How is it that the same students can be disruptive with one teacher and then walk across the hall and sit quietly showing complete respect for a different teacher? Some teachers have enormous influence with students and others do not. In the early 1990’s I found myself trying to explain all the factors associated with student perceptions of teacher competence. The list is endless and confusing to the novice. So, I organized the variables into a model that I felt would help organize all the behaviors that effective teachers exhibit. They exhibit these behaviors to increase student achievement gains, produce engagement, gain cooperation and enjoy influence from students and their caregivers.
I called my organization the “Total Quality Learning Management Model.” Students are more likely to learn when they are engaged in instruction. Students are more likely to be engaged in instruction when they are cooperating. They are more likely to cooperate when the classroom teacher has influence over them. This influence is gained when students and caregivers perceive the teacher as providing quality service and being competent. Classroom teachers use three domains to appear competent and gain influence with students and caregivers: 1) classroom management; 2) instructional design and 3) interpersonal behavior. Teacher influence can be gained with parents starting weeks before the first day of school, and with students on the first day of school as they enter the classroom. My Total Quality Learning Management Model can be seen at the following website: http://performancepyramid.muohio.edu. Open the site. Open the Performance Pyramid. Go to the “Shared Best Practices” section of the pyramid. Open the “Classroom Management” section and then open the “Building Management Plan” PowerPoint.
I was hired as an entry-year social studies teacher in a suburban middle school. I was a history major with no certification coursework. I did not have any methods coursework and had not student taught. My assignment was eighth grade social studies, remedial reading and one speech and drama class. I also agreed to coach three sports. I was tossed the room keys and told I would be observed in eight weeks. Good luck Mr. Brooks! There was no formal mentoring program. There was no research on the first days of school. I figured I had about a week to prove I was competent in a task I had never done. One week, or I would suffer the same fate as the teacher I was replacing. He was fired because he could not manage students!
On the first day of class, I asked my students who they thought was the best teacher in the building. Mr. Bender and Mr. Weller became my role models. I decided to use my planning period during the first week to watch them. When I saw how effective they were, I made the decision to mimic them. At school, I behaved just like them.
1) They were accessible to students before and after school and class.
2) They had a routine to start every class. Everybody was expected to be in his or her seats when the bell rang.
3) They insisted on quiet when they were talking.
4) They required students to raise their hands to ask or answer questions.
5) They learned student names very quickly.
6) They used extra-curricular activities like coaching to establish rapport with students outside the classroom.
7) If there were problems, they used a firm, businesslike tone of voice.
8) Justice was swift and appropriate. They handled everything themselves.
9) They were quick to call home and discuss problems with parents.
10) They were skillful instructional planners with lessons that featured student engagement.
11) If a student became a day-to-day problem, they spent time with the student outside of class.
12) Their tests were fair and they graded to motivate students.
13) They ended their classes with a routine.
14) The bell did not dismiss the class, they did.
15) They genuinely liked the age level of students they were teaching.
In 1983, I received funding for a study to videotape and compare the behaviors of entry-year teachers with experienced, effective middle school teachers. I videotaped four novice and four experienced teachers on their first, second, tenth and twenty-eighth days of school. These tapes were the first video records ever made of teachers on the first days of school. This study was published in the May, 1985 issue of Educational Leadership and was entitled “The First Days of School.” David Berliner in his 1986 AERA Presidential Address “In Pursuit of the Expert Pedagogue” referenced this research. Harry Wong noticed my work and has included it in his book “The First Days of School.” If you have ever heard Harry Wong speak, you have probably heard him reference my research. I have taught and continue to teach classroom management courses in the Middle School and Adolescent certification programs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Fifteen years later, my “first day of school” tapes confirmed the behavior of Mr. Bender and Mr. Weller. These behaviors still work. I would invite you to read the blog on my website at http://performancepyramid.muohio.edu. It includes over 100 cases of students describing the behaviors of their most outstanding teachers.
Dr. Douglas Brooks is a Professor in the
School of Education, Health and Society at Miami University in Oxford,
Ohio. He teaches undergraduate and
graduate courses in classroom management.