Journal of Classroom Interaction, ISSN 0749-4025. © 2008, Vol 43.

1, pages 34 - 47

Student-Centered and Teacher-Centered Classroom Management:
A Case Study of Three Elementary Teachers

Tracey Garrett
rider UNIVERSITY, Lawrenceville, New Jersey

ABSTRACT ted directly by the teacher. Brophy (1999) explains that in
these classrooms students are expected to “strive to make
The major purpose of this case study was to document sense of what they are learning by relating it to prior knowl-
the classroom management beliefs and practices of three edge and by discussing it with others” (p. 49). The class acts
teachers reputed to implement student-centered instruction as “a learning community that constructs shared understand-
and to examine the relationship between their instructional ing” (Brophy, 1999, p. 49).
and managerial approaches. More specifically, do teachers To complement this shift in instructional approach,
who use student-centered instruction also implement student- some school reformers and researchers propose a shift in
centered management? Results indicate that, although all classroom management approach. For example, Rogers and
three teachers used an eclectic approach, two teachers tend- Freiberg (1999) suggest that such a shift requires teachers
ed to be more student-centered while one was more teacher- to adopt a person-centered, rather than a teacher-centered,
centered with respect to classroom management. All three orientation toward classroom management, which features
teachers’ approaches also reflected the principles of “good shared leadership, community building, and a balance be-
classroom management” derived from studies conducted in tween the needs of teachers and students. Brophy (2006)
the 1960’s and 1970’s in traditional transmission classrooms. argues that “a management system that orients students to-
Results also indicate that the teachers did think about the re- ward passivity and compliance with rigid rules undercuts the
lationship between instruction and classroom management, potential effects of an instructional system that is designed
but not in terms of using student-centered management to to emphasize active learning, higher order thinking, and the
support their student-centered instruction. Rather, they social construction of knowledge” (p. 40). Similarly, Mc-
thought about what management strategies were necessary Caslin and Good (1992, 1998) warn that efforts to promote
to successfully implement a particular lesson. constructivist learning and teaching have “created an oxy-
moron: a curriculum that urges problem solving and critical
INTRODUCTION thinking and a management system that requires compliance
and narrow obedience” (1992, p. 12).
For years, people’s understanding of classroom man- Despite the concerns of educators about a potential
agement was rooted in behavioral theories of teaching and mismatch between instruction and management, from a
learning. The primary emphasis for classroom management theoretical point of view, it seems reasonable to expect that
in a behavioral model is the use of techniques that bring teachers would actually strive to match their instructional
students’ behavior under stimulus control (Brophy, 1999). and managerial approaches. Teachers who are committed
These behavioral approaches to classroom management are to student-centered instruction, presumably base their in-
consistent with a “traditional” or transmission approach to structional decisions on a basic set of assumptions about the
instruction. Over the last decade, however, views on good way children learn and what they need in the classroom. For
instruction have shifted. Educators are now encouraged to example, if such teachers believe that children need to be
implement an instructional approach based on constructiv- active participants in the learning process, engage in critical
ist principles of learning (Brophy, 1999; Dollard and Chris- thinking and participate in the problem-solving process, it
tensen, 1996). seems logical to expect them to choose classroom manage-
In contrast to traditional instruction, this student-cen- ment strategies such as conflict resolution and peer media-
tered approach focuses on meaning making, inquiry and au- tion that foster the same skills.
thentic activity. The instructional goal in student–centered Unfortunately, there have been very few studies of the
classrooms, based on constructivist principles of learning, management practices used by teachers implementing con-
is to create a learning environment where knowledge is co- structivist or student-centered instruction. This lack of em-
constructed by the teacher and students rather than transmit- pirical data, argues Martin (2004), “has left educators with-

34 Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. 43.1 2008

Adapted with permission. a power continuum from minimum (student-centered) to tered) educator. Classroom management is a multi-faceted concept that includes the organization of the physical environment. highly impersonal relationships cially complex learning environments” (p. 1994. 1967). is likely to maintain a classroom climate in which ac- centered instruction and to examine the relationship between tive interaction and communication. These one end of the continuum is the custodial (teacher-centered) three philosophical “faces” of discipline may be placed on educator and at the other end is the humanistic (student-cen. I focus on the maintenance of order. 240). by C. It is important Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. Frieberg.. mutual respect. 406). The extremes in the continuum of beliefs maximum (teacher-centered) use of power by the teacher. Specifically. self–determination and independence Management are fostered (Willower. J. as well as student Teacher-Centered and Student-Centered Classroom self-discipline.Centered Classroom Management table 1 Discipline Comparison in Teacher–Centered and Person–Centered Classrooms Teacher–Centered Person–Centered Teacher is the sole leader Leadership is shared Management is a form of oversight Management is a form of guidance Teacher takes responsibility for all the paperwork and or. At ing. Copyright 1994 by Prentice- Hall. Rogers and H. employing punitive sanctions. the development of pil Control Ideology form. Columbus: Merrill Publishing. attitudes of general mistrust and a major ent study was an effort to address this need. Upper Saddle River. sought to document the classroom management beliefs and b) The educator with a more humanistic orientation practices of three teachers reputed to implement student.Students are facilitators for the operations of the class- ganization room Discipline comes from the teacher Discipline comes from the self A few students are the teacher’s helpers All students have the opportunity to become an integral part of the management of the classroom Teacher makes the rules and posts them for all students Rules are developed by the teacher and students in the form of a constitution or compact Consequences are fixed for all students Consequences reflect individual differences Rewards are mostly extrinsic Rewards are mostly intrinsic Students are allowed limited responsibilities Students share in classroom responsibilities Few members of the community enter the classroom Partnerships are formed with business and community groups to enrich and broaden the learning opportunities for students Note. Custodialism and humanism are measured by the Pu- the establishment of rules and routines. with students. NJ. Wolfgang (2001) identifies three philosophi- continuum of beliefs about the way children learn to behave cal “faces” of discipline. which include relationship–listen- and conceptualized this as one’s pupil-control ideology. and the prevention of and response followed by a Likert scale ranging from ‘strongly agree’ (five to misbehavior. close personal their instruction and managerial approaches. Rogers and Freiberg (1994) consider what class- room management would look like in teacher-centered and a) The educator with a custodial orientation is likely person-centered classrooms (see Table 1). comprised of 20 statements. relationships with students. and practices teachers utilize in creating and managing so. Inc. For indicates a humanistic attitude toward control of pupils. positive attitudes. are described in the following way: Finally. moralistic perceptions. A high score signi- to view classroom management beliefs and practices on a fies a custodial attitude toward pupil control and a low score continuum from teacher-centered to student-centered. out clear direction and understandings of what knowledge to be highly controlling.1 2008 35 . and flexibility of rules. From Freedom to Learn. & Hoy. example. Some researchers suggest that it is helpful points) to ‘strongly disagree’ (one point). Willower (1975) found that educators vary along a Similarly. 43. confronting–contracting and rules–consequences. The pres. Student-Centered and Teacher. Eidell. 3rd Edition (p. each effective relationships.

