may socialize together because they share the same foreign experience that local students do not.

Lastly, protection is another driving factor for joining groups. The perils of high school and even college can be filled with experiences of bullying and taunting. Nothing helps to quell such negative experiences, such as having a group of friends who will protect you from such treatment. Of course, some students join groups not so much for protection as for the opportunity to torment other students.

Conclusion

Group types are just ways for teachers to be aware of another unique dynamic of students’ social experience. Some groups are top-down while others are bottom-up. In addition, the motivation behind joining a group can vary from student to student. Either way, understanding this can help teachers to help students.

Performance Appraisals and the Classroom

Performance appraisals are commonly associated with a supervisor assessing the performance of a subordinate. However, performance appraisals can also be used in the classroom to provide students with feedback about their behavior and academic progress. We will look at the uses and problems of performance appraisals in the classroom as well as how to avoid common mistakes.

Uses of Performance Appraisals

Performance appraisals can be used to give students feedback about their progress in terms of behavior or academics. In addition, Appraisals can provide students with insights into their strengths and weaknesses. For example, a student might be solid academically, but the teacher may notice they struggle with interacting with others.

Appraisals can also be useful when determining rewards among students. Depending on the employed system, this can be one of many ways to assess honor and praise for students. Lastly, appraisals can help teachers be aware of what they need to do to help students academically or in other areas that need development.

Problems with Appraisals

There are several problems with appraisals. These problems may not all apply to the classroom but are common when performance appraisals are conducted in other settings such as business.

First, there can be problems with the instrument. The tool used to perform the assessment must be assessed for validity and reliability. Another common concern is something called the central tendency error. This happens when a teacher gives everybody a score in the middle and thus makes all students average. This is an example of a human error rather than a problem with the instrument itself. Teachers must remind themselves to recognize both excellent and abysmal performance.

An equally dangerous trap teachers may fall into is strictness or leniency error. This happens when a teacher is too mean or too nice, which can skew scores. Being too strict hurts excellent students while being too lenient rewards poor-performing students.

The halo effect involves giving good or bad scores in one component of an appraisal and continuing this scoring in another element. For example, if a student has excellent leadership skills and is marked highly for this. The teacher may also mark this same student as excellent in other categories when there is no evidence to support this.

The final two problems are recency error and personal bias. Recency error involves only remember the latest behavior of the student to the exclusion of older actions. Suppose the student is having a good day this beneficial. However, if a student has struggled recently for whatever reason (personal, health, etc.) and the teacher does not think of the overall trend, this can be detrimental.

Personal biases happen when a teacher does not get along with a student, which affects the scores the student earns in an appraisal. It is often not popular to speak about this, but all people have varying capacities to tolerate each other’s behavior and attitudes, and sometimes the clash of personalities rather than performance can influence how teachers assess a student.

Overcoming the Problems

Outside of validity and reliability, the majority of the problems with performance appraisals involve the human aspect. This means that the appraisers need to be aware of the mistakes they could make and make a conscious effort not to make these common errors as they can have a negative effect on students.

This means that teachers need to be aware of these pitfalls so that they do not make them. As such, necessary awareness is required to ensure that appraisals are fair and accurately measure the teacher’s perception of a student’s performance.

Conclusion

Everything that a teacher does has to be weighed in terms of pros and cons. Performance appraisals are another tool that a teacher can use in their classroom to provide feedback and support for students. However, a teacher must be aware of the drawbacks to using such a tool, which does not mean that the device should not be used even if it has some disadvantages.

Goal Theory and the Classroom

Goal theory is almost a self-explanatory term. Essentially, goal theory states that people are motivated when they have goals. This seems obvious, yet many people do not have goals and thus often lack motivation. As such, goal theory can be useful for people who lack motivation or who perhaps need help in clarifying the goals they have but cannot achieve.

Principles of Goal Theory

There are several principles related to goal theory. First, as has already been stated, is that people perform better when they have goals. Second, and this one needs explanation, the goals must be personal goals that the person wants to achieve. It is hard to be motivated by someone else’s goals. Goals must come from the individual. Many students struggle in school because all the goals come from the curriculum or teacher and rarely from the student. When all actions are coming from the top down, and it could lead to a loss of motivation.

A third principle similar and related to the second is that people have to commit to the goal(s). In other words, it cannot only be in the person’s head but must be followed with action. Procrastination is a sign of a lack of commitment. Such behavior is seen by everyone when they make a goal, maybe a reasonable goal, but never actually do anything to make it happen.

