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Classroom Management Philosophies

By Edited Aug 25, 2016 2 8

Make Sure You are a Good Teacher

How to Prevent Behaviour Problems in the Classroom

There are two types of teachers, good ones and bad ones. Good ones can teach and bad ones cannot. Different teachers have different classroom management philosophies.

Only a few philosophies of classroom management work. Most are only fit for teacher training courses and should be promply forgotten.

What Differentiates a Successful Teacher From a Failing One?

Successful teachers enjoy their teaching and do not ever talk about classroom management; they just get on with the job and solve behaviour problems as they arise. Students who are following a teacher training program are always advised to watch different teachers. What is rarely said, out of respect for the teachers, is to try to work out why some teachers have classroom management problems, while others have none.

There are various classroom management theories being promulgated in the world of teacher training. Most don’t work most of the time. Most can be made to work for some teachers some of the time.

Teachers need to learn about their own teaching style before adopting particular student management techniques. Experienced teachers are almost always scathing in their analysis of educationists’ theories of how to manage a classroom.

Every successful teacher in the real world uses similar assertive classroom management techniques.

The only ones who try out the theorists’ philosophies are those teachers who are not sufficiently assertive to maintain high classroom behaviour standards and are on the verge of failing. These teachers refuse to acknowledge that the blame for the situation lies with them and search desperately for a way out of the situation they have created for themselves.

An assertive teacher can make any philosophy work, but it is not the method of behaviour management in the classroom that is successful, but the individual teacher.

Successful behavior management techniques in the classroom all come down to one principle; the teacher being top dog. Successful teachers are all totally assertive in the classroom. They do it in different ways according to their personalities, but they must be absolutely in charge in their classroom to succeed.

In any group of people one person will always emerge as the leader. Those who have read the book, Lord of the Flies will understand what can happen when adults are not in charge. As a teacher with thirty or more students sitting in front of you the person running the class had better be you.

All of a teacher’s behavior management techniques in the classroom come down to asserting his position as the group leader. If a teacher is the undisputed alpha in the classroom then further student behavior classroom management techniques are not necessary.

You will rarely find an article on classroom management that spells all this out because teachers' assertive behaviour or lack of it cannot be discussed publicly.

Observe and Analyse Classroom Interactions

When student teachers are observing other teachers teach they should watch how the different teachers stay in charge of a large group of teenagers, all of whom are twice the teacher’s size. If student behaviour is poor then they should work out where the leadership in the classroom lies and watch for submissive body language from the teacher.

Learning How to Take Charge In a Classroom

Observe every lecturer, professor or teacher and whether they actually lead the group in the room. Watch for sub-conscious assertive and submissive body language signals. Never write these down in any form that the subject of your analysis can ask to see.

Read some books on body language


Practice some of the assertive body gestures in social situations until they become second nature.

Examples of Assertive Teacher Body Language

Body language is very primitive, but is instinctively understood by everyone within a particular culture. Different cultures do use body language differently, so be wary of applying what you learn across cultural divides.


The single most important aspect of body language is Expectation. You will get the behaviour you expect in a classroom. Students read your subtle body language signals that tell them if you are or are not expecting problems. If you expect problems, perhaps because of a lack of knowledge or self-confidence, this will show in your body language.

Student teachers are always being told to prepare well for any lessons they give. This is the real reason why this is so important. A lack of preparation shows through in the student’s body language and the class will react negatively.


Good teachers will meet the class at the door of the room, especially the first time and eyeball each and every student as he or she enters the room. This establishes who is in charge before the class are a seated entity in the room, the room that they know better than the new teacher does.

The eye contact only needs to be short, just until the student breaks away.

During the lesson eye contact with students in the class is nearly as important as the initial eyeballing.


If one person in a room is standing and everyone else is sitting then the standing individual is automatically in charge. A wise teacher will always stand rather than sit on a desk. Never, never sit behind a desk when talking with a class of students.

When you do stand in front of a class stand out in the open, not behind a desk or chair. If you strand “unprotected” like this it shows you are unafraid and reinforces the fact that you are the person who determines what is going to happen in the room.


Once you have established who is in charge, you can smile. Doing so is another sign of confidence. Confidence shows in your small body language signals.


Never stand with your hands in your pockets. Always have your hands still and visible when talking to a group of students.  This is an immensely powerful assertion signal. If you can stand comfortably with your hands at your sides it will help you to reduce classroom management problems.

You can increase the power of hand gestures even further if you can learn to hold your hands out with the thumbs pointed upwards. This takes some practice before it becomes a natural gesture, but it is worth it. Watch politicians talking to crowds and notice the frequent use of the assertive thumbs up gestures.


If you practise and become comfortable with the assertive body language techniques described here you will rarely encounter classroom management problems. Prevent all problems ever developing by establishing your own strong position in the classroom.

Once you have established who is in charge is the time to be friendly. A teacher can be friends with a student, just as long as the student acknowledges in every way the teacher’s position.



Feb 12, 2011 1:43am
Wow, I had no idea, but I caused a lot of these problems. I had some teachers that could have benefited from your article.
Feb 12, 2011 7:07am
You were a bad student then? Most teachers could benefit. I put the gist of the body language stuff into a book way back when I was teaching and sold the book for the equivalent of $100 with photocopy rights, sold 100 and printed them all myself on laser printer.
Feb 12, 2011 3:12pm
There are many teachers out there could benefit from your experience. Great tips about the body language and the thumbs up.
Feb 12, 2011 10:07pm
Thanks Lynsuz. You can tell the article is written from the heart. I do think it is important to pass on real, classroom-based knowledge like this. The body language things are just so simple, yet so many teachers do not know about them
Feb 17, 2011 12:45am
Great article,philtrate,and quite useful for new teachers. My style was different from the one you advise, but I taught first and second mostly.I was a very sucessful teacher ,including teacher of the year. However it took me three years to find out what worked for me. A positive,upbeat classroom with praise, prompts, and "lotsa love" worked for me, although they definitely knew I was in charge.
Feb 17, 2011 4:36am
Thankyou bayoulady. First and escond grade require a modification to the approach as you say. As far as possible with 15 and 16 year olds that's the way I worked, but both you and I had first established who was in charge. I had to tone the language down from dom ......ion and dom...ate to assertive etc to get G to put proper ads on it, so it was originally much more forceful.
May 10, 2011 11:24am
I found that the age level of the students changed the approach a lot. The first years were great, but were awful in the second year. The the third years were great again once they had matured a little bit more and were choosing subjects to a certain extent. The exam level classes of the 4th and 5th years were easy because they were working to a end goal.
Keep them busy and they had no time to be a pain in the arse.
The other advice I heard was don't smile until christmas, so they know you mean business.

I miss teaching sometimes....
May 10, 2011 11:29am
Yes year 8 (second years) were a pain, but so were Yr 9 (third yrs). I know what you mean about missing teaching, but I wouldn't and couldn't go back now.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
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