Classroom management – A nightmare, right? Well, it has never been a nightmare for me. Today, most of my colleagues and school administrators praise me for my classroom management skills. In the last seven years, I hardly remember any incident where I struggled with classroom management and student behavior. So, this week I am sharing my top classroom management strategies that have helped me take control of my class. But before I share my top classroom management strategies to help you manage your class with ease, I would like to mention Rob Plevin whose videos, website, and book Take Control of the Noisy Class: Chaos to Calm in 15 Seconds have helped me manage my class effectively during my first three years of teaching.
Classroom Management Does Not Come With A Manual
I know it’s not easy…managing a class full of students does not come with a manual. Mainly because the students we deal with, are human beings with unique personalities, likes/ dislikes, and preferences. But let me tell you, it is not difficult either. Believe me, if you are at your wits’ end, don’t give up! You can be good at managing your students and their behavior. You just have to make a few adjustments in your teaching routine and you’ll see the difference.
What Does An Effectively Managed Classroom Look Like?
Yes, we all have heard our school administrators and principals say, ‘A successful teacher is one who manages her students effectively.’ But let’s pause for a moment, and see what “an effectively managed classroom” looks like? Well, an effectively managed classroom is a class where learners are busy working on their projects, discussing, writing, reading, watching, responding, observing, presenting, questioning, etc. But not necessarily quiet. A well-managed classroom has students who know what is expected of them, what they need to do, what is acceptable and what is not.
14 Best Classroom Management Strategies
So, here I am sharing my 14 best classroom management strategies with you that you can try today.
01. Teacher Behavior And Preparation
Again thanks, to Rob Plevin who taught me that good classroom management starts right before your students enter the classroom. A teacher needs to be ready to welcome the students at the door as he/she reinforces and praises the expected behavior. Smile and welcome your students to your class as it sets a positive tone for your class. If need be, turn into an actor – it works! Watch it here.
- Your behavior, as a teacher, sets the tone for your class. Your facial expressions and body language should be welcoming and kind.
- Be proactive. Know what your students will be needing during the lessons. Have your lesson plan ready and provide all the necessary stationery or learning materials.
- Prepare excellent starter activities considering your students’ likes/ dislikes and interests so that the moment the lesson begins, they are engaged in the lesson.
- Walk around the class. Once you assign a learning task, you are responsible to ensure that your students are busy completing the tasks. Move around the classroom to provide the necessary support. Take notes, guide your students, and praise those who do well.
02. Rules And Expectations
Set class rules and expectations in the first week of the academic year. Spend some time preparing the rules chart or expected behavior chart with your students. Be a good listener and listen to them. Invite your students to set the rules for classwork, notebook work, reading, and writing routines with you. Allow them to collaborate with you and their classmates to come up with a reward system that appeals to them. To flood your mind with excellent ideas you can implement during your first week of school, read The First Six Weeks of School by Responsive Classroom.
Once you set the rules and expectations with your students, clarify them, and remind them that the rules are there to help them achieve their learning goals effectively. Once you prepare the classroom rules chart, display it on the classroom wall so that you can refer to it whenever needed.
03. Reinforce, Reinforce, And Reinforce
Classroom rules are like the backbone of a well-managed classroom. Once you set the rules, stick to them, and follow through – no exceptions. It will take some time to reinforce the rules and see your students follow them, but be firm. Using non-verbal cues, props, or visuals can also be helpful. For example, whenever I see some of my students not taking notes, I draw an arrow on the whiteboard and ask one of them to tell the other students what this arrow means. This reminds them that they have to take notes in their notebooks. Similarly, you cannot expect everyone to follow your instructions from the very beginning. Chances are that some of your students are not clear about the expectations, so help such students by repeating the instructions or ask them to read the rules posted on the classroom wall. You can also invite other students to repeat the rules for them.
04. Know Them Well
If you want your students to listen to you, build trust with them. Treat them with respect, get to know them, their learning styles, backgrounds, preferences, likes, personalities, etc. Talking to them before the lesson, at the end of the lesson, or during recess can be very helpful. Use the information to your advantage because the more you know your students as individuals, the better you will be in managing your class. Tailor learning activities to suit their interests, use intriguing lesson examples to grab their attention, build trust and with each passing day, you’ll gain their trust.