The fourth principle of goal theory is that challenging goals encourage better performance than easy goals. A struggling helps people to perform better, whether adult or child. In the classroom, goals need to elicit moderate to hard struggle because this motivates a student to push themselves. Of course, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and this means that goals should be challenging but attainable; otherwise, people will give up and be even less motivated.

Fifth, goals need to specific rather than broad. This is a good point. However, different people have different views on broad and specific. Determining whether a goal is broad or specific can be done by assessing a person’s ability to achieve the goal if it is not apparent to the person what they need to succeed. This means that the goal may require refinement in the form of breaking a goal into several subgoals, defining what it means to complete the goal, or setting boundaries such as a timeframe in which the goal is pursued.

Consequences

The consequences of setting goals are not necessarily negative. When adults or students achieve goals, there is a sense of satisfaction in achieving them. Achieving goals brings a sense of autonomy and even self-actualization as a person sees that they can do something and have an impact, no matter how small, on their environment.

There can also be rewards when involving goals. Students can be given various privileges fr achieving goals. This is a more extrinsic matter, but providing external rewards can be beneficial for students on occasion.

There are also problems with goal setting. When goals are set in one area, other areas may be ignored. For example, a student set a goal of doing their math homework at the exclusion of other homework. To achieve this one goal meant to create problems in another area.

Another problem is when goal setting is abuse. An example of this is when a child sets goals that are easy to achieve their real goal of being lazy. It takes experience on the part of a teacher to know when the students’ goals are reasonable and not too hard or too easy.

Conclusion

Children need goals. It breaks the learning experience of school into small measurable steps that they can achieve little by little. These goals must be negotiated at least partially so that students have ownership in the process. When this is done, cooperation may be achieved.

Equity Theory and the Classroom

Equity theory essential tries to explain how people view their effort versus what they received in return for their effort. A more straightforward way to state this is that people monitor whether they think their situation is “fair.” Students, especially children, are positively obsessed with fairness

In equity theory, inputs are anything that person believes they are contributing to further the organization. It could be experience, performance, education, time, etc. For children, many of the examples listed so far may not be applicable. For students, inputs might be appropriate behavior, completing assignments, staying on task, etc.

Inputs & Outputs

Outputs in equity theory can involve pay, working conditions, job status, achievement, etc. Outcomes are essentially what an individual thinks they are getting back from the organization in return for the inputs. Outcomes for children can be such things as special privileges, good grades, praise, etc.

According to equity theory, what happens over time is that people compare the inputs to the outputs over time to see if they are balanced and fair. If they are people are satisfied, if not there could be problems. How we decide what is reasonable is by comparing our input to output ratio with someone else’s. These people are called referent others.

Returning to the classroom, children determine what is fair not so much by some external standard but by how they are treated when looking at how others are treated. If one student does not have to do homework and another does, the student who has to complete the task can only say it’s not fair compared to the student who did not get the assignment. If both were required to do homework, they would need a different argument than comparing themselves to each other.

The Results of Comparing

Three situations can result from the comparison of one’s self to others according to equity theory. When people believe the input to output is fair, it is called a state of equity. When a person is convinced that their inputs are less than the outputs when comparing, this is called over-reward equity. When the inputs are more than the outputs, this is an example of under-reward equity.

If people feel over-rewarded, they seldom complain or show concern for this. This is similar to what can be seen in children who are favored in one way or another. An exception to this may be if the over-rewarding causes social tension. Then some people and many children may sacrifice the excess reward to regain harmony and group acceptance.

In terms of under-reward, people tend to become frustrated and focused on the injustice of their situation. One practical solution is a passive-aggressive one and involves reducing the inputs. If working long hours is not being rewarded, a person can reduce their hours to the minimum. By doing this, they can gain time that was not reaping any additional salary or praise. Children will also work less if they are not convinced it will make a difference in their academic performance.

However, one common problem people had when they compared themselves to others is that they tend to overrate their performance and underrate their peers’ performance. This means that a large amount of frustration people have is their misperception of the situation. Therefore, it may not always be fair to address another person’s or student’s sense of unfairness.

Points for the Classroom

There are many ways a teacher can be fair or unfair. However, two common problems are marking assignments and classroom management. If these two teaching duties are not done in a fair and balanced way, there could be push-back from the students in terms of their views of equity.

Teachers have to be careful about how they approach marking or grading. Tests that are considered too hard can lead to problems of under-reward. Subjective assignments, such as essays that need grading, require tools such as rubrics to increase the consistency of the marks.

