Given the fact that the concept of “classroom management” and its connotations as well as its relation to effective teaching, despite decades of world-wide research, remain rather undefined, or, at least, not fully described, different educational systems and teachers around the world try hard to develop a wide variety of classroom management theories and strategies, since they obviously consider it as being significantly related to effective teaching. Effective classroom management reflects teachers’ multifaceted high-ranked ability to, inter alia, establish and maintain within their classrooms acceptable rules of productive teacher-to-student and student-to-student communication, to motivate students to work cooperatively, and to fruitfully implement best teaching strategies according to their students’ individualized learning needs. Moreover, it presupposes teachers’ ability to create a learning context where students’ disruptive attitudes are prevented or addressed and misbehavior is reduced while positive expected learning outcomes are achieved, and the students’ cognitive, social and affective development is continuously facilitated and sustained. Finally, it is based on teachers’ ability to set clearly defined and agreed—between teacher and students—codes of communication, to produce measurable learning outcomes that fulfill students’ and their parents’ expectations, and to take full advantage of their students’ features, classroom features, and local space features in order to develop their own professional features. It is, thus, evident why successful classroom management is considered by teachers, parents, students, and researchers to be tightly linked to teachers’ professional competence and effectiveness. Moreover, teachers who successfully implement classroom management are reported to create in time a regulatory framework for communication within the classroom through the establishment and adoption of rules and consequences. They also tend to safeguard the quality of communication with their students, and to develop their professional authority profile. They succeed in that by strengthening their willingness to meet students’ learning requirements, needs, and interests, by using effectively verbal and non-verbal communication to encourage learning and, above all, by controlling and managing their institutionalized power. International research over the past years has shown that the implementation of learner-centered innovative teaching strategies on the basis of flexible differentiated teaching focused on students’ personal values, abilities and potential, the establishment of student-to-student shared responsibility and of a student-to-teacher commitment contract, the development of a dynamic interplay between students during group work, the respect for diversity, and the reinforcing of students’ self-regulation all highly contribute to the creation of a fruitful in-class learning environment. In such an environment students feel secure and accepted, teachers manage the classroom successfully and are considered to be competent and effective professionals.
Communication is about working together to create shared meaning. It usually requires at least two people (one acting as the sender, and one or more acting as the receiver), uses a particular code (which may involve either conventional or unconventional signals), may take linguistic or nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through speech or other modes. In the classroom context, spoken language is typically the preferred mode of communication and the primary medium through which teaching and learning takes place. For learners with speech and langue disabilities, this is problematic. Communication does not develop in a vacuum. Cognitive and social routes are both important and therefore evidence-based practices (EBP) that impact on both need to be considered. In an attempt to delineate evidence-based strategies from assumptions or commonly accepted practices that have become “teaching folklore,” three aspects should be considered: (a) the best available research evidence that should be integrated with (b) professional expertise (using for example observation, tests, peer assessment, and practical performance) as well as (c) the learner’s and his/her family’s values. EBP thus recognizes that teaching and learning is individualized and ever-changing and therefore will involve uncertainties. Being aware of EBP enriches service delivery (in this case teaching practice) and enables teachers to support their learners to achieve high-quality educational outcomes. Research has shown that high expectations from teachers have a significant influence on the development of academic skills for children with speech and language disability. Teachers should therefore be empowered to understand how they can set up the environment in such a way that responsive, enjoyable interaction opportunities can be created that will enable learners to develop a sense power and control which are important building block for learning. They also need to understand the important role that they play in shaping behavior through the provision of consistent feedback on all communication behaviors and that communication entails both input (comprehension) and output (expression). Four teaching approaches that have some evidence base for learners with significant speech and language disabilities include: a) communication passports: this is a means through which idiosyncratic communication attempts can be captured and shared enabling everyone in the learner’s environment to provide consistent feedback on all communication attempts; b) visual schedules: a variety of symbols (ranging from objects symbols to graphic symbols) can be used to represent people, activities, or events to support communication. Visual schedules signal what is about to happen next and assists learners to predict the sequence of events, to make choices, and to manage challenging behavior; c) partner training: as communication involves more than one person, communication partner (in this case teachers) training is required in order to ensure responsivity; d) aided language stimulation: this classroom-based strategy attempts to provide a strong language comprehension foundation by combining spoken language with pointing to symbols, thereby providing learners with visual supplementation.
Vera Munde and Peter Zentel
Designing education for learners with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) is a special challenge for both professionals and researchers. Learners with PIMD experience a combination of significant intellectual and other disabilities, such as motor and sensory impairments. Heterogeneity in terms of combination and severity of disabilities is a common characteristic of this group. In the past, learners in this target group were described as not being able to learn due to the complexity of their disabilities. Recent studies do provide evidence that learners with PIMD are in fact able to learn, however, evidence-based practice for designing education for this group of learners is still scarce. One reason could be the difficulties associated with conducting intervention studies such as randomized controlled trials or controlled clinical trials with this target group. Most studies are designed as single-case studies. Hence, only a small number of studies have investigated topics such as communication, assessment, and teaching curricula to generate knowledge about the education of these learners. The most important conclusion of these studies is that all teaching activities need to be designed according to the strengths and needs of each individual learner with PIMD.
Jie Park, Sarah Michaels, Renee Affolter, and Catherine O'Connor
This article focuses on both research and practice relating to academically productive classroom discourse. We seek to “expand the conversation” to include newcomers to the field of classroom talk, as well as practitioners and youth researchers who want to contribute to knowledge building in this area. We first explore a variety of traditions, questions, and methods that have been prominent in work on classroom talk. We also summarize some key findings that have emerged over the past several decades: • Finding 1: Certain kinds of talk promote robust learning for ALL students. • Finding 2: The field lacks shared conceptualizations of what productive talk is and how best to characterize it. • Finding 3: Dialogic discourse is exceedingly rare in classrooms, at all grade levels and across all domains. • Finding 4: A helpful way forward: conceptualizing talk moves as tools. Following the presentation of each research finding we provide a set of commentaries—explicating and in some cases problematizing the findings. Finally, we provide some promising approaches that presume cultural and linguistic assets among both students and teachers, including curricular programs, teacher education, professional development programs, teacher research, and intergenerational communities of inquiry. In all of this, we try to make our own assumptions, traditions, and governing gazes explicit, as a multi-generational and multi-role group of authors, to encourage greater transparency among all who work in this important and potentially transformative field of study.