Exploring the foundations of middle school classroom management: the theoretical contributions of B. F. Skinner, Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg, William Glasser, and Thomas Gordon all have particular relevance for middle school educators.Effective ways to encourage and teach appropriate student behaviors are highly valued by educators. This article examines the work of several theorists who laid the groundwork for contemporary classroom management. Some of these theorists did not directly address behaviors in school settings; rather, they focused on other psychological aspects of human behavior. Moreover, they did their work prior to the middle school movement. Nevertheless, their theories have withstood the test of time and can be applied effectively to middle school classroom management. The theoretical contributions of B. F. Skinner Noun 1. B. F. Skinner - United States psychologist and a leading proponent of behaviorism (1904-1990)
Burrhus Frederic Skinner, Fred Skinner, Skinner , Fritz fritz
A condition in which something does not work properly: Our television is on the fritz.
[Perhaps from German Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg, William Glasser William Glasser, M.D. is an American psychiatrist born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925, and developer of Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. His ideas, which focus on personal choice, personal responsibility and personal transformation, are considered controversial by mainstream , and Thomas Gordon Thomas Gordon may refer to:
Rationale for Choice of Theorists
These theorists provided the foundational work for classroom management theory, and their ideas continue to influence classroom management. B. F. Skinner proposed behavior modification behavior modification
1. The use of basic learning techniques, such as conditioning, biofeedback, reinforcement, or aversion therapy, to teach simple skills or alter undesirable behavior.
2. See behavior therapy. as a way to shape behavior. Although some contemporary educators might object to using rewards and punishments to shape behavior, tokens, stickers, and other rewards and punishments continue to be popular and effective management techniques. Redl and Wattenberg's group dynamics group dynamics: see group psychotherapy. theories also are useful, in light of the powerful role that peer pressure plays in middle school classrooms. Students who model appropriate group behavior often influence other students to do likewise. In addition, middle school educators may use Redl and Wattenberg's idea of supporting self-control and appraising reality to help young adolescents learn to manage their own behavior. William Glasser's choice theory points to young adolescents' ability and need to accept responsibility for managing their own behavior. Rather than middle school educators demanding appropriate behavior, choice theory would suggest that young adolescents should make the choice to behave appropriately and take action toward that goal. Features of Thomas Gordon's theory, know as "Discipline as Self-Control," include the use of "I-messages" and active listening Active listening is an intent to "listen for meaning", in which the listener checks with the speaker to see that a statement has been correctly heard and understood. The goal of active listening is to improve mutual understanding. as ways of improving young adolescents' behavior. Middle school educators will likely be more effective when they point out the concrete effects of young adolescents' negative behaviors on others, rather than making accusatory remarks beginning with "you."
Table 1 shows the relationship between the developmental characteristics of young adolescents and some common behavior problems found in middle schools. The theories of behavior modification, group dynamics, choice theory, and self-control have relevance for managing young adolescents' behaviors in these and similar situations. To explore the specifics of how these theories address common misbehaviors in middle schools, we need to explore each of the theorists in more detail. Although each theorist the·o·rist
One who theorizes; a theoretician.
a person who forms theories or who specializes in the theory of a particular subject.
See also: Ideas, Learning
Noun 1. can be used with a variety of misbehaviors, Table 1 shows the application of each theory to a different misbehavior.
B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)
The noted psychologist psy·chol·o·gist
A person trained and educated to perform psychological research, testing, and therapy.
psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner Noun 1. Burrhus Frederic Skinner - United States psychologist and a leading proponent of behaviorism (1904-1990)
B. F. Skinner, Fred Skinner, Skinner proposed that proper and immediate reinforcement reinforcement /re·in·force·ment/ (-in-fors´ment) in behavioral science, the presentation of a stimulus following a response that increases the frequency of subsequent responses, whether positive to desirable events, or strengthens the likelihood that appropriate behavior will be repeated (Skinner Skin·ner , B(urrhus) F(rederick) 1904-1990.
American psychologist. A leading behaviorist, Skinner influenced the fields of psychology and education with his theories of stimulus-response behavior. , 1948, 1970). Skinner did not work in elementary or secondary classrooms, nor did he describe instructional or general classroom practices that should reduce students' behavior problems. Nevertheless, his research on operant conditioning operant conditioning
A process of behavior modification in which a subject is encouraged to behave in a desired manner through positive or negative reinforcement, so that the subject comes to associate the pleasure or displeasure of the , or behavior modification, had a profound influence on the field of classroom management.
