Classroom management issues – every teacher has them to some degree at one time or another in her career.
And sometimes you get one of those school years where you’re wondering…
What in the world happened here? Why are my students so out-of-control?
Here’s the deal!
It’s not always your fault.
The “higher-ups” who manage the guilt-inducing education sector are infamous for making teachers the scapegoats.
EVERYTHING is the teacher’s darn fault.
And just for the record…
Ah… no, sir… it ain’t always the teacher’s fault!
But “higher-ups” are more than welcome to come and show educators how it’s done.
In this post, I offer a perspective shared by many educators who are maybe afraid to vocalize similar thoughts because of the pressure to “be a team player” or “play nice”.
Others have simply drank the school system kool-aid!
This post shares classroom management issues that are commonly and unwisely justified by administrators and sometimes teachers.
These are my respectful opinions and thoughts so please don’t get in ‘yo feelings.
Let’s get into it!
Classroom Management Issues We Shouldn’t Justify
Praising Excessively Kids Who Frequently Misbehave
In almost every school in which I’ve worked, there’s been a pattern of faculty giving excess praise to students who regularly misbehave.
Don’t get me wrong.
If there’s a student who regularly misbehaves and they then do something that warrants praise, then of course that compliment should be given.
The issue, however, comes into play when staff totally go overboard with the praise – a level of praise not exhibited towards those learners who make it a priority to do well habitually.
Not only is this not fair, but it sends a weird message to all students.
A lot of kids may think, “What’s the point of doing the right thing if my good behavior goes without applause?”
Yes, people should do the right thing because it’s the right thing.
But let’s be real…
We do things because we expect something in return – whether that be an external or internal “reward”.
It’s simply human nature.
A ratio of high poor conduct to low good conduct does not merit a hallelujah moment!
A “fantastic job” type of positive reinforcement comment and/or a positive note or email home works well.
Refraining from “Real” Teaching the 1st Week of School
Classroom management issues usually show a glimpse of themselves sometime during the 1st week of school.
Minimize those classroom management issues by ignoring the often-recited advice to just focus on rules the first week or so of school.
Classroom systems, routines, and procedures attach themselves to students as they practice doing these actions repeatedly over a significant period of time.
I always reviewed procedures and rules the first day of school.
Day 2… it was time to get the show on the road!
Plus, think about how much academic content you’re required to cover before those oh-so wonderful state tests.
You need every minute, hour, day, week, and month!
So jump right into it.
Every new school day is an opportunity to practice and reinforce classroom rules, systems, and procedures.
Start getting your content in during the first week.
Blaming the Teacher for Poor Student Behavior
Who’s at fault for classroom management issues?
Why teachers of course!
Teachers are always to blame, right? (Can you sense my sarcasm?)
I realize that there are some educators who aren’t very good at taming their little ones, no matter the dynamics of the learners.
Those teachers are simply weak in this area and need a few doses of professional development focused on classroom management in addition to prayer. 😇
But I’m not talking about those educators.
I’m talking about those very structured teachers who are generally proficient in teaching and managing their students without much issue.
What happens when those very competent teachers finally get a class that really tests them?
Well, you know what happens…
Mr./Ms. Administrator tells the teacher everything he or she is doing wrong…
Try this. Try that. Are you doing this? And that?
And just so that you and I on the same page…
I’m not referring to classroom management issues like rolling eyes, lack of participation, and excessive chatter.
Those things happen on a good day in many schools.
I’m speaking of cussing, hitting, fighting, talking back, defiance … yeah, the rough stuff!
Those classroom management problems that keep you up at night.
Are teachers ALWAYS to blame?
Okay. Sometimes yes.
There will always be those kids who test the system no matter what – those who attend school daily just to see how much they can get away with.
In my 15 years of teaching, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are 4 types of educators who seem to handle the “tough” kids well.
I’ve affectionately given these prototypes names…
How does coach do it? Well, he has the power to hang sports and/or extracurricular activities over the kids’ head.
If you don’t straighten up, off the team.
The Longevity King/Queen
He or she has put in over 25 years at the school and knows EVERYBODY.
I know ‘yo momma, ‘yo grandma, auntie, 3rd cousin who used to live over by the tracks… in fact, I taught ‘yo momma. I’ll call her up in a hot second. Don’t mess with me!
The Beloved is from the community, knows EVERYBODY, and maybe even attended the same school back in the day.
Parents adore her.
She’ll tell you the same thing as the Longevity King or Queen, but the added bonus is that she’s related to lots of folks in the community.
And she can sometimes get away with saying stuff that other teachers wouldn’t dare say! 😱
She’s as they say, ‘ole skool!
Not much classroom management issues in her corner of the school ’cause she’s well-connected, respected, and oftentimes revered.
This teacher has arrived to the conclusion…
If I can’t beat ’em at this game… I’ll just be super lenient. I don’t have the time nor mental energy to be a behavior police all day, everyday.
Things “run smoothly” in this class because the teacher allows students to pretty much run the show (and not in a good way).
In this classroom, student accountability is low and with that comes low expectations.
Mediocrity is the norm because at this point, he’s not even trying.
