Classroom Behavior Management for Diverse and Inclusive Schools
reviewed by Carolyn Wemlinger - 2004
Title: Classroom Behavior Management for Diverse and Inclusive Schools
Author(s): Herbert Grossman
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
ISBN: 0742526550, Pages: 524, Year: 2004
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Herbert Grossman’s research-based Classroom Behavior Management for Diverse and Inclusive Schools (Third Edition) covers three major concepts focused on helping teachers adapt to the needs of their students and provides the pros and cons of a plethora of theories and strategies for teachers to implement to meet the needs of diverse and included P-12 students in a collegial manner. The Preface briefly explains each topic and provides a summary of the realities of teaching and classroom management in the United States and throughout the world and the role of the educator in classroom management. Throughout, the book reminds us that it is the responsibility of the teacher to change if students’ behaviors are to change. Caveats are frequent so as to dissuade the reader from thinking the text provides a magic wand or cookbook for resolving classroom management problems. Rather, it provides the basics and useful techniques to develop and implement an approach to a multitude of classroom management situations to bring about change.
The text is divided into three parts. Part I (p. 7) focuses on “avoiding behavior problems;” Part II (p. 259) focuses on “resolving most behavior problems,” and Part III (p. 367) focuses on “individualized solutions to behavior problems.” Each part begins with a summary chapter that describes the intent of the following chapters and sections. Chapters begin with an overview, delve into related realities of teaching in today’s classrooms, provide research-based methods for improving classroom management, and end with summaries and practical activities for applying new knowledge to practice – all of which would be useful to individuals, for use in workshops, and for use in pre-service teacher education classes.
The impact of gender differences, sexual identity, ethnicity, socio-economic status, transience, migration, immigration, culture, language, and child abuse on classroom behavior is well-presented. Methods for identifying and assessing behaviors are provided with suggestions for practice. Throughout, the text challenges teachers to think more openly about student behaviors and accept the need to practice differently to meet the diverse and individual needs of students.
Part I consists of six chapters focused on resolving the dichotomy between majority (i.e., white/non-Hispanic, female) teachers and their diverse students. The use of a democratic, four-step approach for solving classroom management problems is suggested. The steps ask teachers to structure their classrooms by motivating students, establishing procedures, establishing rules, and gaining compliance in non-coercive ways. The reader is cautioned that no single method for developing a positive classroom climate that nurtures student achievement can ever be expected to work; rather, a variety of techniques must be employed based on diversity and exceptionalities.
Part II focuses on behavior problems, who owns them, and interventions. The author suggests that if overall a classroom is well-structured, only a few students’ behaviors will require additional interventions. Teachers are cautioned that punishments and power will not change student behavior. Rather, teachers need to develop relationships with students and to continuously discover and address their need s so that they will feel they are a part of the classroom community and improve their behavior.
Part III, the shortest, is limited in scope. It discusses the cost of segregating exceptional children and focuses on diagnosing and accommodating their needs in inclusive classrooms. Conduct, emotional factors, and physiological problems or factors are discussed along with adaptations for those students for whom approaches in the first two parts do not work. The text suggests that these students may need a more in-depth approach to change their behaviors.
The text has three flaws. The main flaw in the text is that the cover and pictures portray young students even though the text sometimes mentions adolescents. This may dissuade middle-level and secondary educators from taking a look. However, teachers should be able to generalize the theories and methods for use at any level and to any population if they can move beyond the photos. The second flaw is that the title infers that inclusion is equal to diversity when, in reality, two-thirds of the text is devoted to diversity and one-third to exceptionalities. The third flaw is that the text ends abruptly. A short summary chapter is needed provide closure to continue the same familiar tone established throughout.
Based on Kounin (1970), Grossman suggests that teachers have three roles: instructor, manager, and person. Grossman’s position is that good classroom management involves teachers learning how to democratically create a positive classroom environment, teaching clear classroom procedures, and creating clear classroom rules to help kids learn what to expect and to do to avoid behavior problems. He is clear that teachers need to identify behaviors and implement interventions to solve both group and individual behavior problems and that teachers are responsible for fostering the personal growth of students. He cautions that the context in which teachers find themselves may limit the effectiveness of their strategies and that what a teacher may believe is good practice may, in fact, fly in the face of the school’s policies and procedures with regard to discipline. He also acknowledges that school climate and culture impact both student and teacher attitudes and behaviors but that those who want to make a difference will work with the students to help them understand why things may be different in their classrooms.
This text clarifies classroom realities in a positive manner and provides basic information to help teachers develop initial skills they need to teach in diverse and inclusive classrooms. Grossman suggests that exclusion has flown in the face of teachers being well-trained in working with diverse, inclusive student populations which has led to student needs often being ignored. He cautions that today’s realities neither allow teachers to practice any type of exclusion nor to be resistant or reluctant to change their pedagogy insisting that students adapt and assimilate to their designs no matter their learning styles or needs. He contends that this philosophy has been and continues to be the root of many classroom management problems, exacerbates students’ disconnectedness, and leads to low achievement. Grossman is straight forward in saying that one method cannot be expected to work for all children, and he provides a clear expectation that teachers implement multiple strategies to meet the needs of diverse and exceptional students and develop a team relationship between themselves and their students. He then offers help via a plethora of research-based methods to accomplish the task of improved classroom management in diverse and inclusive classrooms.
The short chapter sections are peppered with best-practice research, opportunities to apply new knowledge, and references for further study. Because this is a thorough, highly-referenced text, some readers may be put off by the length or think it is not practical because 25 per cent of the book is devoted to sources. However, the research cited provides validity to the concepts presented and resources for those seeking additional insights and strategies while the text itself provides enough valid information and strategies for both in-service and pre-service teachers to bring about change. The tone is personal and puts the reader in the framework of possibility while being reminded that meaningful change will take time.
Kounin, J.S. (1970). Discipline and group management in classrooms. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.