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Chapter 2: Classifying Approaches to Classroom Management and Moving Up the Teaching Style Continuum

From Transformative Classroom Management. By John Shindler. ©2008 Wiley Press

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In this Chapter:


Each teacher has his or her own style of teaching and classroom management. There are as many styles as there are teachers. Much of the style of any teacher will come from their own unique personality. However, a great deal of what we might call our classroom management style comes from our attitudes and pedagogical choices. In the domain of personality, each of us can find ways to translate our personal style into an effective teaching demeanor. Yet, in the domain of choices and attitudes, some styles will be lead to substantially different outcomes than others (Harris, 1998).



Chapter Reflection 2-a: How would you characterize your teaching style, and/or the style that you would most like to have?



In this chapter, we will examine how the classroom management choices that we make as well as our orientation to discipline itself will determine the results that we will achieve.  To help support this examination it will be useful to incorporate a four-quadrant classroom management style matrix (see Figure 2.1). 


FunctionalFigure 2.1: Four-Quadrant Matrix of Management Style Orientation and Practice


Efforts well-orchestrated
Teacher as conductor
(Conditioned - Intentional Climate),Ineffective/
Dysfunction,Teacher -
Centered,Conductor,Dominator,Enabler,Facilitator,1,2,3,4,Self-directed learning
Teacher as facilitator
(Liberating - Intentional Climate),Self-centered effort
Passive leadership
(Enabling - Accidental Climate),Repressive leadership
Student conformity or rebellion
(Reactive - Accidental Climate) 



















This Classroom Management Style Orientation Matrix, depicted in Figure 2.1 above, has proven useful as a tool for classifying the management orientations and strategies used by teachers (Shindler, Jones, Taylor, Cadenas, 2003, 2004, 2005), and will provide one of the fundamental frameworks for the ideas and concepts in this book. The matrix is formed by the intersection of two continuum or axes. The vertical axis of the matrix represents the level of effectiveness and function of the management practices. The horizontal axis represents a continuum of theoretical orientation defining each approach or “Style,” from more student-centered on the left, to more teacher-centered on the right. The intersection of these two axes produces four distinct teaching style quadrants. It should be noted that on the level of personality, any personal style could be fit into each of the four quadrants. However, as well we explore, each of the four styles represented by the quadrants will produce dramatically different results in practice.



Vertical Axis – Effectiveness and Functionality

The vertical axis of the matrix is related to the continuum of effectiveness and function of the management practice. At the top of the axis are the most effective forms of practice defined by high function, sound relationships, high levels of motivation, and high productivity. At the base of the axis are the least effective forms of practice defined by low function, relationship dysfunction, low motivation and a lack of productivity (see Figure 2.2).


Figure 2.2 Depicting the Defining Qualities of the Vertical Axis

High Function




·         Intentional Climate

·         Internal Locus of Control

·         Environment defined by Efficiency

·         Emotionally encouraging

·         High Levels of Awareness

·         Efficacy



Low Function





·         Accidental Climate

·         External Locus of Control

·         Environment defined by struggle

·         Emotionally discouraging

·         Low Levels of Awareness

·         Incompetence




What contributes to one’s placement on this effectiveness continuum? When the classroom management performance of teachers in the field was examined, three factors were found to predict effectiveness (Shindler, Jones, Taylor, Cadenas 2004). These factors were related the following three domains:

  1. Orientation and Dispositions
  2. Choices and Practices
  3. Thinking and Assumptions


First, to be an effective teacher one must have an orientation to teaching that is defined by a sense of responsibility, and intentionality. Second, effective management will relate to a great extent on the quality of methods and strategies that one chooses to incorporate and the effectiveness with which they apply them. In this chapter, we will examine practices that will lead on a path up the continuum and others that will leave one mired in the ineffective realm. Third, we will examine how our attitudes, assumptions, and patterns of thinking will substantially determine our ability to realize effectiveness and function. Each of these three factors are inter-related, but will be examined independently.


Orientation and Dispositions

The degree of classroom management effectiveness and function were found to relate to the orientation taken by the teacher and their dispositions related to teaching (Shindler, Jones, Taylor, Cadenas 2004). High levels of effectiveness were related first, to the degree to which the locus of control of the teacher is internal rather than external, and second, the level intentionality of the system of management. Therefore, the peak of this axis represents practices that are less accidental and reactive and more systematic, deliberate and reflect an increasing level of teacher ownership for student outcomes. Let us examine both of these sub-factors in more depth.


Responsibility and Internal Locus of Control

If you talk to a teacher who does an effective job of classroom management and possesses a high degree of self-efficacy (Henson, 2001), you will hear in their words the underlying convictions – “I believe it is about what I do,” and “I am responsible for helping my students succeed.” The frame of mind that is expressed in this attitude is both internal – “Success will be dependent on the investment I make in my variable in the equation,” and responsible – “My job is to help every student succeed.” Contrast this to the mindset of a teacher who, after a sufficient amount of training and practice, still demonstrates ineffectiveness and experiences a high level of student failure. In most cases, the attitudes that these teachers express are both external – “There is nothing that I can do with these kids,” and irresponsible – “It is not my fault.” 

Greenwood (1990) found that teachers who believe that they, and teachers in general, can motivate students to achieve give less evidence of stress and exhibit more internal locus of control than do teachers who believe that neither they, nor other teachers, can affect student performance.  In a study by Guskey & Passaro (1994) the most significant predictor of teacher efficacy was the degree to which teachers assigned the cause of the outcomes in their class internally rather than externally. While our success in the area of classroom management will have a great deal to do with our training and the methods we choose to employ, our underlying attitudes related to responsibility and locus of control will be the foremost determining factors in our success. Simply put, success is impossible without the mind-set that one is responsible for their student’s learning and behavioral outcomes.



Chapter Reflection 2-b: Recall a teacher that you judge to be excellent. When they speak about their students and their profession, how would you characterize their language? Does it reflect a more internal or external locus of control?



