Diversity plays a significant role in classroom management. Disabilities and cultural differences impact behavioral differences. It important to know the nature of a disability. For example, an autistic child might require consistency in his/her schedule as disruptions in routine might trigger inappropriate behaviors. In responding to students with disabilities, some learners might need individualized plans for behavior management. Ideas might be to develop a behavior progress monitoring form with categories such as "Brought supplies, Worked productively, Was respectful of others" for various time frames (e.g., periods in a school day) or to develop a behavioral contract. In terms of cultural differences, teachers and all learners in a class should be aware of each others' interaction styles. What is acceptable in one culture might not be in another. For example, there are cultural differences in what is acceptable in speaking to others (e.g., one at a time, and loud voice), levels of physical activity and verbal discourse needed with thinking and learning, attitudes about sharing and respecting physical space, authority figures, what constitutes an authority figure and the manner in which deference is shown to authority figures (Voltz, Sims, & Nelson, 2010, pp. 52-55).
Reflective essays may be used as an assessment tool to gauge how well students are understanding class content and issues. They are generally short essays (5 to 10 minutes) on topics related to the course curriculum and may be given as in-class assignments or homework. Reflective essays may be voluntary or required, open-ended questions on surveys required in student portfolios or capstone composition courses.
Effective lessons incorporate best-practice. According to Daniels and Bizar (1998, as cited in Wilcox & Wojnar, 2000), there are six methods that matter in a " best practice classroom." These are integrative units, small group activities, representing to learn through multiple ways of investigating, remembering, and applying information; a classroom workshop teacher-apprentice approach, authentic experiences, and reflective assessment. Further, Mike Schmoker (2006) stated that "the most well-established elements of good instruction [include]: being clear and explicit about what is to be learned and assessed; using assessments to evaluate a lesson's effectiveness and making constructive adjustments on the basis of results; conducting a check for understanding at certain points in a lesson; having kids read for higher-order purposes and write regularly; and clearly explicating and carefully teaching the criteria by which student work will be scored or evaluated" (p. 25). In mathematics classrooms, teachers might tend to ignore writing about the discipline; however, to develop complex knowledge, "students need opportunities to read, reason, investigate, speak, and write about the overarching concepts within that discipline" (McConachie et al., 2006, p. 8).
Every teacher should have some knowledge on how students learn and be able to connect research to what they do in the classroom. In the , the Deans for Impact (2015) provide a valuable summary of cognitive science research on how learning takes place. In it you'll find cognitive principles and practical implications for the classroom related to six key questions on how students understand new ideas, learn and retain new information, and solve problems; how learning transfers to new situations; what motivates students to learn; and common misconceptions about how students think and learn (About section). Likewise, the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (2017) in New South Wales, Australia elaborates on research that teachers really need to understand about cognitive load theory: what it is, how the human brain learns, the evidence base for the theory, and implications for teaching. For example, when teaching, you'll learn about the effect of using worked examples with novices and learners who gain expertise, the effect of redundancy (unnecessary information might actually lead to instructional failure), the negative effect of split-attention (processing multiple separate sources of information simultaneously in order to understand the material), and the benefit of using supporting visual and auditory modalities.
Many students experience math anxiety. Much of this stems from a one style fits all approach to teaching. Traditionally, approaches to teaching mathematics have focused on linguistic and logical teaching methods, with a limited range of teaching strategies. Some students learn best, however, when surrounded by movement and sound, others need to work with their peers, some need demonstrations and applications that show connections of mathematics to other areas (e.g., music, sports, architecture, art), and others prefer to work alone, silently, while reading from a text. All of this is reflected in , which has found its way into schools (Moran, Kornhaber, & Gardner, 2006; Smith, 2002), along with the concept of learning styles.
The following delves into theory and research; learning styles, multiple intelligences and thinking styles; and differentiated instruction and the educator's ideology.
Students should become active in the learning process immediately upon entering the classroom. Muschla, Muschla, and Muschla-Berry (2013) stated: "Classes in which students begin working from the minute they take their seats are usually more successful than those in which the first few minutes are lost as the students get settled" (p. 3). Losing just the first five minutes daily amounts to 25 lost minutes per week of instruction and could amount to a loss of 20 class periods of instruction per school year. Their solution is using a math-starter problem that students begin immediately upon entering the classroom. In, they present at least one problem for each Common Core math standard for grades 6-12. Each is designed to be completed in 5-10 minutes, which includes reviewing the answer and any follow-up discussion. This strategy is also good for classroom management, as during this time the teacher can take attendance, pass back papers, interact individually with students, and observe students as they work (p. 3).
Multiple intelligences (MI) and learning styles (LS) are not interchangeable terms. According to Barbara Prashnig (2005), "LS can be defined as the way human beings prefer to concentrate on, store, and remember new and/or difficult information. MI is a theoretical framework for defining/understanding/assessing/developing people's different intelligence factors" (p. 8). Consider LS as "explaining information 'INPUT' capabilities" and MI "more at the 'OUTPUT' function of information intake, knowledge, skills, and 'talent'--mathematical, musical, linguistic" and so on (p. 9).
Indeed, Howard Gardner has stated that multiple intelligences are not learning styles. In Gardner's view, a style or learning style "is a hypothesis of how an individual approaches the range of materials." There are two basic problems. First, "the notion of 'learning styles' is itself not coherent. Those who use this term do not define the criteria for a style, nor where styles come from, how they are recognized/assessed/exploited." Second, "When researchers have tried to identify learning styles, teach consistently with those styles, and examine outcomes, there is not persuasive evidence that the learning style analysis produces more effective outcomes than a 'one size fits all approach.' " Labeling a style (e.g., visual or auditory learner) might actually be unhelpful or inconceived. Putting a label on it does not mean the "style" fits all learning scenarios (Gardner, in Strauss, 2013).
PBS Learning Media has a collection of videos on to illustrate teaching strategies in the classroom. There are also support materials with a background essay and articles on this topic in a section called "Connections."
Knowledge of how students learn best assists teachers in developing lessons that appeal to all learners. However, determining a student's learning "style" cannot be done strictly by observation. Various models and inventories have been designed to determine a learning style. Labeling a "style" poses an additional problem in that a style does not remain fixed over time. Therein lies the main concern of relying on inventories, as their validity and reliability might be in question (Dembo & Howard, 2007), and they differ. The following are among those inventories: