The first edition of Teaching with Love and Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom, by Jim Fay and David Funk, was published in 1995. Although the challenges that teachers face today are clearly exacerbated by the events of the past few years, teachers three decades ago also struggled with classroom management.
In the Preface to the first edition, Jim Fay wrote, “Are you looking for practical solutions to the day-to-day frustrations and challenges common in today’s classroom? Are you seeking tried and true techniques that reduce the time and energy you spend maintaining discipline in your classroom?”
Schools will soon be open, teachers will head back into their classrooms, and many face the same basic question, “How do I deal with disruptive behavior in my classroom?” In fact, classroom management is the biggest concern for our teachers today, rivaled only by how to motivate underachieving students.
There are many reasons why even good and conscientious teachers struggle with behavior problems in their classroom. The first has to do with the fact that many of their students have increased or severe social, emotional, and behavioral needs because of events over the past few years. Creating a classroom characterized by high achievement and positive discipline has always been difficult and will be even more so for the foreseeable future. I’d like to propose another factor contributing to our classroom behavior management woes: A focus on “management” at the expense of “leadership.”
Many educators receive large doses of Skinnerian behavior management theory in their undergraduate and graduate degree programs. They are taught to manage student behavior through careful application of immediate rewards and consequences, which requires a “behavior management system.”
This approach works well with some students but can backfire horribly with others. Is it true that many of the students who display the most disrespect and defiance are the very same students who couldn’t care less about the types of rewards or consequences we have in our hip pockets?
What might happen if we placed a greater emphasis on classroom leadership, on getting to know students at deeper levels, and on building solid teacher-student relationships? What might happen if we created school and classroom cultures that fostered development of problem-solving skills and self-control rather than reliance on adults to manage the system? What might happen if our school climate met the deeper, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of our students better than the social media site or app du jour?
As our teachers return to the classroom, they need all the resources possible to help them take control of the classroom and create a positive, healthy, learning environment. Our second, completely revised edition of Teaching with Love and Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom, by Jim Fay and me, was published in 2016 and includes many effective classroom management and leadership strategies. Even though this book has a new cover, the content has not changed, and it still enables teachers to transform their classrooms into genuine learning environments.
Thanks for reading!