Intentionality and Consciousness

Put simply, more effective teacher practices are demonstrated by those who know what they are trying to accomplish and how then intend to accomplish it. That is, they are “intentional” in their practice (Richardson & Fallona, 2001). This approach is contrasted to those that are short-sighted, reactive and unconscious, which could be described as “accidental.” Intentional practice is characterized by efforts undertaken within a larger scheme within which each specific teaching act fits (Pajares, 1992).  An accidental set of practices has no such coherence, and therefore collectively amount to little if anything beyond a series of disconnected strategies. This lack of vision creates a lack of confidence and a feeling of discontinuity in the students, in other words, a sense that they are part of a class that lacks leadership.



Teaching Choices and Practices

Not all classroom management strategies will get us where we want to go. Some will lead us up the effectiveness continuum and others will keep us treading water or can even promote greater degrees of dysfunction. In this section we will examine those practices that will lead to the highest levels of sustainable effectiveness, and those to avoid.


Text Box: Classroom management effectiveness is defined as a learning environment that promotes learning, motivation, and collective function.  Classroom management dysfunction is defined as any event, behavior, pattern, feeling, or thought that keeps a teacher from being able to teach to their fullest potential or keeps the class from learning in the most liberated, satisfying and effective manner. 

Management practices come in three types:

·         Effective practices that we do that we would want to keep doing.

·         Effective practices that we don’t yet do, or do very well yet (that would affect improvement) that we would want to begin doing.

·         Ineffective practices that we do, that we need to stop doing (because they are limiting our success or in some cases actually leading us down the effectiveness continuum)

Moving Up the Continuum to a More Functional Approach

As we examine the list of management practices that will contribute to our movement up the continuum (represented in Figure 2.3), it should be noted that there are few quick fixes on the list. Effective practices will have the effect of creating a fundamentally more functional classroom, and will produce increasingly more effectiveness over time.  They have the effect of empowering students and bringing out their best. Truly effective practices have the effect of not only promoting better student behavior, but in addition helping students become fundamentally better individually and collectively. Below, six practices are described that have the effect of increasingly and sustainably raising the level of function in a class. In addition, three strategies for moving to the highest level on the effectiveness continuum are introduced.


Figure 2.3: Management Practices that One Will Want to Engage in to Move up the Continuum toward more Functional Approach


Practices That Lead to Higher Levels of Function

1. Create Clarity in all areas of Our Teaching

2. Be a Source of Consistency

3. Incorporate Pedagogy that Supports Our Management Goals

4. Develop a (Basic) Needs Satisfying Learning Environment

5. Facilitate the Collective Social Bonds and Social Contract among Students

6. Teach and Practice Our Management Procedures


Transformational Ideas: Moving to the Next Level

7. Intentionally Promote a “Psychology of Success” in Our Students

8. Move from the role of a Manager to that of Leader

9. Create Communal Bonds and Community within the Class



1. Create Clarity in all Areas of Our Teaching.

Most of the outcomes that we desire in our classes will depend to a great extent on our ability to promote clarity within our environment. Clarity within the classroom has been found to correlate positively with student achievement, level of engagement and student satisfaction (Hines, Cruickshank & Kennedy, 1985). Likewise, most classroom management dysfunction is related to a lack of clarity in some form.

There are four key areas where the existence of clarity can be seen to mitigate dysfunction. First, students need clear expectations. Without them, they are forced to guess. This can create a “vacuum” in expectations, which students fill with their own ideas of conduct. When we use abstract terms such as responsibility, respect, or “good behavior,” without defining those concepts in a concrete and material way, these ideas remain only abstractions.  Much of what we call misbehavior is simply students guessing how to act in ways that we do not like (i.e., their guess was wrong!). Second, the teacher needs to infuse a sense of intention and movement to the class. When the class experiences the deliberate movement toward a goal they are much less likely to be bored, distracted, or feel their work lacks purpose. Third, students need to be given clear boundaries. Boundaries help students understand where lines exist (Bluestein, 1999). In their absence, problems arise. In part, this is due to the fact that inevitably students come to any class with a wide range of previously learned behavior and expectation for boundaries. Fourth, abstractions such as respect, listening, effort, responsibility, etc., need to be “operationalized” or they will remain only abstractions. Many teachers complain that their students lack these traits, yet do not make the concepts concrete and practical for their students. Clarity can only exist in a concrete and observable world. Words can only point to behavior. Clarity, therefore, requires an intentional effort on the part of the teacher to make the abstract, conceptual and assumed into something that is concrete, behavioral, personally relevant and collectively shared.


Chapter Reflection 2-c: Recall the last class that you observed that you would call well managed. Did you get the sense that the students had a clear sense of the expectations? Recall the last class that you observed that you would consider poorly managed. Did you get the sense that the students had a clear sense of the expectations?


2. Be a Source of Consistency

Along with clarity, if the element of consistency exists in a classroom, things will run relatively smoothly (Evertson & Emmer, 2003). Even a flawed set of strategies, if applied consistently, will result in relatively effective results.  How is classroom function and/or dysfunction and the idea of consistency related? First, the consistency of one’s actions promotes or detracts from another’s sense that a person is trustworthy. Part of being trusted by students is being reliable. When our decision-making process is perceived as too subjective, or random, students lose trust in us. The loss of trust usually translates ultimately into a loss of commitment on the part of the student. Second, when the teacher follows through and consistently implements consequences, it makes the (concrete and practical) statement that the agreement (i.e., our social contract, class rules, bill or rights, etc.) is primary and the teacher’s subjective interpretation is secondary.  Third, when we are working with a student or a class to help shape behavior, reinforcing more functional behavior is necessary. In many cases, even a small amount of contradictory reinforcement can undermine our efforts. Consistency helps clarify the cause and effect thinking we are trying to build. Inconsistency confuses it.



Chapter Reflection 2-d: Related to consistency, a useful principle to maintain as a teacher is that “it is not the severity of the consequence that will make it effective, it is the certainty.” Consider the consequences that we negotiate everyday. Typically we take those that are certain more seriously than those that are more severe but less likely.