Policies must also be consistently enforced. If there is a penalty for late assignments, it must be applied every time and not based on one’s emotions or situation. It only takes one exception to encourage everyone to demand the same. Otherwise, it is not fair. When it is necessary to discipline students, the penalty must fit the crime regardless of who was involved. In general, when exceptions are made, it can lead to problems, and when inconsistency reigns supreme, it can lead to the same frustration as found in under-reward.

Conclusion

Being fair is an expectation of teaching but is not always easy. Students, like employees, want to work in an environment that is considered fair. Therefore, teachers need to be aware of the consequences of unfairness and how it may manifest itself in the classroom.

Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene Theory in the Classroom

Fredrick Herzberg developed his theory on motivation based on the work of Maslow. Traditionally, Herzberg’s approach has been applied in the world of business and management. In this post, we will explain Herzberg’s theory and show applications of it in the classroom.

Motivator-Hygiene Theory

Herzberg’s theory suggests that there are two sets of needs for individual workers: motivators and hygienes. Motivators can be a person’s sense of achievement through performing various functions that are a part of their job. People often need to grow as a function of their career, and this is what motivates them. Hygienes are things people want to avoid and are associated with pain in one way or the other. For example, dealing with poor leadership is something most people want to avoid and is an example of a hygiene factor.

Additional examples of motivators can include recognition for hard work, which will often inspire people to continue working hard. In addition, anything that leads to the development of additional skills that are causing growth is often associated with motivators.

Additional examples of hygiene include such factors as pay, working conditions, and supervision. In other words, a challenging job with low pay will probably lack motivation because of the low salary. The same can apply to a great job with poor working conditions or terrible supervision. We all know people who left meaningful and engaging occupations because these hygiene factors caused too much dissatisfaction.

However, removing bad hygiene does not make a job great if the motivators are not there. In other words, hygiene and motivators must be positive, but they are not enough in many situations.

In the Classroom

For the teacher, they need to be aware of motivators and hygienes as the deal with their students. Examples of things that motivate students are praise, engaging classwork, making the curriculum relevant, and autonomy. Younger children are often more motivated with less effort when compared to older such as teenagers.

In terms of hygiene factors, classroom management is perhaps one of the most significant factors. If a teacher cannot maintain order in a just and reasonable way, even highly motivated students will quickly turn off to learning. For older students and college, the marking of assignments can also become demotivating if the teacher is not clear in their expectations and communication. Lastly, the teacher needs to show an example of expertise and organization as students have much higher standards for their teacher than they often have for themselves.

Conclusion

Herzberg’s theory can be another way of viewing classroom management. Teachers often deal with the same problems as managers, just with individuals who are not adults. As such, some of Herzberg’s ideas may be useful, but some may not be, but looking for additional insights into managing students is never a bad idea.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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

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

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

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.

Conclusion

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.

Evaluation

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.

Conclusion

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.

Conclusion

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.

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.

Attitude

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.

Conclusion

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.

Conclusion

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

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

Conclusion

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.

Conclusion

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 

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.

Conclusion

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.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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.

Conclusion

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

Scheduling & Tracking Challenges in K-12

Time management is a constant problem in teaching. How long should class periods be? How often should students meet for one class? These are just some questions that need to be addressed.

Despite the challenge and confusion, determining how much time students spend with a teacher has some flexibility to it. In this post, we will look at options in terms of scheduling the time that students spend with teachers.

Looping

Looping is a scheduling strategy that involves the teacher moving to the next grade or subject with their students. For example, if the teacher is a multi-subject teacher at the primary level he or she may move from 1st to 2nd grade with their students. If the teacher is a subject teacher they may move from Algebra to Geometry with their students. This experience can last anywhere from 2-5 years for the students and teacher.

One of the main benefits of this is the relationships that develop between the teacher and students. The students benefit from the continuity of expectations. The teacher does not have to reestablish routines and procedures every year and can move straight to teaching rather than classroom management. Lastly, the teacher also knows the strength and weaknesses of all the students and can adjust accordingly.

Among the problems with this is actually a prior benefit. If the students get along well with the teacher looping can be a fun experience but if the students and teacher do not get along well this can mean spending up to five years with students or a teacher that is disliked. This can lead to serious problems with performance and motivation as well as stress for the teacher.

Another problem is the workload for the teacher. Every year the teacher is preparing new materials, not for a familiar class but a completely new one. This is particularly challenging when the teacher is going through the loop the first time. Essentially it can take up to five years to make it through one loop, which is a substantial amount of time for a teaching career. This kind of context is almost impossible for a new teacher and difficult for an experienced one with constant year-to-year changes.

