Maegan Rees of the National Council on Teacher Quality provides The Campbell Times with a special report on new training methods for new teachers, which may affect future CU graduates.
America’s teacher preparation programs are not providing future teachers with the knowledge and practice in effective classroom management strategies necessary to deal with disruptive student behavior, according to a new report released today by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Effective research-based strategies exist to help novice teachers manage their classroom from the start, yet the analysis of 122 programs finds that most do not draw from the research and that classroom management in general rarely gets the focus it deserves.
“In no small part due to common incidents of student misbehavior, teaching can be a harrowing experience, particularly in that first year,” said Kate Walsh, President of NCTQ. “It is unacceptable that half of the programs we studied encourage teacher candidates to develop their own ‘personal philosophy of classroom management,’ when there are proven, research-based strategies. New teachers deserve better. It is time for teacher prep programs to focus on classroom management so that first-year teachers are prepared on day one to head off potential disruption before it starts and learning can take place.”
NCTQ identified the five most important research-based classroom management strategies for training teacher candidates based on 150 studies conducted over the last six decades. These strategies include:
•Rules: Establish and teach classroom rules to communicate expectations for behavior.
•Routines: Build structure and establish routines to help guide students in a wide variety of situations.
•Praise: Reinforce positive behavior, using praise and other means.
•Misbehavior: Consistently impose consequences for misbehavior.
•Engagement: Foster and maintain student engagement by teaching interesting lessons that include opportunities for active student participation.
Using these strategies, NCTQ examined a sample of 122 teacher preparation programs by reviewing the lecture topics for courses, the assignments made to teacher candidates, the timing and content of practice opportunities, instruments used to observe and provide student teachers with feedback, and required textbooks. The key findings of the report include:
•Programs can correctly claim to cover classroom management, with only a tiny fraction of programs (<3 percent) in the sample ignoring basic instruction. However, it is generally scattered throughout the preparation program, rarely getting connected and concentrated focus.
•Most programs do not draw from the available research, which any teacher (and indeed parent) would benefit from knowing. Especially disfavored are the strategies of imposing consistent consequences for misbehavior and – most markedly – the importance of using praise and other means to reinforce positive behavior.
•In most programs, instruction is generally divorced from practice (and vice versa), with little evidence that what gets taught gets practiced. Only one-third of programs require real or simulated practice of classroom management skills as they are learned. This disconnect extends all the way through the programs to the student teaching experience.
•Effective training in classroom management cannot, in fact, be embedded everywhere throughout a teacher preparation program, as some teacher educators claim. Embedding training everywhere is a recipe for having effective training nowhere.
Consistent with other NCTQ findings about teacher preparation, there is little consensus in the field regarding what aspects of classroom management should be taught or practiced, with programs that do train candidates on specific strategies often focusing on those with less research support, such as using proximity or eye contact to re-engage students. Walsh added, “Regrettably, while we found some programs which did quite well on certain aspects of classroom management, we did not find any one program that did well across the board: teaching the five most proven strategies and creating opportunities for practicing them with plenty of strong feedback. The field’s leadership continues to send strong signals that teachers who can deliver a sufficiently engaging lesson will never have a behavior problem they have to solve. Any teacher can tell you that just isn’t the case.”
NCTQ recommends that programs rethink their approach to preparing their teacher candidates immediately by training candidates in research-based strategies in their first foundational courses and practicing them all the way through to their culminating experience as student teachers. NCTQ also calls for state regulations and emerging accountability instruments, such as the edTPA, to include the research-based strategies.
By Maegan Rees
National Council on Teacher Quality