THE DELTA KAPPA GAMMA BULLETIN 41
Preparing Teachers for Classroom Management:
The Teacher Educator's Role
BY MARY C. CLEMENT
In this article, the author calls for teacher educators to prepare education candidates with a foundation in
classroom management theories and strategies before graduation. Classroom management courses that are
offered during student teaching, and also in the master's program, are described. Personal stories and results
from surveys of teachers and student teachers build the case for management courses to be offered by professors
and any other teacher educators.
When I was in my undergraduate teacher education
program, classroom management was handled with
one line by several of my professors: "If you write a
good enough lesson plan, you won't have discipline
problems." Now, 30 years later, I use a very different
quote with my own student teachers: "You will not
even get to teach your perfectly written lesson plan
if you don't have a classroom management plan
in place." Just as the teaching profession struggled
for decades to define its knowledge base in the
methodologies of effective instruction, theorists and
writers in the teaching profession are still defining
the knowledge base of classroom management
and discipline. Yet, one can hardly be considered a
highly-qualified teacher without a mastery of sound
best-practice strategies for managing classroom
time, space, and student behavior.
The purpose of this article is to describe
management classes offered during the student
teaching semester and in a master's program at
the college level. This paper describes some of the
resources available to teacher educators — the
professors and those who work to prepare and
support new teachers. Although teacher education
courses are generally taught by professors of
education, some who prepare teachers work in
schools or in regional offices of education. They
are also teacher educators and might include a
cooperating teacher or staff developer.
42 Fall 2010
Need for Preparation in Management
A benchmark study in the perceived problems of
beginning teachers, Veenman's 1984 meta-analysis
listed classroom discipline as the number one
problem of new teachers. Education majors are still
very concerned with "discipline" as they enter and
progress through their college programs (Parkay &
Stanford, 2004). As teachers face continual pressure
to raise student achievement, researchers remind us
that "classroom management is perhaps the single
most important factor influencing student learning"
(Callahan, Clark, 8C Kellough, 2002, p. 161).
Without sufficient knowledge of classroom
management strategies, new teachers may begin their
careers striving to manage as they were managed.
WTiile some of the "folk wisdom" of classroom
management may be worthwhile, there are many
myths perpetuated by teachers that not only don't
work in today's classrooms but are harmful to the
classroom atmosphere and to students. These myths
include the following:
1. There is no way to study classroom
management and discipline; you just have
to experience the classroom and then
learn how to deal with students and their
2. Start out mean.
3. WTien all else fails, turn the lights on and
4. Don't smile before Christmas.
5. Figure out the ringleaders and pick on them.
Make them an example and the others will
be scared and fall into place.
Although many student teachers have heard these
lines, they have no context for understanding
them. The college class in management provides
the readings and background to debunk these
myths, while providing a clear system on what to
do in the classroom. WTien the knowledge base of
management is shared in a college classroom, the
student teacher goes into student teaching equipped
with strategies and can cope with management even
if few techniques are taught by the cooperating
Although student teachers definitely need
the help of their cooperating teachers and mentors in
learning to manage a classroom, relying only on these
teachers in field experiences may not provide the
student teacher with sufficient theory and strategies,
as many practicing teachers may never have had
any training in management. In my own research
(Clement, 2002), I found that 50% of a group of 48
cooperating teachers could not even name a writer
or theorist in the field of classroom management.
Additionally, comments from this group of teachers
indicated that they wanted college professors
to "teach general techniques for establishing
management systems"" and to teach "student teachers
to know how to decide on appropriate consequences
for certain behaviors' (pp. 56-57). Results from this
survey and from other discussions on my campus
led to the requirement of a classroom management
course in the undergraduate teacher education
program and the addition of an elective classroom
management course for practicing teachers in the
masters of education program.
Getting Started in Teaching Classroom
I was first asked to teach a seminar in classroom
management in 1991, as part of a program for
beginning teachers. Having never taken a course in
management myself, I started researching, looking
for practical, hands-on strategies. I eventually taught
these seminars for 6 years, using components of Lee
and Marlene Canter's Assertive Discipline (1992)
and Succeeding with Difficult Students (1993), Harry
and Rosemary Wong's The First Days of School
(1991), and Carol Fuery's Discipline Strategies for
the Bored, Belligerent, and Ballistic in Your Classroom
(1994). (Canter's Assertive Discipline is now out in
Dr. Mary C. Clement is a Professor of Teacher
Education at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia.
She is the author of eight books, including TJjc
Definitive Guide to Getting a Teaching Joh and First
Time in the High School Classroom. In .addition to
being published in the DKG Bulletin, her articles have
appeared in the Kappan, the American School Board
Journal, Principal, and Principal Leadership magazine.
