Effective classroom management strategies can ensure a pleasant teaching environment for the entire year. Conversely, poor classroom management may lead to a difficult class and a year that drags on. These tips will get you well on your way to creating a positive environment in your classroom.
Post class rules
Students need to know what is expected of them from the very beginning. It is also useful to have visuals of the rules so that you can redirect small misbehavior problems by pointing at the appropriate rule poster. Since I have very little artistic talent I had my students create the posters for me. We went over the rules the first day of class and I had students each create a poster for two rules. We displayed all the posters for the first week. I later had the students vote on a single poster for each rule to leave up.
Students may occasionally break a rule. It is important that you have established a procedure for dealing with infractions. The consequences must be appropriate and clear so the student knows what to expect. Go over all consequences at the beginning of the school year and review if necessary.
Model appropriate behavior.
Since one of my rules is to respect everyone in the classroom, I make sure to be respectful to my students. Remember that you as the teacher must set the example. It will be difficult to get the students to follow your rules if you make exceptions for other students or yourself. If you also follow the rules it shows that they are important and will allow your classroom to feel like a community. Also be sure to thank your students when appropriate; we all like to be appreciated.
Develop a routine for beginning your class
Students often misbehave when they are bored or frustrated. You can prevent some of this boredom by beginning class immediately and in a predictable fashion. Students like to know what to expect. I prefer to begin immediately after the bell rings so students know that our class time is valuable. Try to avoid beginning with verbally taking roll as students will become distracted and talk amongst themselves during this time. Since my school requires roll to be taken within the first five minutes of class I take roll silently while the students work on a warm-up opening activity.
Write a daily schedule on the board so students can see what is coming next. Having a visual guide to the class time will help the students make transitions between activities. A visual schedule will also prevent some questions about what time is break and “how long do we have to do this?”
Plan more activities than you think you’ll have time for and always have a back-up plan. Most behavior problems occur when students get bored. Be sure you have engaging lessons to prevent this for most students. Also keep in mind that overhead-bulbs die and other technical issues happen so be sure that the lesson can go on even if something goes wrong.
Prepare engaging enrichment activities for the students that finish early. No matter how much you plan, sometimes students will still finish early. You will want to be sure that activities that these students will enjoy are available. When I plan units, I include extra activities that could be used for these situations. Silent reading is also a good option as reading is always valuable. This could be a book of the student’s choice or a book you provide.
Reward good behavior
Many students are eager to please and will appreciate their good efforts. Small rewards also work wonders. I use “Thank You Tickets” to thank the students for good behavior and appropriate class participation. These tickets can be traded for small prizes such as candy, pencils, or homework passes.
Since your rules and the consequences are clearly posted it will be easy to enforce them the same for everyone. It will also be very obvious if you make exceptions for any one student. This will cause you to lose respect from all of the students and will make it difficult to manage your class. Be sure the rules are the same for everyone in the classroom. Also be sure to avoid confrontations with any students. Singling out one student will make that student confrontational and will likely distract your entire class. It is best to deal with behavior problems privately.
Use a seating chart
At the beginning of the year, you will definitely want a seating chart while learning the students’ names. Seating charts also help a substitute or classroom visitor as students respond better when the teacher knows and uses their names. At the beginning of the year I create a random seating chart by numbering desks and creating a set of index cards with matching numbers. I give students a card as they walk in and that is the assigned seating chart for the first week. It is also important to change this chart once you know the students as some students will need to be moved or separated. I find it helpful to change the seating several times a year to keep things interesting. Depending on your class, you could also offer to let them choose their own seats if they behave well for a set amount of time.