Classroom Management Strategies Essential for Success During the Back to School Season
Summer “Vacation” serves as a time of recovery and rejuvenation for teachers and students alike, but it always ends too soon and it is time for back to school season. If not quickly handled, there is always a tendency for disruption in class no matter the age of your students.
Enter the need for Highly Effective Classroom Management Strategies. These are skills and techniques that teachers can employ to ensure their students are focused, orderly, disciplined, attentive and ultimately productive during class sessions. There are so many techniques to make yours a successful classroom but here are a few tips that can help make back to school season successful and less stressful:
Highly Effective Classroom Management Strategies must be implemented BEFORE the problems arise – not after. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t need to enforce certain rules this year. You will. Start early to PREVENT conflicts instead of putting out fires all year.
#1. Establish a classroom routine
Consistency is key here and with all classroom management strategies. Students should know what to expect the instant they step into your class. Allowing too much time for “settling down” in their seats often creates a fertile ground for disruptive behavior like name calling and paper throwing. This means that the teacher on their part should have planned the class ahead of time. Students no matter their age can usually quickly catch on if you are disorganized and fidgety. If your administration requires you to teach bell to bell, “Do Now” or “Warm Up” activities are a must here. Have them either out on desks already when students arrive, or in the same, accessible location every time so you are free to monitor students and take attendance while they get started on their own – possibly with prompting. Twice. Maybe more.
#2. Actively engage your students.
Keep the class as interactive as possible in an orderly way. Don’t allow faster or more capable students to dominate the class discussion. Encourage students to actively respond and participate but they should respond after you have given a verbal (when I say ‘go’) or non-verbal approval (a color-coded sign turned from red to green, or pointing towards the class) for them to speak. This may be in form of a hand signal from you or calling out the name of the student you have selected to answer the question. Depending on the topic, illustrating with real-life examples they can relate to is a priceless way to keep students interested in what you have to say. Also make eye contact as much as possible. Remember that Learning Disabled students need advanced notice that you will call on them to prepare and settle their anxiety. Have a common, consistent method such as standing by their desk as a cue to let them know. Discuss in advance with students who are shy of participating to establish accommodations that meet their needs and help them thrive.
#3. Relate with them.
Don’t be the teacher students are afraid to talk to. Establish a reputation for fairness and for being on the students’ side during problems. Students want to please you but may need to be taught how including what to do when they have made a behavioral mistake. Traditional authority-based methods of teaching no longer work in today’s world. Show them you care by asking about them and their families. If you happen to meet them outside the classroom environment be friendly but in a matured manner. You can be a friend, but you can’t be their pal. Remain an authority figure without being authoritarian.
#4. Move around the classroom.
I’m not saying throw your desk and chair away but yeah, kind of, throw your chair and desk away. The worst teachers are parked behind their desks barking orders at the class. Avoid getting used to standing in just one location throughout the class. The most disruptive students usually tend to band together at the back of the classroom. Try going over to stand by where they are sitting. This usually works quite quickly and gets them back to the task at hand. It is amazing how quickly “attention seeking behavior” ends when you apply some positive or neutral attention to the student!
#5. Create mutual seat signals.
Create nonverbal signals students can use to get your attention without distracting other students. If they want a break to get to the restroom or are struggling with understanding a task, a raised hand for example is an age old and common signal they could use to get your attention. You might use one finger (not recommended to be the middle finger) for a trip to the water fountain and two fingers for bathroom. Again, routines are invaluable for saving time and reducing disruptions.
#6. Praise good behavior. And work really hard to find it when it is rare.
This works every time. Tell students they have done well not only when they answer questions correctly – but any time they are engaging in the behaviors you want to see more of in your classes. The quickest way to eliminate a behavior is to ignore it; the best way to get more is by watering it with your attention. However, be careful not to continually praise a particular student or group of students to the exclusion of others. This can quickly breed negative feelings of resentment. Resentment equals more disruptions and can escalate to bullying.
#7. Avoid lengthy arguments.
When a student has misbehaved and you want to correct them, quickly do so and walk away. Avoid engaging them in the conversation for too long as this makes them more defensive and likely to want to answer back. Especially if the correction is being done in the presence of their peers. Say what you want to and quickly move your attention to another person or continue the lesson.
#8. Generously Give “Do-Overs”.
You can be a hero by allowing students to “try again” when they have said or done something out of impulse. For example, they may not have realized how rude it would sound to blurt out “your mom” or “that’s what she said” during a lecture. Calmly offer, “Robert, that was disrespectful. Did you mean to be disrespectful?” If they say the didn’t, believe them! Let them apologize and move on without consequence. Don’t worry about letting them “get away with it” as repeat offenders will repeat their offense and will not have the excuse that you are picking on them or they only did it that one time. And you will have the entire class as witnesses to your fair nature.
As rewarding as teaching can be, it really has its ups and downs but these classroom management strategies should help you make a smooth transition back to school.
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