Contributions of Skinner's Theories. William Wattenberg (1967) explained that many teachers believe B. F. Skinner's behavior modification approach holds potential for shaping students' behavior. Just as Skinner believed that positive rewards shape most learned human behavior, many teachers believe that students will repeat "rewarded" behaviors and stop "unrewarded or ignored" behaviors. Thus, teachers shape students' behaviors by first determining desired behaviors and selecting appropriate reinforcers to encourage students to repeat those desirable behaviors. As reinforcement occurs, the likelihood of students repeating positive behaviors increases (Bigge, 1976).
Reinforcement in a classroom can take many forms. For example, a teacher can reward students who complete their assignments on time by giving them each a token. When a student has a set number of tokens, he or she can redeem redeem v. to buy back, as when an owner who had mortgaged his/her real property pays off the debt. The term also refers to paying the amount due and all charges after a foreclosure (due to failure to make payments when due) has begun. them for an item or privilege. In addition, rather than reprimanding misbehaving students, teachers can praise students who behave properly. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Skinner's theory, the behaving students will continue to demonstrate positive behavior. The misbehaving students, desiring the positive reinforcement positive reinforcement,
n a technique used to encourage a desirable behavior. Also called
positive feedback, in which the patient or subject receives encouraging and favorable communication from another person. , will begin to behave appropriately. For example, a teacher may reduce the number of math homework problems for students who correctly complete their work in class. The teacher seeks to reinforce the behavior of completing in-class work by eliminating or reducing the undesired homework assignment. To be effective, reinforcement should be appropriate and immediate.
Directions for Middle School Educators. Opportunities to translate Skinner's theories into practice in the middle school classroom include:
* Ignoring inappropriate behaviors. In spite of in opposition to all efforts of; in defiance or contempt of; notwithstanding.
See also: Spite constant reprimands, Jasper, a 6th-grade boy, continued to click his ballpoint pen in an annoying fashion throughout class time. When his teacher simply ignored Jasper's behavior, yet praised the students surrounding Jasper for their good behavior Orderly and lawful action; conduct that is deemed proper for a peaceful and law-abiding individual.
The definition of good behavior depends upon how the phrase is used. and quiet work habits, Jasper stopped the clicking. At that point, his teacher immediately thanked Jasper for his considerate con·sid·er·ate
1. Having or marked by regard for the needs or feelings of others. See Synonyms at thoughtful.
2. Characterized by careful thought; deliberate. behavior.
* Using only positive comments. One 8th-grade teacher established a goal of making "zero negative comments" to students. Using praise and other forms of positive reinforcement, she constantly scans the class to identify proper behavior. She praises students who follow class rules, raise their hands before speaking, and otherwise act in ways that she believes contributes to a positive classroom environment. While she acts decisively and properly when students become physically or verbally abusive Tending to deceive; practicing abuse; prone to ill-treat by coarse, insulting words or harmful acts. Using ill treatment; injurious, improper, hurtful, offensive, reproachful. , even then she continues to be positive and to reinforce appropriate behavior.
* Developing behavior contracts. One 6th-grade special education teacher developed a behavior contract for LaShawn. LaShawn knows that she can earn points through appropriate behavior, and that those points can be used to purchase items at a special school store.
Fritz Redl (1902-1988) and William Wattenberg (1911-)
Several theories developed by Fritz Redl and William Wattenberg have contributed to classroom management and provided the groundwork for many later theorists. Specifically, their theories encompass group dynamics, self-control, the pleasure-pain principle Noun 1. pleasure-pain principle - (psychoanalysis) the governing principle of the id; the principle that an infant seeks gratification and fails to distinguish fantasy from reality
pleasure principle, pleasure-unpleasure principle , and understanding reality.
Contributions of Redl and Wattenberg's Theories. Group dynamics or "group life in the classroom" (Redl & Wattenberg, 1959, p. 262) has particular relevance to today's middle school educators, who need to understand how individual behavior affects group behavior and vice-versa. Middle school students often imitate im·i·tate
tr.v. im·i·tat·ed, im·i·tat·ing, im·i·tates
1. To use or follow as a model.
a. peers' behaviors, especially when they do not want to be the first to demonstrate a behavior.