 For example, imagine, if you were a driver who had a tendency to like to drive faster than the speed limit, which intervention would be more likely to modify your behavior:

 - If your car was equipped with a meter that fined you $1 for every time your car went over the limit?

 - If you knew that there was a patrol car that gave $1,000 tickets to a handful of speeders each year?



3. Incorporate Pedagogy that Supports Our Management Goals

If you offer students a curriculum defined by monotonous tasks, mindless busy-work and exclusively teacher-directed learning, expect problems. Students involved in passive learning often use disruptive behavior to achieve a sense of control, engagement, satisfaction, and fun. Students who are engaged, challenged, and see a real-world value to their work will be much more interested in learning than creating problems.  When students feel successful, they associate that success with the source (you the teacher), when they are bored and unsuccessful they associate that failure experience with you as well. Teachers who accumulate positive association over time are able to use that “emotional capital” later when they need to make requests. 


4. Create a (Basic) Needs Satisfying Learning Environment

If the students’ basic needs for power, competence, belonging, freedom, and fun are not met by what you provide in their experience, they will find ways to meet those needs by other means (Glasser, 1998). Often those other means include unwanted and/or problem behavior (Driekurs 1974, Albert 2003).  If we look at a student’s actions from within the lens “is this student doing what I want?” then when that student misbehaves, we have little useful insight for a solution to the problem. However, if we examine student’s actions within the lens “what basic needs are the students attempting to meet with this behavior?” then we are well on our way to making sense of the problem, and identifying solutions. When we create engaging learning activities that create a sense of “psychological movement” in the class, a good portion of the reasons for misbehavior are removed, and replaced with reasons for students to invest and enjoy their time in our class. Moreover, our students experience our curriculum as culturally relevant and meaningful to their lives, they are more likely to connect with it and less likely to express their sense of disconnection in very understandable acts of passive and/or active resistance.


5. Facilitate the Collective Social Bonds and Social Contract among the Students

We are the primary force in the room that can help the students become responsible to one another and develop a set of social bonds that support the group’s capacity to function. Rules answer the question, “What am I supposed to do in here?” The Social Contract answers the question, “What – if I did it – would help the class function more effectively, and best ensure my rights as a member?” Few students feel a sense of ownership over rules. However, bonds by their very nature are owned by those that share them, and are therefore are much more likely to lead to responsible behavior.


6. Teach and Practice your Management Procedures

If our students do not know how to behave, listen, transition from one thing to another, interact respectfully, work cooperatively in a group, resolve conflict, process failure, line up, perform when you leave the room, etc., it is our responsibility to teach them these things, or to stop complaining when they do them poorly. Burden (2003) suggests that we think about teaching our classroom procedures in the same way that we think about teaching any other content. In Chapter 6, we will discuss strategies for promoting this area--strategies that we will refer to as “Technical Management.”



Chapter Reflections 2-e: When you observe a class that is running smoothly early in the year, ask the teacher how it got to be that way. There was likely a lot of practice and intentional effort put toward the management in the first few days.



Transformational Ideas: Moving Your Management to the Next Level

As you become more skilled at recognizing and executing the six ideas listed above, you may find yourself ready to stretch your efforts toward a more advanced set of ideas for achieving effectiveness. These next three ideas represent avenues for not only reducing behavioral dysfunction but for helping your students transform their current level of functioning into one in which they can truly thrive.


7. Intentionally Promote a “Psychology of Success” in Our Students

In Chapter 7, we will explore in depth the three core psychological orientations of the successful learner, and how to cultivate them. They are: an internal locus of control, a sense of acceptance and belonging, and a mastery orientation to learning.  As you will recognize upon examining the factors that promote or detract from one’s psychology of success, much of what is accepted as common discipline practice actually acts to elicit a “failure psychology” in students.


8. Move from a Manager Role to a Leader Role

As you progress through the book you will be given ideas for thinking about classroom management as not simply a process of keeping students on task and motivated, but to help them become self-responsible. Glasser (1998) describes the role of teacher leader as one who sets and models high expectations, encourages students to evaluate their own work, and promotes a climate of support and empowerment that is free of coercion. 


9. Create Communal Bonds and Community within the Class. Societal bonds answer the question, “What am I required to do, and what can I expect from others?” These bonds are critical for helping reduce problems and providing a functional environment. However, if students experience their class as a community it opens up a wide range of new ways that they can grow both personally and collectively (Baker et al., 1997).  Communal bonds are characterized by the question, “What can I do to make the collective better?” As students increasingly take on this mindset, there will be a corresponding decrease in the number of classroom management problems. Moreover, problems themselves become opportunities for growth. Developing community is discussed specifically in Chapter 16.



Chapter Reflection 2-f: In what ways do you want your teaching and classroom management to have a transformative effect on your students?



Practices that Draw us Downward on the Continuum and will Eventually Lead to a Greater Degree of Dysfunction

Most ineffective classroom management practices are done intentionally by thoughtful teachers and staff members. While upon closer examination these flawed practices can be seen to lead to a greater level of dysfunction and in many cases unwanted byproducts, most often they are perceived to be “working.” They have an effect that appears to be desirable, and in the short term, and on the surface they seem to be getting results. But as we will examine in this section and throughout the remainder of the book, these practices (Figure 2.4) erode the core foundation of effective classroom management and lead us down the continuum of effectiveness.

If we could separate out each of the hundreds of practices that we employ in a typical day of teaching, we could assess each independently. When we put them all together, they may all seem necessary and beneficial, but when we examine each in isolation, we can better recognize which ones are getting us where we want to go, and which are not. As we examine many of the popular but ineffective strategies, what we find is that they exchange one type of dysfunction for another. Problems are not getting solved they are simply changing forms. As you survey the dysfunctional strategies listed below, ask yourself, “What dysfunctional state is being traded for what other dysfunctional state?”



Chapter Reflection 2-k: Recall the last time you heard a teacher include the phrase “that won’t work with these kids.” Do your own investigative research and see if you can discover any teachers that are in fact succeeding with that strategy with similar students.


