By Julie Stern
Thousands of pages of helpful advice on classroom management have been published, yet it remains one of the most challenging tasks any educator faces. Part of the difficulty arises from the ever changing class chemistry that develops as students settle into school routines and become comfortable with each other and their teachers. And when you factor in the difference in the changing maturity levels of students within a given year, along with the normal ups and downs in any school day, it’s easy to understand how complex an issue effective classroom management can be.
Rather than continuing to be a troublesome struggle, however, with time and reflection, effective classroom management is within reach for every teacher. Here are some basic guidelines that should make it easier for you to sharpen your classroom management skills.
- You have the right to teach, and your students have the right to learn. This guideline should be the touchstone for all others. When you make behavior decisions based on the idea that student learning is the goal, you will find yourself focused not on how noisy or disruptive a class is, but on how productive the students are. This thought shift will make it easier for you to guide your students to focus on their work rather than just to comply with classroom rules.
- Keep it small and manageable. Use timely and appropriate strategies geared to keep misbehavior as manageable and contained as possible.. For example, when a student is tardy to class, wait until you can have a quiet and private moment to speak to that student instead of a confrontation in front of the entire class.
- Consider the cause. When dealing with a student who has misbehaved, be sure to take into account the underlying reasons for the behavior. For example, one student’s momentary lapse in judgment is very different from another’s deliberate flouting of a rule, and should be dealt with accordingly. Preventing future misbehavior will be much easier when you take the time to understand what triggered a student’s actions.
- Join the crowd. Every teacher has classroom management issues. Behavior problems in even the most meticulously managed classrooms are inevitable. Don’t concern yourself with the fact that problems exist but focus instead on how effectively you handle them.
- Use the policies, procedures and rules of your school as a guideline for your classroom. When you do this, the consistency will make it easier for students to comply with your expectations.
- Be prepared. Implement a plan for how you will react when students misbehave; have class policies, procedures and rules in place. Once you get to know your students, it should be easier for you to predict when misbehaviors are likely to occur and be prepared to act quickly and decisively.
- Always protect the misbehaving student from embarrassment. When you react to disruptive behavior, take care to protect the misbehaving student’s relationship to the rest of the classroom community. This considerate approach will signal to other students that you are fair-minded while eliminating the need for the disruptive student to save face.
- Keep your behavior problems in your classroom. Handle as much as you can without sending a student to the office. Don’t hesitate to ask colleagues, your mentor or administrators for advice, but assume responsibility for discipline in your own classroom.
- Manage your stress regarding discipline issues in your classroom. Handline discipline issues is one of the most trying experiences you will face in a school day. Once you have done the best you can to manage a problem, force yourself to mentally leave it at school. Keeping your work-life balance is crucial to your personal and professional satisfaction.
Do you have additional tips for classroom management? Share them with us in the comments section below. For more ideas, check out Julia Thompson’s top webinar from 2018: Warm or Demanding? Develop Classroom Leadership Skills.
There's a new school year coming up! Consider this resource for your back to school planning.