since To help teachers maintain control over students. African room? Since one of the primary goals is to empower stu. Perlmutter & essary for an orderly classroom and time is set aside for the Burrell. advocates of a classroom management propose that teachers minimize the teacher-centered approach often rely on punishments. rooms centered environment. Another suggestion In teacher-centered classrooms. In these classrooms. which they claim will result in a more manageable class- room management in its purest form. 1992). Similarly. 1974).1 2008 . 43. The school is a science and simulation games (Edwards. even in a child- dent activity that disrupts that focus. p. Nonetheless. 1993) such as social to students’ interests. routines and punishments Emphasis is also placed on the development of students’ that are mandated rather than developed with the students social skills through various strategies such as I-messages (Freiberg. which means the students re- What kinds of management strategies support the in.Student-Centered and Teacher-Centered Classroom Management to note that although teacher-centered and student-centered dents and strengthen their sense of responsibility.g. a teacher-centered or student-centered approach to class. 2003). These Supporters of student-centered management propose forms of instruction lend themselves to having the teacher that children “see their acceptable. teaching of these rules during the first several days of school. In- rely on extrinsic motivation to influence student behavior. dem.7%. create reliance on the teacher and en- leges (Lovitt. such use of extrinsic rewards because they may adversely affect as reprimands. completion of a task is seen as a prerequisite for ob. such as lectures. (Gordon. 2004). caring behavior as vital stand in the front of the classroom while all students work to the maintenance of the group because they have a vested on the same task. ing the calendar or caring for a class pet. ex. 14. advocates of a student-centered approach to When students exhibit undesirable behavior. student-centered teachers encourage students to focal point. control is of primary is to share responsibility by having students complete class- importance and “authority is transmitted hierarchically” room tasks such as taking attendance or lunch count. updat- (Dollard & Christensen. make choices (Brophy and Good. 1996). Asian. American. When are often organized so that desks face toward the primary this happens.0%. praise). Hispanic. search below the surface. However. 1999. the physical design of the class. In other words. teachers exert their control through a ior through conflict resolution and peer mediation programs. courage appropriate behavior for the sake of a reward rather Finally. interest in the health of the group as a whole” (Bloom. frowns. p. calling attention to the instrumental rewards (e. 1990). teachers are encouraged to use strategies for enhancing Here. teaching Setting methods or strategies include reflective thinking. 3). incorporating game-like fea- puter time) and tangible rewards (e. activity rewards (e. role-playing. a student’s intrinsic motivation. Finally. 45. value of academic activities. behavior problems will arise. and community building activities. and technology magnet school. demonstrations. classroom meetings (Bloom. essential component of a student-centered approach. meaning the teacher ex. inquiry. tures and providing opportunities to exercise autonomy and In contrast. when generating the classroom rules. try out various possible solutions METHODOLOGY or explanations and finally construct his or her own mean- ing (Ryan & Cooper. Ameri- 36 Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol.3%. marily in helping the child engage problems and issues. in teacher-centered classrooms. 134).g. teachers identify the rules nec. positive student-teacher relationships presumably lessen the structional methods that promote a focus on the teacher are need for control and become the foundation for all interac- frequently used. time outs and loss of special privi. One way teachers may share their lenses are useful ways of examining the dominant orienta. Per- room often promotes a focus on the teacher and limits stu. 1999). The student body is di- structional strategies and goals of a student-centered class. com. Critics of teacher-centeredness can be given autonomy to decide when to use the bathroom. verse in terms of race and ethnicity (White. student motivation. guided discussions. projects school (K–6) serving 615 students. argue that in these classrooms. stead. The development of interpersonal relationships is an 1999). free time. candy and stickers). The study was conducted in a suburban elementary ploratory discussions. tion in the classroom (Dollard & Christensen. teachers may than for the good of the group (DeVries & Zan. control with their students is to elicit student participation tion of a classroom. initiative and passive learners over active learners (Freiberg. it is highly unlikely that any teacher implements quishing hierarchical power structures and sharing control. Generally. these room (Nichols. 1999). compliance is valued over sharpen pencils and throw out garbage. 1994). proponents classroom management can be seen as opposite ends of a of student-centered classroom management suggest relin- continuum. Similarly. onstrations and “cookbook” labs (Edwards. students erts control over the students.g. 13. system of clearly defined rules. 2004). ceive extra instruction in these areas. take increased responsibility in regulating their own behav- In addition. the teacher (Boostrom. 1991). 1996. including adapting activities taining something desirable (Chance.9%. in. lmutter & Burrell. a constructivist teacher is interested pri. 26. 2001).