Text Box: The “It Works” Fallacy
Beware of any phrase that includes the term “it works.” Such as “This is the only thing that works with these students,” or “Well, it works for me.” In many cases, it can act as a rhetorical “red herring.” Strictly, by definition, just about anything that anyone or any organization does has “worked” or does “work” to produce some outcome. For example, a life of crime “works” for many people for a while. Medicating his/her problems “works” for the addict.  There are those that argue that slavery “worked” in this country for hundreds of years. If we are looking to achieve greater levels of management effectiveness, our question should not be “does it work?” but “does it work to achieve a truly desirable outcome?” And even if the outcome seems to be desirable in the short term or within some narrow perspective (remember all those who will defend really bad or evil ideas like slavery because they were perceived to have been working for a long time and would have been too much trouble to change), it may require a broader examination and/or a consideration of what that practice is producing in the long-term that is necessary to recognize the function or dysfunction of any practice. This concept is explored in more detail in Appendix D.

Figure 2.4: Management Practices that Ultimately Lead a Class in a Downward Movement in the Continuum toward Greater Dysfunction

Practices That Lead to Higher Levels of Dysfunction


1. Relying on Bribes, Gimmicks and Short-term Fixes

2. Incorporating Negative Strategies, Assuming they will Eventually Produce Positive Results

3. Using Punishments and/or a “Pain-Based Logic” in Your Discipline

4. Intermingling the Personal with the Performance

5. Involving those that are not involved


1. Trusting Bribes and Gimmicks to Motivate Students

Short-term fixes such as bribes and gimmicks may obtain an apparent desired outcome initially, but in most cases they will erode the long-term quality of classroom discipline and/or motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Bribes such as prizes for desired behavior, giving preferred activity time, rewarding students with inactivity (free time or avoiding work), stickers, stars, and gimmicks such as names on the board, or colored behavioral charts seem like good ideas on the surface. But as we progress further in the book, you will better recognize that each of these strategies actually does more long term harm than good.  Bribes, by definition, make the statement “you need to be given something of no educational value to con you into doing something educational.” The students’ need for bribes will inherently grow, as their intrinsic appreciation for learning will become suppressed. Later, in Chapter 6, we will explore how extrinsic rewards used purposefully can promote clarity of expectations as opposed to operating as bribes.  Colored card behavioral charts and names on the board work on the principle that public shame will modify behavior. For some students this might be true in the short-term, but in the end, these strategies will work against the development of responsible behavior and against the reduction of misbehavior. While they are common and seductive, in Chapter 19 we will explore the many reasons why they create more problems than they solve.


2. Incorporating Negative Strategies, Assuming they will Eventually Produce Positive Results

If we are waiting for our disappointment, complaining, lectures, guilt, shaming, put-downs or any other negative actions (or, more accurately, passive and hostile inactions) to translate into better student behavior, it is a safe assumption that we will be waiting forever.  These strategies may provide us with a momentary relief from the feeling of responsibility, and may even feel like action, but they are at best useless actions to which students become immune very quickly, and are toxic and destructive influences that erode the motivation and emotional climate in the class. The law of cause and effect dictates that every action will have an equal and opposite reaction, thus these negative actions will breed a corresponding negative response from students. This reaction exhibits itself in a wide range of manifestations of dysfunction ranging from apathy to conflict. We can’t discard these practices soon enough! The remaining chapters will offer positive and practical alternatives.



Chapter Reflection 2-g: Recall someone you knew who constantly told you what you did that was wrong. How did it make you feel? Was it motivational?



3. Using Punishments and/or a “Pain-Based Logic” in Your Discipline

The deliberate use of punishment presumes that if one administers enough pain to a student it will result in that student changing behavior. This same logic goes for showing disapproval, put downs, or anything else that implies the use of discomfort in attempt to modify behavior or “teach a lesson.” There are two problems with this logic. First, punishment does not do a very good job of teaching lessons, unless the lesson is how not to get caught and/or how to avoid the source of the punishment. Second, introducing more pain into the equation of a class environment will inevitably create a ripple effect that will manifest itself in such behavior as rebellion, displaced aggression among students, negative identity promotion, as well as increasing the level of fear and anxiety (Kauffman, 2005).

In Chapter 18, we take a closer look at how this “pain-based logic” is at the heart of the 4-Style management approach that has remained so prevalent. We will examine how to move from this style, up the continuum, to one both healthier and more effective. In Chapter 9, we will examine why logical and related consequences are vastly more desirable alternatives to punishments for both changing behavior and encouraging more self-responsible thinking and actions on the part of the students.

4. Intermingling the Personal with the Performance

It is tempting to try to encourage better student behavior with personalized strategies, such as personal praise, disappointment, affection and withdrawal of affection.  We can assume that these types of strategies will help us leverage our relationship with the students into better performance and/or behavior, but in the end, it will work against each of our goals – the relationship, the level of performance, and the quality of behavior.  Let’s examine why. When a student is given personal praise (i.e., “you are good because you are done” or “I like you because you are behaving well.”) for desired performance, or given personal criticism (i.e., “you are not good because you are not done.” Or “I am disappointed in you because of the way that you are acting.”) for undesirable performance, the line between self and actions is confused. Consequently, there are a whole series of problems that stem from this confusion. Let us briefly identify two of them. First, it results in a student who spends an unnecessary amount of time thinking about whether they have pleased the teacher rather than gaining satisfaction from the process of learning for its own sake. In the early grades, this is experienced as love and the loss of love depending on one’s performance. In the later grades, this is experienced as the teacher’s public comparison of students, playing favorites with those that perform better in their course, or threatening to lower grades for students who “act up.” Second, when the performance and the personal are co-mingled it introduces an external and random/subjective logic into the class. The result is a diffusion of the clarity of classroom expectations and students’ internal locus of control, in which students think and act tentatively, always keeping one eye on the teacher, as opposed to developing their own sense of self-direction. This invites more misbehavior and collective dysfunction. Instead of students learning to function for self-responsible reasons, they behave to please the teacher - to the degree they want to please the teacher. What we achieve over time with these personalized strategies are students who behave on days that they want to reward the teacher and not on days that they do not want to reward the teacher or have more powerful internal reasons (i.e., friends, the weather, bad moods, or meeting any of their basic needs) to disregard their loyalty to the them.

