This paper reports on some of the effective techniques to
manage the primary students, especially the disruptive students. Studies show
that maladaptive aggressive behavior occurring in the elementary school is a
good predictor of the maladaptive behavior later in life. As the classroom
management skills are important to primary school teachers, this paper focuses
on primary students only. It is found that there are environmental factors
including the physical setting of a classroom and the display, which are
discussed in Section 2. Behavioral factors include how teachers and students
behave, which are discussed in Section3. Section 4 introduces an approach, which
incorporates the characteristics we found in Section 2 and 3 best deal with the
primary students. Section 5 concludes that the best way to manage the primary
students is to implement the established rules firmly and consistently. Teachers
should send a firm message and give direct and specific instruction to primary
Horton (1996) describes the behavior of the students in her
classroom as follows.
On a bitterly cold morning when I announced that recess was to be held inside. John became whiny, asking,
"Why? I want to go outside!" In a fit of anger, he kicked chairs and tables on his way to his locker, where he
spent the remainder of recess banging his head against the wall.
Quinton was working diligently on a picture. Another child at his table told him his picture was ¡§stupid.¡¨ Quinton responded, "You're all jerks! I doesn't like anybody in this class. It sucks! Then he left the classroom without my knowledge and spent fifteen minutes in a neighboring classroom. Other children are reluctant to initiate contact with Quinton for fear of provoking such outbursts.
Rafael needed a pencil to write in his journal. He was unable to find one, and out of frustration he grabbed a pencil away from a classmate. The other student stood up to get his pencil back, and Rafael started running around the classroom wildly bumping into other students and furniture, yelling, ¡§ It's my pencil!¡¨ The other student confronted him, "saying, ¡§ It's my pencil. I need it back.¡¨ Rafael cocked back his fist, threatening to punch his classmate. (p.282, paragraph 2-4)
above shows how aggressive disruptive behavior can happen in a classroom. This
is a common phenomenon and requires the teacher to manage the disruptive
America, the 16th Annual Gallup Poll of the public¡¦s attitudes
towards public schools found student discipline to be the number one problem
American teachers are facing (Greer-Chase et al., 2002).
Barbatta (1990) points out that the variety of problems presented by
students with behavior disorders make classroom management an even more
difficult task for all the teachers. Eggleton (2001) explained the difficulty
was due to different variables. Say, there are usually twenty-five students in a
class. Every student will respond differently to different management techniques
but the teachers have to respond quickly, without thinking too much. That¡¦s
why the task is difficult for teachers.
to Greeer-Chase et al. (2002), research overwhelmingly shows that maladaptive
aggressive behaviors occurring in the elementary school classroom can be a good
predictor of the maladaptive behaviors later in life, such as antisocial
behavior, criminality and heavy intravenous drug use. It is clear that the
school discipline problems extend far beyond the classroom and may have a
serious impact on the society. Convincing evidence proved that ¡§an early
classroom social context marked by high levels of aggression leads to poor
developmental outcomes for children are already highly aggressive.¡¨ ( Kellam
et al., 1998 cited in Greer-Chase et al. 2002)
order to deal with this danger, violent behavior should be prevented at the
earliest stages of schooling. Greerer-Chase points out that teachers using
appropriate classroom management skills in the early grades may contribute
significantly to reduce the level of aggressive behaviors in later school years.
(Greer-Chase et al. 2002)
Hundreds of research and studies report on different effective techniques for dealing with disruptive students in primary school. Since classroom management skills are very important for the primary school teachers, this paper only focuses on primary students. The aim of this paper is to find out some of the effective techniques to manage the primary students, especially the disruptive students. I found that there are some environmental and behavioral factors. Section 2 reports on some of the environmental factors, such like the arrangement of classroom setting and the display. Section 3 reports on some of the behavioral factors, including the behavior of the teachers and students, which help reduce the disruptive behavior in primary school. Section 4 introduces a new approach called Red Light-Green Light, which is believed to be an effective way to maintain discipline in school. Section 5 concludes that implementing the established rules firmly and consistently is the most important element in preventing any misbehavior in primary school classroom.
