Moral Classroom Management in Early Childhood Education

Clodie Tal, PhD
Head of MED Program in Early Childhood Education, Levinsky College of Education, Tel Aviv, Israel

Series: Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World
BISAC: EDU044000




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This monograph addresses the following questions: What is MCM and how is it viewed by teachers and student-teachers? What are the methodological tools that could help improve classroom management competencies on an ongoing basis? How has the model proposed here been applied to various issues – the diversity of children in preschools, coping with challenging behavior (and applying boundaries and rules), planning and implementing curriculum that promotes participation and learning? What improved or changed in the preschools following implementation of the MCM model? What are the main lessons learned about enhancing teachers’ classroom management competencies derived from applying the proposed model?

Part I describes a theoretical model that defines MCM as a meta-competency. This theoretical model serves as a conceptual foundation for understanding interventions in educational settings that are focused on the enhancement and improvement of classroom management competencies. In the second chapter of Part I, we define the research methodologies employed by student-teachers and teachers in their attempts to understand the educational setting and improve their classroom management practice – an analysis of social episodes, action research, and case studies. The subsequent chapters provide an analysis and interpretation of cases showing employment of the MCM model by student-teachers and teachers in several main areas of preschool work. Part II looks at the application of the MCM model in dealing with children’s challenging behavior. Part III examines MCM’s influence on curriculum and discourse that promotes learning. Finally, Part IV analyzes the role of MCM in understanding and coping with diversity (ethnic, functional, and other). Collaboration with staff and parents as well as time and space management are embedded in the various domains of preschool work, and as such are indirectly addressed in Parts II, III and IV and summarized in the concluding chapter.

Exposition, interpretation, and analysis of the cases are presented in the concluding chapter and show the following:
•Educational decisions in complicated situations and social-moral planning of classroom work involves activation of all the components in the MCM model – leadership based on proactive and ecological thinking in conjunction with self-regulation and good relations with children, staff, and parents.
•The MCM model was successfully implemented in various communities and content domains (e.g., sciences, arts, the Bible).
•Collaboration between staff and parents involves intentional planning, which requires more than forming and maintaining good relations among the stakeholders.
•Classroom management emerged as an evolutionary process reflected in daily actions of observation, planning, decision making, leadership of learning encounters, setting rules and routines, coping with conflicts, designing space, and planning time.
•The evolution of classroom management involves both the development of perceptions and competencies and, at times, a real transformation of perspectives that enables improved classroom management.
•Improvement in classroom management competencies was associated with improved emotional reactions, social competencies, and learning in young children.
•The development and transformation of perceptions and improved classroom management competencies were driven by the commitment of the teaching staff to the children’s well-being and learning, and by a systematic, active, and cyclical approach to dealing with problems and difficulties. (Imprint: Nova)

List of Figures



Part I: Moral Classroom Management: Conceptual Framework and Methodology

Chapter 1. MCM Defined as an Emerging Meta-competency and the Processes that Foster it

Chapter 2. Methodology: Action Research Assocatied with MCM as an Engine of Professional Development

Part II: MCM and Coping with Challenging Behavior

Chapter 3. How MCM Can Influence a Teacher's Perspective and Analysis of Events in Coping with Children's Challenging Behavior

Chapter 4. The Emergence of a Moral Approach in Place of a Disciplinarian Approach

Chapter 5. Coping with Multiple Cases of Behavioral Problems Using Repeated Narrative Writing of Emotionally Loaded Episodes

Part III: MCM, Curriculum Discourse, and Learning

Chapter 6. MCM, Emergent Curriculum, and Discourse in the Educational Garden

Chapter 7. Integrating Small Groups as a Permanent Element of the Preschool Curriculum

Part IV: MCM and Managing Diversity

Chapter 8. MCM Fostering Group Cohesion and Learning in a Culturally Diverse Group of Children

Chapter 9. What a Student Learned about Inclusion of a Girl with ASD



About the Author


“This is a book full of practical insights matched by innovative theory about how to rethink classroom management for student teachers and teachers, seeing this as an evolving process that can lead to transformational change. Clodie Tal brings to this process her wide experience of teaching, mentoring, researching and writing about classroom life as a teacher-educator trained as a psychologist.
This book will be an invaluable tool for early childhood teachers and student students, especially those working in diverse communities, providing a framework, as Tal describes, ‘to switch between a bird’s eye view of the classroom and an intimate attentive view that takes an interest in each child.” - Dr Alison Clark, Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education, London, UK

“A teacher’s highest priority, whether acknowledged or not, strongly influences their personal philosophy of classroom management. Clodie Tal’s focus on employing morality and the emotional well-being of children as overarching principles is insightful and thought provoking. It is also slightly discomforting in the way it compels me, as a teacher, to look inside and question my own values and the impact they have on my students. The numerous real-life stories included make for compelling reading. They also encourage teachers to look at situations from multiple perspectives, which is imperative, since we make decisions that impact students many times a day. If we want teachers to be reflective and intentional, where all children in a classroom are given the opportunity to thrive, regardless of circumstances, this is the kind of book we need to be reading.” - Liz Hah (M.Ed), The Early Childhood Research Podcast, Liz's Early Learning Spot