Assessing student participation can be a healthy and effective strategy. It can help clarify and reinforce student effort and investment in the process. But in most applications it is used as a subtle or not-so-subtle form of manipulation. This must be done intentionally and thoughtfully or not done at all. Chapter 21 outlines a positive and effective system for assessing student participation.


Chapter Reflection 2-h: When you observe those teachers who seem to make the job look easy, do you find common attitudes among them? Conversely, when you observe those teachers who seem to be perpetually unhappy and fighting against their students, do you find common ways of thinking among them?


5.  Involving Those That Were Not Involved.

Albert Jones (2007) suggests that when we involve persons into the equation of our discipline interactions who were not originally involved in the event of significance, the result is a weakening of our discipline environment. When we tend to use a lot of referrals to the office and administrative interventions, we make the implicit statement that we cannot manage our class ourselves. Likewise, having the parents involved in the learning process can be an invaluable asset in helping our students succeed. However, when we out-source our problems to the students’ parents it leads to an erosion of our authority. When we involve those that were not involved, we shift the locus of control externally and away from where it can be most effective – the cause and effect relationship between the student’s choices and our consequent actions.


Chapter Reflection 2-i: Recall a teacher that you have observed that sent a lot of students out of the room and regularly called parents requesting that they straighten out their children. Did that teacher have a well-managed class? Do you see a connection?


Commonly, dysfunctional practices like those described above can be alluring and thus difficult to give up. But their use will inevitably keep us mired in the bottom quadrants of the matrix. As you work on moving away from short-term fixes, you will likely be tempted to resort to them in times of crisis for a period of time. However, if you are ultimately successful in resisting their appeal and instead put your efforts into developing a set of effective long-term practices, you will increasingly notice the contrast between the effects of the less effective practices and the more effective replacements, and recognize that the old practices were in fact keeping you stuck in a rut. However, if you do not take time to reflect on the beliefs and misconceptions that first attracted you to these ineffective strategies, you may find an irresistible desire to revert to them once again.

Chapter Reflection : 2-

If you find yourself strongly attached to these practices, it that attachment related to where you learned these strategies? For many of us, these ideas may have been modeled by or suggested to us by teachers whom we respected. It is understandable to therefore have an attachment to the ideas, but that is not a sufficient reason to retain them and thereby keep hindering our own success. Typically, as we reflect on this “model teacher’s” practices more critically, we will likely recognize that while they may have been generally effective, there was a cost for the use of any of these practices listed above.


How Our Thinking Can Promote Either Movement Up or Down the Continuum

As Eckhart Tolle (1999) states “If we do not change the thinking that has created the problem-making conditions in our lives, even if our situation changes, we will soon find a new set of problems to replace the old ones.” Often just the way that we think can produce the experience of dysfunction, dissatisfaction and/or unease. To a great extent, our classrooms will be a projection of what is taking place in our minds. Our thinking can be a great ally in our efforts or our own worst enemy.

As we examine the relationship between our thinking and the quality of our classroom management, we find that some types of thinking tend to lead us down the effectiveness continuum toward dysfunction, while other types tend to encourage our progress upward. At the heart of what will make us effective will be our ability to maintain our attention in the present moment. A past focus will lead to blame or dwelling on what we did not like, or wish we still had. A future focus will keep us desiring the future and wishing the present was different. This lack of acceptance of the present will not only make us less effective, but less content. Taking the actions of students personally will lead us to reactive behavior and make us less intentional and aware. Keeping our attention on what is important now (WIN) will lead to greater function as well as peace of mind. Feelings of negativity and disappointment are signs that we are personalizing the events in the room and have gotten lost in wallowing in the past, or wishing for the future. As we become more effective at staying in the moment, keeping our attention on what we can do to improve our situation, and taking on an attitude of appreciation for our students, we find that not only do we deal with problems more effectively, we have fewer to deal with in the first place. In Chapter 17 we will examine the relationship between our thinking and the quality of our classroom management in more detail.


Figure 2.7: Depicting the Horizontal axis of the Management Style Matrix: Student-Centered vs. Teacher Centered





Facilitator                                                        Teacher-Centered


Horizontal Axis – Teacher- vs. Student- Centered

The horizontal axis of the matrix represents the range of practices related to the locus of power, ownership, and fundamental goals for any class.  This axis ranges from a very teacher-centered to a very student-centered orientation. While this dichotomy represents a bit of an oversimplification, it offers a very basic contrast in teaching philosophy, as we will see when we examine each of the sub-factors – ownership, goals and assumptions -- in more depth.


Ownership and Power

In the teacher-centered class, the power rests primarily with the teacher, as does the ownership for decision-making. In a teacher-centered class, the students need only follow instructions.  In a student-centered class, the teacher takes on the role of guiding the students’ efforts. Ownership for decisions, large and small, is given to the students, whenever possible. This leaves the students with a higher burden for solving problems and making consequential choices. The question that best defines the contrast in this continuum is, “who has their hands on the steering wheel of the class?”


Goals and Purpose

The underlying goal of a teacher-centered class is order. The underlying goal of a student-centered class is student self-reliance.  In the teacher-centered class, success is defined by how well the students execute their responsibilities and the level of efficiency that exists in the learning environment. The rationale behind this thinking is that in an orderly and obedient classroom, there is less wasted time, and more on-task behavior, which benefits everyone. So the view in a teacher-directed class is that the ends --students who are more productive more of the time -- justify the means, teacher direction. In the student-centered class, success is defined by the amount of personal and collective growth that the students experience over the course of the term. The rationale behind this thinking is that when students are put in positions in which they must take ownership for their own learning and are expected to be self-responsible, they learn lessons that are as valuable as anything that they can learn from the curriculum.


