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The High School Journal 86.3 (2003) 8-16

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Alternative Certification Teachers' Attitudes Toward Classroom Management

Laura Sokal
University of Winnipeg

Donna G. Smith
University of Winnipeg

Heather Mowat
University of Winnipeg


Classroom management has been shown to be the most common concern of both pre-service and experienced teachers (Gee, 2001; Johns, MacNaughton, & Karabinus, 1989; Smith, 2000; Weinstein, 1996; Weinstein & Mignano, 1993). Furthermore, teachers who self-define their teaching experiences as failures attribute their experiences to a lack of preparation by their teacher education programs (Britt, 1997; Goodnough, 2000). Pre-service teachers, who commonly cite student behaviours as negative aspects of their practicum placements (Killen, 1994), share this perception. According to pre-service teachers, their frustration with their inability to manage student behaviour is left unaddressed by their co-operating teachers (Goodnough, 2000; Key, 1998) as well as by their faculty advisors (Farkas, Johnson, & Duffet, 1997). These findings are cause for concern, as teachers who perceive problems with classroom management are more likely to leave the teaching profession (Goodenough, 2000; Taylor & Dale, 1971).

Research has demonstrated that effective classroom instruction in teacher education programs can alter students' views about classroom management (Hollingsworth, 1989). More often, however, student teachers begin their traditional teacher education programs (four- or five-year Bachelor of Education programs) with well-defined ideas about classroom management (Chan, 1999) — ideas that remain unchanged during the course of their training (O'Loughlin, 1991; Tatto, 1996; Zeichner & Tabachnick, 1981). Ironically, changes occur when these teachers are hired for their first teaching positions (Celep, 1997; Laut, 1999). At this point, their attitudes usually become more interventionist.

While copious research has been conducted on the development of teacher attitudes toward classroom management in teachers attending traditional teacher education programs, less research has been conducted with students in non-traditional alternative certification (AC) programs. The prevalence of AC programs is increasing (Feistritzer, 2000); in the United States two thirds of the teacher education institutions currently offer some type of AC program [End Page 8] (Barry, 2001). The issue of classroom management attitude development is of interest to American and Canadian universities that are offering AC programs as a way to educate enough teachers to meet the predicted teacher shortages. The current study sought to determine whether teachers' attitudes toward classroom management develop the same way in alternative certification (AC) teacher education programs as in traditional programs.

This report will begin with a description of the continuum of teacher orientations toward classroom management. Next, past research linking classroom management attitudes to AC programs will be explored, followed by a discussion of the rates at which AC teachers leave the profession. Finally, we will discuss the findings of the current project with regard to the development of teacher attitudes over the course of an AC program and place the findings within the current literature on classroom management attitudes.

Classroom Management Attitudes

Attitudes toward classroom management can be classified into three broad categories (Glickman & Tamashiro, 1980; Wolfgang, 1995). These categories represent a continuum from high teacher control to low teacher control (see Figure 1). While teachers may demonstrate characteristics of each category in different situations, they are likely to use one approach more often than others (Wolfgang, 1995).

Low teacher control is characteristic of non-interventionist models of classroom management, which include Ginott's Congruent Communication (1972) and Gordon's Teacher Effectiveness Training (1974). Underlying this approach is the belief that children have innate needs that require expression. This approach focuses on what an individual child does to modify his or her own environment. Research has shown that student teachers are more likely to fall within this category than experienced teachers (Martin & Baldwin, 1993; Swanson, O'Connor, & Conney, 1990). Interestingly, Laut (1999) showed that co-operating teachers are also more likely to fall within this category.

Moderate levels of teacher control are indicative of an interactionist model of classroom management. Theories such as Glasser's Control Theory (1986) and Albert's Co-operative Discipline (1989) fall into this classification. This approach balances the individual child's effects on...


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