Preschool Teachers' Beliefs, Knowledge, and Practices Related to Classroom Management
Drang, Debra Michal
Lieber, Joan A
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This study examined preschool teachers' beliefs, knowledge, and practices related to classroom management. The rationale for researching this topic is based on the role of teachers in the special education referral process, the poor success rate for inclusion for children with disabilities who demonstrate problematic classroom behaviors, and the data on expulsion rates for preschool students. A multiple case study design was used to explore the following questions: (a) What are the components of classroom management in preschool? (b) What is the role of the preschool teacher in classroom management? (c) What are the sources of preschool teachers' knowledge about classroom management? (d) How have preschool teachers evolved or developed as classroom managers over the course of their careers? (e) How are preschool teachers' beliefs and knowledge about classroom management manifested in their classroom practices? (f) Do preschool teachers engage in classroom management practices that support or contradict their stated beliefs? The research setting was Hawthorne Academy, a private community-based preschool in a suburban county of a mid-Atlantic state. Participants included six teachers divided over three classrooms. Data were collected via interviews, classroom observations, and document review. Findings are presented as case summaries of each classroom and participant, a descriptive analysis of the setting, and themes from a cross-case analysis outlined in the context of the research questions. The participants in this study described teaching children the expectations of school as a component of classroom management, along with establishing structure and routines and fostering emotional development. Participants consistently cited other teachers as sources of knowledge about classroom management, but feedback from accumulated classroom experience was the strongest influence. There was considerable evidence to substantiate that participants' knowledge about classroom management came from personal and informal sources. Language was the tool that teachers employed to manifest classroom management beliefs and knowledge in their practices, and their practices were consistent with their stated beliefs. Findings are discussed in connection to pertinent literature, Bronfenbrenner's (2006) bioecological model of human development, and for their potential relevance to preschool children with disabilities who demonstrate problematic behavior.