5 practical tips for classroom management
Good classroom management is a cornerstone of effective teaching. The challenge is to keep your students engaged in your lessons, and to maintain the harmonious culture that keeps them wanting to learn and accepting discipline. How do you go about creating a happy, thriving group of students?
Here are some tips to help you become a great classroom manager and a better teacher.
1. Know your students and help them get to know each other
Take the time to find out more about your students and understand the circumstances they face in their own lives. Consider how your own background and life experiences might affect the way you teach or view others. Place yourself in their shoes as best you can. How do they learn best? By understanding them and their needs, you will be able to teach them more effectively.
Use age-appropriate activities to allow students to learn each other’s names and share something about themselves. Fostering these connections from the start of the year promotes greater empathy between students, and therefore fewer conflicts and disruptions. Let your students know you too. What were you like at their age? Why did you become a teacher? The more comfortable the students feel with you, the more likely they are to trust you.
2. Create a positive classroom environment
While your students are individuals, they should ideally also feel a sense of belonging within the classroom. Building a sense of community in your class encourages your students to care for and look out for one another.
Compliment the class as a whole when they achieve something. Make students feel like they matter by allowing them to have input in its layout and design, and giving them some responsibilities in the classroom. For example, get students to write some banners and charts that go on the walls.
Your demeanour has a carry-on effect on the classroom environment too. Be sure to smile and greet your students each day. Try not to raise your voice, as this often causes students to switch off or become resentful. Instead, wait for the class to become quiet – it will eventually grow uncomfortable to the point that students begin to silence each other. Alternatively, you can get their attention through non-verbal communication such as raising your hand or flicking the lights on and off.
3. Establish rewards, rules and consequences
At the start of the year, discuss with your students the sort of behaviour that should be expected in the classroom. Allow these discussions to inform the rules that are established, the rewards for upholding them and consequences for breaking them. This is the framework for which you can manage behaviour in your class. It is important now to follow through, so students continue to trust you.
Reinforce good behaviour with praise and rewards that have been agreed upon. Similarly, address behavioural issues quickly in a fair and consistent manner. Do not let things slide, even if they are relatively minor – this encourages the idea that some misdemeanours are okay. If students slip up, ask them to think about why the rules are in place, why their behaviour is not acceptable in this instance and how they should behave in future.
Be a positive role model for your students. Your class will learn from what you do, not just what you say. Be pleasant, patient, caring, and open to laughter and fun. Smile. Be fair to everyone, acknowledging if an exception has been made for someone. Don’t call on the same students all the time, as this can cause resentment. If issues arise with students or between students, be sure to calmly address them as soon as possible. Approach them quietly, actively listen to what they have to say and avoid acting in a way that may appear confrontational.
4. Have well-prepared, engaging lessons
At the start of the lesson, outline what you are going to teach and the expected learning outcomes. Always over-plan so that students don’t get bored and disruptive. Planning and establishing routines also makes your job easier and helps keep kids on track because they feel safer when they know what to expect, thus saving learning time.
Link what students are learning to their interests in the real world, so that it is engaging and feels relevant to them.
5. Make communication a priority
Communication with your students and their parents is an important part of effective teaching and classroom management. Not everyone is comfortable raising issues in front of everyone, and it may be inappropriate to do so at times, so let the class know of where and when you are available to be approached quietly after the lesson. Furthermore, not all students communicate best verbally or in person, so offer other methods of communication. They may find your work email address or a professional Twitter account convenient to them. A suggestion box where students can leave notes anonymously may also make them feel more at ease.
When it comes to school work, consider setting up a website or wiki so that students can easily catch up on things they may have missed or forgotten. This also allows parents to check in on what their children are learning.
Ringing home with positive news, rather than only when there is a problem, reinforces a good relationship with your students’ parents. If something negative needs to be addressed, include a positive first before calmly bringing up the other point. Encourage parents to get in touch with you with any concerns they may have. Consider having business cards on display at parent nights.
Finally, remember the teachers you learned best from. How did they inspire you? Think about how you can emulate this with your own class.
Do you have any classroom management tips to add from your experience?