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Teaching Style and Classroom Management

The process of maintaining a calm and productive classroom environment starts with the
teacher. The action and attitudes of a teacher toward a student who is misbehaving can
make the situation better or worse. Have you ever noticed that on a day that you are not
feeling well, the students are more poorly behaved? Students look to the teacher for
consistency and safety in the classroom. Some kids will become anxious and withdraw if it
appears that a teacher cannot handle behavior problems. Other students, however, will
retaliate if they feel a teacher is overreacting to a situation in a hostile and unnecessary
way.
Effective Teachers are Both Warm and Demanding
Teachers manifest different personalities and teaching styles in the classroom and it is
helpful to categorize these approaches in terms of some basic dimensions. It has been said
that good teachers are both warm and demanding. Being warm means caring and emotional
support for students. Being demandingin the good sensemeans expecting something
from your kids, both in terms of academic work and behavior. Depending on whether the
warm and demanding switches are in the OFF or ON positions, we can describe four
fundamental teaching styles.
Authoritarian: Demanding ON, Warm OFF
Teachers in this category are quick to jump on every behavior that is not acceptable in
the classroom. Support and positive reinforcement, however, are rare. The authoritarian
teacher may use a loud voice to get the attention of her students. She may act shocked and
angry when students dont follow her directives. The benefit of this style is that the
teacher frequently gets the immediate compliance from her students. The cost of the
authoritarian style includes student anxiety and minimal long-term positive effects. No
student enjoys a teachers yelling. Although kids may comply out of fear, this teaching
technique rarely produces behavioral changes that last over time.
Permissive: Demanding OFF, Warm ON
Teachers in this category are often too nice. They want students to like them and they
want to be helpful, so they are warm and supportive but not very good at setting limits.
Permissive teachers may focus on effort while de-emphasizing the quality of students
productions. Disruptive behavior may be ignored or handled with weak, soft-spoken
reprimands or pleading. While warmth and support are good qualities, students still
appreciate discipline even if they dont show it. The cost of the permissive style is a
classroom that is out of control. Constructive learning does not flow well. While students
may describe a permissive teacher as nice and easy, when push comes to shove they do
not feel that they can trust her to take care of problem situations.
Detached: Demanding OFF, Warm OFF
The detached teacher tends to be neither warm nor demanding. She may sit at her desk
when students are working or grade papers when supervising the playground. Students
who need extra emotional support do not get it from her, and students who need firm
behavioral limits do not get that either. The detached teacher may miss important warning
signs from students who are having trouble, academically or behaviorally. Other students
may withdraw and feel unimportant. And still other kids may increase acting-out behavior.
Authoritative: Demanding ON, Warm ON
The authoritative teacher is the ideal, though this approach is easier said than done! This
teacher has a positive, kind and supportive relationship with her students, but they know
when she means business. Because she has an effective discipline plan and her classroom
is orderly, the students trust her and respect her. There is more time for academics. This
teacher feels empowered and energized because she sees positive growth and development
in her students. Her students feel safe as well as capable.