Redl and Wattenberg (1959) suggested that educators support students' self-control from the position that individuals can be responsible for controlling their own conduct. Much misbehavior results from a temporary lapse (language) LAPSE - A single assignment language for the Manchester dataflow machine.
["A Single Assignment Language for Data Flow Computing", J.R.W. Glauert, M.Sc Diss, Victoria U Manchester, 1978]. of an individual's control system, rather than from a desire to be disagreeable dis·a·gree·a·ble
1. Not to one's liking; unpleasant or offensive.
2. Having a quarrelsome, bad-tempered manner.
dis . If a student loses his or her self-control, a teacher can step in to help that student regain control. While most students want to behave appropriately, they sometimes need help achieving the necessary control. This lack or loss of control may occur because they forget, feel uncertain about the rules, are bored, or are tired of sitting. A teacher's assistance often can be minimal; the purpose should always be to help students retain, or regain, their control. At other times, this so-called situational assistance requires the educator to take stronger action.
To mold mold, name for certain multicellular organisms of the various classes of the kingdom Fungi, characteristically having bodies composed of a cottony mycelium. The colors of molds are caused by the spores, which are borne on the mycelium. students' behavior, teachers can use the pleasure-pain principle, in which they deliberately provide experiences to produce a range of pleasant to unpleasant feelings. By doing so, the teacher hopes that the good feelings surrounding a pleasant experience will motivate an individual to repeat a desirable behavior, while an unpleasant experience will lead to avoidance of the unwanted behavior. Redl and Wattenberg emphasize, however, that the pleasure-pain principle does not mean that a teacher, in the heat of anger, should lash out lash out
1. to make a sudden verbal or physical attack
2. Informal to spend extravagantly
Verb 1. at a student. Likewise, pain or punishment should not take the form of revenge (Redl & Wattenberg, 1959).
Redl and Wattenberg suggest that teachers encourage students to appraise appraise v. to professionally evaluate the value of property including real estate, jewelry, antique furniture, securities, or in certain cases the loss of value (or cost of replacement) due to damage. or understand reality. For example, teachers can explain to students the connection between their conduct and its consequences. They can use both criticism and encouragement, either privately or within earshot ear·shot
The range within which sound can be heard by the unaided ear; hearing distance: listened until the parade was out of earshot. of the entire class (not scoldings or tirades, but rather soothing sooth·ing
Tending to soothe.
sooth encouragements). In addition, educators can clearly define classroom and school limits or, to use Redl and Wattenberg's (1959) phrase, let everyone "know what the rules of the game are" (p. 361). These techniques help students develop the values and the sense of reality that should govern their behavior.
Directions for Middle School Educators. Redl and Wattenberg's (1959) theories have contributed significantly to classroom management. Middle school educators can take several directions from those theories:
* Understanding group dynamics. One 6th-grade teacher established a rule that students must raise their hands to answer a question. As the school year progressed, however, Cory began to answer questions without raising his hand. Believing Cory, an excellent student, had merely forgotten the rule, the teacher ignored the infraction Violation or infringement; breach of a statute, contract, or obligation.
The term infraction is frequently used in reference to the violation of a particular statute for which the penalty is minor, such as a parking infraction.
INFRACTION. . Soon, other students began to call out answers. Redl and Wattenberg would have pointed out that misbehaviors can be contagious contagious /con·ta·gious/ (-jus) capable of being transmitted from one individual to another, as a contagious disease; communicable.
1. Of or relating to contagion. within a group dynamic.
* Supporting self-control. An 8th-grade teacher supports self-control and helps students maintain appropriate behavior during whole-group instruction by constantly observing the class for signs of misbehavior. His goal is to correct misbehavior without verbally correcting the student, whenever possible. When he notices an undesired behavior--such as a student playing with a game instead of listening--he catches the student's eye and maintains eye contact for a few moments. Usually, once the student realizes that the behavior has been noted, he or she will stop. If the student persists, however, the teacher, without interrupting instruction, walks to the student's side and continues talking to Noun 1. talking to - a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to"
rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to the class, thus supporting the student's self-control.