For the rest of us folks…
We’ve got to bring on our A-game every second! It’s tiring.
For you educators who don’t fit any of those aforementioned categories but have a professional record of minimal classroom management issues…
If things go amok, it’s not your fault!
If a school is privileged to have a teacher (not in one of those categories above) who soars with a challenging group of students, he or she should most definitely be presenting classroom management strategies to the rest of the faculty.
Placing “Problem” Students with the Strictest Teachers
Why do principals justify giving the “most problematic” kids to the teachers who can seemingly handle it most?
This common tactic is extremely unfair and frankly disrespectful.
Furthermore, it breeds resentment among staff and lessens the motive for teachers who are weaker in classroom management to improve.
Many see it as punishing teachers who do their job well.
Administrators, here’s a way to ease the blow…
Ask those on the faculty who have a reputation for minimal classroom management issues to become a PD leader and present their strategies to colleagues.
And compensate them for it.
This is a much healthier way to reward a teacher for doing an outstanding job of keeping challenging kids on-task and learning.
Giving Poor Conduct a Pass Because “They Don’t Know Right from Wrong”
Unless a child is preschool-aged, it’s really hard for me to believe he or she doesn’t know right from wrong.
Of course it takes time for students to learn a specific teacher’s classroom procedures and routines, but in general, elementary-aged kids and older know right vs. wrong within a school context.
Let’s not fool ourselves.
I’m referring to bullying, fighting, defiance, etc., not procedures and routines unique to a particular school.
Some in the education realm mention…
Outside of school, in their home, it’s normal to do ‘such and such’.
This may be true, but it’s kind of a stretch to say that they don’t realize “inappropriate” behavior.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.
In life, we learn from a young age that different environments warrant different behaviors.
The way you behave at church will be very different from your behavior at a football game.
Different places have different expectations, and yes, we need to be a voice in teaching kids when to differentiate.
But to justify it as them simply not knowing the difference at all is a bit of a stretch.
Equating High Academic Expectations Directly with Small Class Sizes
Boy, I learned this one the hard way!
During my 2nd year of teaching, I was assigned 12 students. Yes, 12, and that number stayed constant all year.
I thought I had died and gone to teacher heaven!
It was a short-lived dream, yes it was.
Let’s just say that I found out real soon why I had been assigned only 12 children; it was definitely for a reason.
Some days it felt like 30!
By the next year, I was itching to have my regular class size back because I was just beside myself.
That group of children was much better off being spread among several classes instead of being grouped all in one smaller class.
My principal later regretted the decision (at least she took a risk with a new strategy!), and we both realized that a smaller class size isn’t always the one-all, be-all solution.
Fast forward a few years, and I had my biggest class ever – 27 delightful second-graders.
The incredible thing is that it was one of my best teaching years ~ even with all those kids!
With the larger group, the dynamics were very different. I didn’t have the same challenges that presented themselves in the smaller class.
Lesson definitely learned.
Guilt-Tripping “Boring” Teachers
Are you familiar with Robert Kiyosaki?
He teaches financial literacy over at www.richdad.com and is an investing guru.
While I’m 100% a fan of his work, every now and then he takes a few jabs at teachers, highlighting how boring they are.
This “boring” nature of teachers is the reason students don’t learn anything in school he mentions.
If only things were that simple, right?
Now, I say this because…
A man as intelligent as Kiyosaki has been around the best of the best. He’s well-connected and well-informed.
Surely he must be aware of the fact that teachers are spoon-fed curricula and not given much freedom when it comes to what to teach and how to teach it.
Yes, I agree. Some teachers are boring.
But think of all those educators just bursting with engaging, hands-on, real-world lessons which never make it to the classroom due to mandated curricula.
You can only spice things up so much given the bureaucracy of the school system.
Even when teachers create engaging, interactive and hands-on activities, there are almost always a handful of students who think the tasks are boring.
Attention spans last less time than the blink of an eye it seems.
Technology has made a lot of activities and lessons pale in comparison to what can be offered on a device.
Teachers have to compete with technology daily, and as you know, it’s not always easy to integrate technology into every learning task.
Couple this reality with the fact that a significant number of educators are teaching from mandated, scripted lessons and reprimanded if they veer too far of course.
So really, who’s to blame?
Teachers, yes, sometimes.
But come on, let’s not ignore other key factors that play a very significant role in perpetuating “boring” teachers.
Give teachers more authority and creative control over curriculum, and I bet “boringness” (not a word, I know!) would decrease.
Wrapping Up – Classroom Management Issues
Teaching is a stressful job and sometimes you get a batch of kids that you just don’t mesh with.
And that’s okay.
Educators do a great service for children, but hey, we aren’t magicians!
If you’re having a crappy school year or just need some validation that your classroom management issues aren’t directly attributed to you, then I hope this post gives you some reassurance.
Wishing you great student outcomes,
👇WHAT TO READ NEXT?
- As you can tell from this post, I’m one opinionated chick! Who the heck am I anyway? Find out more about how I help teachers here.
- You might be interested in more back-to-school topics.
- Looking for more solid classroom management solutions? Check out this blog dedicated to all things classroom management. You just might want to bookmark it.