Classroom Management Part I - Tips to Avoid a Classroom Horror Scene
Feb 3, 2010 Classroom Management 4989 Views
Have you witnessed the following horror scene?
A huddle of students in the back passing notes. A flank of kids in the front doodling on the white board. A cluster of students tucked in a corner playing handheld video games. The entire classroom a symphony of giggles and whispers, screeching and screaming, bleeps and boings and buzzes.
And let's not forget the teacher. Frazzled and flummoxed, he stands beside his desk and holds his hands before him. "Calm down, class," he says. His voice quivers with a combination of annoyance and alarm. He looks as if he has been cornered by a rabid dog.
Though this educator has a Masters from a prestigious university, though he has written detailed lesson plans, though he possesses a wealth of knowledge about the subject he teaches, our tragic teacher lacks one thing: classroom management skills.
This article will help you avoid the fate of our precarious professor. This is the first in a series of eight articles about classroom management. In this segment, you will find basic classroom management strategies. Use these strategies to ensure that you avoid the horror scene outlined above.
SIGN 'EM UP. Begin with clear expectations. In the first week of class, students should brainstorm ways they can create a respectful environment. To this discussion, add your list of non-negotiable expectations. From these talks, draft a classroom charter. Have students and parents sign this charter. Now, you have an agreement--and a series of clear expectations--to which to refer when students need reminders.
AIM HIGH. You know the sayings: Start tough. Don't smile until Christmas. It's easier to get easier. However it is worded, holding your students to high standards is key. Assume every student can adhere to behavior expectations. When students do not, follow up as outlined in your classroom's and your school's handbook. Do not waver and do not begin by cutting brakes. Doing either of these things will undermine both the school's protocol and your authority as a facilitator.
DON'T REINVENT THE WHEEL. Instead of creating your own process from scratch, use the discipline and consequences outlined by your school. Aligning your policy with that of the school's will help administrators to better support your decisions. Further, this will make conversations about consequences clearer for students and parents.
STAY THE COURSE. Be sure to implement policies with consistency. If you say you are going to call a student's parents, keep her after school, or send her to speak with the assistant principal, then do just that. Exercising policies with consistency will add a level of predictability, thus making students feel safe, informed, and fairly treated.
SPEAK IN CODE. How will you signal that students should be silent, return from breakout groups, or listen for instructions? Instead of yelling over the students, and thus adding to the hubbub, develop a code to signal that you want your students' attention. Counting backwards from 5 to 1, ringing a bell, turning down the lights, or issuing a call-and-response clap are some tried and true methods to refocus your group.
TELL THE FUTURE. When a student fails to meet expectations, narrate their behavior to them. Give them your observation of their behavior. Focus on the ways the behavior interrupts their learning and the learning of others. Tell them what will happen if the behavior continues. This helps the student see the consequences and thus make a decision to behave differently.
CHAT 'EM UP. When a student is having difficulty focusing, pull him aside and have a private conversation. Again, narrate the behavior and then ask the student questions that will give you information about what he is doing and why. Information from the student will better help you help him.
TAKE A GUILT TRIP. No matter how clear, consistent, and "fair," you feel you are, you will have a student or parent who disagrees with you. Reactions to consequences you implement may arouse feelings of guilt. Instead of internalizing these feelings, move forward with the day and focus on the students who are meeting expectations. Later, find a constructive way to vent your emotions.
Whether you are a new teacher encountering the usual trial by fire, a substitute teacher who is unfamiliar with the ways of wayward youth, or a veteran educator who has lucked up on an unusually rambunctious group, these strategies can help. Look out for upcoming articles in this series, including the following:
- Five Things a Teacher Should Never Ever Do
- What to Do When All Your Students Hate Your Guts
- How to Deal with the "Problem" Student
- Tackling Talkers, Whisperers, and Note Passers
- How to Avoid Loosing Students, and Your Mind, on a Field Trip
- Five Ways to Win Your Students' Trust and Their Hearts
- Stay Sane. Stay Organized