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The purpose of this literature review is to synthesize various works used during this course to explore the aspects of classroom management and its most recent techniques. The paper focuses on several studies concerning such subjects as classroom management from the perspective of teachers, its limitations and benefits, learning through play as a classroom management strategy, innovative methods of game-based teaching.
Teachers’ Perspective on Classroom Management
Young and experienced teachers all around the world are trying to work out the best strategies helping to establish order and discipline in the class. Different cultures have various approaches towards this task (Koh & Shin, 2014), yet all educators agree that working in a harmonious classroom is the key to staying in the field and avoiding professional burnout (Dicke, Parker, Marsh, Kunter, Schmeck, & Leutner, 2014). The perspectives of younger and older teachers differ. For example, novice teachers focus mostly on discipline maintenance. At the same time, experienced educators pay more attention to teaching, which can be explained by the level of professionalism and better management skills obtained over years of practice (Unal & Unal, 2012; Wolff, Bogert, Jarodska, & Boshuizen, 2015). In contemporary American schools, educators have to deal with a high level of cultural diversity, which complicates the teaching process making it multi-focused.
Taking class composition into consideration is highly important for the success of management of the class (Hochweber, Hosenfeld & Klieme, 2014), where an educator is to provide positive student-teacher relationships and capitalize on human resources making cultural backgrounds a part of the learning process (Jones, Jones & Vermette, 2013). This way, implementing culturally responsive positive behavior interventions will directly affect the academic success of the learners (Cramer, & Bennett, 2015). There is a variety of classroom management techniques. Some of them were formed by the educators of the past. Some are inflicted by the modern rapid development of contemporary society. As a result, teachers today often feel frustrated as to which strategies to employ to achieve the best results in their particular classrooms.
Managing a Class
Among the first classroom management techniques applied by the educators, there is an activity break technique (McMullen, Kulinna & Cothran, 2014), which eventually got extended into a full-time teaching method known as play-based teaching (Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Newcombe & Golinkoff, 2013). This kind of teaching is especially efficient for learners of all ages due to being student-centered. Teaching through play is much more productive and successful compared to standard academically concentrated educational programs. Good classroom management has to rely on several aspects such as cultural and ethnic factors (Cramer & Bennett, 2015), background, economic status of the families of the students, and their health conditions and peculiarities (Schlein, Taft & Tucker-Blackwell, 2013). A couple of centuries ago, the main way to maintain discipline in the classroom was through physical punishments. This was viewed as an effective way to cope with children’s adventurous and mischievous nature that often goes out of control.
Today, such suppressive methods are still applied in some cultures (Koh & Shin, 2014). Still, the American educators prefer to redirect the energy of their students or provide a productive and harmless way out for it during the activity breaks or games (Cutter-Mackenzie, & Edwards, 2013; McMullen, Kulinna & Cothran, 2014). Employing games and play-based teaching is often a successful way to mediate children’s energy and to create active, yet properly supervised activities. At the same time, using these techniques as a part of classroom management strategy teachers must be aware that they are equally able to help children with behavioral disorders to function harmoniously and collaborate (Schlein, Taft & Tucker-Blackwell, 2013), but also to create behavioral problems for the regular students (Bulotsky-Shearer, Bell, Romero & Carter, 2013).
Play and Creative Practice as Classroom Management Techniques
Play is not only a very useful and highly effective activity for the development of children; it is also a natural behavior for them. Observation of animals and wildlife makes it clear that young offspring of non-human species frequently engage in play with each other or with the surrounding objects. Kittens may play with shiny candy wrappings. Puppies like to bite and carry sticks in their mouth, baby animals of all species wrestle with each other, climb rocks and trees, run around for hours. This is a demonstration of a natural design of a young mind craving knowledge and new experiences. Engaging in play, human children instinctively start to acquire important information. Play is viewed as a highly efficient teaching method due to its universal character (Cutter-Mackenzie & Edwards, 2013) and its ability to integrate social interactions into the process of learning (Bulotsky-Shearer, Bell, Romero & Carter, 2013). Besides, play and creative practice are rather flexible activities and can easily be modified to fulfill the needs of each classroom with any ethnic, social, and cultural composition (Cramer & Bennett, 2015; Schlein, Taft & Tucker-Blackwell, 2013; Hochweber, Hosenfeld & Klieme, 2014).
Play helps to provide active and effective learning without creating too many limitations for the students and accessing the children’s learning abilities in their natural state. One more valuable feature of the play is its suitability for almost any subject. Play-based learning can be effectively implemented in math, geometry, environmental studies, languages, literature, and art (Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Newcombe & Golinkoff, 2013; Cutter-Mackenzie & Edwards, 2013). Supervision is a crucial aspect of play-based teaching. An educator is to organize and direct the learners to provide effective activities. Disciplinary rules are necessary since both teachers and students view them as highly important measures helping to maximize the efficiency of learning (Gest, Madill, Zadzora, Miller & Rodkin, 2014).