Basic Assumptions and Motivation

At the heart of a teacher-centered approach is the assumption that students need to be managed or they will misbehave by nature. Basic to a student-centered approach is that students have an inherent desire to learn and improve. Therefore, in the teacher-centered thinking, it is desirable to take a teacher-directed approach because the students need it.  In contrast, the student-centered thinking would suppose that the reason that students might appear to need a teacher-directed class is that they have become dependent on them, and are just lacking the opportunities to develop their own self-responsible nature.


As a result of these basic assumptions a teacher-centered approach will have an inclination toward the use of extrinsic rewards. This approach finds rewards and punishments a very effective way to change behavior. Since the result is often more desirable behavior more of the time, the ends support the use of the means. A student-centered classroom resists the use of extrinsic rewards and punishments, and views them as vehicles that rob a student of their intrinsic motivation. This approach sets out to create a learning environment that is inherently motivating, and relies more heavily on tapping into student interests and meeting students’ basic needs.



Chapter Reflection 2-l: Where would you place your management orientation along the horizontal continuum? Are you more inclined toward a more student-centered or a more teacher-centered approach to classroom management?



The Resulting Matrix: Four Differing Approaches to Management

When we position one axis across the other, we are left with four quadrants that characterize four very different approaches to classroom management and teaching in general. Throughout the book, each particular management approach/style will be referred by its style number, 1-4, to represent each of the four quadrants of the matrix. Those at the top have been assigned 1-Style and 2-Style, while those at the bottom were assigned 3-Style and 4-Style. Numbers are only used to distinguish quadrants, not to assign value.  The orientation that is most your style and best for you will be left to you to decide – the 4-Style or Dominator, 3-Style of Enabler, 2-Style of Conductor or the 1-Style or Facilitator. However, you will be persuaded very early in the book (if you need persuading or have not been persuaded by now) that either a 1- or 2-Style orientation will produce profoundly greater degrees of success for both the teacher and the students.


As far as which orientation-- 2-Style or 1-Style-- is more effective, the reader is asked to judge for him or herself the approach that best fits their own personal teaching style and goals. A sound, healthy classroom with a fully functioning set of rules, responsibilities and shared expectations can be achieved with either a 2-Style or a 1-Style management approach. But as the reader will discover throughout the book there are advantages and disadvantages of each orientation (see Figure 2.11).



FunctionalFigure 2.8: Four-Quadrant Matrix of Management Style Orientation and Practice with Descriptions


Efforts well-orchestrated
Teacher as conductor
(Conditioned - Intentional Climate),Ineffective/
Dysfunction,Teacher -
Centered,Conductor,Dominator,Enabler,Facilitator,1,2,3,4,Self-directed learning
Teacher as facilitator
(Liberating - Intentional Climate),Self-centered effort
Passive leadership
(Enabling - Accidental Climate),Repressive leadership
Student conformity or rebellion
(Reactive - Accidental Climate) 


















A Brief Description of Each of the Four Classroom Management Approaches


4-Style or Dominator Management Approach

The essence of the 4-Style orientation is the teacher as “boss.” The teacher who uses a 4-Style feels compelled to dominate by both overt and covert means. Students in the class see quickly that they have only two choices, to be obedient or rebel. While there appears to be a high degree of intentionality to the 4-Style management practice due to the authoritarian display of power, a closer examination reveals much less intention in reality. Because the teacher acts so frequently out of a reactive mode, students are seldom fully sure what to expect. The mood of the teacher has a great deal to do with the climate of the class on any particular day. Moreover, the 4-Style manager is typically a fan of extrinsic rewards, “sit and get” teaching methods, and the use of grading for the purpose of coercion.


As we will discuss in more detail in Chapter 18 (Moving Up the Teaching Style Continuum from the 4-Style “Dominator” to a 2- or 1-Style Approach), at the heart of the 4-Style management approach is a “pain-based logic.” To attain their desired outcomes the teacher resorts to the delivery of pain to students in the form of punishments, threats, anger, public humiliation, victimizing humor, putting names on the board, and shaming. As a result, the 4-Style classroom takes on a combative and hostile climate. As the pain is exchanged between the teacher and the student, over time an increasing number of negative side effects occur, including a decrease in motivation, a lack of trust, an emotionally unsafe climate, and various acts of displaced aggression.


3-Style or Enabler Management Approach

The defining characteristic of the 3-Style manager is passivity. They experience perpetual disappointment that the students are letting them down. The teacher using a 3-Style operates under the faulty assumption that if they make enough reasonable verbal appeals to students (rather than taking deliberate action and/or delivering meaningful consequences), at some point, the students will respond with functional behavior. In most cases, the teacher employing a 3-Style is acting out of the rejection of what they see as the unhealthy, authoritarian, 4-Style manager. Yet what they produce is often just as accidental and chaotic as what they are trying to avoid. And commonly, when the 3-Style manager becomes too frustrated with the students’ dysfunction and lack of respect, they react with episodes of hostility, which brings them even more inner conflict.


The fundamental problem is that the teacher using a 3-Style approach preaches self-direction and internal motivation, yet does little to promote them. They confuse the need for structure with being controlling, which they see as objectionable. The 3-Style is typically well intentioned, but inherent in this approach is a lack of courage to lead. Their commitment to promoting student interests is noble, but over time students learn that they are able to act as they please. As a result, a high degree of “Social Darwinism” becomes the defining quality for the peer relations. Without intending to, teachers who use a 3-Style promote a rather unsafe emotional climate, thus their label the “enabler.” Cooperative learning and engaging hands on-activities that are the preference of the 3-Style approach increasingly descend into playtime and a chance for students to “mess around,” as a result of a lack of clear direction and purpose.



Chapter Reflection 2-m: When you reflect on the easy-going and permissive 3-Style teachers that you have observed, what happened to their affect when things begin to go bad? Did the teacher stay easy going? Did that permissive attitude translate into emotional safety for the students in the class? In other words, did you find that when the teacher did not worry about taking action that it translated into students not worrying about what might happen to them?



