What Leaders Can Learn From the Laws of Classroom Management
Best practices, certifications, and degrees are irrelevant to a teacher who cannot manage the classroom. Weinstein, Tomlinson-Clarke, and Curran (2004) explain that classroom management is “a powerful influence on student achievement — greater than students’ general intelligence, home environment, motivation, and socioeconomic status” (p. 26). Classroom management is a teacher’s first priority. Yet, an educator cannot follow cookie-cutter steps to achieve the ideal classroom environment. The same is true for leaders in any industry. Professional expertise is not enough. Effective leaders know how to manage people.
Know Your People
There is no one-fit-all solution when it comes to managing. To know how to manage people, you start by knowing them. Ross, Kamman, and Coady (2010) explain, “To teach students, we must know them, know how they perceive the world, know their language, know their family traditions and customs, know their interests, know their dreams, know their learning strategies, and know what they care about” (75). Making the effort to understand your people has a significant impact. It is difficult to motivate, direct, and lead a person who you do not know. Over time, it is impossible. Knowing people is an ongoing responsibility for a leader, and workers are more than drones. They have a life, within and beyond the workplace.
I’m an English teacher. For my students’ first writing assignment of the year, I take the different components of the quote above (with a few tweaks) and turn them into topics for an autobiography. My strategy is to let them know from the start that understanding them is a priority (as well as grammar). With their autobiographies as a base, I can ask them questions about or make connections to their lives throughout the year. A sustained effort to understand people is the groundwork for effective management. Scheduling time for relationship building is not inefficient. It’s essential.
Respect Your People
Along with being responsive to individuals, good leaders work to create a caring community where each member feels valued. Students in caring communities have improved social skills, motivation, and academic achievement (Evans et al., 2010). To build this kind of…