Block Scheduling

Block scheduling involves extending the time of a traditional period from 50-60 minutes to 80-90 minutes. Essentially, block scheduling involves extending the class period by 50%. This gives the teachers more time to go deeper into content, it reduces the amount of time spent on transitions, and provides students with a glimpse into what class periods are like at the college level.

There are two common variations of block scheduling the 4×4 plan and the A/B plan. The 4×4 plan involves taking four classes in the first semester using the block schedule and a different four classes for the second semester. For example, if a student is taking algebra first semester, using a block schedule they would not take algebra the second semester because they have already completed all the hours they need. This can be a problem because the students would not be exposed to any math for almost a year.

The  A/B plan involves having students take all 8 subjects at the same time. The difference in this approach is that students will have the same classes every other day. For example, if a student is taking Algebra, they may have that class on Monday and Wednesday instead of every day. This allows the class to meet for the entire year, which helps to keep academic skills stronger.

The main complaint about block scheduling comes from non-core teachers. Subjects such as music and foreign languages benefit from meeting every day rather than every other day or for only one semester. The same can be said of PE as students need frequent exercise. Another problem is one similar to looping. If the teacher or students are bad it can be torture to have to deal with them for an additional 30 minutes.

Conclusion

Managing the time that teachers spend with students has several options to consider. There are strengths and weaknesses to all approaches but it is still important to know what your options are when making these decisions.

Classroom Conflict Resolution Strategies

Disagreements among students and even teachers is part of working at any institution. People have different perceptions and opinions of what they see and experience. With these differences often comes disagreements that can lead to serious problems.

This post will look at several broad categories in which conflicts can be resolved when dealing with conflicts in the classroom. The categories are as follows.

  1. Avoiding
  2. Accommodating
  3. Forcing
  4. Compromising
  5. Problem-solving

Avoiding

The avoidance strategy involves ignoring the problem. The tension of trying to work out the difficulty is not worth the effort. The hope is  that the problem will somehow go away with any form of intervention. Often the problem becomes worst.

Teachers sometimes use avoidance in dealing with conflict. One common classroom management strategy is avoidance in which a teacher deliberately ignores poor behavior of a student to extinguish it.  Since the student is not getting any attention  from their poor behavior  they will often stop the  behavior.

Accommodating

Accommodating is focused on making everyone involved in the conflict happy. The focus is on relationships and not productivity. Many who employ this strategy believe that confrontation is destructive. Actual applications of this approach involve using humor, or some other tension breaking technique during a conflict. Again, the problem is never actually solved but rather some form of “happiness band-aid” is applied.

In the classroom, accommodation happens when teachers use humor to smooth over tense situations and when they make adjustments to goals to ameliorate students complaints. Generally, the first step in accommodation leads to more and more accommodating until the teacher is backed into a corner.

Another use of the term accommodating is the mandate in education under the catchphrase “meeting student needs”. Teachers are expected to accommodate as much as possible within guidelines given to them by the school. This leads to extraordinarily large amount of work and effort on the part of the teacher.

Forcing

Force involves simply making people do something through the power you have over them. It gets things done but can lead to long term relational problems. As people are forced the often lose motivation and new conflicts begin to arise.

Forcing is often a default strategy for teachers. After all, the teacher is t an authority over children. However, force is highly demotivating and should be avoided if possible. If students have no voice they quickly can become passive which is often in opposite of active learning in the classroom.

Compromising

Compromise involves trying to develop a win win situation for both parties. However, the reality is that often compromising can be the most frustrating. To totally avoid conflict means no fighting. TO be force means to have no power. However, compromise means that a person almost got what they wanted but not exactly, which can be more annoying.

Depending on the age a teacher is working with, compromising can be difficult to achieve. Younger children often lack the skills to see alternative solutions and half-way points of agreement. Compromising can also be viewed as accommodating by older kids which can lead to perceptions of the teacher’s weakness when conflict arises. Therefore, compromise is an excellent strategy when used with care.

Problem-Solving

Problem-solving is similar to compromising except that both parties are satisfied with the decision and the problem is actually solved, at least temporarily. This takes a great deal of trust and communication between the parties involved.

For this to work in  the classroom, a teacher must de-emphasize their position of authority in order to work with the students. This is counterintuitive for most in teachers and even for many students. It is also necessary to developing strong listening and communication skills to allow both parties to provide ways of dealing with the conflict. As with compromise, problem-solving is better reserved for older students.

