Classroom Management Data to Improve Instruction

I wanted to take some time and communicate how an instructional coach may help classroom teachers in terms of classroom management.This can be quite tricky being that we vary quite a bit as far as management styles, and there is surely not one correct way to do things.  As an instructional coach I find that it is very important to not expect teachers to do things the way that I would do them, because that may not fit in with a particular teachers style.  I have been doing some reading on the issue and have found some interesting ways that I think I could help out any teacher reflect on and improve their practices.

There are 4 areas that Jim Knight, author and research associate in the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning and director of the Kansas Coaching Project,  identifies that coaches can use data from observations: I would like to briefly discuss the how a coach would partner with a teacher and use the four types of data collection to examine and improve classroom management.

4 Types of Data That can Help Improve Classroom Management for all Teachers

  1. Time on Task
  2. Opportunities to respond
  3. Ratios of interaction
  4. Disruption

I will address each one at a time.

Time On Task:

What do you spend your class time on?  How many of your students are on task during instruction?

In this case a coach would collect two types of data.  First the coach would simply observe a class and take data on how much classroom time is spent in various lesson segments (bell work, teacher-led activities, learning activities, transitions…) The result of this data would be a pie graph, a good visual to show teachers how much time they spend in each segment.

Additionally, a coach would also collect data on the the time that individual students spend in class.  A simple process of recording tally marks within a certain amount of time, a coach could determine the percentage of students who are on task.

I believe that this information could provide teachers with some baseline data from which they can make decisions to improve their management and engagement strategies.

Opportunities to Respond:

How engaged are your students? How often do you offer them opportunities to react to what they are learning.

Opportunities to respond may include direct questions from teacher, turn to your neighbor activities, think, pair share, writing answers, ideas, or questions etc…

In order to give teachers a clear picture of this a coach would simply take data on how often during a lesson a teacher gives students opportunities to respond from students. The more chances students have to be involved the more engaged they will be during the lesson.

Ratios of Interactions

What types of interactions are you having with your students? More positive or negative?

If we want to change behavior it makes sense that we need to reinforce the behavior we want to see in classrooms, while at the same time discourage unwanted behavior.  Therefore we should spend more time attending to positive behaviors than negative. Classroom management literature suggests that a good ration is three positive interactions for every one negative.  However, Knight conducted an informal research and found that it is typical teachers pay attention to negative behaviors six times more frequently! That seems like quite a difference.

To address this an instructional coach could observe a lesson and take data on each time a teacher gives students attention for positive behavior vs. negative behavior. Reflecting on this data could benefit teachers by helping them create a positive learning environment while reinforcing desired behaviors.


How do you deal with situations when disruptions do occur?

It is inevitable that disruptions will occur occasionally, but the important thing is not that they occur; it is how we handle it.  In order to address this element of our practice, a coach could observe class and keep track of how many disruptions occur during a pre-determined amount of time. After collected the data the coach and the teacher could review the data and develop a plan to use whenever a disruption occurs.  It would be helpful to list the types of disruptions a teacher is trying to eliminate and develop specific set of consequences for those disruptions.  That way when they do occur a teacher is prepared and doesn’t have to try to make up a response on the spot.  We want to limit the amount of instructional time lost to avoid disrupting the learning of other students. An example of consequences may look something like this:

1st offense: Warning – everyone is human and we all make mistakes

2nd offense: Parent communication

3rd offense: Call home and move student to another more isolated location in your room

4th mark Call home and office referral

Following a specific sequence of consequences can help teachers deal with disruptions consistently and objectively

Another thing to keep in mind