10 SES 03 E, Teacher Competencies and Professional Challenges
Classroom management (CM) can be viewed as a system of strategies employed by a teacher to influence the physical and social space of the classroom to foster an environment where learning can occur (Christofferson, Sullivan, & Bradley, 2015). Classroom management skills are crucial for teachers to create classroom settings where students can learn as effective CM leads to studenthigh achievement (Stronge, Ward, & Grant, 2011) and contributes to teacher remaining in the profession. The first years of teaching are usually reported to be the most challenging. Numbers of beginning teachers leave the profession during the first three years (Taylor & Dale, 1971; Veenman, 1984, Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). One of the biggest challenges faced by both student teachers and beginning teachers is struggling with CM and discipline (Bromfield, 2006; Dickson et al., 2014). The main reason is found to be the disconnection between what student teachers know about teaching from their teacher education and what they experience in their classrooms (Stoughton et al., 2007).
Research on CM is an established part of European and international educational sciences. A number of models of CM have been introduced in the last 40 years. One of the oldest but still developing theories is ecological theory (Brophy, 2006). According to it teachers establish rules in classrooms, routinize procedures, intervene to stop misbehaviour, and organise the physical conditions. Process-outcome theories emphasise CM as a series of processes undertaken by a teacher to promote student engagement (Gettinger & Kohler, 2006). The behavioural approach (as thedominant approach in the history) is grounded in operant conditioning and conceptualizes CM as antecedent control, reinforcement strategies and behaviour plans to shape student behaviour (Landrum & Kauffman, 2006) and behaviour alteration techniques (Paulsel, 2004).
Nowadays there is growing emphasis on the use of positive behaviour supports rather than exclusionary discipline strategies to promote a positive classroom environment (Mitchell, Bradshaw, & Knoff, 2013). Theory of CM works with a distinction between reactive strategies (connected with disciplining of students) and proactive strategies (enacted through instructional interactions, teachers‘ scaffolding of students' self-regulation) (Wallace, Sung, & Williams, 2014).
Although the importance of effective CM is repeatedly emphasised, there is only little research on CM strategies of student teachers or beginning teachers. Contemporary research shows that teachers use reactive strategies more often than proactive ones at the beginning of their careers (Reupert & Woodcock, 2010), and that student teachers also apply strategies of giving punishment for misbehaviour and giving rewards to positive behaviour more often that experienced teachers (Sueb, 2013). Experienced teachers exert less control over classroom activities and student behaviour than beginning teachers (Ritter & Hancock, 2007).
The state of the art needs to be enriched by evidence-based theories which should enrich curricula of teacher education, contribute to better understanding of classroom setting, and prevent novice teachers from leaving their profession. International research determined that CM training can impact teachers’ attitudes toward CM (Martin, Yin, & Baldwin, 1998). Nevertheless, training in CM is not sufficient in student teacher education in most of the developed countries, not only in Europe. Many beginning teachers report lack of CM in their training (Jackson et al., 2013). Teacher education is often focused on isolated elements of CM such as establishing classroom rules, their application, pacing and eye contact whereas teachers may fail to develop general principles for their application (Schmidt, 2006). In many European countries an ongoing process of development of Teacher´s Profession Quality Standardis taking place, where CM represents an important part of teacher professionalism. In this era of educational policy development we would like to contribute to the concept of CMS by an evidence-based theory coming from our research.
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