Conclusion

Teachers need to know what their options are when it comes to addressing conflict. This post provided several ideas or ways for maneuvering disagreements and setbacks in  the classroom.

Signs a Student is Lying

Deception is a common tool students use when trying to avoid discipline or some other uncomfortable situation with a teacher. However, there are some tips and indicators that you can be aware of to help you to determine if a student is lying to you. This post will share some ways to determine if a student may be lying. The tips are as follows

  • Determine what is normal
  • Examine how the play with their clothing
  • Watch personal space
  • Tone of voice
  • Movement

Determine What is Normal

People are all individuals and thus unique. Therefore, determining deception first requires determining what is normal for the student. This involves some observation and getting to know the student. These are natural parts of teaching.

However, if you are in an administrative position and may not know the student that well it will be much harder to determine what is normal for the student sot that it can be compared to their behavior if you believe they are lying. One solution for this challenge is to first engage in small talk with the student so you can establish what appears to be natural behavior for the student.

Clothing Signs

One common  sign that someone is lying is that they begin to play with their clothing. This can include tugging on clothes, closing buttons, pulling down on sleeves, and or rubbing a spot. This all depends on what is considered normal for the individual.

Personal Space

When people pull away when talking it is often a sign of dishonesty. This can be done through such actions as shifting one’s chair, or leaning back. Other individuals will fold their arms across their chest. All these behaviors are subconscious was of trying to protect one’s self.

Voice

The voice provides several clues of deception. Often the rate or speed of the speaking slows down. Deceptive answers are often much longer and detailed than honest ones. Liars often show hesitations and pauses that are out of the ordinary for them.

A change in pitch is perhaps the strongest sigh of lying. Students will often speak with a much higher pitch one lying. This is perhaps do to the nervousness they are experiencing.

Movement

Liars have a habit of covering their mouth when speaking. Gestures also become more mute and closer to the bottom when a student is lying. Another common cue is gestures with the palms up rather than down when speaking. Additional signs include nervous tapping with the feet.

Conclusion

People lie for many reasons. Due to this, it is important that a teacher is able to determine the honesty of a student when necessary. The tips in this post provide some basic ways of potentially identifying who is being truthful.

Barriers to Teachers Listening

Few of us want to admit it but all teachers have had problems at one time or another listening to their students. There are many reasons for this but in this post we will look at the following barriers to listening that teachers may face.

  1. Inability to focus
  2. Difference in speaking and listening speed
  3. Willingness
  4. Detours
  5. Noise
  6. Debate

Inability to Focus

Sometimes a teacher or even a student may not be able to focus on the discussion or conversation. This could be due to a lack of motivation or desire to pay attention. Listening can be taxing mental work. Therefore, the teacher must be engaged and have some desire to try to understand what is happening.

Differences in the Speed of Speaking and Listening

We speak much slower than we think. Some have put the estimate that we speak at 1/4 the speed at which we can think. What this means is that if you can think 100 words per minute you can speak at only 25 words per minute. With thinking being 4 times faster than speaking this leaves a lot of mental energy lying around unused which can lead to daydreaming.

This difference can lead to impatience and to anticipation of what the person is going to say. Neither of these are beneficial because they discourage listening.

Willingness

There are times, rightfully so, that a teacher does not want to listen. This can be when a student is not cooperating or giving an unjustified excuse for their actions. The main point here is that a teacher needs to be aware of their unwillingness to listen. Is it justified or is it unjustified? This is the question to ask.

Detours

Detours happen when we respond to a specific point or comment by the student which changes the subject. This barrier is tricking because what is happening is that you are actually paying attention but allow the conversation to wander from the original purpose. Wandering conversation is natural and often happens when we are enjoying the talk.

Preventing this requires mental discipline to stay on topic and to not what you are listening for. This is not easy but is necessary at times.

Noise

Noise can be external or internal. External noise is factors beyond our control. For example, if there is a lot of noise in the classroom it may be hard to hear a student speak. A soft-spoken student in a loud place is frustrating to try and listen to even when there is a willingness to do so.

Internal noise has to do with what is happening inside your own mind If you are tired, sick, or feeling rush due to a lack of time, these can all affect your ability to listening to others.

Debate

Sometimes we listen until we want to jump in and try to defend a point are disagree with something. This is not so much as listening as it is hunting and waiting to pounce and the slightest misstep of logic from the person we are supposed to listen to.

