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Classroom Management: The Modern "C’s” of Learning

Jordan Catapano

As teachers, we’re all at least vaguely aware of the four “C’s” of education—collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. By combining bits of these essential components into your classroom management, you’re on track for a healthy recipe of well-rounded and adequately prepared students.

This formula certainly checks the standard boxes, but why stop there? As education has continued to evolve—not just in policy and technology—but also what the ever-changing real world demands of it, there exist many more “C’s” to consider for your classroom management teaching toolkit.

Here are a few additions to the traditional four C’s of education:

Competition. Classrooms have gotten students engaged with whole new levels of gamification, from twists on old activities and games to incorporating all-new gamified technology. This shift has opened up an opportunity to inject some healthy competition between students—an adrenaline rush of engagement from which every classroom can see some benefit. On a local level, a gamified classroom provides a great deal of fun and motivation for student success. On the larger global scale, competition has also become more prevalent—both on the academic and economic fronts. As you continue instructing this year, consider whether you’re preparing your students to succeed both in the short-term and as adults at the international level.

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Connectedness. Looking into the crystal ball of education, the future will focus less on large knowledge banks and more about how you can utilize a global community to learn new skills, think critically, and adapt to emerging technology effectively. Predictably enough, the future will require individuals to be resourceful networkers in addition to absorbing the more traditional classroom smarts. You can help ensure your students develop both ways by giving them opportunities to be agile thinkers and problem solve while introducing them to new tech tools on a consistent, yet relevant basis.

Compassion. Without question, it’s important to develop a gamut of a student’s personality in school. But perhaps most importantly, studies show a directly relationship between students who understand and apply empathy (or compassion) and their effectiveness in collaboration efforts. This certainly isn’t a huge surprise—compassion involves seeing and sympathizing with someone else’s perspective—a skill that goes hand in hand with group work. As our world continues to become more connected (and thereby collaborative), it’s easy to understand why compassion is becoming even more important than ever before. Allow your students to work together as often as possible—both within the four walls and beyond with other peers to help develop this personality trait.

Curiosity. There’s nothing new about this “C”—it is the bedrock of all learning and advancement. But too often in our modern classrooms, the all-important “Why?” question fails to surface authentically. Encourage your students to ask this question more often—you can start them off by priming them with a theoretical “why” discussion during a class reading session or at regular intervals between lessons.

Character. Public schools utilize the Common Core State Standards to place more defined academic expectations deemed critical to students’ future success. While this transition’s effectiveness can be debated for years to come, there’s one thing that has been worryingly left to the wayside—character education. If we are interested in shaping both strong students and people, then teaching young minds how to write and do math is only half the picture—the other is to encourage the respect, honesty, kindness, passion, maturity, and awareness that make those academic subjects fulfilling and applicable beyond their school years.

The four traditional “C’s” of education give us a bird’s-eye glimpse of the classroom essentials, but it’s become more apparent that modern-day education deserves a more discerning and detailed vantage point as post-academic life demands evolve.

What C’s from our list do you agree with? What else would you add? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website

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