Social Education 57(6), 1993, pp. 326-328
1993 National Council for the Social Studies

Classroom Management for Responsible Citizenship: Practical Strategies for Teachers

Dorene D. Ross and Elizabeth Bondy1
Classroom management is a major concern in U.S. public schools (Elam, Rose, and Gallup 1991). Although this concern is well placed, it is important for the public, teachers, and administrators to recognize that inappropriate emphasis on classroom order and control of students can impede the achievement of other important educational aims. In a democratic society, teachers are obligated to work toward developing the capabilities of students, one dimension of which involves responsible citizenship, or the ability and inclination to play an active role in improving society for all people (Ross, Bondy, and Kyle in press). This obligation requires that teachers select classroom management strategies likely to help students develop and use community values and skills including compassion, mutual respect, responsibility, and equality (Goodman 1992). Essential communication and social skills necessary for responsible citizenship include listening, expressing opinions, cooperating, and collaborative problem solving.
Brophy (1985) notes that most research on classroom management focuses on how to control behavior rather than on how to promote the values and skills of responsible citizenship. Most research investigating classroom management has addressed the differences between effective teachers (those who maintain order) and ineffective teachers (those who fail to maintain order). The research, however, has not investigated the characteristics that differentiate effective teachers who emphasize community-related values and social skills from effective teachers who focus exclusively on order. Nevertheless, we must not underestimate teaching practices that promote classroom order. Evertson, Emmer, and their colleagues have provided the most comprehensive classroom management research. Table 1 summarizes four guidelines for effective classroom management derived from their work (Evertson 1989; Evertson and Emmer [1982]; Evertson et al. 1984; Sanford and Emmer 1988).

Teachers who fail to use the guidelines identified in the classroom management research, or who fail to use them consistently, are likely to have chaotic classrooms. Achieving an orderly classroom, however, should not be an end in itself. If teachers hope to develop students' understanding of and commitment to the values and skills of responsible citizenship, they may need to do more than implement the guidelines that have emerged from the classroom management research; strict implementation of the guidelines is likely to achieve order by promoting obedience rather than by teaching students to make socially responsible choices based on internalized community values. To develop community values and the social skills needed for responsible citizenship, teachers must use additional practices to manage their students.

Developing the Values and Skills of Responsible Citizenship: Socialization Strategies

At the outset, teachers should state the rationale for rules (i.e., prescriptions for general classroom behavior) and routines (i.e., prescriptions for specific behavior, such as how to set up and clean up science lab materials). The rationale behind rules can also be (and should be) communicated in other ways. Many children's books address values issues. Discussing the underlying values in books and how the values might apply within the classroom helps children understand the classroom values structure. Teachers can use current events activities to help children see that classroom values guide the action of all members of our society. Teachers can also use decision stories (i.e., stories in which two important values conflict) to help children grapple with difficult value decisions. Schuncke and Krogh's Helping Children Choose (1983) offers many examples of decision stories appropriate for elementary schoolchildren.

The practices that follow provide students opportunities to develop values of respect, compassion, mutual responsibility, and equality as well as communication and social skills needed for responsible citizenship.

In more serious cases, teachers and students may develop a contract that specifies external reinforcement for positive behavior. Although the use of external reinforcement is not a practice we recommend enthusiastically, a few children have had so little successful experience in a classroom that they do not know how it feels to work cooperatively. External rewards can provide transitional motivation for such children on their way to developing community values and social skills.

By examining curriculum and classroom environment in an effort to determine the role they play in classroom management problems, and by sharing their reflections with students, teachers create models for their students of the values and skills of responsible citizenship. For instance, teachers who show concern that some students do not find the curriculum meaningful demonstrate their sense of responsibility for the learning of all members of the classroom community. When teachers talk with students to gain understanding of their views of the curriculum, they demonstrate the community values of respect and caring. When teachers share with students their thinking about solving curriculum problems, they again create models for respect, caring, and commitment to the well-being and success of the group. In addition to modeling commitment to community values, teachers model important communication and social skills when they examine their curriculum in this public way.

Decisions about how students should live in a classroom should have foundations in the teacher's educational aims. No one set of most effective techniques for organizing classrooms exists. Decisions about what is best and effective must be based on the teacher's (or school's) vision. We have advocated the aim of responsible citizenship, which entails the development of community values and communication and social skills. Traditionally, classrooms have been organized according to authoritarian power relations. Teachers have laid out their expectations, and students have complied. Students who failed to obey received a predetermined punishment. Under these conditions, students may work quietly and stay in their seats. But what do they learn about themselves, other students, adults, and the society in which they live? Do they learn values of community by participating in this type of stratified system in which they have little power and control?

We are not arguing that teachers and students are equals in the classroom. We believe that teachers have a legitimate authority they should use "to teach [children] how to live according to community values" (Goodman 1992, 104). They do this by creating routines, rules, and practices that help students become responsible for themselves and to others. Although we may see the teacher as having the overall plan that guides classroom activity, students play a central role in the construction of group life through a continuing dialogue with members of the group. In our discussion of classroom practices that promote the development of responsible citizenship we have tried to shift the emphasis away from controlling students' behavior to teaching students how to be responsible members of a community. It is through their relations with others in the classroom that students will learn important lessons about how to live in a community.

1The ideas presented in this article are abbreviated and revised from a chapter that appears in Ross, Bondy, and Kyle (1993).References
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