"In this stimulating, reflective and evidence based monograph, Clodie Tal sets out a theoretical and well researched case for the application of moral classroom management (MCM) within early childhood contexts. The monograph makes a serious contribution to the development of high quality pedagogic practice, with its focus on the nature of positive interactions between teachers and children as a critical element in classroom management. It points out that having a good relationship with children and creating learning conditions for diverse children are the very heart of a good education and achieving this depends crucially on the adult’s capacity to move between a micro perspective of an individual child to the macro view of the classroom as a whole. In support of this goal, and at the heart of this monograph, is the theoretically justified concept of moral classroom management. This is defined as a meta-competency of teachers that integrates cognitive perceptions, self-regulation competencies, and interpersonal relationships with children, colleagues, and parents.

This concept is then explored in teachers’ work in real life classrooms as it works to achieve moral and learning goals that the teacher has set or helped formulate. Subsequent chapters in the monograph provide an analysis and interpretation of the use of MCM model by student-teachers and teachers in several main areas of preschool work including dealing with children’s challenging behavior; its influence on curriculum and discourse that promotes learning; and also the potential role of the model in understanding and coping with diversity (ethnic, functional, and other). Individually each chapter provides an insight into reflective and dialogic practice, but collectively the monograph stand as a model of critical thinking, research and professional praxis. I believe this monograph will stimulate a deeper level of critical reflection on teacher development which is informed, evidence based and contextually located, and contribute to a greater understanding of the real and diverse world of teacher practice.

I believe anyone who reads this book will be inspired and motivated to challenge and extend their thinking and professional practice in classroom management, adopting the critical stance which lies at the heart of quality services for children and families. As such this monograph should inspire students and teachers aiming to support the development of excellence in their professional pedagogic practice." - Chris Pascal, Professor, Director, Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), St Thomas Children's Centre, Birmingham, UK

"Classroom management has been described as a challenging task and yet relevant aspect for educators. In her book, Dr. Tal deconstructs the concept of classroom management moving it from the commonly held point of view of establishing order, an organizational task, to the sphere of developmental elements essential for child-appropriate practices. Placing emphasis on the role of emerging interactions and relationships, classroom management as posited in her book, underlines the role teachers play mindfully and deliberately creating opportunities in the preschool setting that engage and promote young children’s socio-moral development.
Using the perspective of the preschool years, her book presents a model for effectively responding to the holistic needs of young children within the classroom context. Beyond the mere organizational nature of classroom management, she punctuates attention on the role of the early childhood educator in leading efforts to address the overarching task of socioemotional development during the preschool years. Within the construct of child development, this emphasis shifts attention to the classroom environment as a place where teachers’ knowledge and reflections guide decisions and experiences, planning and adjusting, these based on the individual and diverse needs of the child. She conceptualizes teachers as leaders with “the ability to influence children, staff and parents”, determined to establish the conditions necessary to promote a child’s wellbeing. Beyond the traditional idea of managing the environment to set rules and behaviors, Dr. Tal poses classroom management as a teacher-led intentional and reflective process where the goal is centered on meeting and fostering socio-moral outcomes for preschool children. Her well-selected examples further illustrates her model and redefining the teachers’ role in creating environments that welcome and support the individual child’s needs. Indeed, a much needed reading for early childhood professionals and contribution to the literature on early childhood developmental practices." - Wilma Robles-Melendez, PhD, Department Chair/Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, Department of Teaching and Learning, Fischler School of Education, Nova Southeastern University, FL, USA

'I am very pleased to introduce you to this text written by Dr Clodie Tal. Teachers around the globe, whether experienced or novice, often face the challenges of classroom management without the insight of evidenced-based solutions. Much of contemporary research also indicates that the most effective professional learning comes not from attending one-off seminars, but to engage in educational inquiry as part of everyday practices.

The MCM model, used as a meta-competency tool, enables both teachers and student teachers to closely examine and analyse teaching-learning episodes, experiences and anecdotal narratives to better inform understandings of their own practice and pedagogy. In this way, classrooms become more effective and democratic teaching and learning spaces for both teachers and students.

With application potentials across curriculum domains, socio-cultural contexts, diversity of capability in teachers and behavioural challenges faced by students, this model advocates and supports the notion of true collaborative partnerships, the cornerstone of high quality educational experiences for teachers, students and families.

In addition, the MCM model for evidenced-based change moves teachers into a significantly different perspective on the art and science of teaching. When there is clear intentionality surrounding decision-making processes, whether that be establishing the physical context, re-examining the teaching/learning content or exploring specific pedagogical strategies, the chances of successfully implementing change is amplified. Teachers can be more confident of their own and others’ efficacy in driving solution focused transformations.

This text will be a welcome addition to teacher education programs and to teachers who are invested in ensuring they are the best teachers they can be. As a continuous improvement tool for professional practice, children can also be assured of the high expectations teachers will have of them as students, and that they can have of their teachers." - Dr Deborah Harcourt, Professor of Early Childhood, Australian Catholic University, Australia

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