environmental factor is discussed in two aspects. The first one is about the
physical setting of the classroom and the second one is about the display of the
to a research done by Doyle (1986), it is found that the physical setting of the
classroom affects students¡¦ attitudes and conducts and finally affects
students¡¦ behavior and learning. (cited in Nakamura, 2000) This result is
further supported by the finding of Proshansky and Wolfe (1974) as the finding
clearly states that the classroom setting has both direct and indirect impacts
on student learning. (cited in Nakamura, 2000) Nakamura (2000) strongly believes
that the arrangement of students¡¦ desk determines how much interaction
teachers and students can have, in which interaction is essential to both
teachers and students. Due to different learning activities and students
changing continuously, Nakamura (2000) points out that different kinds of
interaction is needed and thus ¡§there is no such thing as the perfect
classroom setup.¡¨ (p.250, paragraph 4)Therefore, teachers are suggested to
change the classroom setting according to their needs in order to reduce the
Another survey done by Taitz (1996) indicates that the physical arrangement of a classroom is important in creating a tone of the class. The arrangement decides how much students can interact with each other. The result shows that a more interactive but less teacher-dominated type of environment becomes a trend. Teachers tend to move away the traditional classroom setting, where there are rows of desks facing a teacher¡¦s desk. The survey reveals that almost all of them arranged student desks in clusters. It is believed that the setting will help solve the classroom management problems by directing children¡¦s attention and lowering the chance for the students to move around the room.
refers to how display of the picture on the wall helps manage the class.
and Kershner (2000) found that all three teachers being interviewed believed
display is important as a focus of learning. The study reports that the display
gets children¡¦s attention and teaches them see beyond the decorative aspects
of displays by showing the photographs involving the class activities on the
wall. Once the attention is caught, the class is easier to control.
one of the primary teachers stressed that students must have a focus so that the
class is in control but freedom and flexibility should be given to the students.
The aim is telling the students they are able to control themselves but not just
the teachers. Recent investigations point out that pupils know that teachers
have the right to impose requirements but preferred autonomy. Therefore,
developing children¡¦s autonomy is regarded as an important element in
organizing the classroom. (Pointon & Kershner, 2000)
Developing children¡¦s autonomy implies that they are the one to control themselves, but not just the teachers. As students can control their behavior, students should be the one to take responsibility of their own behavior. This is related to the behavioral factor and thus leads to another discussion in Section 3.
Behavioral factor---What do teachers have to do?
Behavioral factor refers to how teachers and students should behave in order to create a healthy classroom management. An effective discipline can reduce or even prevent the disruptive behavior in primary school classroom. Therefore, teachers play an essential role in creating a healthy learning environment for students because rules need to be implemented consistently.
et al. (2002) provides ten strategies for the teachers to deal with the
disruptive students after carrying out a test targeting at the children from two
to twelve years old. One of the effective strategies is to maintain behavioral
expectations. It is believed that many children use disruptive behavior to test
the limit of the teachers. They tend to test how flexible the rules are. The
children first violate a minor rule until the consequence is finally provided.
The test reveals that the misbehavior is less likely to occur if a consequence
is imposed at an early stage. Herschell mentioned, ¡§ If you give them an inch,
they will take a mile.¡¨ That¡¦s
why she believes ¡§[holding] firm on the established rules and expectations¡¨
are important to deal with the disruptive behavior in classroom.
Nakamura (2000) states that students would challenge certain rules because they
want to test whether the demands and expectations will be enforced or the rules
can be renegotiated. He suggests that teachers should send a firm message to the
students. That means both the words and actions say ¡§stop¡¨. It is important
for teachers to remain firm with the limit when students try to negotiate the
rules. Teachers could explain the rules to the students after the consequences
are applied because this is the time students try to test their teachers. Thus,
Nakamura stresses that words must be consistent with actions.
studies also indicate that rules should be implemented consistently. According
to a report done by the Elton Committee, rules should be applied consistently
and the number of rules should be kept to a minimum (reported by Merrett and
Jones 1994). A report written by Eggleton
(2001) stresses that ¡§teachers and administrators need to be fair, firm and
consistent when dealing with the students.¡¨ (p.11 paragraph 3)
a study done by Taitz (1996), a teacher stresses that she ¡§must remember to
remain consistent.¡¨ She believes consistency is the essential element in
classroom management. The additional comments made by the other teachers include
the importance of consistency. This shows that teachers consider consistency an
important factor on classroom management.
(1980) reports on approach shown to be successful in preventing and dealing with
disruptive students in the classroom. Basualdo reminds the
teachers of the most important factor for a successful classroom
management is to implement and follow the rules consistently, regardless of what
techniques have been chosen, though
or prospective teachers are suggested to find out the approach best suits their
the teachers deliver the instruction affects the communication between the teachers and
students and thus influences the effectiveness of the classroom management.
