Robert Marzano and his team have undertaken meta-analysis related to effective classroom management techniques and have reported the findings in the book Classroom Management That Works. The statistical measure they use in reporting is the effect size, which reports change via standard deviation. When looking for high yield techniques related to classroom management, the effect size is reported as a negative number, indicating that the technique reduced the number of incidents. One set of effective techniques – effect size of -.909 – is proper application of disciplinary interventions. What does this look like in classrooms? Marzano suggests that there are five categories of interventions that have a meaningful impact on student behavior (pp. 35-40):
- Teacher reaction. When a student is exhibiting unacceptable behavior, a look or gesture from the teacher may be all that is needed to bring the student back into compliance. Eye contact, fingers to lips, or a simple verbal directive to the student are effective ways to redirect toward appropriate behavior.
- Tangible recognition. Certificates, stickers, behavior graphs, goals, and token economies are all forms of tangible recognition. These serve as positive consequences for student compliance.
- Direct cost. These are more closely aligned with negative consequences for student noncompliance. Time out, loss of privileges, and removal from the classroom are examples of direct cost interventions.
- Group contingency. If you reward a group or class with a movie or pizza or something of the like, you are employing a group contingency intervention. The key to this method is finding things that students really enjoy.
- Home contingency. A call or email home to a parent or guardian can have a powerful impact on student behavior. It’s important to build relationships with parents by sharing good things, so that on those occasions when you need to share something not so good the parent will be open to receiving it.
The key to success with any of these interventions is knowing when to apply each. A variety of methodologies can be employed within a class any given day, as long as the students have been given clear directives regarding what is acceptable in class. Keep experimenting until you find the things that work for your students. You and your students will be glad you did!