One of the biggest challenges teachers face as they step into the vocation is classroom management. Although many teachers possess excellent subject knowledge, they fail to create a safe and positive learning environment for their students. This often results in lower levels of learning among the students. According to research, effective classroom management has various advantages from reducing rates of misbehaviour, bullying and unsafe behaviour to laying a strong foundation for the academic success of students. As a result, it is highly important for teachers to learn effective classroom management.
If you are a teacher worrying about classroom management, here are 5 strategies that you can adopt right away to practice effective classroom management:
Writing a class pledge or a promise
One of the most important principles of classroom management is setting clear expectations right at the beginning. Having clear rules and procedures for classroom behaviour gives students clarity on how to behave in various situations. Moreover, the expectations should also spell out what the consequences of breaking these rules would be. This helps students learn responsibility and it can prevent children from feeling that the teacher is picking on them. These rules and procedures would cover areas such as general classroom behaviour, expected behaviour at the beginning and end of class, what consequences for common disciplinary infractions would be, and so on. Do remember to ensure that the rules are clear, specific and behavioural. Having these guidelines on a document is highly convenient. Moreover, involving the students in the process of writing the document results in higher implementation rates. One way to involve the students is to have the class write a class pledge or a promise. This is a document where the students write out the rules themselves in the form of a promise. This could be made into a project that they can co-create and beautify as they wish.
Use a normal natural voice
As a teacher, you might relate to the struggle of having to raise your volume to be heard over the talking of the students. However, this is highly ineffective. Students will keep increasing their own voice and eventually, it only leads to increased stress both for the teacher as well as the students.
A closely related practice that is sure to help is to only talk when the students are quiet and ready. This must be practised right from the beginning. Although the temptation to raise your voice and demand silence would be strong, it is wise to refrain from doing so. Over time, students themselves will nudge each other to settle down so you can start talking. However, remember to be consistent with the practice every day. If the students see that one day you are waiting for them to settle down while on another day you aren’t, they will not have clarity of expectations.
Have pre-determined non-verbal attention getters discussed with the students
With younger classes, clapping three times and having the students clap back twice is a fun and effective routine to get the attention of students. Routines like these help get the students ready to hear you speak. With older classes, you could try building a routine of raising your hand and have the students all raise their hand till all hands are up and the noise levels are down. Then lower your hand and start speaking.
Routines to get attention are great tools for classroom management. However, you must never forget that they are routines. And that they will take time to build. Remember to repeat them every day for a while till the students expect it in every class. Even after getting used to it, remember to use them regularly to grab attention rather than raising your voice. Consistency is key!
Verbally praise positive behaviour
We often think of classroom management in a negative sense — handling classroom disruptions and dealing with disciplinary concerns. However, effective classroom management is a lot more than that. It is about creating a safe and positive environment where students can thrive and where the incidence of problematic behaviour reduces. One of the ways you can ensure that students practice positive behaviours is through positive reinforcement of good behaviours.
Giving praises such as “Great job on settling down so quickly” or “I’m so proud of the way you all worked together on this project,” or “Wonderful work on concentrating in class today” would be a great way to reinforce positive behaviour.
Have backup activities for students who quickly finish work assigned
Every class would have students who would finish the assigned work much quicker than the rest. Such students may then become restless and could cause disturbance to other students. Having backup activities is a great strategy to engage such students. One of the ways you could implement is through choice boards. When a student finishes their assigned work, they could walk up to the choice board (which would contain a choice of activities on any given day) and pick an activity from the board. These activities could be “write a letter to one of the characters in the story” if it is an English literature class. Or it could be to a Historical figure for a History class. For a Science class, the activity could be to “create a poster showing 3 fun facts about science,” and so on.
Bonus point: Plan engaging lessons
The most important strategy, however, is to plan lessons that are interesting and engaging. If students are bored, they could become restless and cause trouble. Plan lessons to be engaging and be consistent with classroom management practices to ensure that your students get the best of you at all times!