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Another was to pay attention to the opinions of different parties as a means of facilitating trusting relationships for the future. Furthermore, the experts wanted to learn whether the approaches they had developed worked or required adjustment. The results above from the within-case analysis present common core issues and concepts across the cases. Cross-case analyses revealed that, to some degree, the experts took different positions or recommended different solutions to the questions arising from these common issues. Building on the common core issues, we will now present our answer to RQ2 concerning variance that surfaced when we compared randomly paired cases to explore the similarities and differences between the two.
Some elements in the approaches seemed to spread along four axes that constitute the spans across which these cases can be drawn. The suggested axes and their spans are presented in Table 2 and are further described and elaborated below. When using back stage—front stage phraseology, a pupil-filled classroom is the front stage, and all information gathering, analyses, planning and preparation performed without pupils present are the back-stage activities.
Using the stage metaphor, what defines and constitutes success happens on the front stage. Often, the audience only comprises those watching a stage performance; however, in some cases, the audience and the performers interact. The classroom is definitely an interactive space. Regardless of the level of interaction, front-stage success depends on the quality of the back-stage work. As presented in Table 1 , several core issues in the cases concerned the questions that had to be asked and answered, the analyses that had to be performed, the actions that had to be taken, and other tasks that had to be completed before the turnaround operation started in the classroom.
Consequently, back-stage and front-stage work were included in the turnaround operations. However, how radical the changes were varied. While reinforcing these strengths, a new step, or competence, was introduced to enhance the learning climate; then, an additional competence was introduced, and so on.
This step-by-step approach should make the class feel as though it is taking minor steps to improve the classroom climate. The tempo in this approach is serene to moderate. A contrasting approach involved introducing several coordinated changes simultaneously.
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- Teaching with Cases Part II.
At a high tempo, implementing changes that were more or less completely reconstructing the class, the moment to introduce these changes had to be very well prepared in advance. No dwelling, doubting or uncertainty could be shown when adult control was thus re-established. The experts described models that implied communication and cooperation between themselves and several parties — school leadership, teacher s , parents and pupils. Across the cases, all of these parties were addressed, except for the pupils.
With respect to the pupils, considerable variety appeared regarding whether and how much time the experts spend with them — from not meeting with the pupils at all to spending a substantial amount of time with them. Those who chose not to work directly with pupils emphasized the need to ensure the empowerment of the teacher s who would continue working with the class after the intervention period.
Additionally, the changes implemented by an external expert who was working temporarily in the class would hardly be sustainable when the teacher — whom pupils had dethroned — returned. The experts who preferred to cooperate directly with the class were also concerned with the empowerment of the ordinary teachers. Thus, pupils chose the intervention and the direction of the changes. The new circumstances provided the teacher with a new opportunity to practice classroom management.
Finally, the centred points reflected how strongly the case emphasized the development of cognition in terms of learning to behave well vs making changes via social dynamics to re-distribute social power. A class that had long-practised disruptive behaviour had to re-learn relevant expectations and appropriate behaviours.
At the opposite end of the continuum, some cases highlighted the social context as having an important effect on pupil behaviour. Therefore, behavioural changes should be related to contextual changes. In models built on this basis, teaching pupils to think the right thoughts, develop the right viewpoints, and master appropriate behaviour was considered insufficient because their actual behaviour would be somewhat influenced by the social norms in class, the relationships that were associated with status, and those with whom they wanted to be affiliated, among other things.
The experts considered these factors important in the distribution of status and social power in class. When teachers had lost control as classroom managers, some pupils had usurped the leadership role. To ensure their protection in such classrooms, the pupils would try to affiliate themselves with the mightiest among their peers. This affiliation often implied taking a stand against the teacher in an attempt to please the pupils in charge.
On this foundation, the teacher should introduce rules and procedures and establish school-friendly social norms.
The last element in the cross-case analyses involved investigating whether we could suggest a framework based on clusters of concepts or approaches and comparing each case with the emerging framework. This procedure answered RQ3 and revealed that these cases were not randomly placed on the axes described above. Instead, when a case was identified with a cross-mark on one of the axes, it tended to fit in a particular place on other axes. A pattern emerged that showed two main tendencies for how the cases were positioned on the different axes.
Based on this pattern, we suggest a conceptual framework for the two main strategies for approaching highly disruptive classes. One is the cognitive strategy , described as a project of learning. Class discussions then led to a common understanding or agreement regarding what they wanted their working conditions to be.
Finally, the pupils had to train to be able to adjust their behaviour in accordance with their established agreement. The expert often led the entire process, recognizing the actual norms in a class, identifying the desired norms, rules and procedures and initiating the implementation of the new behaviour. Therefore, in such cases, the expert often replaced the teacher or at least liberally assisted him or her during this phase of the turnaround process.
In addition to working with the pupils, the expert also helped prepare the teacher s to take over the renewed class. This strategy often implied that the part of the process spent in the classroom with the pupils took some time. Of course, these front-stage activities had to be thoroughly prepared in advance, but the back-stage phase was not very time-consuming. Most of the process happened on the front-stage.
To change an extremely disruptive class into a healthy learning environment, it had to develop gradually through increased consciousness and learning; small changes were implemented one after another. As formal leaders in the classroom, the teachers should possess authority. Usually, some pupils acquired social power at the cost of the teacher. Other pupils realized that the formal leader had been dethroned. Consequently, those who connected with the teacher risked losing their status in the class; the teacher was also unable to protect them, and they were actually better off joining the informal leaders.
Unruly classes then became battlefields for social power, influence and status. As such, the redistribution of power would benefit the teacher and, in the long term, the class as well.
However, someone had to lose their power and influence. Therefore, some pupils would attempt to maintain the status quo because it was beneficial to those who possessed the greatest social power.
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These conditions made rational, cognitive strategies inadequate for addressing these problems. Socially adept pupils would easily use raising awareness and negotiating norms in an effort to avoid giving up something that they did not want to share. If the formal leader had to discuss his or her right to lead and had to negotiate with informal leaders, the leader sent the wrong message.
Therefore, according to this strategy, a teacher preferred to re-establish his or her leadership and authority based on his or her right and duty to do so; they did not ask for permission. Taking back adult authority in the classroom demands clear communication of who is in charge.
Classroom Management Case Study #2
Structure, behaviour and words were the means of communicating this authority. Immediately after returning to power, teachers should consistently show their leadership role by doing the things that teachers are expected to do and demanding pupil behaviour in accordance with normal expectations. Numerous actions were taken within a short time. To succeed in the power takeover, all actors involved had to be very well prepared. Unclear or ambiguous leadership behaviour from the teachers in this phase allowed pupils the opportunity to possess informal leadership and to consolidate their positions, a situation that underlined the need for good preparation.