1 2008 37 . individual accountability and col- laboration skills Guided Discovery The teacher structures an experience or problem for students and provides a series of steps for students to follow to discover the principle. tinuum. the more ranging from teacher-centered to student-centered (see Table limited definition seemed to be a realistic and reasonable 2). Upper Saddle River. 1994. McCombs and Whisler toward the student-centered end of the instructional con- (1997) discuss learner-centered education in terms of a “per. Copyright 1994 by Prentice– Hall. which lists various instructional strategies schools. by C.001%). Inc. . perspectives. capacities. and needs) with a focus on learning (the best Teacher Participants available knowledge about learning and how it occurs and I used principal recommendation and self-report to about teaching practices that are most effective in promoting identify teacher participants. Both measures were based the highest levels of motivation. teacher was defined as a teacher who implements instruc.” Nonetheless. for the purpose of this study. Adapted with permission. Columbus: Merrill Publishing. NJ. For example. and achievement on an instructional continuum adapted from Rogers and for all learners). a student-centered way of identifying teachers. Next. teachers who had indicated a willingness to Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. Cooperative Group Small group work that features positive interdependence.Centered Classroom Management TABLE 2 Instructional Continuum Teacher-Centered Lecture Teacher takes an active role and presents information to the entire class while the students’ main role is to listen to the new information being provided Recitation The classroom interaction follows the specific pattern of teacher initiates a question. can Indian. 3rd Edition (p. or how to accomplish a particular task Discussion Conversation designed to stimulate students to respond divergently and at higher cognitive levels to what they have been learning.. Rogers and H. Frieberg. with its emphasis on testing and outcomes. given the current climate of Freiberg (1994). talents. were known to implement instructional strategies clustered centered instruction. redity. From Freedom to Learn. After explaining the purpose of the study to the tional strategies designed to foster active engagement and school’s principal. backgrounds. with nearly equal numbers of boys and spective that couples a focus on individual learners (their he- girls. stu- dent responds and teacher evaluates the response Drill and Practice The teacher provides a series of independent tasks to reinforce a concept Demonstration The teacher helps the child’s learning by showing him or her how to use materials and spe- cial tools. 190). experiences. learning. Thus. (see Table 2) and asked her to generate a list of teachers who It is clear that this is a limited definition of student. Student-Centered and Teacher. I gave her the instructional continuum experiential learning. inter- ests. rule or generalization Contracts The teacher and student form a written agreement about what work will be completed and when Role Play Students act out real life dilemmas or decisions to solve problems Projects An investigation is undertaken by a student or group of students to learn more about a topic Inquiry An instructional strategy where the teaching begins with questions and relies on them heavily thereafter as ways to stimulate student exploration. discovery and critical thinking about subject matter Self–assessment The student has responsibility for evaluating his or her own work as a means of learning Student-Centered Student-centered Note. 43. J.

tified. one Since the study is a multiple case study. 1999). centered is Bethany’s way of involving students in the cre- agement beliefs and practices were drawn from Weinstein. ation of the classroom rules. despite her PCI score and her frequent use of student-centered instruction.g. twenty-nine year old female with seven tered or student-centered. community building/relationships.. data from interviews. In ad- design. Nonetheless. period. posters stating class rules) were also observed and re. Among strategies that can be characterized as student- tinuum (see Table 2). a process that enabled me to account for the major- third grade teacher at the selected school for eight years. some strategies can clearly be categorized as teacher-cen- Bethany. observations and ar- cused on general questions about the teacher’s instructional tifacts were triangulated. Raquel and Mike. reported that they primarily used student-centered strategies Although this dichotomous categorization certainly were identified and invited to participate. At those meetings. Three teachers generally described in the literature on classroom manage- whose names appeared on the principal’s list and who also ment. terviews with each teacher. To ensure reliabil- all the observations were completed. classroom routines (e. The categories used to code man. 38 Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. community building). all teachers completed the Pupil Control Ide. on several occasions I met with other researchers to were tape–recorded and transcribed. In addition. the second interview and after each individual case study was written and the teacher’s the stimulus recall interviews focused on critical incidents comments were incorporated when necessary. each strat. whereas. a white. as Bethany: First Grade well as key areas of classroom management (e. if necessary Data Collection (Marshall & Rossman. each observation lasted approximately an hour and a half. The first interview fo. analysis. um and asked to rank each instructional strategy from most This determination was based on the way the strategy was reflective to least reflective of their teaching.1 2008 . there are certain strategies that defy such categoriza- teacher and has since completed his Masters degree in edu. I adopted the role of a non-par. The oversimplifies the complexities of classroom management. For example. Within each category. switched to dent-centered. ducted four observations in each class over an eight-week any points of confusion were discussed and clarified. She ity of data collected and capture the dominant orientation of also has teaching experience at a local corporate Kindergar.g. forty-eight year old female has confidently code as either teacher-centered or student-cen- twenty-three years of teaching experience and has been a tered. I also con. a white thirty-eight year old male. reliability and validity checks. He entered the teaching field as an alternate route hand. and negative instances or disconfirming evidence were incorporated. patterns were critically challenged. Artifacts the humanistic or student-centered end of the continuum (e. Mike is in his twelfth year of teaching and has twen. Member checking was also used and managerial approach. I focused on strategies that I could ty students. Once the patterns were iden- Initially. recording in narrative form details of the teacher’s instructional strategies and students’ responses. ten and private preschool through first grade center.. Finally. teacher-generated rules are teacher-centered. one prior to observations. how- All three interviews followed a semi-structured format and ever. She has As the data were coded and patterns emerged. (20/100) than the custodial or teacher-centered end of the corded during the observations. dition. For each observation. Using literature as a spring- Tomlinson–Clarke and Curran’s (2003) characterization of board. they were described. physical Bethany’s PCI score (37/100) was much closer to design. Raquel. tion (e.Student-Centered and Teacher-Centered Classroom Management participate were each given the same instructional continu. rules and routines. “the look”).g. 43. a white. the data analysis phase. On the other ment. These categories included physical of rules and the class generates the rules together. All agreed. ity and validity. share the data and the coding procedure. three teachers selected included Bethany. students share responsibility for carrying out many motivation and discipline. practices were the strategies listed on the instructional con. Mike. egy was coded as either teacher-centered or student-centered. and an explanation demonstrat- ology (see Appendix A). Bethany holds a class discussion about the importance classroom management. RESULTS ticipant observer. I completed that arose during the observations (see Appendix B and C). rules/routines. each classroom. I conducted three in. the weather graph and calendar). teaching the skills years of teaching experience has twenty-five children in her of conflict resolution or peer mediation is undoubtedly stu- class. these twenty-three students in her third grade classroom. ing the plausibility of the explanation was offered.g. both within- stimulus recall (during the observation period) and one after case and cross-case analyses were used. verbal commands. During cation. I ob- Data Analysis served Bethany using a wide variety of managerial strate- The categories used to code the teachers’ instructional gies. all the coding. continuum (100/100). proximity. whereas good behavior incentive charts and a teaching career after spending five years in retail manage.

