How Well are We Preparing Novice Teachers in Classroom Management?

December 17, 2021

Classroom teachers consistently report classroom management as a significant area of concern.  This is especially true for early career teachers and teachers often report it is one of the most common reasons for leaving the profession.  Highly rigorous, practical, and effective pre-service and professional development training approaches are necessary to address classroom behavior challenges.  A recent systematic review by Hirsch and colleagues (2021) reviewed the literature on classroom management training to determine the current status of professional development for classroom teachers.  Ultimately, the authors identified eight experimental studies that met inclusion criteria.  There were several interesting findings from this review.  Of the experimental studies reviewed, a low number of participants reported having received prior training in classroom management.  As the authors discuss, these results are not surprising since relatively few states have policy requirements for classroom teachers to receive instruction in classroom management.  Stevenson and colleagues (2020) proposed the steps for improving instruction in classroom management: (1) pre-service coursework must include a course on explicit, evidence-based, culturally, and contextually relevant classroom management skills; (2) fieldwork should incorporate explicit support and coaching on classroom management; and (3) state departments of education should require training that aligns with the best practices of classroom management to support the  needs of teachers and students.  If these three recommendations were acted on, teachers would likely be more prepared to address the behavioral challenges in their classrooms.

A second finding from the Hirsch et al. (2021) systematic review was that there is considerable evidence to support practice-based professional development rather than the standard “train and hope” (Stokes & Baer, 1977).  There are seven critical features to practice-based professional development.  In the articles reviewed in this systematic review, all of the studies incorporated some elements of practice-based professional development.  A somewhat surprising finding among the reviewed articles was that the length of training ranged from 15 minutes to four days.  This result is likely possible because the researchers used practice-based professional development that included coaching and feedback to teach the new skills.

Hirsch and colleagues made a strong argument for the increased use of technology to support professional development, ranging from low-tech methods to telehealth.  Telehealth makes it possible for teachers in rural communities to access high-quality professional development. Creating more effective and efficient professional development is necessary to scale it up.

As Hirsch et al. make clear, considerably more research on professional development is necessary.  Eight articles are a small database for making policy and practice recommendations.

Link to Article:

Article citation:

Hirsch, S. E., Randall, K., Bradshaw, C., & Lloyd, J. W. (2021). Professional Learning and Development in Classroom Management for Novice Teachers: A Systematic Review. Education and Treatment of Children, 44(4), 291-307.


Stevenson, N. A., VanLone, J., & Barber, B. R. (2020). A commentary on the misalignment of teacher education and the need for classroom behavior management skills. Education and Treatment of Children, 43(4), 393-404.

Stokes, T. F., & Baer, D. M. (1977). An implicit technology of generalization 1. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 10(2), 349-367.