She received her doctorate from the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a member of the
Psi State Iota Chapter in Rome, Georgia.
THE DELTA KAPPA GAMMA BULLETIN 43
the newest edition, 2010, and the Wongs' book is are like anthologies in their structure, introducing
available in the 2009 edition. The author encourages
any reader to use the newest editions.)
In one of these seminars, a first-year teacher
asked, "You have shared three authors and their
strategies with us today. Which one is right? Which
one will work all the time?" My answer was that
there is no one correct way to establish classroom
management and discipline. All new teachers
must find their own comfortable balance between
friendliness and assertiveness. They must find a way
to become established in their classrooms. Teachers
can, however, read widely from available resources
to construct their plans (Clement, 1996).
Resources for Teaching Management
While preparing this article,
I did an online Google search
for classroom management,
and it netted more than 5
million hits. A quick Amazon,
com search showed more
than 11,000 books under
the category of classroom
management. Because I am a
professor who teaches both
undergraduate and graduate
courses in the subject,
book publishers inundate
my mailbox with sample
books. No teacher today,
or no teacher educator, can
say that there is a shortage
of material for courses on
classroom management. In fact, the issue facing
those preparing teachers is what to teach from the
vast array of literature. When adding a course about
management to the teacher education curriculum,
much thought should be given to the focus of the
course, the needs of the students in the course, and
finding the right balance of theory and practicality.
The books on management can be
categorized from the extremely theoretical to the
overly-simplistic "how-to" books. Some books
include all research-based work, while others do not
even have a reference list—they are based on what
worked for one teacher in one situation. Some books
"When adding a course
about management to
tbe teacher education
curriculum, much thought
should he given to thefocus
of the course, the needs of the
students in the course, and
finding the right balance of
theory and practicality!'
a wide number of theorists, writers, and models
to the students (see, for example. Burden, 2006;
Hardin, 2008; and Manning 8¿ Bucher, 2007). My
graduate students tend to like these types of books,
as they are practicing teachers and have survived in
classrooms long enough to know what ideas to sort
out as useful for them.
Reading what has been written is still not
enough to prepare teacher education candidates for
management. They must then discuss, write about,
and apply what they have read. In order to help
students do this, I assign graduate students research
papers for which they read original materials by
the writers who are summarized in their textbooks.
Often they find that the original work by the
writer was different in
tone or in strategies than
the summarized chapter in
their textbook. This method
of "going to the source"
teaches valuable research
lessons while also teaching
strategies. Marzano's (2003)
that Works serves as a
good resource for graduate
students who need to learn
about management before
becoming staff developers
Other books are
the summary of one or two
authors and their programs. Some of the programs
are commercialized, with DVDs and other teaching
materials available for the instructor. Many of the
most prolific writers have created their own video
products, and my students feel that they are closer
to "the source " of the writers when they hear them
present their own material. The Canters, Harry
Wong, and Fred Jones are among those who offer
video materials that can be very useful to teacher
educators. When I use the work of these authors
in undergraduate classes, I stress that every new
teacher needs a starting point for management and
that adapting a program we study can be a good
44 Fall 2010
It is obvious that courses in classroom
management must be designed for preservice
teachers based on their chosen major—preschool,
elementary, middle school, and high school. Pairing
a text that is generic for all teachers with one
designed just for a specific grade level can have
excellent results. Examples include Wormeli (2003)
for middle school and Charney (2002) or Evertson,
Emmer, and Worsham (2006) for the elementary
What's in the Future
I continually ask for feedback from the students
in my classroom management courses. Common
student comments include the following:
"There is a significant difference between
consistent textbook management and classroom
management in real life. I have been much more
persuaded by what we have covered in class and
have found my experience in the student teaching
classroom to be fairly frustrating."
"I have not observed many teachers
implementing the strategies that have been outlined
in this course. However, I believe that these teachers
"The books are more useful than what I saw
in my student teaching classroom."
Although students do report that they are
learning a lot about management, they still want
more. Their end-of-course comments indicate that
they want to know more about dealing with difficult
students and about how to handle students with
exceptionalities and special education students.
Based on what graduate students report to me
about the lack of preparation given them in their
current teaching positions, violence prevention and
conflict resolution also should have more time in the
Teacher educators have long argued that
we do not graduate finished products. We do,
however, graduate candidates who are ready for
their first classrooms. The knowledge in classroom
management gained in a teacher education program
is just a foundation, and professional development
in the schools should be supportive and ongoing in
this area. Many states still do not require a course
in classroom management for the completion of full
teacher certification. Professors of education need
to force this requirement into programs and then to
provide a course that is comprehensive and practical
for the teacher education candidates. This article
can stimulate that discussion.
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