cedures for carrying out specific activities. One such incentive was Bethany attempts to foster her students’ capacity for the “mystery walker”: When students lined up to leave self-regulation and their sense of personal responsibility by the room. Bethany: “Are you allowed to wander around?” However. As she explained this point. Bethany read “The Wrinkled Heart” to the class.” so students have the opportunity to reflect on their behavior Bethany: “Right. She explained that words Bethany continues to explain the rationale for the ex- were powerful and could hurt and that she did not expect any pected behaviors and to stress why they were important. Bethany quest her help only if there is a problem with one of the five also used a tally system where groups of students competed B’s (bullying.” causes their hearts to wrinkle. in which students can re.. Student-Centered and Teacher.) wrinkles never go away. 10/20/2004) on the misbehaving student. Therefore. Bethany also implemented strategies based on the lution. to the other side of the chart to indicate that they are tening center. present for the day. The story explains how Bethany: “Is center time free time?” people are born with a large perfect heart and as they grow.” people say nice things to them.” (field notes. Bethany described a lesson on “well-established consensus principles” that emerged from the “conflict escalator. Bethany: “Who can demonstrate the proper way to use she put wrinkles into the paper heart. Bethany conducts character education les. And it will be one week before you can use to consider the individual student before choosing a specific that particular center again.” settled and listening and then began a review of the rules for In addition. Bethany was also careful ter [time]. class who it is.” Bethany reported that on many occasions she has heard just come back from their daily special and were eager to students say to one another. Finally. 37). it Students: “No. With respect to discipline. she incorpo. students to behave appropriately. bee stings or barf). broken bones. Some of the centers included “read the 8:56 – As students arrive they stop just inside the door- room. You need to go back down. as people make negative comments to them. For example. and that day you will not get any cen- and make the necessary changes. her I explain that conflicts can go up a conflict escalator. complete many tasks on their own (e. he or she earned a piece of candy. and it builds the heart up. Bethany’s class also has well-learned routines or pro- rated many student-centered strategies that enhanced stu. as we can see talk about ways to keep conflict from going up the escala. For example. Bethany selected one student. We classroom had clear expectations for behavior. from the following excerpt. OK. sharpening pencils. early in the school year. sons. where students listened to a story on tape. In this situation. dents’ intrinsic motivation. Bethany was concerned with Bethany: “How many warnings do you get in center helping students learn from their mistakes. but didn’t tell the encouraging them to solve their own conflicts. If the chosen individual walked correctly trated in her approach to tattling. in the hallway. center time. 43. In against one another to earn a prize for exhibiting appropriate order to provide her students with the skills to resolve their behavior. but the creases were still apparent.” where students used long pointers to locate words way and find their clothespin on a chart hanging by the and practiced reading them. p. when Bethany designed lessons. Now we all re- disciplinary intervention to avoid any negative social impact member the rules. you go up the escalator. Bethany implemented managerial strategies that were more using the restroom). although the front of the class.g. Bethany also chooses to arrange the reflective of a teacher–centered orientation.” She explained: “In this lesson we classroom management research conducted during the talk about when you are at the mall.1 2008 39 . For example. After they move their clothespin. For example. 2006. Bethany provided one of the most important routines is the morning arrival students with the opportunities to exercise autonomy and routine: make choices about what activities they wanted to do with- in a certain center. This is illus. “You are going up the conflict begin centers. Students: “No. For example. good. Students: “One. Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. They move the clothespin with their name on it practiced building words using magnetic letters and the lis. students’ desks in small groups to foster relationships among she often used extrinsic forms of motivation to encourage students. Bethany opened the paper heart up. where students door. blood. During one interview. Bethany waited until all the students were escalator. she time?” reported that she frequently used warnings and time outs. Then she explained a pointer?” (One student is called up to demonstrate in that apologies help hearts to grow strong again. 1960s and 1970s (Brophy. wrinkled hearts in their classroom. own conflicts.Centered Classroom Management and they have the freedom to move around the room and In addition to these student-centered approaches. Bethany implements lessons on conflict reso. students had tor. the ABC center.

