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Is Control the Goal?

Management Minute

One of the biggest keys to success during the first weeks of school is not letting the little things go. If the little problems go uncorrected, they soon spiral into bigger and bigger problems. And before you know it, you’ve lost control of your classroom.

But maybe this doesn’t sit right with you. Maybe you feel as if you are being too strict, too nit-picky. 

Perhaps there is even a bigger philosophical question on your mind: Is control really the goal anyhow?

This is a great question. Should we be trying to control our classrooms? Or should we focus more on engaging our students and empowering them to take charge of their own learning?

The answer isn’t an either-or but a both-and. And, in truth, the latter cannot take place without the former.

Imagine trying to have a meaningful, in-depth class discussion while two students are shouting at each other across the room, five more have their heads down, and three are wandering around aimlessly. 

Imagine students trying to comprehend quadratic equations while constantly being interrupted and distracted.

It just doesn’t work.

The reality is that classroom control is the foundation upon which successful learning and meaningful engagement can be built.

But classroom control is not the goal in itself; it is an important means to the goal.

We want our students to be engaged, focused, respectful, and responsible, but we will struggle to teach them that in a chaotic, dysfunctional environment. 

However, when we create a calm, controlled classroom, we create a place that is conducive for meaningful learning and an environment where we can help students develop self-control and self-motivation. Plus, even more importantly, we leave the door open to better reach students’ hearts and perhaps even their spiritual lives.

So what does that mean?

It means that establishing order during the first weeks of school is an important and worthwhile priority.  

It means that all of the effort you put into establishing strong expectations and procedures is worth it.

It means that you should not feel one shred of guilt as you kindly, yet firmly, insist students follow your rules and expectations.

But it means something else as well.

It means that we cannot confuse the means with the goal, and we cannot allow the means to become more important than the goal.

Yes, classroom control is important, but again, it is only a means to an end.

If you have a quiet classroom but students are failing every test, what’s the point? If your students wouldn’t dare act up but don’t know that you love them, what does that say?

Controlling our classrooms is vital, but it only pays off when we use that platform to grow our students—academically, emotionally, socially, and, Lord willing, spiritually.

And that is where we need God’s grace each day. We need the grace of His wisdom, helping us make good choices that will set our students up for success. We need the grace of His strength, upholding us when we’re exhausted and not sure we can continue. And, most of all, we need the grace of His Spirit, whispering truth to our hearts and helping us know what to say and when to say it.

If you’d like help establishing that controlled environment, join us in a free Back-to-School Classroom Management Solutions training

CEAI Members with Coverage receive a 40% discount on all Teach 4 the Heart courses as a benefit of membership. Log in to your membership account at to access your discount code.

Linda Kardamis taught middle school math before founding Teach 4 the Heart. She is the author of Create Your Dream Classroom and Take Heart and Teach and the creator of Classroom Management 101. She and her husband are raising their four kids in northeast Ohio.


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