Classroom Management is one of the most challenging part of being a teacher. Dealing with children takes a lot of effort and attention.
If you want to conserve energy and have a long teaching career, it pays to learn and master classroom management.
Classroom management is not just for your sanity. It is for the good of your students too. They cannot learn under a chaotic environment and the idea behind classroom management is to prepare them for the learning process, i.e. to make a conducive learning environment.
Here are 8 fundamental principles of Classroom Management according to Sue Cowley, author of Getting the Buggers to Behave. I liked this book as it was conversational and full of practical ideas you can implement immediately in the classroom.
1) Be Definite
Know what you want and expect in the classroom. Before the school year starts, you should already have a list of the expected behavior you want in class. Your school rules and regulations will provide assistance on this matter but you will have fill in the details, particularly the behavior you want in the classroom.
Establish your class routines early in the school year so that there are no uncertainties in your classroom management. Get as detailed as you can, from the moment you enter the class until you leave the classroom.
2) Be Aware
Children will misbehave. Things will go wrong. That is assured. When that happens, look for the good side first. Give specific praise to what’s going right.
If the situation warrants a sanction, then execute the sanction. Be explicitly clear about and be consistent so that your students will realize that their negative behavior has corresponding consequences.
That’s why the first couple of weeks in the school year is crucial in establishing classroom rules and routines. It can literally determine how your school year will progress. Set your high expectations early and your students will learn to live up to that.
3) Be Calm and Consistent
Yes, their behavior can raise your blood pressure and will test your patience severely. But only if you let them. Remember, it’s you who has control over your reactions to events.
So be calm and consistent throughout your class. Treat them as you would treat another adult no matter how childish their behavior is.
The other reason why you should be consistent is that it shows fairness. Students value fairness. What you apply to one student should apply to all.
Yes, we all have our favorite students but we should strive to keep it in check and be fair to all.
4) Give them Structure
This is related to Principle 1 and 3. Children demand structure and order in the class. The brain likes some level of predictability.
After knowing what you want in your classroom, it’s time to explain that to your class. Tell them in details your expectations and how you want them to behave in your class.
Be as detailed as you can so that your students are guided.
One useful thing you can do is to create quick non-verbal signs to indicate specific actions for the class. Train your class in following those instructions so that more time is dedicated to learning instead of a lot of verbal instructions.
5) Be positive!
Always be on the lookout for good behavior and give specific praises to those students.
Have a positive outlook in class. Greet them. Avoid criticizing and being sarcastic.
Emphasize more the rewards instead of the sanctions.
I am sure that among your favorite teachers were those that were optimistic and cheerful.
6) Be interested
Understand your students. Be genuinely interested about their lives. Know their interests and encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities so that you get to know them outside the classroom.
I think this is one of the most powerful principles in classroom management. By developing a good relationship with your students, you can influence them better towards better behavior and performance in the classroom.
I think that’s one thing every teacher should strive to develop: a positive influence over their students.
7) Be flexible
Trust your instincts and judgment when the situation calls for some flexibility.
For example, if your class just came from a PE class, then perhaps it’s best to schedule less intensive or lighter work for that period as they might be too drained and tired from PE. You can then just give some of the heavier tasks as homework or as preparation for next day’s class.
Avoid being too rigid or too rules based. Sometimes you have to bend the rules. Trust your instincts.
8) Be Persistent
The classroom management techniques you apply in class might not work immediately. Give it a chance to work before trying something else.
Do not give up on your students. Understanding their family background can help you understand better why some of your students misbehave badly.
Do not take their negative behavior personally and keep on implementing these classroom management principles.
Eventually, you will win and even if you don’t, don’t take it too hard on yourself. You cannot do everything. The important thing is you kept on and did you best no matter what the circumstances were.
Your turn, what classroom management principles do you follow?
What classroom management techniques do you apply in the class? Share them in the comments below
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