or transition times. or to do more than one her students. When students heard the beep.pulling out the overhead…woo hoo… big man- 10/07/04). placed it in the bin and is students in the creation of a code of discipline. Look you even tried to make and they are fighting? What happens if you have one a cursive ‘L’. the things tion of the day. 43. prevented any down time and possible misbehavior. work in the bin and start the ‘Do Now’ (field notes. of the continuum (20/100) than the custodial or teacher-cen- Bethany also exhibited withitness and “overlapping. Raquel also worked hard at building relationships with Bethany’s ability to overlap. “Oh how nice. Raquel made she did not think in terms of a match.] there is less management because they are just their lockers and unpack. she was curious to know if she ever thought about the relation. They are just sitting Another routine was the use of a timer during clean-up there and you tell them to pull out their next textbook. if she was concerned with achieving a “match” between in. 10/07/04) out garbage. I frequently observed Raquel’s attempts to foster these struction and management. has finished her Do Now.” tered end (100/100). they proceed to lessons. read and responded to the note. Another example is illustrated in this excerpt: student-centered lessons were more difficult to manage than teacher-centered lessons: 9:04 – Raquel sits at her desk and collects and organiz- es picture money. “I’m going to hang it up. in the morning. remember. next is reading a nonfiction book routines such as the calendar. arranges the students’ desks in small groups to foster the de- ship between instruction and management. What do you have to manage? Nothing. agement! So. Then. like Beth- were so accustomed to this routine. For example. yes there is definitely less management. sitting there. The students Raquel’s PCI score (45/100) indicates that.. classroom or made a quick comment to the child soon there- ferent instructional formats. attendance and lunch count. how are you going (field notes. which again believes that the more students feel that you care about them. I and that affects classroom management. but I also observed her use of the ample of withitness is as follows: “consensus” strategies derived from research on effective classroom management. although she clearly sure she greeted every student as he or she arrived in the thought about the managerial challenges associated with dif. (in a sweet and sincere voice). Just something so out interrupting her demonstration. As she calls one group up at a time to hand in worked toward the goal of empowering students and their money.. One student gives Raquel a card she You have to think a lot more about management things made for her. (field notes. Raquel: Third Grade they began to quickly clean up and get settled.” kids get pulled out for ESL? Then. sharpen pencils and use the bathroom. What. even if it is only a little and a student from another class appeared at the door. she continually glances up. Raquel money. 40 Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. She sees that strengthening their sense of responsibility by involving the E. they did not need verbal any. in particular. to merge the groups together? It’s unending. One ex. they place their home. she use of jobs that required them to complete several classroom says. “the more they want to please you and not disappoint you Given Bethany’s use of an eclectic set of strategies. with teacher-centered yes or no column accordingly. was apparent when she was demonstrating dents are very important to me. they find their name on a pocket you need to think about when you are doing student- chart next to the question of the day and place it in the centered instruction. she asserted that after.” In addition. There is nothing to think about. Next. Bethany set a timer and after a few sec- onds. comment about how they look that day. “E. 10/06/04).1 2008 . [In contrast.Student-Centered and Teacher-Centered Classroom Management they move to the front of the room and read the ques. nods and makes her way to the rug in The students also had the freedom to move about to throw the reading corner. Bethany signaled for they know that I am paying attention to them. As Bethany is still collecting picture money.” The student smiles and begins to walk kid sitting there doing nothing? What happens if two away. velopment of relationships among students. With. Raquel also says. Raquel gives the student a hug and says when you are student-centered with your instruction. in the corner. Specifically. Her response made it clear that connections. the timer would beep. and. As she commented: “Connections with stu- thing at a time. Similarly.” Raquel also him to come in. during my observations. she is closer to the student-centered or humanistic end directions.. Then. I clearly saw this orientation in practice two key concepts emphasized by Kounin (1970). 9:17 – Bethany is seated at her desk collecting picture In terms of student-centered approaches. I make sure I have some how the students should set up their November calendars one–on–one time with everyone. This is Like what happens if you are doing cooperative groups from your whole family.” E. looking around the classroom (possibly unsure what to the students shared in classroom responsibility through the do).

The students’ by himself. Students were required to ask a classmate to edit not think about using student-centered managerial strategies their paper when they were done. rather than sharing the responsibilities with the enthusiastic response to the lesson indicated that these strat. proach to both instruction and classroom management. Raquel’s There were many opportunities to observe the sup. The students appeared genuinely interested in learning about their classmates. At the beginning of the year.1 2008 41 . Student-Centered and Teacher. As she put it: “I don’t another student to edit his or her paper was told. several students im.” Raquel makes her way Raquel also believed that she needed to devote time and back to the group she was originally working with. such as school supplies (backpacks. (field notes. although slightly capitalize on students’ intrinsic motivation to learn by build. Mike also completes would be used every time students went shopping. Raquel made efforts to Mike’s PCI score was 50/100. fact that the classroom rules are mandated by the teacher During the lesson. lunch count and attendance) need to know if they have enough money. Raquel asked one girl. She to reflect a student-centered orientation. also observed these supportive relationships during a writing when I asked Raquel about this. she implemented classroom meetings and a con. Raquel was in the middle of providing courage interaction. Each lesson is different. she does not think explicitly in terms of trying to achieve terials. Raquel they appear to be on task. there were two times when a student dropped In general. There were small items proach. yet mediately went to help the child who had dropped the ma. Raquel managed to continue solving skills and to empower students to deal with prob. In directions to the entire class when one student returned from addition. and thus time to misbehave. not just dis. I’ll do that. I don’t want to see anyone and seemed thrilled that Raquel remembered. since they many classroom routines (e. I consistency between these two tasks of teaching. “yes” or think about it that way. the nurse’s office with a note explaining that she needed to flict resolution program to promote students’ social problem go home because she was sick. “OK more days until the big wedding?” The girl had a big smile show me that you are ready. but a closer exami- Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. Any student who asked to support her instructional approach. 43. she indicated that she does lesson. For example.” I was able to overhear several editing mented further that “ultimately the management of a lesson sessions. but as she much time away from academic learning.g.” cuss grammar mistakes. she emphasized the fact that estimating rather than developed by the students. and peer assistance. crayons and markers) Mike’s teacher-centered orientation can be seen in the and bigger items like Nintendo and Spiderman memorabilia. “How many to the group and says (in a strict.Centered Classroom Management leaves the group she is with and moves quickly over In another example. In two different situations. Mike chooses a “u–shaped” arrange- egies were successful. but the strategies used in each lesson are different. rolling around on the floor. I heard students ask is what decides if you are going to have a successful lesson specific personal questions about the writing. data from the interviews and observa- 2003). Likewise. Mike: Fifth Grade With respect to motivation. 1970). the homework assignment and pack up to go home. Raquel implements a student-centered ap- a bucket of markers. She effort to build supportive and caring relationships among the takes several glances back to the group on the carpet and students in her class. students. Raquel’s withitness (praise and compliments) to reward and encourage appropri- is seen in this lesson. makes ing on students’ interests and showing how the information him the least student-centered or humanistic of the three being learned is relevant to their lives (Good & Brophy. Similarly. Raquel’s skill at overlapping was demonstrated during She also arranged the students’ desks in small clusters to en. Mike deliberately avoids conflict resolution or peer mediation programs because he says. Raquel tions reveal that Mike’s classroom management beliefs and had prepared “shopping lists” with pictures of various items practices are generally reflective of a teacher-centered ap- that were relevant to third graders. 11/01/2004) used “ice breaker” and “getting to know you” activities so she could begin to foster these relationships immediately.” scans the room. In both situations. ate behavior. teacher. or not. such as activity rewards (center time) and social rewards itness and overlapping (Kounin. exhibited basic managerial skills such as with. Indeed. without being asked by Raquel or another student. Raquel. speaking to the class and simultaneously help the girl copy lems that arose.” She com- “sure. for a math lesson on estimating. “they take too 11:20 – Raquel is working with one group. she sees another group a few feet away Some of the strategies that Mike uses at first appear from her lying on the floor in the reading corner. collaboration. He also uses several forms of extrinsic motivation like Bethany. For example. confident tone). toward the student-centered end of the continuum. ment for students’ desks because it promotes a focus on the In addition to using student-centered strategies. a science lesson. which. ability to overlap in this situation prevented any downtime portive and caring relationships that existed among students. teachers.