* Appraising reality. In an effort to change student behaviors, a 7th-grade Spanish teacher encourages students to appraise reality. After one class, for example, she spoke with four girls regarding the effects of their cliquish clique
A small exclusive group of friends or associates.
intr.v. cliqued, cliqu·ing, cliques Informal
To form, associate in, or act as a clique. behaviors on the entire class. Rather than trying to break up the group or to seat them in different parts of the classroom, the teacher encouraged the girls to understand the effects of their behavior on their learning and on other students in the class.
William Glasser (1925-)
While William Glasser's initial writings relied upon Freudian psychoanalytic theory Psychoanalytic theory is a general term for approaches to psychoanalysis which attempt to provide a conceptual framework more-or-less independent of clinical practice rather than based on empirical analysis of clinical cases. , he eventually switched to a more behavioral approach that focused on helping people look to present conditions to find solutions to problems. Glasser's "quality school" (Glasser, 1992) and "choice theory" (Glasser, 1997, p. 597) seem to have the most relevance for educators interested in classroom management.
Contributions of Glasser's Theories. In general, Glasser believes that students think rationally, yet still rely on teachers to make and enforce rules, and, when necessary, impose appropriate consequences and offer suggestions for changing inappropriate behavior. Nevertheless, he opposes coercion coercion, in law, the unlawful act of compelling a person to do, or to abstain from doing, something by depriving him of the exercise of his free will, particularly by use or threat of physical or moral force. , either through reward or punishment. He calls for educators to transform schools into caring places that students enjoy, and where they can feel a sense of belonging.
Glasser advocates for a caring and "quality" school, one that helps students satisfy their psychological needs and adds quality to their lives (Glasser, 1993). While "quality" is an imprecise im·pre·cise
impre·cisely adv. term, "it almost always includes caring for each other, is always useful, has always involved hard work on someone's part, and when we are involved with it, as either a provider or receiver, it always feels good" (Glasser, 1992, p. 37). According to Glasser, teachers must teach and manage in a way that adds quality to students' lives. In fact, Glasser even defines education as "the process through which we discover that learning adds quality to our lives" (Glasser, 1992, p. 39). Furthermore, Glasser (1992, 1997) maintains that quality schools can have positive academic and behavior results.
Glasser based his choice theory (1997) upon the belief that the behavior we can control is our own. To Glasser, four basic psychological needs drive students: the need to belong, the need for power, the need for freedom, and the need for fun. Once teachers meet these psychological needs, he says, students will behave appropriately. Likewise, if teachers fail to meet those needs, misbehavior will result. Glasser reminds educators that students must freely choose to change their behavior, and not do so because of rewards or punishment; otherwise, they are only acting in the moment to obtain the reward or avoid the punishment. Although educators cannot ultimately control students' behavior, they can still help students satisfy their four psychological needs, and thereby increase the likelihood that students will choose appropriate behavior.
Directions for Middle School Educators. Glasser's theories have several practical applications:
* Encouraging caring. One 5th-grade teacher, cold and aloof, rarely smiled and would abruptly a·brupt
1. Unexpectedly sudden: an abrupt change in the weather.
2. Surprisingly curt; brusque: an abrupt answer made in anger.
3. and unenthusiastically answer students' questions. She thought students would interpret efforts to be kind and caring as weaknesses to be exploited. In turn, her students seemed to model themselves after her; they lacked the cooperative and social spirit exhibited in other 5th-grade classes in the school. Another teacher recommended that she try demonstrating a little kindness Kindness
See also Generosity.
Tom Jones’s goodhearted foster father. [Br. Lit. and caring. As her attitude improved, so did her students' attitudes and behavior.
* Utilizing choice theory. Tyrone, a 7th-grader, was new to the school, could not successfully do his work, and was ostracized for having a disabling dis·a·ble
tr.v. dis·a·bled, dis·a·bling, dis·a·bles
1. To deprive of capability or effectiveness, especially to impair the physical abilities of.
2. Law To render legally disqualified. condition. While he yearned to belong, make friends, and be liked by his peers, he chose to misbehave mis·be·have
v. mis·be·haved, mis·be·hav·ing, mis·be·haves
To behave badly.
v.tr. by talking out of turn, speaking sarcastically sar·cas·tic
1. Expressing or marked by sarcasm.
2. Given to using sarcasm.
[sarc(asm) + -astic, as in enthusiastic. to the teacher, making cutting remarks about others, and disrupting his classes. Finally, a perceptive per·cep·tive
1. Of or relating to perception.
2. Having the ability to perceive.
3. Keenly discerning.
per teacher realized Tyrone's psychological need to belong and helped him understand his choices and the results of those choices. As Tyrone's behavior improved, his classmates' feelings and responses toward him also changed.