Moving from a 3 to a 1-Style Orientation

If you have a strong commitment to a student-centered approach, but realize that your efforts have led you to what you would characterize as a 3-Style, there is hope. And of all those who choose to pick up this book, you may be the one with the most to gain. It is likely that you have felt a temptation to adopt 2-Style approach, yet the encouragement of others who find success with a more teacher-centered approach does not leave you entirely convinced or comfortable abandoning your student-centered principles. You have likely had to endure a great deal of disparagement. No one gets criticized like the 3-Style teacher. Because of what appears to be a very active (albeit hostile) approach by 4-Style teachers, people usually leave them alone. But for you they typically feel more free to give advice.


Improvement of your situation begins with an examination of the essence of the vertical axis – Intentionality and Internality. Don’t confuse taking action for being controlling. As you explore the coming chapters, you will discover how much planning and deliberate effort must go into helping students become self-directed. The methodological pathway is spelled out in detail.


2-Style or Conductor Management Approach

The most popular classroom management training in the past few years has been defined by the 2-Style orientation. Those such as Canter (1992), Wong (1991), Jones 2001), and many others would best be described as teacher-centered approach proponents. To characterize this style the Canters provide the useful term “assertive discipline” to distinguish an effective classroom manager from either the passive (3-Style) or hostile (4-Style) approaches which they identify as largely ineffective.  The assertive 2-Style “Conductor” builds their approach on logical consequences, rather than personal attacks and negativity.


The Conductor takes a very intentional approach to management. A successful 2-Style approach begins early in the year with a period of training and education in rules, procedures, and consequences. As if under the command of an orchestra conductor, the class is trained to respond to directions in a very efficient manner. The structure in the 2-Style classroom is evident. It is built on consistency and clarity. Out of this structure, the goals of a productive learning environment, respect, accountability and positive relationships are constructed.  The 2-Style classroom includes a heavy reliance on encouragement and rewards. The pedagogy in the 2-Style approach tends to lean toward direct instruction, but includes multiple methods that have been demonstrated to obtain results.


1-Style or Facilitator Management Approach

Relatively few teachers choose to take the path of the “facilitator” or 1-Style approach. The ultimate goal of the 1-Style approach is to create a class that is self-directed and manages itself. These teachers understand that to do this it will take time, but are willing to live with what might feel like a little less predictability so as to achieve their long-term goals. One-Style management goals are defined by an intentional promotion of the students’ intrinsic motivation and sense of personal responsibility. Students in the 1-Classroom grow in their ability to answer both the “what are we doing?” as well as the “why are we doing it?” kinds of questions. An implicit understanding of the community expectations is cultivated. To achieve this end, the 1-Style teacher makes a devoted attempt to help student recognize the value of functional and responsible behavior.


The 1-Style approach places the emphasis on the process of learning over end products, and personal growth rather than the attainment of rewards or the students’ relative success in comparison to other students.  The 1-Style orientation values long-term student empowerment over what might be considered methods that appear to be “working” in the short-term.  The goal is not to merely have the student appear on task, but to know that the learning is building toward a positive orientation toward learning itself.  The pedagogical approaches that define the 1-Style orientation are typically constructivist, collaborative and problem-based.



Chapter Reflection 2-n: As we reflect on the differences between the 1-Style and 2-Style teaching approach, it can be useful to bring in the metaphor of music for the sake of comparison. Which type of music would best characterize each style? For this exercise let us argue that jazz fits best as a 1-Style form of music and classical fits best as a 2-Style. Can either type of music be produced in a way that is masterful and sounds entirely effective and coordinated, as well as beautiful? Certainly. So what does it take to make great classical music? Most likely we would need sheet music, well trained musicians, a conductor, and practice. Likewise, what does it take to make great jazz music? Can it be done without a conductor? Yes. Can it be done without sheet music? Yes. Could four expert jazz musicians who had never met get in a room and play beautiful music? Very likely. So what does is necessary to make that happen. It is the knowledge of on the part of the musicians as to how to play jazz – the “rules,” so to speak. As we compare the basis of 1-Style vs. 2-Style management, we might ask ourselves, do we want our classes to be well conducted orchestras, or a collection of students who knows how to function in a coordinated manner without a conductor?



Figure 2.9 Key Characteristics of Each of the 4 Management Orientations






1-Style Approach


  • Facilitator
  • Goal = self-directed students
  • Motivation = internal/ build sense of self-efficacy
  • Clear boundaries
  • Build students’ collective responsibility
  • Answers “why we are dong this”
  • Long-term goals (may be more challenging at first, but eventually becomes self-directed)
  • Our class


2-Style Approach


  • Conductor
  • Goal = on-task behavior
  • Motivation = external/positive reinforcement
  • Clear consequences
  • Build students’ collective efficiency


  • Answers “what is expected”
  • Short-term goals (the management should be in good shape by the second week)
  • My Class




3-Style Approach


  • Enabler
  • Goal = keep students happy
  • Motivation = student interests
  • Unclear boundaries
  • Students - increasingly self-centered


  • Chaotic energy
  • Goals are vague (management problems happen early and are still happening by end of the term)
  • The students


4-Style Approach


  • Dominator
  • Goal = let students know who is boss
  • Motivation = to avoid punishment
  • Arbitrary punishments
  • Students – increasingly immune to coercion
  • Negative energy
  • Goals is to break students will (students respond out of fear, but slowly increase hostility and rebellion)
  • Those students



Chapter Reflection 2-o: Recall the last teacher that you have observed.  Which style would best characterize his/her management approach?



Comparing the Advantages of 2-Style vs. 1-Style management approach

As you reflect on your own personal values and what you envision wanting to accomplish in your classroom, you may find yourself being drawn more to either the 2-Style or 1-Style approaches to management. Each approach is developed over the next several chapters, often side by side. Figure 2.10 outlines a brief list of advantages of each orientation.


Figure 2.10 Advantages of Each of the Intentional Management Approaches

Advantages of the 2-Style Approach

Advantages of the 1-Style Approach

Can get functioning system in place relatively quickly.

