The Four Classroom Management Styles and Outcomes

Classroom management is often referred to as the first aspect of teaching that an educator must grasp in order to deliver the best, most effective instruction. Every teacher is held to the same standard for teaching the curriculum and keeping students safe. However, teachers have differing styles through which they use to obtain these standards.

There are four styles of classroom management: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and indulgent. They range from the teacher having very strong control and less student involvement to the teacher having less control and more student involvement.


The authoritarian classroom management style is described as a teacher having total control over the classroom. Students are not given the flexibility to be actively involved and responsive. The teacher maintains the spotlight and control over all aspects of the class. It is likely that a student who has not adhered to the rules set forth may be punished. This teacher is most likely to not have formed relationships with their students. This style is not flexible. It is very structured and can be considered overly structured.

In terms of student outcomes, the authoritarian classroom management style does not allow for student autonomy in deciding how they will learn, peer collaboration, or active engagement. Most students thrive when they collaborate with their peers and have buy-in with their learning environment. It is important for students to feel accepted, heard, cared for, and safe inside their classroom, whether virtual or face to face.

It is also important for students to have a positive relationship with their teacher. Like the late, great Rita Pierson said, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like”. When a teacher does not allow relationships to flourish, students to contribute and collaborate, and creates a “pins and needle” setting, students will not reach their highest potential. While being structured has its benefits, too much control can be counterproductive and hinder student growth.


The authoritative classroom management style is a balance of teacher control and student involvement. In this style of classroom, students are encouraged to participant and collaborate but also follow the rules. Structure exists but does not overtake student autonomy. The teacher values student input and feedback on how they feel about their learning environment and ideas that can be incorporated to make it better.

An authoritative teacher cares about his/her students inside and outside of the classroom. Student outcomes in this classroom are positive. Students are not afraid to contribute and take risks. Therefore, students thrive and show growth in all areas.


The permissive classroom management style has low levels of control and involvement. The teacher of this style does not engage their students nor have the desire to. This teacher has thrown in the towel and does not have the passion most educators embody. The students in this class are left to do as they please due to the lack of structure and planning from the teacher. Permissive management does not impose rules for students. The teacher is hands-off and allows student behavior to get out of hand at times.

With low levels of control and low levels of involvement, students’ educational fate cannot be promising. Teachers are employed to bring out the best in their students. They are to help them grow academically and socially. This cannot happen with low involvement. Students that are subject to this classroom management style will not experience structure, personalized learning, collaboration with their peers in an academic manner, or positive reinforcement.

These are all components of a classroom environment that research proves to be beneficial at all levels of education. I do not believe that students can reach their highest potential in a classroom where the teacher is not working at his/her highest potential or at least working towards it.


The indulgent classroom management style is described as a high level of involvement but a low level of control. The teacher gives students the freedom to express themselves, but due to the lack of control, the class is taken over by the students and lessons tend to get off task. The teacher using this style is usually liked by the students. They feel comfortable talking with the teacher and may consider him/her as a friend. The indulgent teacher does prepare lessons and attempts to present them, but the low level of control prohibits lesson delivery to be successful.

Student outcomes in this setting can be seen in two ways. It is healthy when students feel safe enough to talk to and confide in their teacher. When children like their teacher, they feel safe and trust is present. Safety and trust are both critical factors in building relationships with children. By the same token, having control over the students and the happenings of the classroom is just as critical. Teachers must be in charge of their classrooms. This style is short of that.

How Do I Choose a Classroom Management Style?

Choosing the classroom management style that will work for you takes trial and error. As the leader in your classroom, you know what your students need. A teacher’s success is measured by the success of his/her students. In order for students to have success, the classroom environment must be organized and allow for interactions. Having a balance of control and involvement is vital.

If you are a new teacher, it is okay to take time and find your way. I suggest thinking of student outcomes first. Where do you want your students to be at the end of the year? What do you want them to know and be able to do that they could not do when they first came to you? Map out each month and plan mini goals along the way. Assess what it will take to get them there. Once you have determined that, your style will become clearer to you.