An exploration of effective classroom management in three different phases of a primary school in a small town in southern KwaZulu-Natal.
Coetzee, Morné Johan James.
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Most teachers want to create classrooms that promote the achievement of learners’ full potential. Learners’ behaviour, however, often disrupts the teaching and learning. Instead, the fact that those teachers have to spend so much time sorting out disruptive behaviour makes the classroom a place filled with tension and unpleasantness. Various studies have shown that children’s troublesome behaviour shows no sign of decreasing and teaching has become more complex and more demanding than ever. Although the teacher brings an enormous amount of expertise to the classroom, this is not enough to ensure that effective teaching and learning will take place. Various, ongoing changes in society and education require teachers to add new understandings about learners’ behaviour and the complexities thereof in the classroom. Teachers are thus required to devise practices and techniques to manage their classrooms to promote teaching and learning. Teachers have to employ methods and techniques to ensure that they create a classroom that is conducive to teaching and learning. Some researchers have suggested that teachers become ‘classroom researchers’ to look at their own practice and then evaluate means and ways to improve on it. Teachers are required to become ‘reflective practitioners’ to improve their classroom management skills through reflection and self evaluation. Teachers are also required to teach with influence and care. The classroom context and the relationship between teachers and learners are cited as particularly important in shaping the way that the teacher manages the classroom to achieve teaching and learning. I have adapted a particular approach to my classroom management that is very specific. This approach focuses on group work, social learning and guided interaction between learners. My method however is not perfect and thus I have set out to review other classroom management approaches with the aim of improving my own practice. To achieve this I have looked at the way in which three of my colleagues manage their classrooms and I have aimed to employ some of their tactics in my personal classroom management. The research was approached using three research questions as a basis. These were as follows: 1. What methods do teachers use to manage their classrooms? 2. What do teachers perceive as effective classroom management? 3. How can the environment be adapted to achieve effective classroom management? To explore these critical questions, the case study approach was adopted. The participants were observed in their classrooms and interviews were conducted to get a holistic picture of the classroom management approaches used by the selected participants. The participants in this study displayed diverse backgrounds, classroom management approaches and personalities. The study revealed that these teachers employed various methods in their classroom management. Group work, reciting of rhymes, arranging the classroom in certain ways, maintaining good human relations and keeping learners gainfully occupied were some of the methods that the participants in the study have employed to achieve effective classroom management. These teachers perceived effective classroom management very differently. Some saw it as a way of getting learners involved in the lesson to minimise distraction, while others had a somewhat idealistic view on this issue. The study also revealed that the teachers involved had reorganised their classrooms, divided their classes into manageable smaller groups and even flooded their learners with work to change the environment to achieve effective classroom management. The findings of this study can be of value in discussion to seek solutions or alternatives to address effective classroom management in schools that experience concerns on this vital issue.