What is a teacher’s secret weapon to cultivating community, ensuring each student is responsible for their learning, and providing structure for an optimal learning experience? Good classroom management.
While the word good is subjective, good classroom management is composed of several determining factors.
Those factors could include the length of time that a teacher has been practicing, the nuances in navigating different personalities during different class times, and the preferential leadership styles of school building leadership.
The factors are numerous for every classroom, but universally there are some techniques that are the same in regards to good classroom management. Let us uncover some of those practices.
Contrary to popular belief and dreaded classroom observations, good classroom management is not depictive of a silent classroom. It is not students in their seats, fearful to move.
Classroom management can not be quantitatively measured by just a 15-minute walk-through or a 45-minute observation. The depth of good classroom management is the quality of what is happening on a daily basis and the relationships that are built that contribute to the culture of the classroom.
All in all, good classroom management is not perfection.
Good classroom management is a set of techniques and strategies used to create a transformative, collaborative and orderly environment that is conducive for teaching and learning to take place.
When good classroom management is implemented, student engagement increases, classroom culture is curated, and student voices are amplified. More importantly, it allows the facilitator not to do so much of the “heavy lifting” and pushes students to be accountable and responsible for their learning.
How do you make good classroom management happen? Here is a list, that is not all-inclusive, but can work in every type of classroom, no matter the subject area.
Student voice is the key to a smooth-running classroom. Your students have been in school their whole lives and have always been given the rules to follow. They know what they are.
Allow students the space to collaborate and create how their classroom will be structured. This gives them autonomy and the charge to maintain said expectations.
Students will often remind their peers of what the expectations are and this aids in building leadership skills.
There is no human on this earth that does not want to feel special. Students are no different. Try to find at least one thing you have in common with your students and build a relationship surrounding that interest. This can be time-consuming, but it is absolutely worth it!
It can be so easy to get lax as the year progresses and teacher burnout seeps in. Be consistent in your expectations. Remind your students of the expectations until it is second nature for them.
There will be moments when kids are going to be what they are, kids. However, this generation thrives on maintaining integrity when it comes to their word. Therefore, it is important that they are given gentle reminders of the expectations you created together as a community. Remind them that it is their responsibility to be consistent as well.
Students have a sixth sense. They can see right through any facade and more likely than not, they will use that to their advantage.
Be honest and truthful within reason. A small dose of vulnerability can go a long way with kids.
This is how you build trust, and it makes it easier when you have to correct a behavior issue. When a student knows you don’t view them as just a test taker and you genuinely care for them as a person, they are more apt to listen to your voice of reason and correction.
This allows students to meet and access their own behavior as a whole group.
Allow them to ask hard questions to each other, give feedback, and provide suggestions on how they can be better as a community of learners.
Make sure there are specific students responsible for specific tasks during the meetings such as facilitator, note-taker, timekeeper, and noise compliance officer.
There are days when a student’s behavior often mirrors something that is going on internally or externally.
Either way, their behavior could be connected to something else. Instead of them creating chaos, give them the chance to give you a signal that they just need some space.
My favorite has been sunglasses. Students know when I walk in with sunglasses, I may need a little more grace for the day. (note: this after we’ve established a relationship as a class community, and I’ve shown a few moments of vulnerability).
Once I see a student with glasses on or a specific hand motion, I will not bother them. I give them the chance to process and try again on another day!
Your disposition and vocal tone can carry a sweet fragrance throughout your classroom or permeate chaos. The phrase ‘never let them see you sweat’ can make or break your classroom management.
Therefore, it is vital to maintain a neutral tone of voice. Yelling should never have a place in your classroom. A calm soothing voice can do wonders for management.
Cultivating work ethic can be implemented throughout the classroom. The jobs can be as small as collecting papers or keeping track of time!
An AMF spokesperson (ask me first) is the person who can give clear directions in case they missed school or need clarification on an assignment
The jobs are endless and help to ensure a student-driven and teacher-facilitated classroom environment.
Students learn best from each other.
I’m sure this is an unpopular opinion… but their vernacular and student-friendly language make it easier to dissect challenging concepts. Pairing students according to their strengths and weaknesses makes way for collaborative learning to take place.
Develop daily routines that students automatically know to follow upon entering the class.
Each day they know they must prepare themselves to learn by completing a bell ringer and taking care of all personal needs prior to class starting (like filling up water bottles, going to the bathroom, or sharpening their pencils).
Class routines lessen interruptions once instruction begins.
Building good classroom management takes guts and intentionality, but you have what it takes!
Ask yourself: in what ways can you tighten things up just a bit? Be honest with yourself about how you can improve with classroom management strategies and watch things begin to shift in your classroom.