* Ensuring enjoyment in school. One 7th-grade teacher demonstrated a caring attitude, but he thought an idle mind led to misbehavior. Therefore, he never let the students in his classes stop working. Everyone always sat in rows and worked on drill sheets. His principal eventually convinced him that he could accomplish just as much if he let the students engage in enjoyable learning activities (such as group work, peer tutoring A peer tutor is anyone who is of a similar status as the person being tutored. In an undergraduate institution this would usually be other undergraduates, as distinct from the graduate students who may be teaching the writing classes. , and role playing role playing,
n in behavioral medicine, learning exercise in which individuals assume characters different from their own. The individual may also be asked to simulate a particularly difficult situation and apply the characteristics that are common to his ), as well as provide opportunities to socialize so·cial·ize
v. so·cial·ized, so·cial·iz·ing, so·cial·iz·es
1. To place under government or group ownership or control.
2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable. .
Thomas Gordon (1918-)
Thomas Gordon asserted that effective teachers need the skills to identify student problems and needs. With that knowledge, teachers then can change the class environment and instructional practices to improve student behavior, by sending what he called "I-messages" and actively listening. Gordon's emphasis on teaching effectiveness is founded on his belief that a good classroom manager needs to implement effective instructional practices. Especially important to middle school classroom management is Gordon's work on teacher effectiveness training and children's self-discipline.
Contributions of Gordon's Theories. According to Gordon, teachers need to insist upon self-discipline in their students. Rather than yelling yell
v. yelled, yell·ing, yells
To cry out loudly, as in pain, fright, surprise, or enthusiasm.
To utter or express with a loud cry. See Synonyms at shout.
n. , screaming, and punishing pun·ish
v. pun·ished, pun·ish·ing, pun·ish·es
1. To subject to a penalty for an offense, sin, or fault.
2. To inflict a penalty for (an offense).
3. students to no avail, teachers should realize that they cannot accept responsibility for someone else's behavior and should insist that students accept the responsibility to discipline themselves. Gordon found a system of rewards and punishments to be ineffective.
Gordon reminds teachers to ask themselves, "Who owns the problem?" (1974, p. 46). He maintains that although the teacher ultimately assumes responsibility for the classroom, the student actually "owns" many of the problems. For example, one daydreaming student does not interfere with the progress of an entire class. Although the teacher should send the message that daydreaming is unacceptable, the problem is the student's and, ultimately, he or she will have to accept responsibility for changing the behavior.
Along with promoting the idea of problem ownership, teachers need to engage in "active listening" (Gordon, 1974, p. 63). Students need to know that their teacher genuinely understands their concerns. This message cannot be communicated through silence or a brief acknowledgement of students' comments. Active listening also can help teachers better understand behavior problems, while prodding students to identify the causes of the misbehavior, accept responsibility for the problem, and determine a solution.
Of, relating to, or characterized by empathy.
Adj. 1. empathic - showing empathy or ready comprehension of others' states; "a sensitive and empathetic school counselor"
empathetic understanding, in which a teacher learns about individual students, their specific needs, and their interests and abilities, is one of the best ways to correct or prevent student misbehaviors (Gordon, 1989). In this way, a teacher can tailor curricular and instructional decisions toward individual students without sacrificing academic rigor rigor /rig·or/ (rig´er) [L.] chill; rigidity.
rigor mor´tis the stiffening of a dead body accompanying depletion of adenosine triphosphate in the muscle fibers. , achievement, productivity, or creativity. Among the causes of students' misbehaviors might be feelings of inadequacy, stressful home situations, or events from other classes.
