What’s Going on in Room 109?: Principal Reports of Novice Elementary Teacher Capacity to Respond to Behavior Challenges



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Background: Previous research affirms that effective classroom and behavior management is paramount in order for instruction to occur. Novice teachers often report feeling unprepared to manage the behavior of students, citing discipline problems as a key reason for elevated stress, burn-out, and ultimately leaving the field of education altogether. In our inclusive era of education, teachers can expect to teach students who have differing degrees of academic and behavioral skills. Purpose: This study examines the impact of Texas education preparation programs (EPPs) on novice elementary teacher capacity in classroom and behavior management, as viewed through the lens of the school principal. Methods: A analysis of archival data from an annual Texas Principal Survey of novice elementary teacher (n=9,457) survey ratings on five selected items that pertain to classroom and behavior management was conducted to answer the following research questions: (1) What do principals report about their novice teachers’ capacity and skills in classroom and behavior management? (2) Do educators who hold certification in special education perform better in classroom and behavior management than teachers who hold generalist certification? (3) To what extent does certification route (traditional/university or alternative) impact scores in classroom and behavior management? Results: Approximately three quarters of elementary novices were rated as ‘met standards’ according to the survey. Novice teachers with special education certification outperformed novice teachers who were generalists, and did so on each of the selected survey items pertaining to behavior management. MANOVA results show a statistically significant difference in the groups. Novices teachers prepared via a traditional/university route performed better than alternative route novices on each of the five items, though the effect size was small. Conclusion: Novice teachers are likely to need continued support to reach the highest levels of performance on the principal survey. Based on this analysis, principals can anticipate that about in five novices will have insufficient skills in discipline management and differentiation of instruction to meet the behavioral needs of students with disabilities. Gaps in performance found for specific classroom and/or behavior management competencies of novice teachers are discussed. Limitations of the study include problems with measures that involve perception and limitations of the survey instrument itself. Finally, a framework for school administrators to ensure their staff possess competency in classroom and behavior management is included.



Classroom management, Behavior management, Educator preparation programs, Inclusion