My teacher-education program had sporadically and ineffectively preached what I called the mommy/best friend philosophy of classroom management. The idea was to coddle and entertain students into engagement, creating a bordering-on-party atmosphere to get kids actively learning.Are there any other fields wherein common sense is so easily dismissed? The article continues:
Traditional methods of conveying authority in the classroom -- such as arranging desks in rows with assigned seating instead of in peer pods or giant circles -- were frowned upon. A classroom was not a teacher’s to run, we were told; it was ideally a collective of learners wherein everyone had equal standing.
The only solid piece of “advice” on the topic of classroom management I can recall from my teacher-training program was to ignore the old high-school teacher rule-of-thumb to never smile until Christmas. Not exactly a wealth of effective techniques, but the prevailing attitude was that trial and error in the trenches was simply how classroom management was learned.A consultant was brought in to teach us classroom management techniques. Not only did her practices and advice make sense, she brought in video of her using them in classrooms she was paid to come into and get under control--we got to see what the "practice" looked like for real. Prior to taking her class I had always thought I did a pretty good job of keeping a lid on the volcano; after her instruction I implemented several of her suggestions and no longer had a volcano to worry about.
According to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), an analysis of 122 teacher-prep programs found that while effective research-based classroom management strategies exist, most programs don’t draw on or share this research with prospective teachers.
Is it any surprise, then, that so many teachers flame out after their first, harrowing, year? They’re sent in to tackle what is a tough job, even under the best of circumstances, with few tools for managing the most fundamental prerequisite for student engagement and learning.What other profession relies so heavily on theory and fad and not on common sense and data?
Part of the reason is the deeply ingrained belief that teaching is an art, a craft and, above all, a calling that can’t be reduced to agreed-upon techniques and strategies. It is a passion that is supposed to separate good teachers from bad.
What other profession can you think of that, effectively, tells its graduates that they can “live on love”?
“Regrettably, while we found some programs which did quite well on certain aspects of classroom management, we did not find any one program that did well across the board: teaching the … most proven strategies and creating opportunities for practicing them with plenty of strong feedback,” said Kate Walsh, president of NCTQ. “The field’s leadership continues to send strong signals that teachers who can deliver a sufficiently engaging lesson will never have a behavior problem they have to solve. Any teacher can tell you that just isn’t the case.”Any administrator who says that is, at the very minimum, lazy. I'll leave it at that.