Maria Priscillya Pasaribu
Think back your elementary and secondary school years. In which
teachers’ classrooms were you more likely to work hard and stay
on task? In which teachers’ classrooms were you more likely to
misbehave? What strategies did the more effective teachers use
to help you be productive?
Effective teachers not only choose instructional strategies that
promote effective learning and cognitive processing, but they also
create an environment that keeps students busily engaged in
classroom activities. In this chapter we will consider how we can
plan and create a classroom environment conducive to students’
learning and achievement.
Effective classroom management, creating and maintaining a
classroom environment conducive to learning and
achievements, has little to do with noise or activity level. A
well-managed classroom is one in which students are
consistently engaged in productive learning activities and in
which students’ behavior rarely interfere with the achievement
of instructional objectives.
Creating and maintaining an environment in which students
participate eagerly and actively in classroom activities can be a
challenging task indeed. After all, we must tend to the unique
needs of many different students, we must sometimes
coordinate several activities at the same time, and we must
often make quick decisions about how to respond to
Creating an Environment Conducive to
As we arrange the furniture in the classroom, decide to
put various instructional materials and pieces of
equipment, and think about its student might sit, we
should consider the effects that various arrangements
are likely to have on students’ behaviors. Ultimately,
we want a situation in which we can:
Interact easily with any student
Survey the entire class at any given time
Effective teachers are warm, caring individual who, through a
variety of statements and actions, communicate a respect for
students, an acceptance of them as they are, and a genuine
concern about their well-being. When students believe that their
teachers are genuinely caring and supportive, they have higher
self-efficacy, find classroom subject matter more interesting
and enjoyable, are more likely to ask for help when they need it,
are less likely to cheat on classroom assignments, and achieve at
We should maintain a relatively businesslike atmosphere in the
classroom most of the time. This is not to say that our activities
must be boring and tedious; on the contrary, they can often be
exciting and engaging. Students who are excessively anxious
about their class performance are unlikely to give us their best.
We can hold our students accountable for achieving instructional
objectives yet not place them feel like failures. And we can
admonish them for misbehavior yet not hold grudges against
them from one day to the next.
As teacher, we give students message about the value of school
subject matter not only in what we say but also in what we do. If
we continually focus their attention on performance goal, what
their test grades are, how their works compares to that their
classmates, and so on, we increase their anxiety about school
subject matter and indirectly increase the frequency of disruptive
behavior. If, instead, we continually demonstrate how classroom
topics relate to the outside world, if we assess learning in ways
that require meaningful learning and elaboration, and if we focus
on how well each student is improving over time, we show
students that the subject matter isn’t just something to be learned
for its own sake and create a climate more conducive to learning
To make sure our students accomplish instructional goals, we must
control the direction of classroom events to some extent.
For example, we can use strategies such as these:
Give students advance notice of upcoming activities and assignments
(enabling them to plan ahead).
Create regular routines for accomplishing assignments (enabling
students to complete the assignments successfully with minimal
guidance from us).
Allow students to set some of their own deadlines for completing
assignments (enabling them to establish a reasonable timeframe for
Provide opportunities for students to make choices about how to
complete assignments or spend some of their class time (enabling them
to set some of their own priorities).
We want to create a sense of community in the
classroom, a sense that we and our students have
shared goals, are mutually respectful and supportive of
one another’s efforts, and believe that everyone makes
an important contribution to classroom learning.
When students share a sense of community, they are more likely
to exhibit prosocial behavior, stay on task, express enthusiasm
about classroom activities, and achieve at high levels.
Furthermore, a sense of classroom community is associated
with lower rates of emotional distress, disruptive classroom
behavior, truancy, violence, drug use, and dropping out.
Effective classroom managers establish and communicate
certain rules and procedures right from the start. Once rules
and procedures have been formulated, we should
communicate them clearly and explicitly, describe the
consequences of noncompliance, and enforce them
Keep in mind that rules and procedures are easier to
remember and therefore easier to follow if they are
relatively simple and few in number.
Also keep in mind that, although some order and
predictability are essential for student productivity, too
much order may make our classroom a rather boring.
Our students are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to follow classroom rules and procedures if
we present them as items of information rather than as forms of control.
We might say this: ... rather than this:
“You’ll get your independent assignments done more
quickly if you get right to work.”
“Please be quiet and do your own
“As we practice for our fire drill, it is important that we line
up quickly and be quiet so that we can hear the instructions
we are given and will know what to do.”
“When the fire alarm sounds, line up
quickly and quietly and then wait for
“This assignment is designed to help you develop the
writing skills you will need after you graduate. It is unfair to
other authors to copy their work word for word, so we will
practice putting ideas into our own words and giving credit
to authors whose ideas we borrow. Passing off another’s
writing and ideas as your own can lead to suspension in
college or a lawsuit in the business world.”
“Cheating and plagiarism are not
acceptable in this classroom.”
“it’s important that i can clearly read your writing. If your
words are illegible and your cross-outs are confusing, i may
not be able to give you as high a grade as you deserve on
“Use good penmanship on all
assignments and erase any errors
carefully and completely. Points will be
deducted for sloppy writing.”
As the school year progresses, we may occasionally want to
revise the rules and procedures we established earlier. By
providing such opportunities for students to revise
classroom policies frequently, we find one more way of
giving them a sense of ownership in such policies.