Mike also exhibited know the students as people through writing samples such withitness. dents and encourage active participation. All three were also tivating students to follow Mike’s directions. Mike exhibited strategies that are generally accepted as good classroom management. reinforced the positive relationships that existed in the class meaningful activities have little need or opportunity to be and contributed to the positive learning environment. Two girls seem to be preoccupied with some- a student-centered classroom. Actually. clearly.Student-Centered and Teacher-Centered Classroom Management nation suggests a more teacher-centered perspective. “I think any kind of teacher directed management I have to gauge how many times I will have to make saves time and makes it easier for more student-centered ac- a positive comment to get everyone back on track. If I tivities. (2006) has made the same observation: Like Bethany and Raquel. Also if I have to repeat it too many times. but they are working. He commented: needed to effectively implement a student-centered lesson. He also displayed the capacity for overlapping.” am going to have to say it to so many people that it is going to take too long or not seem genuine. and dealing with inappropriate and disruptive behav- ing lesson so that students could choose from a variety of ior is related to the type of activity and the physical topics. they would not be motivated to modify instruction itself contributed to their positive learning envi- their behavior. positive learning environments effectiveness was due to the high regard the students had characterized by minimal misbehavior and supportive. He concentrates on getting to desk and reschedule their next meeting. re- for their teacher. 43. demic activities (Kounin. their student-centered please their teacher. bends down and says something to them. Mike quickly walks over and effort in this area suggests a more teacher-centered orienta. call the officer over to his lationships with his students. he planned for variety and challenge in aca. 1970) when he structured a writ. 10/06/04) frequently uses positive recognition. thank you.” This strategy appeared to perspective when he offered the following comment: “Since serve as a motivation for other students to follow suit. after Mike gives a series of directions. I need to be cognizant of how much time is egy. he doesn’t feel the need to comple- a positive comment such as “F. I believe its able to create productive. Mike’s reason for investing thing in their desks. As he is came a teacher. small group work. and Doyle appreciation. Mike believes it is essential to develop strong re. Undoubtedly. the DARE (Drug Abuse greater the need for overt monitoring and managing ac- Resistance Education) police officer stopped by to resched. work at their own pace and conference with a peer or arrangements of the setting.” student. For example.1 2008 . For ule their next meeting. as seen in this math lesson: as “My Proudest Moment” and “My Favorite Memory. provide directions to the class. he often locates a student Although Mike strives to implement a student-centered who has quickly complied with those directions and offers instructional approach. The girls get tion: “It makes students feel more connected to the teacher back to work and Mike makes his way back to the new and then it is harder for them to misbehave. then I am DISCUSSION not going to use that strategy. he expressed a very different or “I see J. rather than a genuine expression of formats than with teacher-centered instruction. centered instruction. recting students. interacting with individual students. Mike managed simultaneously to example. greater the amount of student choice and mobility During one reading lesson. tions by teachers. Mike my ultimate goal is to use student-centered instruction- explained that he had to be careful not to overuse this strat. Mike again. projects. it also off-task or disruptive. his two children and his time in the military. While the strategy of positive recognition ronments. Studies suggest that the the teacher. students who were participating in challenging. The amount of time teachers spend organizing and di- For example. After a couple of seconds he looks at the girls Similarly. when Mike was in the process and the greater the complexity of the social scene.” Therefore. and discussion to engage stu- This strategy worked extremely well in terms of mo. if Mike’s students didn’t want to spectful relationships. talking to the new student. 102) 42 Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. in an attempt to prevent misbehavior. I like the way you put your ment his instructional approach with student-centered man- literature circle folder away and took out your math book” agement strategies. he looks up and scans the Although relationship-building is certainly a high priority in room. 10:42 – Mike is working with a new student. al strategies.” He also shares personal stories about his career before he be. then students will pick up on why I am All three teachers in this study emphasized student- doing it and it won’t work. Bethany noted that there are more appeared to be an example of deliberately using praise to managerial challenges with student-centered instructional encourage compliance. (field notes. the of giving directions to the class. relying heavily on hands-on activities.. is ready. (p.