It is critical to show restraint and focus on allowing the other side to be heard rather than interrupted by you.

Conclusion

We often view teachers as communicators. However, half the job of a communicator is to listen. At times, due to the position and the need to be the talker a teacher may neglect the need to be a listener. The barriers explained here should help teachers to be aware of why they may neglect to do this.

Principles of Management and the Classroom

Henri Fayol (1841-1925) had a major impact on managerial communication in his develop of 14 principles of management. In this post, we will look at these principles briefly and see how at least some of them can be applied in the classroom as educators.

Below is a list of the 14 principles of management by Fayol

  1. Division of work
  2. Authority
  3. Discipline
  4. Unity of command
  5. Unity of direction
  6. Subordination of individual interest
  7. Remuneration
  8. The degree of centralization
  9. Scalar chain
  10. Order
  11. Equity
  12. Stability of personnel
  13. Initiative
  14. Esprit de corps

Division of Work & Authority

Division of work has to do with breaking work into small parts with each worker having responsibility for one aspect of the work. In the classroom, this would apply to group projects in which collaboration is required to complete a task.

Authority is  the power to give orders and commands. The source of the authority cannot only be in the position. The leader must demonstrate expertise and competency in order to lead. For the classroom, it is a well-known tenet of education that the teacher must demonstrate expertise in their subject matter and knowledge of teaching.

Discipline & Unity of command

Discipline has to do with obedience. The workers should obey the leader. In the classroom this relates to concepts found in classroom management. The teacher must put in place mechanisms to ensure that the students follow directions.

Unity of command means that there should only be directions given from one leader to the workers. This is the default setting in some schools until about junior high or high school. At that point, students have several teachers at once. However, generally it is one teacher per classroom even if the students have several teachers.

Unity of Direction & Subordination i of Individual Interests

The employees activities must all be linked to the same objectives. This ensures everyone is going in the same directions. In the classroom, this relates to the idea of goals and objectives in teaching. The curriculum needs to be aligned with students all going in the same direction. A major difference here is that the activities may vary in terms of achieving the learning goals from student to student.

Subordination of individual interests in tells putting the organization ahead of personal goals. This is where there may be a break in managerial and educational practices. Currently, education  in many parts of the world are highly focused on the students interest at the expense of what may be most efficient and beneficial to the institution.

Remuneration & Degree of Centralization

Remuneration has to do with the compensation. This can be monetary or non-monetary. Monetary needs to be high enough to provide some motivation to work. Non-monetary can include recognition, honor or privileges. In education, non-monetary compensation is standard in the form of grades, compliments, privileges, recognition, etc. Whatever is done is usually contributes to intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

Centralization has to do with who makes decisions. A highly centralized institution has top down decision-making while a decentralized institution has decisions coming from many directions. Generally, in  the classroom setting, decisions are made by the teacher. Students may be given autonomy over how to approach assignments or which assignments to do but the major decisions are made by the teacher even in highly decentralized classrooms due to the students inexperience and lack of maturity.

Scalar Chain & Order

Scalar chain has to do with recognizing the chain of command. The employee should contact the immediate supervisor when there is a problem. This prevents to many people going to the same person. In education, this is enforced by default as the only authority in a classroom is usually a teacher.

Order deals with having the resources to get the job done. In the classroom, there are many things the teacher can supply such as books, paper, pencils, etc. and even social needs such as attention and encouragement. However, sometimes there are physical needs that are neglected such as kids who miss breakfast and come to school hungry.

Equity & Stability of Personal

Equity means workers are treated fairly. This principle again relates to classroom management and even assessment. Students need to know that the process for discipline is fair even if it is dislike and that there is adequate preparation for assessments such as quizzes and tests.

Stability of personnel means keeping turnover to a minimum. In education, schools generally prefer to keep teacher long term if possible. Leaving during the middle of a school year whether a student or teacher is discouraged as it is disruptive.

Initiative & Esprit de Corps

Initiative means allowing workers to contribute new ideas and do things. This empowers workers and adds value to the company. In education, this also relates to classroom management in that students need to be able to share their opinion freely during discussions and also when they have concerns about what is happening in the classroom.

Esprit de corps focuses on morale. Workers need to feel good and appreciated. The classroom learning environment is a topic that is frequently studied in education. Students need to have their psychological needs meet through having a place to study that is safe and friendly.

Conclusion

These 14 principles are found in the business world, but they also have a strong influence in the world of education as well. Teachers can pull these principles any ideas that may be useful l in their classroom.