Working toward a self-regulating system eventually.

Clearly understood teacher and student roles likely.

Increasingly empowered students over time.

Relatively simple to repeat each year and export to other teacher’s classrooms.

Promotes a lot of learning and insight into the skills necessary to participate in a democratic system.

The overt structure of the system is readily apparent to administrators, parents and other teachers.

The implicit structure becomes evident (and impressive) to others who are able to spend time in the class and appreciate the intention.

Low stress on the part of teacher and students related to low ambiguity and chaos.

Leads to high levels of teacher and student (needs) satisfaction.



Chapter Reflection 2-p: What would you anticipate to be the forms of resistance to using a 1-Style approach in a school characterized by a 4-Style environment? The experience of Erin Gruwell depicted in the movie “Freedom Writers” may be useful to consider as you reflect.



Can I Incorporate Practices from All 4 Approaches?

Technically, one can use practices that would fit into any number of orientations, however, there is a cost. First, incorporating practices from the 3 or 4 orientation will have a destructive effect on your 2-Style or 1-Style based classroom plan, and lead the user down the effectiveness continuum.  Often without being aware of it, a very sound 2-Style or 1-Style teacher will use 4-Style orientation practices such as punishments, unhealthy praise, or public shaming (especially in the form of putting names on the board), and also without knowing it they shift down the matrix as they handicap their ability to be more fully successful with their students.


Students cannot articulate, in most cases, that the use of particular practices feel contradictory and operate to send mixed messages, but they certainly experience it. And very often when a teacher is relatively likable and successful with their intentional forms of practice, it is difficult to measure the damage 3-Style and 4-Style practices inflict on their classes. As you continue reading you may notice that much of the content of the book is devoted to illumination of why 3-Style and 4-Style practices are detrimental, and often insidiously so.


“I cannot decide between a 2-Style or 1-Style approach, can I use some of each?” This is a common question. Incorporating a little from one and a little from the other is certainly workable. And we should remember that the main consideration in the process is to move our practice upward on the vertical axis. Yet, if you mix approaches, you may be sending mixed messages. A common example of a mixed-orientation message would be allowing students to be self-directed in some cases and in other similar situations simply giving orders. This can send the message that “sometimes I trust you and sometimes I don’t.” On first glance this is probably how we genuinely feel towards our students.  So what is the problem? Take a moment to reflect from the perspective of the student. What do you hear in that message? Is it trust? Who has their hands on the steering wheel of the class? The students need to be clear as to your answer, or they will show their frustration.  As you progress through the book, it is likely that you will encounter ideas that will facilitate your decision to move one direction or the other.



No matter our personal style, we can all have an effective teaching style. However, as we have discussed in this chapter, an effective classroom will require being intentional about the practices we choose to employ as well as self-aware of our attitudes and orientation toward teaching and our students. For some of us we will be most comfortable pursuing the path of becoming a master 2-Style teacher. For others, a 1-Style will be the goal. Most importantly, our effort should be to move up the effectiveness continuum toward those practices and thinking that will lead to greater levels of function.


What to Expect from the Remainder of the Book

Look for references to the management style orientation matrix in the coming chapters. When you see this symbol, it will identify a reference being made to the matrix.

student centered,teacher-centered,Intentional,Accidental,1,2,3,4







Chapter 17 offers an examination of the 4-Style approach, and a set of steps to move from there up the continuum to a 1- or 2-Style approach.  It includes an in-depth analysis of why 4-Style management is so prevalent despite its apparent drawbacks, and why so many of us are attached to this style. Many subsequent chapters will incorporate the lens of the contrasting approaches of the 2-Style and 1-Style orientation to their topic areas.  Chapter 15 is devoted to how to successfully create the 1-Style classroom.


In the next chapter, we will examine the implicit level of the “classroom reality.” Before we begin to examine strategies and practices that will help us achieve the transformative classroom, we will need to examine the implicit factors within the classroom that can support our efforts or hold us back.



Journal Reflections:

1. What style of classroom management is most appealing to you at this time – 1, 2, 3, or 4? Why? Was it an easy choice?


2. Does the school in which you currently work (or predict that you may work in) align with your style choice? Do you see areas where their may be either resistance or support?


Discuss two things that you feel that you need to do more of (or include in your plan), and two that you feel that you need to do less of.


2. Have you considered the effects of your thinking on your teaching? What are areas of change in that area would you feel might assist you in the process of growth as a teacher?



Class Activities:

1.     1. Match the following teacher behaviors (A-D) with one of the four teaching styles (1-4) as classified in the chapter.





1-Style Faciliator

2-Style Conductor

3-Style Enabler

4-Style Dominator

Phrases that might be heard

A.     When are you ever going to learn?

B.     How are we doing so far?

C.    I like the way that you did that.

D.    I told you to stop that?



Possible response to Misbehavior

A.     Ignores student

B.     Asks student to come up with a plan to cease the behavior

C.    Gives consequence

D.    Gives detention


Most common choice of Instruction

A.     Effective Direct Instruction

B.     Lectures and tests

C.    Open ended assignment with few guidelines

D.    Project with clear rubric


2.      In small groups, share with the other members of the group how you would classify and describe the last four teachers that you have observed.


3.     Discuss the following scenario is small groups (or reflect on it individually). Wahid is a new teacher who wants to create a 1-Style classroom. Many of the teachers and the culture generally at Wahid’s school would best be classified as 4-Style management. What do you see as Wahid’s challenges? What can Wahid do?  Will Wahid need to conform to the culture of the school or can he/she find ways to manage in the manner he/she feels is best?


4.     Examine one classroom. In your analysis, what practices does the teacher need to implement do more of, and what do they need to do less of. Explain (to the class, or your small group) how the problems in the class you have observed were in your analysis related to the practices of the teacher.


Key to activity #1

Phrase A-4, B-1, C-2, D-3 Misbehavior A-3, B-1, C-2, D-4  Instruction A-2, B-4, C-3, D-1




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