Love, engagement, support, and consistency: a recipe for classroom management

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Author: Jennifer Prior
Date: January-February 2014
From: Childhood Education(Vol. 90, Issue 1)
Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,297 words
Lexile Measure: 1050L

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Classroom management is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of an elementary teacher's job. Most of us focus on discipline when we think about managing a classroom, but much more is involved.

Classroom management consists of the practices and procedures that a teacher uses to maintain an environment in which instruction and learning can occur. For this to happen, the teacher must create a well-ordered environment. Discipline has very little to do with classroom management. You don't discipline a store; you manage it. The same is true of a classroom. (Wong & Wong, 2009, pp. 11-12)

Without an effectively managed classroom, teachers face a loss of instructional time, and experience stress and feelings of inadequacy (Sayeski & Brown, 2011).

When I first became a teacher, I wanted to be the best teacher in the world! I thought that if I created and delivered excellent lessons, I would be outstanding as a teacher. I found, however, that teaching lessons was only a small part of my daily life in the classroom. As I look back on that first year of teaching, I have memories of having the worst-behaved class ever; while I wanted to believe the problem was with the children, the truth is that the problem was with me.

Over the years, I became quite an effective classroom manager. When I began teaching at the university level, I wanted to spare my students the difficulties I had experienced as a new teacher. However, I was not sure exactly what I did that improved my classroom management skills. I talked to my teacher candidates about discipline programs-those often gimmicky systems of rewards and consequences. While such programs can play an important role in the classroom, they do not really make a fundamental difference. What I realized is that, over time, I had developed an underlying philosophy of classroom management that made all the difference.


Love, engagement, support, and consistency were the four ingredients I used to create a classroom environment that helped children work well together, focus on learning, and enjoy being part of a classroom community. These ingredients can form a foundation for a successful learning environment at all levels of elementary schooling.


Love, or caring and valued relationships, is the first ingredient. In their article, "The Key to Classroom Management," Marzano and Marzano (2003) address the importance of relationships between teachers and students. Warmth and trust between teachers and students not only impacts behavior, but also positively relates to overall school adjustment and academic success (Baker, 2006). In a 2005 interview, Alfie Kohn stated, "Children need to feel loved and valued even when they aren't succeeding or behaving. When kids don't feel trusted and accepted, behavior problems become worse" (Bryner, 2005). This is further supported by Klem and Connell (2004), who emphasize that children need teachers in their lives who know them, care about them, and take the time to be involved with them.

In my early years of teaching, I would...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A357965669