As Brophy notes. Emmer. Evertson. and (2) the promotion of students’ social-emotional learning.). It would appear that Bethany and Raquel agree with this two- established routines or procedures for specific classroom fold purpose of classroom management.1 2008 43 . Student-Centered and Teacher. rather than shar- opportunities for choice and autonomy. Teachers seeking to establish learning communities in However. However. At times. it is also possible that the cost of using student- their classrooms will still need the familiar manage- centered management (loss of academic time) outweighs its ment strategies of articulating clear expectations. and these It would also seem beneficial for pre-service and in-service new roles must be taught to students along with those that programs to discuss the relationship between instruction and are found in more traditional classrooms. 1980). thusiastic and happy. Bethany and Raquel appeared to Raquel. Yet both “saves time. “u-shape. Beth. and provided many of the routine tasks of the classroom. mod- potential benefits. 43. and are more equipped to self-regulate their behavior and solve applying sufficient pressure to compel changes in be- their own problems than Mike’s students. not just the subset that applies in student-centered instruction with teacher-centered manage- transmission classes (p. Clearly. He ers had students create classroom rules. managerial practices as supporting his instruction.. Mike arranges his students’ desks in a “match” between instruction and management. they exhibited the critical behaviors such on the first goal alone. the potential of such activities to motivate and proach to management does not appear to promote the pas- engage students suggested that one of the teachers’ prime sivity and unthinking compliance that educational reformers management tools was their instruction.” so that they can focus easily on the teacher.” teachers also drew from a wide repertoire of management The difference between Mike on one hand and Bethany strategies. and students appear en- be the most student-centered with respect to management. In addition. derly environment so that academic learning can take place proaches to teaching (e.. future research should them at center time.. Mike’s classroom atmosphere. any conducted conflict resolution and character education rather than seeing this approach to management as subvert- lessons and gave students responsibility for resolving their ing his student-centered instruction. is positive and productive. It is im- Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. has developed his class rules by himself. they used teacher-centered strategies and Raquel on the other might be explained by a difference (e. management and to frame both in terms of teacher-centered- Compared to Bethany and Raquel. Mike perceives his own conflicts. fear. They had clear expectations for behavior and well. Given the design of the present study.g. 37). Both teach. and they enacted the in their thinking about the goals of classroom management. classrooms informed continue to examine the way that teachers think about man- by constructivist views of learning require students to learn agement (especially in relationship to instruction) and ex- new roles (e. although neither thought in terms of trying to achieve a As cited earlier. and he carries out ity for carrying out routine classroom tasks. is These results support Brophy’s (2006) contention that the there a cost? Are Mike’s students at a disadvantage? basic principles for good classroom management apply Certainly.g. basic principles for good classroom management developed Evertson and Weinstein (2006) contend that classroom man- from research conducted in the 1960s and 1970s—research agement has two purposes—(1) the development of an or- conducted in classrooms that emphasized transmission ap. since it spectful relationships with and among students. is impossible to determine if Raquel and Bethany’s students cueing students when these procedures are needed.g. while Mike focuses tasks. like that of Bethany and Of the three teachers. Interestingly. ment. raises the following questions: Although Mike saves time. lis- plore whether they find the managerial continuum helpful. Mike is far more ness and student-centeredness. ing responsibility for them with his students. etc. participants in collaborative group work. Additional studies havior when students have failed to respond to more that include student data and outcome measures are clearly positive methods. that this teacher-centered ap- Nonetheless.Centered Classroom Management portant to emphasize. Bethany’s “mystery walker”). we see Bethany instruction and management is also an intriguing finding teaching students the kind of behavior she expects from that deserves a closer look. however. re. giving feedback. one could argue that instruction and man- across instructional approaches: agement are not separate entities and that teachers should choose strategies that will support and reinforce one another. shared responsibil. it eling or providing instruction in desired procedures. Raquel worked hard to establish positive. teacher-centered in his approach to management. The fact that none of the three teachers in the present study think in terms of trying to achieve a match between Consistent with Brophy’s assertion. This results in a “mismatch” and as withitness and overlapping identified by Kounin (1970). Moreover. tening carefully to peers. and Anderson. the procedures taught to needed in order to investigate the ramifications of pairing students will need to include the full set that applies in learning communities.

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A few pupils are just young hoodlums and should be treated accordingly SA A U D SD 17. It is more important for pupils to learn to obey rules than that they make their own decisions SA A U D SD 12.Teachers should consider revision of their teaching methods if these are criticized SA A U D SD by their pupils 6. It is justifiable to have pupils learn many facts about a subject even if they have no SA A U D SD immediate application 9. Student governments are a good “safety valve” but should not have much influence SA A U D SD on school policy 13. Student-Centered and Teacher.1 2008 45 . 43. AND PUPILS. S = Strongly Agree A = Agree U = Undecided D = Disagree SD = Strongly Disagree 1. Pupils should not be permitted to contradict the statements of a teacher in class SA A U D SD 8. The best principals give unquestioning support to teachers in disciplining pupils SA A U D SD 7. Directing sarcastic remarks toward a defiant pupil is a good disciplinary technique SA A U D SD 4. Pupils can be trusted to work together without supervision SA A U D SD 14. If a pupil uses obscene or profane language in school. A pupil who destroys school material or property should be severely punished SA A U D SD 19. it must be considered a moral offense SA A U D SD 15.Centered Classroom Management Appendix A Pupil Control Ideology DIRECTIONS: FOLLOWING ARE TWENTY STATEMENTS ABOUT SCHOOLS. this privilege SA A U D SD will be abused 16. Too much pupil time is spent on guidance and activities and too little on academic preparation SA A U D SD 10.Beginning teachers are not likely to maintain strict enough control over their pupils SA A U D SD 5. TEACHERS. Pupils are usually not capable of solving their problems through logical reasoning. Being friendly with pupils often leads them to become too familiar SA A U D SD 11. Pupils cannot perceive the difference between democracy and anarchy in the classroom SA A U D SD 20. PLEASE INDICATE YOUR PERSONAL OPINION ABOUT EACH STATEMENT BY CIRCLING THE APPROPRIATE RESPONSE AT THE RIGHT OF THE STATEMENT. It is often necessary to remind pupils that their status in school differs from that of teachers SA A U D SD 18. If pupils are allowed to use the lavatory without getting permission. Pupils often misbehave in order to make the teacher look bad SA A U D SD Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. SA A U D SD 3. It is desirable to require pupils to sit in assigned seats during assemblies SA A U D SD 2.