Research has consistently marked that effective instruction contributes to better leaning environment (Killion, 1996 cited in Eggleton, 2001). Evidence showed that students behave better throughout the year when expectations are established and clearly stated at the beginning of the school year. (I will include the reference later)
finding is further proved by Hereschell et al. (2002) as the test shows that
giving effectively stated instructions can prevent disruptive behavior. The test
reveals direct commands should be made rather than indirect commands because
direct commands tell the child what to do. It is suggested that telling the child what to do is better
than what not to do. Besides, specific instruction should be given one at a time
but not trying to give multiple commands because the child is unable to process
a series of instructions.
way teachers send the message influences the effectiveness of the classroom
management. Another strategy suggested by Herschell et al. (2002) is to provide
frequent labeled praise in order to prevent misbehavior. She points out that
labeled praise provides specific description of the desirable behavior and tells
the child exactly what you like about his or her behavior. The child is more
likely to repeat the behavior because the child wants to get adult attention.
She cited an example of a child who always fidgets and the ¡§examiner¡¨ can
direct the child to a specific behavior by praising the child for sitting still.
Barbatta (1990) introduces a new approach called ¡§Red Light-Green Light¡¨. It is a classwide management system offering young students a system with consistent and frequent consequences for their behaviors. Pivileges and consequences will be applied almost immediately throughout the school day. It is believed young students are able to identify the results of their behaviors through this system. Barbatta (1990) stresses that this approach has been implemented successfully for many years and is proved to be an effective way to maintain classroom discipline.
to Barbatta(1990), four steps are required to take in order to carry out the
operation successfully. First, classroom rules are needed to develop after
discussing with the students at the first school week. With teacher¡¦s guidance
and prompts, students are able to generate appropriate and specific classroom
rules, such as raising hand to get teacher¡¦s attention, ignore off-task
behavior). Then, students were asked to help draw a chart displaying all the
classroom expectations, which referred to the specific rules for an activity
during the day, are developed. He cited an example for the ¡§good school
behavior¡¨ when students are in line. Expectations like staying in a straight
line, no talking and keeping hands to oneself will be developed. Before the
activity started, one of the students has to read the expectations.
students are taught to give helpful hints and positive comments to the peer.
These skills can be taught through modeling, role-play, prompting and feedback
reinforced by teachers. This enables students to involve in the classroom
behavior management continually.
last, setting up the earning and losing daily points for the developed classroom
rules. Minor behavior problems require deductions of 1 mark while major behavior
problems such as stealing and physical aggression result in deductions of more
points. The teacher will go to each student¡¦s desk and add up all the points
after each time block. Then, a suitable colored marker should be put on the
students¡¦ point sheet. ¡¥The students then manipulated a laminated
¡§traffic light¡¨ that is taped to his/her desk by placing the
appropriate colored circle in the available slot.
Students are able to earn a status with the required number of points. There are three levels of privileges: ¡§Green Light status¡¨ allows students to have the most privileges, ¡§Yellow Light status¡¨ is given less privileges and ¡§Red Light status¡¨ requires more sanctions.
4.2 How does it help
maintain the discipline in school?
Barbatta believes this approach provides lots of benefits to both students and teachers. Students can participate in the classroom behavior management by giving feedback to the peers. Students¡¦ own problem behavior can be reduced when they act as the behavior change agents for their peers. Specific and frequent feedback for their behavior will be provided so that students are able to identify the proper classroom behavior. The approach also gives them a chance to have a ¡§fresh start¡¨ every day, with no relationship of what they have done the previous day. Teachers can benefit from the approach because the system is easy to develop and implement. This system can be modified from time to time according to the special needs of the class.
environmental and behavioral factors contribute to effective classroom
management but it seems that the behavioral factors plays an essential role.
Research and studies reveal that carrying out the established rules
firmly and consistently is the most effective strategy to deal with the
misbehavior in primary school. It implies that teacher, the one who enforces the
rules, do play a much more important role to deal with or prevent the
misbehavior in primary school.
For environmental factor, the physical setting was found to have a direct and indirect impact on student learning (Proshansky and Wolfe, 1974 cited in Nakamura, 2000). If the setting enables students to have interaction with teachers and students, students tend to be highly involved in the classroom activities. When students have high motivation in learning, students are more likely to concentrate on the required task in lesson. As a result, the disruption and discipline problems are less likely to happen.
