Classroom Management Styles

All teachers have their own classroom management styles, which is part of what makes teaching so exciting! You don’t have to go into the classroom every day and follow a rote method for how you’re supposed to teach and manage your students. You can develop your own style!

In a job interview for a teaching position, you might have been asked questions about your teaching style and/or classroom management style. Often, these two questions get lumped in together, but they’re really two separate styles.

Examples of teaching styles include lecture style vs inquiry style, individual work vs group work, or high-tech vs low-tech. Typically, teaching styles are fairly straightforward, easy to learn, and distinguishable from one another.

But when it comes to classroom management styles, the nuances become more complex, because they’re heavily influenced by each teacher’s unique personality.

Other factors that influence classroom management styles are:

  • the age of the students
  • the makeup of the classroom
  • the experience level of the teacher (new teachers tend to modify their classroom management styles over time)
  • the culture of the school or district

Below are some of the primary types of classroom management styles, contrasted with their opposite styles.

Heavy-Handed Classroom Management vs Loose Classroom Management
Let two teachers observe in each other’s teaching, and one will think the other is too heavy-handed and should allow the students more freedom. The other teacher will believe that the colleague is too loose with classroom management and should be more firm. Neither classroom management style is better than the other, but the key is to set boundaries and expectations, explain them to the students, and fairly and evenly enforce them. You can’t be heavy-handed with some students and loose with others.

Proactive Classroom Management vs Reactive Classroom Management
Some teachers are proactive in their classroom management styles, preferring to anticipate problem behaviors (by individual students or groups of students) and have solutions ready ahead of time. Proactive classroom management can keep small issues from becoming big problems, and it can also help avoid trouble all together. Again, though, the key here is be consistent in your classroom management style and to treat all students equally. Often, teachers with reactive classroom management styles might inadvertently punish “good students” more severely, because they expect more of them.

Punishment-Based Classroom Management vs Reward-Based Classroom Management
Punishment-based and reward-based classroom management styles can be effective, when applied properly. It’s best to discipline students privately, not in front of the class. And it’s not a particularly effective classroom management strategy to punish the class as a whole for the actions of a few students. One of the best “rewards” for a student, group of students, or classes is praise. Offer up genuine praise, as often as you can.

Traditional Discipline In Classroom Management vs Restorative Justice In Classroom Management
For hundreds of years, most teachers and schools have followed a similar system of punishment for students’ bad behavior: warn the student, punish the student, send the student to the principal’s office, and suspend or expel the student. In the 1970s, the concept of restorative justice entered education, and it’s gained in popularity in recent years. Restorative justice aims to break the cycle of student disruption and punishment by offering alternative methods for dealing with behavioral problems. Restorative justice works particularly well with classrooms full of diverse students, but the principles can be applied to types of classes, with all ages of students.

Education 4 Equity
At Education 4 Equity, we offer an online professional development course on Classroom Management: Restorative Justice In Action. This 3-credit classroom management course qualifies for graduate level credits and has been approved for LAUSD salary points, through the Los Angeles Unified School District.