05. Don’t Begin The Lesson Until They Are Ready
One of the biggest mistakes I see new teachers make, is beginning the lesson without addressing the root cause of the problem. It could be some noisy students sitting together, a student sitting idle without the learning materials, or a student who is constantly clicking their pen during the story read aloud. Before the lesson begins, greet your students and see if your students are ready to learn. Predict any possible issues that you may face, address them, and begin your lesson.
06. Promote Active Learning To Get Out Of Teacher-Talk Lessons
No one likes a one-sided lesson where the teacher spends 30 minutes standing next to the whiteboard and explaining the concept. Try to be innovative in your teaching approach. You are not there to “shush” your student and expect them to learn and be at their best behavior. Plan lessons that employ some collaborative learning methods such as Kagan Structures that promote active student involvement in learning activities. This works because when your students are actively involved in their learning, they are more likely to learn better and less likely to get distracted.
07. Keep Track Of Time
To manage a class effectively, time the learning tasks so the students know when they are expected to finish the learning activity and when and how to transition to the next learning activity. You can inform your students about the structure of the lesson and the time allocated for each learning activity at the beginning of the lesson. This will be a big time-saver. I promise!
08. Give Them Voice And Choice
A well-managed class is simply one where students are busy learning. And why would they learn something they find boring? Before planning my units and lessons, I always ask my students about their preferences for learning activities and provide them choices. For example, if I want my students to write a personal recount, I might provide them at least 4 to 5 different prompts that cater to my students’ interests, align with their language or capitalize on their strengths. One student might want to write about ‘This summer when I met my grandma…’ and another might want to write about ‘My trip to the beach’.
09. Seating Plan
One thing that I have seen most teachers do to manage their classes well, is experimenting with the students’ seating plan. To run a smooth learning session, know that if you allow friends to sit together, they will be distracted. Let the struggling students sit in the front row so that you can provide the necessary support. The same goes for the chatty students, who tend to distract the class. It depends on what works for you. I have also been using seating charts, class seating arrangement photos, and alphabet coding so that students do not swap seats. Your class seating plan can be flexible for as long as you want. Experiment with different seating plans and see what works for your class. Sitting with friends or learning buddies is okay if it works in your class. Also, don’t forget the students who have eyesight issues.
10. Keep Them Engaged
You know you have some students who finish the assigned tasks early and have nothing else to do so instead of reading or writing, they start talking with their friends during the lesson. For such students, always have some extra learning task cards, worksheets, or activities handy. To encourage them you can reward your students with bonus points for completing the bonus tasks. Distracted by James M. Lang can be a gamechanger for you as it has been for so many of us.
11. Reward System
Not just carrot and stick, you should be innovative with your reward system. Having a reward system in place always works. Decide on a suitable rewarding system that appeals to your students and is enticing enough for your students to fulfill the behavior expectations. Remember, a big thumbs-up, a golden star, a smiley face, or even a high-five may also work for your students.
12. Praise And Reinforce Positive Behaviors
Always reinforce positive behaviors by naming the student who displays good behavior and fulfills the expectations. Instead of saying, “John, I see you are still looking for your notebook in your bag,” shift your focus to the ones who are ready with their notebooks and praise them by saying, “Sara, Ali, Sam, and Tania, I see you are ready,” While praising, name them and repeat the expected behaviors as they show them. Go for an applause if need be. Just see what motivates your students.
13. Find The Reason Behind Bad Behavior
Students are humans and there is no way they misbehave without any valid reason. I know, you don’t have time for yet “another adventure”, but just by being proactive instead of reactive, might help you identify the underlying cause of the bad behaviour. Similarly, if you have a bunch of students who keep on misbehaving, you may try talking to them and speak to the parents if needed.
14. Keep The School Management And Parents Or Guardians In The Loop
Good teachers know what to do and when. It is always a good idea to inform the school admin, speak to parents or guardians before it gets out of your hands.
I hope these tips help most of you manage your classes well. If you implement any of the above classroom management strategies in your class, let me know in the comments.
In my next post, I will be reviewing my favorite classroom management books that will help you manage your classroom with ease.