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February 23, 2015 | 2 comments

Sailing the C's of Classroom Management

As a trainer for the AFT’s Foundations of Effective Teaching professional development course, I meet many teachers from all over the nation. The neighborhoods their schools are in, the economic status of their students, and the number of students in their classrooms vary. Yet, one question I almost always get asked is: How can I improve my classroom management? My typical response involves a short Q&A to discover how they plan, teach and assess. The conversation normally leads to a few major concepts I feel all teachers, including myself, should remember if they want to become the captains of their classrooms.

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As a trainer for the AFT’s Foundations of Effective Teaching professional development course, I meet many teachers from all over the nation. The neighborhoods their schools are in, the economic status of their students, and the number of students in their classrooms vary. Yet, one question I almost always get asked is: How can I improve my classroom management? My typical response involves a short Q&A to discover how they plan, teach and assess. The conversation normally leads to a few major concepts I feel all teachers, including myself, should remember if they want to become the captains of their classrooms.

1. Contemplate the “what ifs.”
A true sea captain plans for the safest and quickest route from port to port. Create plans that account for any storms that might occur. This means create plan A, B, C, D, E, F and Z.

2. Capture your students’ attention from the moment they walk in till the time they leave.
Creating bell ringers and exit tickets are some of the most enjoyable parts of my lesson planning process. It also helps that these two activities assist a teacher in getting quick assessment results, and help to keep the momentum going from yesterday’s lesson. These also serve as a great way to get students in their seats before the tardy bell, and to teach from bell to bell.

3. Create an environment that fosters participation.
Another comment I frequently hear from teachers is, “How do I get non-performers involved?” My thought is to find what those particular students enjoy doing, and spiral it in frequently until they become comfortable. I also have a no opt-out rule for my students. Even if I need to create an alternate mode of participating, they will be involved with the lesson.

4. Capsize negative behaviors quickly.
Make sure that your rules are effective. These rules (I suggest having between three and six) also need to have consequences that increase in severity both for the offense and the number of occurrences. Create strong procedures to back up your rules. You might talk to other captains (colleagues) who have more experience navigating and find that they have strong rules which support their goals. Remember: You must be comfortable and ready to assign consequences for any rule you put in place. It is also a good idea to get your students involved in the rule-making process. Revisit your rules often. When effectively applied, they will steer your classroom in the right direction.

5. Change what isn’t working.
One of the hardest things to do is abandon ship. When a lesson is failing, or a procedure isn’t getting across the way you intended, pull out plan C and use it! There are times that the best plan can sink—remember the Titanic. Make your ship function the way that works best for you and your students.

The C’s can be difficult to navigate, and as I tell the teachers who ask about classroom management, it does get harder before it gets easier. Just remember there is always a sunrise after the storm.

Raymond Macias

Ray Macias is a middle school, life skills teacher in San Antonio, Texas. He is certified in Special Education (EC-12) and General Education (EC-6). Ray graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies.

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elmhall July 6, 2016, 3:41 pm

The C's are very important. If students do not feel you mean what you say then they continue to "push buttons" to get attention.

ldoaks July 13, 2017, 4:58 pm

Great concept, it does work wonders in a classroom for all teacher.