Four Components of Effective Classroom Management: Getting Withitness

Over the recent holiday break, I broke out another classic Marzano work and began rereading.  Classroom Management That Works takes the same meta-analytic approach that was used in Classroom Instruction That Works and examines extant research literature to determine which classroom management activities show a significant effect size.  Marzano cites one of the earliest studies to examine the importance of classroom management, which was conducted by Jacob Kounin in 1970.  In that study, Kounin identified four critical components:

  1. Withitness
  2. Smoothness and momentum during lesson presentations
  3. Articulating student behavior expectations at any given point in time
  4. Providing both variety and challenge in the seatwork assigned

Of the four, withitness is deemed to be the one thing that separates the excellent classroom managers from all others.  What is it?  Withitness is that sixth sense that teachers seem to have regarding the happenings in their rooms.  It’s that ultra awareness of student behaviors and potential disruptions that teachers immediately address with individual students or the class.  Fortunately there are things that teachers can do to increase their sense of withiness.  Marzano suggests the following (p. 70):

  1. Walk around the classroom, making sure you spend time in every area
  2. Periodically scan the faces of students in class, making eye contact with each student if possible
  3. As you scan the classroom, pay particular attention to incidents or behaviors that look like they could turn into problems
  4. Make eye contact with those students involved in the incident or who are exhibiting the behavior
  5. If this doesn’t work, move toward the student 
  6. If the behavior or incident persists, say something to the student, keeping the comment as private as possible 

Think about your own classroom.  Are any students or groups of students causing some level of disruption?  If so, incorporate these practices into your management skill set.  You and your students will be glad you did!

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