Gordon also recommends that teachers send "I-messages" (1974, p. 136). When a teacher begins a statement by saying "you," he or she focuses the message only at the student, rather than conveying how the teacher feels. Saying to the student "You stop that? or "You had better quiet down or else!" poses roadblocks to effective management. Instead, an I-message expresses how the teacher feels about the student's behavior or communicates how it affects him or her. For example, teachers can make statements such as "I'm frustrated frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: by all this noise," "I'm really annoyed when people get pushed around in this room," "I have difficulty working in all this clutter," or "I am troubled when I don't receive your homework" (Gordon, p. 137).
Gordon (1974) proposed a six-step problem-solving process for resolving conflicts: 1) define the problem, 2) generate possible solutions, 3) evaluate the solution, 4) decide on the best solution, 5) determine how to implement the decision, and 6) assess how well the solution solved the problem. This six-step approach can be used to address almost any problem or conflict--students constantly talking, forming cliques, making too much noise, or bullying Bullying
Chowne, Parson Stoyle
terrorizes parish; kidnaps children. [Br. Lit.: The Maid of Sker, Walsh Modern, 94–95]
bully; becomes thief in Fagin’s gang. [Br. Lit. other children on the playground. Ultimately, the students will learn to accept responsibility for resolving difficulties.
Gordon also believed that children should be taught self-discipline. In Teaching Children Self-Discipline (1989), he considered the word "discipline." As a noun noun [Lat.,=name], in English, part of speech of vast semantic range. It can be used to name a person, place, thing, idea, or time. It generally functions as subject, object, or indirect object of the verb in the sentence, and may be distinguished by a number of , it suggests order, organization, knowledge of and compliance with rules and procedures, and consideration of others' rights; as a verb verb, part of speech typically used to indicate an action. English verbs are inflected for person, number, tense and partially for mood; compound verbs formed with auxiliaries (e.g., be, can, have, do, will) provide a distinction of voice. , it suggests control and punishment. Gordon maintained that disciplining children might be the least (emphasis Gordon's) effective way to achieve discipline at home or in the classroom, and that discipline in the form of punishment produces aggression, hostility, and violence in children. Ultimately, Gordon believed that children should be taught discipline in a nurturing way, rather than having it imposed upon them. Instead of using rewards and punishments, he recommended noncontrolling methods to change a child's behavior, with the goal of having the child accept responsibility for the problem.
Directions for Middle School Educators. The teachers in the following examples have found Gordon's theories to be effective and relatively easy to implement.
* Demonstrating empathic understanding. During the first few weeks of school, one 6th-grade teacher gives his students an interest inventory, reviews their permanent records, talks with their parents, and "interviews" each student. He learns as much as he can about his students and looks for their challenges and potential problems as well as strengths on which he can build instruction. He has very few behavior problems. This is mainly due, he thinks, to his students' recognition of their teacher's sense of empathic understanding.
* Promoting active listening. When one 7th-grade teacher saw Jermesha enter the room one day, she could sense the girl's anger and frustration. When the teacher questioned Jermesha, the young woman responded: "Nothing's wrong and I don't want to talk about it." The teacher replied, "OK, but if you feel you need an ear, I have a free period later today." That afternoon, Jermesha did share her feelings and the teacher was able to help Jermesha find a way to solve her problem.
* Avoiding "you" statements. An 8th-grade teacher encourages his students to focus on sending I-messages, which he tries to model in his own interactions. For example, after he noticed some students in his social studies class picking on a special education student, he approached the problem and began a class discussion by saying: "I become concerned and annoyed whenever I see someone being bullied bul·ly 1
n. pl. bul·lies
1. A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.
2. A hired ruffian; a thug.
3. A pimp.
4. by others."
A Synthesis of the Foundational Theorists
Middle school educators can either adopt the ideas of one foundational theorist or use an eclectic e·clec·tic
1. Selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources, systems, or styles: an eclectic taste in music; an eclectic approach to managing the economy.
2. approach that incorporates the most applicable aspects of each theory into the model. Unless a middle school formally adopts one classroom management model for all teachers to use, educators usually select an eclectic approach, seeking what works best for them and their students.