Furthermore, perhaps because of the authoritative
atmosphere and the conversations about moral dilemmas
that student decision making may entail, more advanced
levels of moral reasoning may result.
By acknowledging students’ feelings about tasks they would rather
not do yet also pointing out the benefits of performing those tasks,
we increase the likelihood that the students will accept the
limitations imposed on their behavior.
Have something specific for students to do each day, even
on the first day of class
Have materials organized and equipment set up before class
Have activities that ensure all students’ involvement and
Maintain a brisk pace throughout each lesson
Ensure that student comments are relevant and helpful but
not excessively long-winded
Spend only short periods of time dealing with individual
students during class unless other students are capable of
working independently and productively in the meantime
Have a system in place that ensures that students who finish
an assigned task quickly have something else to do
Such early tasks enable students to practice normal classroom
routines and procedures; they also give students a sense that
they can enjoy and be successful in classroom activities. Once a
supportive classroom climate has been established and students
are comfortable with classroom procedures, we can gradually
introduce more difficult and challenging assignments. We might
take a similar approach when introducing new instructional
strategies; for instance, when we first ask students to engage in
cooperative activities, we might have them work with relatively
familiar content so that they can focus on mastering effective
group interaction skills (asking for help, giving explanations,
etc.) without being distracted by difficult subject matter.
The concept of scaffolding is helpful in this context: We can
provide a great deal of structure for tasks early in the school
year, gradually removing that structure as students become
better able to structure tasks for themselves. For example, when
introducing students to cooperative learning, we might
structure initial group meetings by breaking down each group
task into several subtasks, giving clear directions as to how each
subtask should be carried out, and assigning every group
member a particular role to serve in the group. As the school
year progresses and students become more adept at learning
cooperatively with their classmates, we gradually can become
less directive about how group tasks are accomplished.
A physical education teacher has students begin each class session with
five minutes of stretching exercises.
An elementary school teacher has students follow the same procedure
each day as lunch time approaches. Students must (1) place completed
assignments in a basket on the teacher’s desk, (2) put away classroom
supplies (e.g., pencils, paint, scissors) they have been using, (3) get their
lunch boxes from the coatroom, and (4) line up quietly by the classroom
A middle school mathematics teacher has students copy the new
homework assignment as soon as they come to class.
A junior high school history teacher has formed long-term cooperative
learning groups (base groups) of three or four students each. The groups are
given a few minutes at the end of each class to compare notes on material
presented that day and get a head start on the evening’s reading
A high school English composition teacher writes a topic or question (e.g.,
“My biggest pet peeve,” “Whatever happened to hula hoops?”) on the
chalkboard at the beginning of each class period. Students know that when
they come to class, they should immediately take out pencil and paper and
begin to write on the topic or question of the day.
Effective teachers communicate something called
withitness: they know (and their students know that they
know) what students are doing at all times in the
classroom. In a sense, “with-it” teachers act as if they have
eyes in the back of their heads. They make it clear that they
are aware of what everyone is doing. They regularly scan
the classroom and make frequent eye contact with
individual students. They know what misbehaviors are
occurring when those misbehaviors occur, and they know
who the perpetrators are.
When we demonstrate such whititness, especially at the
beginning of the school year, our students are more likely
to stay on task and display appropriate classroom behavior.
When our students are learning and achieving successfully and when
they clearly want to pursue the curriculum that the classrooms offers,
they are likely to be busily engaged in productive classroom activities
for the most of the school day. In contrast, when they have difficulty
understanding classroom subject matter or when they have little
interest in learning it, they are likely to exhibit the nonproductive or
even counterproductive classrooms behaviors that result from
frustration or boredom.
Research tells us that when students misbehave, beginning teacher
often think about what the students are doing wrong. In contrast,
experienced, “expert” teachers are more apt to think about what they
themselves can do differently to keep students on task, and they
modify their plans accordingly. So when behavior problems crop up ,
we should start thinking as the experts do.
Despite our best efforts, students may
sometimes behave in ways that disrupt
classroom activities and interfere with student
learning. Effective teachers not only plan and
structure a classroom that minimizes potential
behavior problems but they also deal with the
misbehaviors that do occur.
What strategies are most effective in dealing
with student misbehaviors? We turn to this
As teachers, we need to plan ahead about how to respond to the
variety of misbehaviors wee may see in the classroom. As we do
so, we must keep in mind that different strategies may be
appropriate under different circumstances.
We will consider six general strategies and the
situations in which each is likely to be
You can see the general strategies on your own
Such a warm and supportive classroom
atmosphere may be especially important for
students from ethnic minority group. When
working with students from lower-
socioeconomic, inner-city backgrounds, we
should also take special pains to create a
classroom that feels safe and orderly. A
classroom that is dependable and predictable
can provide a sense of self-determination that
students may not be able to find anywhere else;
hence, it can be a place to which they look
forward to coming each day.
As we determine which behaviors to define as
misbehaviors in our classrooms, we must
remember that some behaviors considered
unacceptable in one culture may be quite
acceptable in another culture. We must be
patient and understanding as we help
students acquire behaviors that are more
conductive to academic productivity.
When students have a history of behavior
problems, we may need to provide a great
deal of guidance and support to help them
develop productive classroom behavior.
Furthermore, many students with special
needs may need explicit feedback about their
classroom performance. Similarly, when
student display inappropriate behavior, we
should tell them exactly what they have done