do you think these techniques teach social skills and build relationships between students and student and teacher? V. For example how will you transition between reading and math today? IV. How would you describe your classroom climate? a) If community is mentioned. peer mediation or class meetings? If yes. In addition to relationships between students. How do you manage preparation and clean up for activities? 5. if any.Tell me about the expectations that you have for classroom behavior? a. How long have you worked in your current position? b. What role do you think relationships between students play in classroom management? 3. What three words would you use to describe your approach to classroom management? 46 Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. Do you use techniques like conflict resolution. How do you communicate those expectations to your students? 2. Instruction 1.1 2008 . ask what she/he does to foster a sense of community. You ask your class to clear off their desk and get ready for the next activity. Tell me about your experiences as a teacher. I am wondering how you decide on the physical arrangement? Student desks? Teacher’s desk? 2. Do you have specific rules for your classroom? How are they established? b. what role. As I look around your classroom. Again. What are your current job responsibilities (Grade level and subjects)? c. How do you respond when they don’t meet those expectations? a. During a science lesson. Do you have specific consequences? 4. One student refuses to do it. How do you most typically handle discipline problems in your classroom? 6. 3. Rapport Building: 1. a. How would you characterize your relationship with your students? 4. How do you respond when they do meet those expectations? (extrinsic vs. Discipline/Motivation 1. do you feel that student/teacher relationships play in classroom management? 5. ask what they are doing to try to improve it? 2. 43. Are they teacher or student–generated? Why? 3. let’s talk about the relationship between a teacher and student. I like to give you some scenarios and ask you how you would respond: a. How would you handle the situation? b.Student-Centered and Teacher-Centered Classroom Management Appendix B Interview Protocol #1 I. Does that sound OK? III. If a new student were coming to your class. how would your students describe you to that new student? 6. Can you tell me about your reading lesson today? Math? Science? Are these typical lessons for you? 4. Do you do specific community building activities? b) If response is negative. two students begin fighting over equipment for the experiment. I am wondering how you deal with transitions. How would you handle the situation? VII. What advice would you give to a new teacher about classroom management? 2. In today’s interview we will talk a little about instruction & classroom management. Relationships/Social Skills 1. Closing Questions: 1. Tell me how you design your schedule. intrinsic rewards?) 5.

We already talked about your feelings for conflict resolution and classroom meetings. four observations and a stimulus recall interview. You seemed to articulate your beliefs about both instruction and management and what strategies you find effective and why. do you think about management that is going to accompany that activity? 4. administration. the look. the last thing I would like to do is a final interview. What do you think might be the reasons some teachers don’t use student–centered classroom management strategies? Can you think of anything that facilitates your use of student–centered management techniques? What about any things or circumstances that prevent you from using student–centered techniques? Questions about the relationship between the two approaches: 1. student–centered continuum. you just placed yourself more toward the student–centered end of the continuum. Does that sound OK? Instruction: 1. For example – proximity. where would you place yourself? 4. I saw you use (Insert different techniques depending on which teacher I am interviewing. Can you pick some of the techniques and tell me the advantages and disadvantages of that particular tech nique? (Make sure they comment on a few from each end. 3. For example. we talked about your instructional approach and your classroom management approach. 43. particular subjects) Questions about management: 1. Do you think management differs depending on where you are on the instructional continuum? For example. Do you think that can work if you are teacher–centered with your instruction and student–centered with your management? 3. now that we have finished our initial interview. Do you think this score is an accurate reflection? Why or why not? 3. Well. I am curious if you think about the relationship between instruction and management and how they work together? 2. Can you explain to me when you are sitting down to do your lesson plans for the week. there are many people who conceptualize classroom management along a teacher–centered vs. If you were asked to classify your instructional approach in some area of this continuum. particular classes. and conferencing out in the hallway). So. does your management differ if you are doing a lecture vs. discussion. insert techniques depending on which teacher is being interviewed. Student-Centered and Teacher. I observed a lesson that included various instructional techniques. what do you think are the pros and cons of student–centered management strategies like these? What about the pros and cons of more teacher–centered management strategies? 4. it lists a variety of instructional techniques. the PCI inventory that I gave you after our first interview does this. as you move toward the student–centered end of the instructional continuum. There appears to be a push to implement more student centered classroom management strategies. For example. Example: direct instruction. how do you decide which instructional techniques to use? 2. (Draw and explain the continuum. Throughout the observations. Throughout the observations. a teacher’s score on the PCI reflects the teacher’s classroom management beliefs from a student/ teacher–centered framework. explicitly stating a child’s name. cooperative groups? 5. Can you explain to me how you decide which strategy to use in a particular situation? 2. What do you feel are some of the constraints that prevent you from using more student–centered instructional techniques? What are some of the circumstances/things that facilitate your desire to use student–centered techniques? (Prompts if needed because they don’t seem to understand the question – other faculty. More specifically. cooperative learning and guided discovery). Potential Question: (If they place themselves toward the student–centered end of the continuum) Well. if you look at this instructional continuum. which are very student–centered.1 2008 47 . Similar to the instructional continuum I just shared with you. how might your management look different? Teacher–centered end? Journal of Classroom Interaction Vol. point to one myself and ask about that one). demonstration. I saw you use (Again.Centered Classroom Management Appendix C Interview Protocol #2 Introduction: Well. Share their score). If not. I saw you use a variety of classroom management techniques/strategies. Well. (Share the instructional continuum used during interview #1) Well. I would like to ask you some more questions about your instructional and managerial approach. let’s say you are planning an activity in your classroom an instructional activity of some sort. For example.