High Yield Strategy: Teacher-Student Relationships

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.  Positive teacher-student relationships are a key component of any classroom management tool kit.  Such relationships have an overall effect size of -.869.  When data is disaggregated to high school students only, the effect size is -549.   When data is disaggregated to middle school/junior high students only, the effect size is quite large, measuring -2.891.  Similarly, when data is disaggregated to upper elementary students, the effect size measures -1.606.  The total range of decrease in disruptive behaviors is 21% to 50%.  That is huge!  

Summarizing the findings from Marzano, there are three elements of which teachers should be mindful when developing relationships with students:

  1. Presence.  In its simplest form, teachers need to be present – in the room and near students – to help reduce the number of classroom disruptions.  In a broader sense, teachers must have a true teacher presence, exuding confidence and the ability to command the room.  Some elements of teacher presence may include a consistent and positive temperament, tone of voice, eye contact, preparedness, and operating in ways that convey classroom leadership.  
  2. Purpose.  Clearly articulating goals and objectives for students will help them remain focused on the tasks at hand. Students who do not have a clear sense of direction will wander into disruptive behaviors that have a negative impact on the classroom. 
  3. Personal.  Teachers who work diligently to know their students and make personal connections find that classrooms are more easily managed.  These personal connections are vital students in spite of what some legislators in any given statehouse might think.  

As you prepare for next week, think about how you might increase your presence with your students, more clearly articulate the purpose of the activities in your classroom, and make personal connections with students.  You and your students will be glad you did!

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