Breaking the Mold of Classroom Management: What Educators Should Know and Do to Enable Student Success, Vol. 5

reviewed by Diana Lawrence-Brown - December 08, 2014

coverTitle: Breaking the Mold of Classroom Management: What Educators Should Know and Do to Enable Student Success, Vol. 5
Author(s): Andrea Honigsfeld, Audrey Cohan, & Julia G. Thompson
Publisher: R&L Education,
ISBN: 1475803486, Pages: 206, Year: 2013
Search for book at

For many teachers, classroom management remains one of the most challenging and anxiety-provoking responsibilities of their professional lives—it is often the reason that they decide to leave the profession (Hong, 2012; Robertson, 2006). As educators, we are painfully aware that effective classroom management is a foundation without which even the most innovative curricula cannot stand; without it, learning is nearly impossible.

In Breaking the Mold of Classroom Management, Honigsfeld and Cohan have collected accounts of classroom management situations where educators have stood up to “create standards for successful classroom management" (p. xv). Chapter contributors include teachers, administrators, scholars, researchers, and educational consultants.

Twenty short chapters provide a variety of interesting and important strategies and perspectives, ranging from analyzing problem behaviors, strengthening relationships with students, and commanding technology/media applications. Most chapters are focused around practical scenarios of educators facing a significant classroom management dilemma; these helpful real-life examples and cases give the reader a substantive handle for understanding complex issues and sophisticated strategies. Illustrations are provided from a wide range of grade levels (elementary through secondary), and like most effective strategies, they are useful for grade levels broader than the specific exemplars described in the chapters.

Major themes of the book include a rejection of classroom management as synonymous with discipline; the importance of building personal relationships focused on mutual respect, caring, and trust; skill building; multicultural responsiveness; differentiated instruction; and creating a positive classroom/school culture.


Perhaps the strongest overarching theme of the book is its emphasis on caring, trust, mutual respect, and democratic practice in effective classroom management. In Chapter Eleven, Berté, Malow, and Gómez explain the idea of “warm demanders”: teachers who develop caring personal relationships that allow them to insist on "tireless and unbendable high academic and behavioral expectations" (p. 88). The ideas are fleshed out further with specific examples in Pagliaro's case study of a teacher working to develop her classroom management capacity (Chapter Twenty), Flessner's account of building trust, respect, and empowerment through students' investigation of quality conversations in literature circles (Chapter Eight), and Frelin's analysis of a case of building relationships rather than building control (Chapter Five). More valuable explanations and details are provided in Chapter Nine, in Siris’ description of a program focused on creating "upstanders" against bullying and training children to become ambassadors to younger peers.


Several chapters focus on various aspects of skill building as vital to effective classroom management. Denti (Chapter Six) makes the important points that low skills may masquerade as low motivation, and that teachers' failure to capitalize on student strengths can be viewed as a deficiency in teaching rather than in students. Hott, Walker, and Brigham (Chapter Three) provide a cogent and useful summary of functional behavioral analysis and teaching self-management, with specific, realistic steps and examples. Minahan and Rapaport's explanation of anxious students' need for functional behavioral analysis and explicit teaching of coping skills provides a constructive alternative lens on problem behaviors as often resulting from anxiety and underdeveloped skills rather than willful disobedience, again with many specific explanations, strategies, and examples (Chapter Ten). Murray (Chapter Seven) describes a dropout prevention and skill development program focused on the metaphor of "journey" that employs labyrinths, heroes, and games—making connections to relevant popular culture. Dove and Giouroukakis (Chapter Sixteen) focus on collaborative conversation skills demanded by the Common Core learning standards, while Drake and Drake (Chapter Twelve) describe development of online social skills through students' participation in blogging.


Key understandings for multicultural responsiveness are made in several chapters. In Chapter One, for example, Rothstein-Fisch and Trumbull make the important point that "many mainstream educators do not, in fact, see themselves as having a culture" (p. 2). They present individualism-collectivism as a framework for understanding some important differences between cultures, and describe classroom organization and management changes that teachers made after becoming more knowledgeable about these concepts. Merk (Chapter Four) critiques the increasingly popular classroom community approach as bypassing important issues of racial inequality and disproportionate discipline rates. In Chapter Thirteen, Love provides interesting and helpful explanations and examples in her description of using key elements of hip-hop (rapping, breakdancing, deejaying, graffiti, and knowledge of self) to create a classroom community as well as active learning opportunities in self-management, social skills, and academics.


Differentiated instruction is another recurrent theme of the book. For example, Imbeau and Tomlinson (Chapter Two) provide a broad vision for managing a differentiated classroom that is both flexible and orderly, providing challenges, and empowering students. This is fleshed out by Nordmeyer and Stelzer's detailed example of a social studies unit (Chapter Fourteen) using flipped learning and layered choices for assignments and assessments.


Closely related to multicultural responsiveness and building strong personal relationships is creating a positive classroom and school culture. In Chapter Seventeen, Meyer and Evans describe defusing classroom conflict using restorative practices, which focus on understanding perspectives of students and formulating plans for making amends and restitution. Abelson and Langer de Ramirez (Chapter Eighteen) provide a potpourri of practical strategies focusing on body language, establishing classroom norms, and positive peer pressure. Knoff describes school change efforts focused on positive behavioral supports at the system, school, and staff levels (Chapter Nineteen). In the afterword, Harris reinforces many of the recommendations from other chapters in his discussion of building resiliency.

This text will be a welcome addition to many introductory classroom management courses, with its short chapters (most are under ten pages) and survey of numerous management methods. An index would have provided greater reader-friendliness, but Honigsfeld and Cohan have provided a range of interesting and important strategies—enlivened with real-life examples—that will be helpful for pre-service teachers. The message throughout the book is that reflective educators can make important strides in classroom management using strategies that are positive, educative, less punitive and more respectful of our increasingly diverse communities and students.


Hong, J. Y. (2012) Why do some beginning teachers leave the school, and others stay? Understanding teacher resilience through psychological lenses. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 18(4), 417–440.

Robertson, M. (2006). Why novice teachers leave. Principal Leadership, 6(8), 33–36.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: December 08, 2014 ID Number: 17779, Date Accessed: 5/26/2022 1:09:52 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review