Digital Gaming and Class Management
The contemporary world is known for its high connectivity and rapid technological development. Modern technologies penetrate all spheres of human life, such as communication, economics, business, leisure, and entertainment. The field of education also becomes more and more influenced by technological progress. Some of the most popular examples of such influences are digitalized learning, online assignments, websites of educational affiliations providing communication between teachers and students, and virtual libraries. While educational facilities of higher levels such as colleges and universities may maintain distanced education all the time and provide virtual class management, school education is still based on in-class activities. Yet, modern class management still includes a variety of innovative teaching methods such as flipped or half-flipped classroom, and implementation of online games (Westermann, 2014; Blunt, 2009).
The use of digital games can be viewed as a type of play-based teaching. Besides, it shares one of the most important qualities of play-based teaching, as it is suitable for a variety of subjects and also can be implemented to manage diverse classrooms where the individual approach is required (Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Newcombe & Golinkoff, 2013; Cramer & Bennett, 2015). Today, there is a huge variety of digital games designed for learners of all ages studying different subjects, which is convenient for educators of all specialties. However, a special kind of class management is required to maintain order it a class practicing innovative learning methods.
Summary and Directions for Additional Research
To sum up, the research focused on class management strategies and activities covers several important subjects such as teachers’ approach towards class management, the efficiency of different methods of management, older and newer strategies. At the same time, computer-enhanced education is getting more and more popular, so the further research is likely to focus on such aspects as the management of flipped classrooms, coping with isolation among students, providing online collaboration and communication in the virtual classrooms, limitations of distanced education and helping the learners manage their online schedule without losing interest in learning. As to online gaming, the literature used for this paper did not include the description of management techniques concerning inflexibility of games with a fixed number of scenarios, or the rules and measures of implementation of gaming during the learning process concerning the abuse and underuse of this method.
Class management is a complex issue consisting of multiple aspects and layers. Aggressive disciplinary measures are highly unpopular in American schools. Instead, educators employ preventive management. This means that the energy and adventurous nature of the learners needs to be handled professionally and directed positively. Play, creative practice, and digital gaming are good ways to engage the students in peaceful and active learning. This is why these methods are viewed as effective classroom management strategies. Besides, they are innovative and fit perfectly into the modern surroundings and environments of the learners.
Blunt, R. (2009). Do serious games work? Results from three studies. eLearn Magazine. Web.
Bulotsky-Shearer, R. J., Bell, E. R., Romero S. L. & Carter, T. M. (2013). Identifying mechanisms through which preschool problem behavior influences academic outcomes: What is the mediating role of negative peer play interactions? Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders 22(4), 199-213.
Cramer, E. D. & Bennett, K. D. (2015). Implementing culturally responsive positive behavior interventions and supports in middle school classrooms. Middle School Journal, 46(3), 18-24.
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Cutter-Mackenzie, A. & Edwards, S. (2013). Toward a model for early childhood environmental education: Foregrounding, developing, and connecting knowledge through play-based Learning. The Journal of Environmental Education, 44(3), 195–213.
Dicke, T., Parker, P. D., Marsh, H. W., Kunter, M., Schmeck, A. & Leutner, D. (2014). Self-efficacy in classroom management, classroom disturbances, and emotional exhaustion: A moderated mediation analysis of teacher candidates. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(2), 569-583.
Fisher, K. R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Newcombe, N. & Golinkoff, R. (2013). Taking shape: Supporting preschoolers’ acquisition of geometric knowledge through guided play. Child Development 84(6), 1872-1878.
Gest, S. D., Madill, R. A., Zadzora, K. M., Miller, A. M. & Rodkin, P. C. (2014). Teacher management of elementary classroom social dynamics: Associations with changes in student adjustment. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 22(2), 107-118.
Hochweber, J., Hosenfeld, I. & Klieme, E. (2014). Classroom composition, classroom management, and the relationship between student attributes and grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1), 289-300.
Jones, K. A., Jones, J. L. & Vermette, P. J. (2013). Exploring the complexity of classroom management: 8 components of managing a highly productive, safe, and respectful urban environment. American Secondary Education, 41(3), 21-33.
Koh, M. & Shin, S. (2014). A Comparative study of elementary teachers’ beliefs and strategies on classroom and behavior management in the USA and Korean school systems. International Journal of Progressive Education, 10(3), 18-33.
McMullen, J., Kulinna, P. & Cothran, D. (2014). Physical activity opportunities during the school day: Classroom teachers’ perceptions of using activity breaks in the classroom. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 33(4), 511-527.
Schlein, C., Taft, R. & Tucker-Blackwell, V. (2013). Teachers’ experiences with classroom management and children diagnosed with emotional behavioral disorder. Curriculum & Teaching Dialogue, 15(1/2), 133-146.
Unal, Z & Unal, A. (2012). The impact of years of teaching experience on the classroom management approaches of elementary school teachers, International Journal of Instruction, 5(2), 41-60.
Westermann, E. B. (2014). A half-flipped classroom or an alternative approach?: Primary sources and blended learning. Educational Research Quarterly 38(2), 43-57.
Wolff, C., Bogert, N., Jarodska, H. & Boshuizen, H. P. A. (2015). Keeping an eye on learning: Differences between expert and novice teachers’ representations of classroom management events. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(1), 68-85.