the above situation is true for some of the activities. Teachers have to change
the setting according to their needs because different activities require
different kinds of interaction. It implies that teacher have to play an active
role to change the physical setting to enhance learning and thus reduce
is also found to be important because it gives a focus of learning for the
students (Pointon & Kershner, 2000). Primary students are less likely to
stay on a task consistently throughout the school day. Display serves as an
attention getter to catch all the attention at a point. Students realize that
they need to face in a direction whenever the lesson starts. In the study done
by Pointon and Kershner (2000), one of the teachers chose the blackboard as the
display and her pupils also realize the functions of the blackboard. It proves
that the display really help control the class. The teacher mentioned an
interesting point that the display gives students the sense that they are
controlling themselves but not just the teachers. I believe this sense is
important to the students. Some of the students don¡¦t want to obey their
teachers. If students believe they are controlling themselves, students tend to
take responsibility of their own behavior and ultimately elicit desirable
behavior. Again, the display has to be chosen by the teachers and primary
students are guided to involve in the activity only. Teachers are playing an
active role in managing the class.
the behavioral factors, studies clearly show that the way teachers deliver the
message and the consistency of enforcing the rules contribute to an effective
classroom management. Several research and studies reveal that consistency is
the most important element in dealing with the disruptive behavior because
Herschell (2000) said that students are likely to test the teachers¡¦ limit.
Nakamura (2000) also states that testing is the best way students used to find
out whether the teachers really mean what they say. It was interesting to note
that some students would like to do whatever the teachers told them not to do
and then wait to see what happen. Therefore, teachers¡¦ action after the
violation of rules is very important to determine what the student will do next.
When students first violate the minor rules, teachers have to hold firm on the
established rules and expectations. Even if the students try to negotiate the
rules with the teachers, teachers have to remain consistent and clarification of
certain rules should be made after the consequences are applied. Otherwise,
students tend to violate another rule or even produce disruptive behavior, which
may cause disruption to the normal class activity. The disruptive behavior can
be prevented only if the consequences are imposed when minor misbehavior occurs.
way of delivering the message also helps manage the class. Usually, primary
students are between six and twelve years old. At this stage, the mental level
of students is not well developed. Primary students are unable to process a
series of commands. That¡¦s why Herschell et al. (2002) suggests teachers not
to give multiple commands. The test told us that specific and direct command
should be made. Teachers should tell their pupils what to do instead of what not
to do. Telling them what to do directly enables students to follow the desirable
behavior. If the teachers ask the students what not to do, it doesn¡¦t provide
any guidelines on what the students should do next.
instruction is crucial to primary students. Nakamura (2000) stated that teachers
have to tell their students when and how the teachers want things to be done. He
used an example of asking the class to keep the room clean to explain this
point. If it¡¦s the class¡¦s responsibility to keep the room clean, but they
are leaving the classroom a mess, teachers should tell exactly what the students
should be done (Nakamura, 2000).
If the teachers only tell the children to do a better job of keeping the
classroom clean, the outcome is uncertain because every one interprets the
meaning of ¡§better job¡¨ differently. The meaning of ¡§better job¡¨
for the teacher is different from the students. Even my friend and I have
different interpretation on one simple word. Say, I may think that the classroom
is tidy once all the rubbish is cleared away but my friend may not accept this
classroom because the windows are not closed. Thus, without a direct and
specific message, a student¡¦s performance is usually out of teachers¡¦
expectation. Teachers are reminded that ¡§the more uncertain your terms, the
more uncertain the outcome.¡¨ (Nakamura, 2000 p.240, paragraph 3) That¡¦s why
specific instruction is important.
Light-Green Light¡¨ is a classwide management system, which further supported
what I have found. This system incorporates the principles best to deal with
primary students because it stresses on offering young children consistent and
frequent consequences for their behaviors. Teachers and students have to work
together in order to carry out the programme. Again, specific school rules and
expectations will be generated by students, with the guidance of teachers. It
shows that specific rules and the consistency of enforcing the rules are
essential for creating an effective classroom management.
To conclude, enforcing the established rules firmly and consistently is the most effective strategy to manage primary students. When minor misbehavior first occurs, consequences should be applied immediately in order to prevent any other disruptive behavior. Teachers should send a firm message to the students by using action or consequence because action is much more powerful than words. In this way, students are convinced the teachers really mean what they say (Nakamura, 2000). Specific and direct instruction should be used to tell the students what to do. It seems that all these techniques should be supported by the teachers because teachers are the main people sending the message as well as implementing the rules. Primary students are a blank slate. Teachers have to guide their students to walk on the right track. Therefore, teachers do not only play an important role to create a learning environment, but also help the child to grow. When primary students misbehaved in the class, teachers should impose the established consequence immediately so that violent behavior can be prevented at this early stage of schoolings. Aggressive disruptive behavior is less likely to occur in later school years and maladaptive behavior is less likely to happen later in life.
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