NCT Articles

Psychological Principles in Classroom Management: A Revisit


Rochelle C. Tarayao     10-09-2013

The foundation of a strong and dynamic educational system is a composite of vision and mission geared towards improving the life of its stakeholders andmainstreaming of core values of the institution itself. At the forefront of educational arena, teachers are faced with countless challenges, one of which is classroom management. As teachers,we are expected to perform not only our duties and responsibilities but also create a culture of mileage in the academe. Apparently, this is not always the case. Some teachers complain incessantly about the dismissive behavior of students toward classroom management issues such as discipline and cheating,which results in poor academic performance and loss of interest. These universal problems have become pervasive that a teacher would either accept it with resignation or propel her into action.

As an English teacherin the English Language Center (ELC) of Nizwa College of Technology (NCT),I aim to serve the interest of my students whilefully understanding the accountability that goes with my profession. Theacademic success and failure of a student largely depends on theteacher?s performance in class. From a professional standpoint, such premise carries an enormous responsibility and the sound of it is likened to having a sword of Damocles hanging over one?s head. Unfazed with what lies ahead, a positive, responsible and intelligent teacher will carry the full bruntof educational challenges as she constructively re-tools her skills through training.

At the outset, allow me to revisit the thoughts that influenced and contributed to my teaching experience. As studies show, most teachers are influenced by the schools of psychology, especially in their day to day dealings with students. In a nutshell, they provide direction in the teaching- learning process.I too, share the same leverage and suffice to say, it is in the mainstream of my teaching experience since I first inherited the oldest school of thought called structuralism.

As a background, this school of thought was originally conceived by Wilhelm Wundt. According to research, this school of psychology is a systematic way of breaking the whole into parts in presenting a subject matter or a lesson in a language that is commonly understood by everyone. This theory, needless to say, is applicable in all disciplines. To put it simply, it isa constant review,recall and retention of information of lessons and topics specified in the curriculum on a daily basis. This principle stands out in today?s generation as some of our teachers continue to adhere to it.

Another well-rounded philosophy that influenced my teaching is functionalism, popularized byWilliam James and John Dewey. Both authorsposit that man is an essential and ever-adapting whole organism in the environment. Moreover, William James advocated the principle of pragmatic philosophy of life and how this consciousness and other processes help people adjust to their experiences. Hence, it is believed that man is a flexible and creativeorganism. The physical reality is evident in the brainstorming of ideas through discussion and how these ideas affect one?s thinking, as well as that of an organization. In classroom management, this theory provides a challenging avenue for creativity and self-expression for teachers to involve students in project-based learning.

Others may argue thatthe behavioral approach to classroom management is more fulfilling compared to other theories.John Watson, Edward Lee Thorndike and B.F. Skinner pioneered the study of human behavior in terms of stimulus responses, habit formation and habit integration. Furthermore, they explained how environmental events affect human behavior. As a teacher?s model, students consciously adaptto the same as exemplified by modesty, politeness and respectful behavior of their teachers.

Behaviorism may have impacted in addressing classroom management issues but other complex theories are also worth mentioning, such as Gestalt,which is attributed to the German philosopher-psychologist, Max Wertheimer in 1912.The belief that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts led to the discovery of several different phenomena that occur during perception.As a result, technology made communication accessible and easier for everyone.As such, Information Technology teachers areconsidered the best implementers and educators of this theory.

Finally,humanism was developed and conceived by Abraham Maslow in 1967. This holds that people see the world from their unique perspectives. Proponents of this thought foster student-centered learning and that teachers accept individuality and uniqueness of a student in order to reach his full potential.People have different areas of interest and specialization as could be explained by the theory of multiple intelligences, namely verbal intelligence, abstract thinking, music, arts andphysical intelligence. By understanding this theory,teachers can use several strategies and adaptto students? interest and needs.

Teachers have a great leverage in carrying out classroom duties and responsibilities that may largely impactstudent-learning outcomes. As such, student diversity that comes from intelligence, socio-economic standing, gender andculture can be nurtured and influenced by any teacher as long as she constantly renews her commitment, including revisiting the application of psychological theories and principles, which is the backbone of the philosophy in teaching. Even students with exceptional abilities who need special help can reach their full potential in the classroom through the efforts of a committed and dedicated teacher.The mission of a teacher is clear and that is to make a contribution by helping studentsachieve their dreams and aspirations in life.

Let me end this with the reverberating thoughts of an African-American lawyer Marian Wright Edelman:?Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and a world better than you found it?.