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What is the definition of Classroom Management?

Having teachers that are effective in classroom management has benefits to all stakeholders.  For example, maintaining an orderly learning environment is associated with high student achievement due to increased instructional time (J. Hattie et al., 2012; Marzano et al., 2003; Overton, 2008). So what is Classroom Management?

Classroom management has been characterised by many. I believe Froyen and Iverson (1999) has the most comprehensive. “Classroom management is the methods and strategies an educator uses to maintain a classroom environment that is conducive to student success and learning. Including the management of the student Content (space, materials, equipment, movement, and lessons), Conduct (discipline problems), and Covenant (social dynamics and interpersonal relationships)” (Froyen & Iverson, 1999).

Here seems a good time to define and compare the difference between behaviour management and classroom management.  An interesting article on Teachers Education Week titled Behaviour Management ≠ Classroom Management contained a diagram (see figure 1), which clearly indicates that classroom management is so much more than just managing the behaviour of the pupils.

Figure 1: sourced (Ginsburg, 2011)

According to Ginsburg (2011), classroom management includes; managing the materials needed for teaching. If teachers are unprepared for class, this can lead to dead time in the class, which can result in opportunities for the student to misbehave.  Time management of transitions and turning up on time for a class are also paramount for preventing misbehaviour.  Less thought about is the layout of the classroom. However, if the classroom has areas of high traffic and tables and chairs don’t allow for easy passing, this has the potential to cause problems. 

The instruction from the teacher is paramount in managing the classroom.  If the teacher narrative is not clear and concise, then pupils may become confused or take this as an opportunity to make undesirable choices. Lastly, the Department of Education and individual schools have policies and procedures on classroom management.  Teacher’s consistency or inconsistency in following these policies and procedures directly impacts the behaviour of pupils.  Creating a calm learning environment is more than just reacting and managing students’ behaviour, as figure 1 demonstrates. 

However, there are other definitions of Classroom Management. In comparison, Jones (1996) emphasis the comprehensive nature of Classroom Management by identifying five main features:

 1. An understanding of current research and theory in classroom management and students’ psychological and learning needs.

 2. The creation of positive teacher–student and peer relationships.

 3. The use of instructional methods that facilitate optimal learning by responding to the academic needs of individual students and the classroom group.

 4. The use of organizational and group management methods that maximize on-task behaviour.

 5. The ability to use a range of counselling and behavioural methods to assist students who demonstrate persistent or serious behaviour problems (Jones, 1996, p. 507).

Jones adds more depth to the definition of classroom management by mentioning the relationship between teacher and students and the teachers understanding of the students individual learning needs. Research has shown that teachers who build up a rapport with students have fewer behavioural problems in the classroom.  Kounin called this ‘winning over’. Bennett further broke this down into strategies such as greeting pupils at the door, smiling, and being polite (Bennett & Smilanich, 1994; Kounin, 1970).  Finding students individual zone of proximal development (ZPD) is important to ensure pupils feel challenged but not too challenged and thus safe in their learning (Vygotskii & Cole, 1978).

Classroom management can be a complex concept to understand, especially for newly qualified teachers. I recommend consistent professional learning in this area for continuous growth and development. Read a book attend a course, observe an expert. Read more on Classroom Management.

Standards, rules, and procedures vary in different classrooms, but we don’t find effectively managed classes operating without them.

Evertson, Emmer, & Worsham (2000, p. 18)



Bennett, B., & Smilanich, P. (1994). Classroom management: a thinking & caring approach. Toronto: Bookation.

Emmer, E. T., Evertson, C. M., & Anderson, L. M. (1980). Effective Classroom Management at the Beginning of the School Year. The Elementary School Journal, 80(5), 219-231.

Evertson, C., Emmer, E. T. & Worsham, M. E. (2000)Classroom management for elementary teachers,5th Edn (Boston, MA, Allyn & Bacon).

Froyen, L. A., & Iverson, A. M. (1999). Schoolwide and classroom management: the reflective educator-leader (Vol. 3rd). Upper Saddle River, N.J: Merrill.

Ginsburg, D. (2011). Behavior Management ≠ Classroom Management. Teacher Education Week. 

Hattie, J. A. C. (2003). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Paper presented at the ACER Research Conference, Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved from:

Jones, V. (1996). Classroom management. In J. Sikula (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teacher Education ((2nd ed., pp. 503–521). ed.): New York: Simon & Schuster.

Kounin, J. S. (1970). Discipline and group management in classrooms. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Marzano, R. J., Marzano, J. S., Pickering, D., Association for, S., & Curriculum Development, A. V. A. (2003). Classroom management that works: research-based strategies for every teacher. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Overton, L. Y., & Sullivan, A. M.  (2008). Non-compliance in a democratic classroom: Is it prevalent?

Vygotskii, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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