As former educators, we understand how working classroom management into the daily responsibilities of teachers can be an ongoing struggle. Disruptive classrooms not only affect your day to day as an educator but also hurt and hamper students’ educational paths. So what can you do about it? That’s where classroom management comes in.
What is Classroom Management?
Classroom management is a set of strategies that educators use to prevent disruption, while also encouraging and fostering learning. Styles of classroom management can vary depending on age group and subject, the number of students, and who you are as an educator. However, there are a good amount of techniques you can use that are universal, even if they require specific tweaks based on the circumstances at hand.
What truly separates good classroom management from great classroom management, are the ways in which educators approach the core goal of the class. By utilizing positive and specific strategies, a teacher can have an orderly classroom and one that succeeds in the primary goal: to educate.
To help you take your classroom management to the next level, we’ve compiled 16 strategies you can employ in your classroom.
Classroom Management Techniques to Take Your Class to the Next Level
Before the lesson begins, you can give the students a simple task. “Look at me,” “Turn towards the board,” and wait for students to get in place. This gets everyone in a place to begin. From there, have a next step ready to go. If you’re using an interactive display, you can have a bellringer activity already up or a snowflake game on the board that students can start working through when they walk into the classroom, making this step even easier.
2. Establish Class Rules Together
A great early step is to have students to define what should and should not be okay to do in the classroom. Many of them will already know what rules should be followed, such as when to talk and when not, what to do with their phones, how to treat each other, and how to treat you as their teacher. By allowing them to define these, you create ownership with them that this isn’t only your class, but their class, too. All of which allows for shared responsibility and a clear understanding of how things should go.
3. Ownership of assignments
Ownership can also apply to how lessons and assignments are completed. Empowering your students to choose between different assignment types, an essay or a quiz, and so forth, will give them more of a sense of ownership over their learning. Of course, you’re still in charge, but giving them reasonable responsibility can certainly improve overall buy-in.
This may sound exceedingly simple, or something that you are already doing, but having a set of established routines will help set students’ minds in place for transitions. These routines could be anything from everyone getting up and stretching, an activity or small game before class begins, then moving into learning. This can build excitement, fun, and more community and camaraderie as well. Posting a schedule will also fit right in here.
5. Tangible Rewards
This works just about anywhere, including the professional environment. Rewarding good behavior, or even just participation in the lesson, will spark enthusiasm. A common practice is to use raffle tickets and hand them out for good answers to questions or positive behavior. Then at the end of class, draw the tickets for prizes, though candy is probably the best and most affordable option here.
6. Verbal Rewards
Use positive, specific feedback/praise when students display positive behavior. This allows you to connect with the student and meet an emotional need. Candy is dandy, but verbal praise lasts for a lot longer and can most certainly change a student’s life. Additionally, when students see that they can be praised for doing the right thing or providing the right answers, they’ll want to work to get there, too.
7. Be Passionate
Passion is contagious. In teaching, with so much going on, it can be all too easy to be tired or not feel like putting forth the extra effort, but if you’re bored, chances are they will be, as well.
8. Discipline Outside
Disciplining a student in front of the classroom can have as much of a negative effect (if not sometimes more), than praising a student publicly. Take a moment when the class is busy with their next task, or make one if you need the opportunity, to talk to the student privately about their behavior. Start small, but try not to make a big deal or an “example” of the student, as this can quite often spur the student to act out more if for nothing else than attention.
9. Ask Students for Their Help
If you have a particularly difficult student, a great approach is to ask them for their help. “Billy, I need your help here. You have a great way of making people laugh, so people listen to you. I’d love it if you could help me keep the class in order today.” Offer specific and positive praise to what the student is trying to accomplish, and provide that student a task to complete. This can be a great first step to transforming a normally disruptive student in a positive way.
10. Avoid Extreme Consequences
Each year is a new year, and each new class is a new class. Discipline for disruption doesn’t need to start at its highest level, whether that is sending someone straight to an office or writing a note home/making a phone call. Start with a discussion with the student and move from there. There may still be times where discipline will need to escalate, but drastic measures can be used when they are absolutely needed, not within the first day to send a message. Though fear can be effective, clear chances for forgiveness and redemption are far more effective.
11. Avoid Group Punishment
Punishing a class can be risky, and usually, the recommendation is not to do it at all. It is possible that the entire class is misbehaving but more likely than not, there are students doing well. This means that the innocent are punished along with the guilty and can spark frustration and resentment with both you and their misbehaving classmates, furthering disruption.
12. Assigning Roles
Along the same lines is to assign responsibilities and jobs for students. Preferably something that you know each specific student will enjoy.
If the entire class did well on a test, have a small party. Perhaps they’ve been well-behaved for a month, or even a week. Rewarding the class as a whole is always a good thing, and allows you to set a precedent that more good work and behavior can lead to more parties later on.
14. Take Time to get to Know your Students Individually
This can be done through interviews with each student, or just talking to them before class begins. Doing this can help you understand the passions they have, which can give you the edge if a particular student is struggling, allowing you to assign specific work based on the things they love.
15. Have Fun
Small jokes in lessons or even fun-themed content can really bring a sense of fun to the classroom. The more you know your students, the more in tune you can present your content with their passions. When a topic is related to something they love, their buy-in is far easier to get.
16. Positive Phone Calls and Notes Home
Often these are used to speak with parents about ongoing negative behavior. However, by making positive phone calls to parents or guardians, you can inform them of their child’s great behavior specifically. Building a bridge here can make a huge difference, and the parents can see you as someone invested in their child.
These classroom management strategies are universal and can work in almost any school setting, and many of them transfer readily with some specific adjustment to a higher level and professional teaching environments. In the end, they empower both you and your students to have a safe, engaging, effective, and fun environment to promote learning.