What aspects of each theorist might a middle school teacher select to address the misbehaviors described in Table 1? While these are individual decisions, several aspects seem generally applicable for managing young adolescents. First, Skinner's use of positive reinforcement and his behavioral contracts appear to have potential--many teachers find success when they reinforce positive behavior and refrain from making negative comments. Second, Redl and Wattenberg's approach of providing situational assistance and helping students regain self-control also is effective, as is the suggestion to have students appraise reality to determine how their behavior affects others. Third, Glasser's proposal to make schools caring places with a sense of belonging has potential for improving middle schools' learning environments. Fourth, Gordon's theories can prove especially effective when educators insist upon self-discipline, demonstrate empathic understanding, and send "I-messages."
Teachers use Skinner's operant conditioning when they reward positive behavior and fail to reward negative behaviors. They take advantage of Redl and Wattenberg's theories when they consider the effects of group behavior on individual behavior, and vice-versa. Teachers are incorporating Glasser's "choice theory" when they provide opportunities for children to choose between appropriate or inappropriate behavior. Last, Gordon's work emphasizes that teachers should consider individual student needs and insist that students accept responsibility for behavior. Thus, the foundational theorists of classroom management highlighted here continue to provide direction for contemporary classroom management.
Table 1 EXAMPLES OF DEVELOPMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS MISBEHAVIORS, AND THE APPLICATION OF A FOUNDATIONAL THEORY Developmental Example Characteristic Variations in A well-developed developmental 15-year-old looks areas like an adult, but psychosocially is shy, timid, and childlike, and cognitively contin- ues to function concretely. Diversity in A 15-year-old looks physical size like an 11-year-old. Low self-esteem A 12-year-old experiences low self-esteem in curricular areas and in most social situations. Peer pressure A once-quiet 13- year-old becomes friends with members of a gang. Developmental Possible Misbehaviors Characteristic Variations in * Talking, annoying others, and exerting developmental power to avoid participating in social areas activities and in cognitive activities requiring higher levels of thought. * Trying to have the last word to "cover up" behavioral or academic failures. * Experimenting with alcohol and tobacco to demonstrate adult-like behaviors. Diversity in * Demonstrating boisterous, disrespect- physical size ful behaviors and challenging authority to prove "grown-up" status. * Wearing "adult-like" clothes and acting grown-up. * Avoiding activities requiring physical strength and stamina. Low self-esteem * Talking around, being rude, goofing off, and disrupting others to hide inadequacies. * Being the class clown to avoid failing school work. Refusing to participate in group activities requiting individual accountability. Peer pressure * Participating in illegal or disturbing behaviors. * Looking to peers for behavior stan- dards rather than to adults or "indi- vidually considered" standards. * Seeking revenge and showing defiance to impress peers. Developmental Example of the Application Characteristic of a Foundational Theory Variations in Using positive reinforcement such as developmental ignoring talking and efforts to gain areas attention while reinforcing positive behavior, using only positive comments, and providing behavioral contracts. (Skinner) Diversity in Teaching students that only they can physical size control themselves, and making schools caring places with a sense of belonging and with opportunities for enjoyment. (Glasser) Low self-esteem Demonstrating active listening and em- pathic understanding, and convincing students that they own the problem even though it affects others. (Gordon) Peer pressure Helping students understand and appraise reality (e.g., seeing how annoy- ing behaviors affect others), and helping students develop self-control. (Redl and Wattenberg)
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Skinner, B. F. (1948). Walden two Walden Two (1948) is a novel by B.F. Skinner which described a fictional utopia in which a thousand people have obtained a good life modeled after Thoreau's experiment in living near Walden pond. In it B.F. . New York: Macmillan.
Skinner, B. F. (1970). Science and human behavior. New York: Knopf.
Wattenberg, W. (1967). All men are created equal The quotation "All men are created equal" is arguably the best-known phrase in any of America's political documents, as the idea it expresses is generally considered the foundation of American democracy. . Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Wayne State University, at Detroit, Mich.; state supported; coeducational; established 1956 as a successor to Wayne Univ. (formed 1934 by a merger of five city colleges). Press.
Katherine T. Bucher is Associate Professor, Old Dominion University “ODU” redirects here. For other uses, see ODU (disambiguation).
The university was recently named one of the best colleges in the Southeast by The Princeton Review. , Norfolk, Virginia Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States of America. With a population of 234,403 as of the 2000 census, Norfolk is Virginia's second-largest incorporated city. . M. Lee Manning is Professor, Department of Educational Curriculum and Instruction, Darden College of Education, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia.