3 Simple and Effective Tips for Better Classroom Management
Classroom Management and its Importance
A classroom in chaos can be likened to a car that is out of control. In order for the car to get back to its normal operation, the driver of the car has to know how to steer it back in the right direction. In the case of classroom management, the teacher is the one who has to learn to ‘steer’ the classroom back into an orderly state. Classroom management refers to the effective management of classroom and student behaviour through practices and procedures. It is about expectations, routines, and consequences, but also about rewarding positive behaviour as a result of following these expectations and routines. Effective classroom management provides the right learning environment for teacher and pupil and is a key role in student achievement and success.
Classroom Management is about…
Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.
To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
1. Classroom Expectations and Routines
A set of clear expectations are essential for clear communication and building strong relationships between teacher and pupil. Expectations are different from rules in that they focus on creating positive environments and outcomes while rules focus on negative behaviours and consequences.
Examples of expectations versus rules
Classroom routines can help in teaching and forming habits and regularly need to be reinforced. Similar to expectations, students will be expected to follow a certain procedure. For example, once students enter the classroom they are expected to sit down and bring out the relevant materials for the specific subject and wait for class to be conducted. Developing habits through routines shortens the amount of time for giving directions and adds to the efficiency in teaching a class.
2. Classroom Discipline
“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Sometimes, not every student will follow the expectations and routines a teacher might have set out. What if there is a student who is disrespectful of their peers and the teacher by being disruptive and talkative? What if there is a student who questions the teacher’s authority, misbehaves and gives you attitude? In these cases, the first step to not do is to force them to behave. This might mean taking that one student aside to talk with them or give out individualized consequences. These methods will only exemplify misbehaviour and induce stress on both the teacher and the student. Below are some examples of solutions of disciplinary action.
1. Use a low intervention strategy:
Intervene by being discreet about it. For example, if the student is talking to their neighbour, bring back the student’s attention by mentioning his/her name in a sentence or instruction.
2. Reinforce your classroom management plan:
Go back to review your expectations and your disciplinary methods. Re-establish the boundaries by teaching and modelling them and remember to keep on practising them. Be consistent in handling your rules and be fair and impartial while instating them.
3. Positive “I” messages:
Include a description of the student's behaviour. (“When you talk while I talk …”)
Relate the effect this behaviour has on you, the teacher. (“I have to stop my teaching …”)
Let the student know the feeling it generates in you. (“which frustrates me”)
(taken from Thomas Gordon’s “Teacher Effectiveness Training” via www.smartclassroommangagement.com)
4. Defer-wait-approach method:
When a student questions your decisions or authority, for example, asking why they should follow a certain rule, try not to respond to their question right away (defer). Give your self time to calm down (wait), and then give them a short and simple answer to their question with a smile (approach), before returning back to teach.
3. Reward and Encourage Positive Behaviours
To live for results would be to sentence myself to continuous frustration.
My only sure reward is in my actions and not from them.
The reward system might be viewed by some people as having to ‘work’ to get a reward by behaving well. Others have put forward that the reward system leads to entitlement, and in the long run puts a stress on the teacher, student and the system. However, if we put rewarding positive behaviour in another perspective, it can further encourage students to remember and follow classroom expectations, recognize students who already behave well, but also recognize and acknowledge students who have improved their behaviour. Rewards, like many other things, have to be managed. When it is managed, rewards can aid in self -assessment, self-regulation and goal-making. Rewarding good behaviour can be given physically such as through reward jars, praise passports or stickers, but also by simply giving compliments for overall progress in work and behaviour or acknowledging attributes like being hard-working or kind.
A clearly-devised classroom management plan should be implemented from the start to set up a smooth transition to the start of teaching. Teach your expectations and routines, define your consequences and have a clear set of disciplinary action when those expectations or routines are not met. It is important to recognize and acknowledge good behaviour, but also to recognize and acknowledge improvement in behaviour. Finally, taking the time to craft an effective classroom management plan will be beneficial not only for the teacher, but also for the students.