Effective classroom management strategies are essential for successful teaching and learning. Organized lesson plans and exceptional teaching skills are ineffective without quality classroom management. Teachers, who implement the following techniques into their management system, will find they have created a well-functioning classroom in an environment conducive to learning and teaching.
1. Organization. Classroom management does not happen without organization. Desk, materials, books and personal items should be organized and labeled when appropriate. Students should know where things belong, how to access them and what to do when they are finished with them. Items frequently used by students (i.e., hall pass, restroom pass, craft materials, etc.) should be easily accessible and clearly labeled. Students should also have a clear understanding of where their personal items belong and keep these items reasonably organized.
2. Environment. The classroom should be a warm, inviting place where students feel safe and comfortable. Teachers should rearrange periodically and enrich the room with educational paraphernalia, vibrant pictures, work centers with interesting learning activities and a quiet place with comfortable chairs, beanbags or pillows, where students can go to read, write and study. Creating this type of environment will go a long way to optimize student learning, and keep students enthusiastic about being in the classroom.
3. Attention techniques. Teachers should have at least one technique for capturing their students’ attention at any given moment. In an elementary or middle school classroom, this can be a nonverbal cue such as ringing a bell, setting off a timer, or switching the light off for a few moments. A clapping pattern is another good way to capture attention in an elementary classroom. The teacher simply claps a pattern and the students must repeat the pattern as a class. After two or three tries, the class should have the pattern correct and the teacher will have the attention of the class. The pattern technique can be done using words or a phrase, which the students must repeat in unison. ‘Give me five’ is another successful attention getting method. With this technique, the teacher simply says, “Give me five,” which means the students must do the following 1. Eyes on the speaker, 2. Voices off, 3. Sit still, 4. Hands are free, and 5. Listening. This technique must be completely explained to the students before it can be used, and is often the most successful when implemented at the beginning of the school year. In a secondary classroom, the teacher should be able to gain the attention of the class simply by raising his or voice, without shouting, and using a phrase such as “May I have your attention,” “I need your attention now,” or “We are moving on.” Another tactic is to say “Directions coming in five, four, three, two, one,” before beginning the instructions for the next step or lesson.
3. Positive Discipline Plan. The discipline plan should be clearly communicated with the students at the start of the school year. The plan should also be posted in the classroom where students can see it daily as a reminder of the consequences of their actions. The discipline plan should be kept simple and consist of three to four elevated steps. For example, step one is a verbal reminder to the student, step two is a warning (verbal or on a slip), step three is a written note to the student’s parents which must be signed and returned, and step four is an office referral. The classroom expectations should be posted alongside the discipline plan and teachers should go over the expectations throughout the year as needed. There should be no more than five expectations listed, and they should be presented positively. For example, rather than saying, “no yelling,” The expectation should read, “use a quiet voice.”
5. Modeling. The teacher should model good behavior in their classrooms in order to demonstrate the expectations of the classroom. A teacher who wishes students to be courteous, respectful, work quietly, practice patience, etc. must do the same if it is to be a reality in the classroom.With these practices in place, teachers and students will enjoy a successfully operating classroom where mutual respect and learning take place daily. Stephanie Wilson