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What’s Your Classroom Management Style?


August 14, 2023

What is your classroom management style? Classroom management is about so much more than discipline. It’s about designing and maintaining an atmosphere of safety, engagement, and inspiration where your students can be themselves and reach their full potential.

Classroom Management Style Quiz

Whether you’ve been teaching for two weeks or twenty years, it’s always helpful to reflect on how you teach. And we’ve got a quick quiz to help you do that! Keep track of your answers and get ready to learn about yourself!

One of your students consistently arrives unprepared and late to class. You decide to…

  1. Establish a strict policy for punctuality and preparedness with consequences for arriving late or unprepared.
  2. Have a one-on-one conversation with your student, then create a plan together that takes your concerns and the student’s situation into account.
  3. Ignore their behaviors and hope for the best.
  4. Tell the student you’re just happy they come to class.

During a group discussion, the same student always takes over. Other students remain quiet and contribute less as a result. You decide to…

  1. Warn the student that they cannot dominate the classroom discussion. Tell them that if they continue to do so, you’ll subtract participation points from their grade.
  2. Create a discussion rubric with guidelines that encourage meaningful contributions and collaborative conversations. You offer a written component so students who are nervous to speak in class can still participate.
  3. Continue holding discussions without changes. Students will speak up when they feel passionate enough to do so.
  4. Allow the student to continue dominating the conversation. When other students speak up, you tell them to wait their turn.

Some students in your class keep turning in incomplete or poorly done work. You decide to…

  1. Set rigid expectations for work and enforce consequences when students don’t meet them.
  2. Create assignments that offer different levels of complexity and support based on individual student needs.
  3. Offer the same level of support and work you always have.
  4. Allow students to turn in work regardless of deadline and grade on completion.

One student keeps calling you by your first name despite you reminding them not to. You decide to…

  1. Give them your most severe in-class consequence and escalate the issue to your supervisor or administration, if needed.
  2. Have a conversation with the student about respect and remind them that the way they speak to you is a form of respect.
  3. Shrug it off. If you don’t make it into a big deal, no one else will either.
  4. Laugh along with the class and refer to yourself by your first name, too.

You are about to introduce a new and challenging topic to your students. You decide to…

  1. Start the topic with a teacher-led lecture and note-taking.
  2. Plan a hands-on activity to pique student interest before diving in.
  3. Give the students a packet to work through and offer your help to anyone who wants it.
  4. Start class with a worksheet and work with students based on their level of frustration.

Determining Your Results

How did you do? Did you begin to see a clear picture of your classroom management style as you answered the quiz questions? Here’s how to measure your results.

Mostly 1s – Authoritarian

You rule with an iron fist. The classroom revolves around your careful but rigid planning. Your my-way-or-the-highway management might mean that students aren’t practicing creativity or problem-solving in your classroom because they’re following systems and structures that don’t allow for it. When students break rules, consequences are swift and harsh.

Mostly 2s – Authoritative

Your classroom is all about balance. Your classroom procedures, systems, rules, and expectations are rooted in student-centered reasons that you can articulate when students ask about them. You try to teach with the whole student in mind and carefully build relationships with each one. When rules are broken, consequences are immediate and appropriate.

Mostly 3s – Permissive

You have a what-happens-happens philosophy when it comes to student behavior. Students committed to learning do their work, while students who aren’t, don’t. When students act out, you ignore behavior or you use consequences sporadically when you get especially frustrated. You believe you shouldn’t have to “punish” students or offer “carrots” to get students to behave correctly or learn in your classroom.

Mostly 4s – Indulgent

You love your students and hate to make them upset or sad. You allow students to derail lessons and turn in work when they want. You don’t enforce rules, deadlines, or expectations; you’re just glad when students turn in any work or act appropriately.

Is Your Classroom Management Style the Best One?

Your classroom management style will change, whether it’s from year to year, from class to class, or from situation to situation. No teacher fits perfectly into one box and management is not always completely in the teacher’s control. Many schools have systems in place that require teachers to adopt certain management behaviors that they might not otherwise use. Other schools may struggle with school-wide discipline procedures that make classroom management harder.

Getting meta when it comes to your teaching practice will help you find places where you can improve and best practices that you want to continue using. When evaluating your management style, take time to critically think about:

  • Your rationale for how your classroom’s procedures and consequences are set up 
  • How you react to difficult situations (especially if you tend to have gut reactions)
  • How you teach students material

It’s important to note that authoritative management is the gold standard in teaching because we know it tends to create better results for students and for educators. Authoritative teachers are more comfortable trying different strategies and creatively problem-solving when issues arise. They’re more likely to form better and stronger relationships with their students throughout the school year, too. 

The key is staying flexible, getting to know your learners, and constantly honing your skills. With care and commitment, you’ll develop the classroom management approach that brings out the best in your students.

Joanna Guldin-Noll spent years teaching at a Baltimore high school, pioneering the school’s first AP English Language and Composition course, garnering thousands in grants for her students, and teaching American Literature, honors, and recovery courses. With a Master’s in Secondary English Education from Johns Hopkins, she was an adjunct faculty member and portfolio coach for the School of Education’s master’s program and served as a consultant for educational start-ups. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband John and her puppy Albus.