12 Most Essential Teacher Tips for Classroom Management
As a teacher, you either have classroom management, or you don’t. There really isn’t a gray area here.
A successful classroom is about maintaining that sense of learning, of structure, and of student productivity. Chaotic rooms lead to chaotic students. There are 12 elements that I consider key to a student-focused, well-managed classroom.
1. Seating Charts
This should be a given, but you would be surprised how many teachers use “free” seating! Ack. You are asking for a disaster. Students of all ages need boundaries and this is like opening the gate every day and saying roam where you like. Create a customized chart that matches the layout of your room and strategically place students on this chart. This is the first step to letting the students know that anarchy is not an option. (Tip: I place my behavior issues in the chart first, so that they’re spread out and then I can fill in better-behaved kids around them.)
2. Student Work Center
I establish this space for students on the first day of school and show them where everything is and how I expect it to be used. This should be an easily-accessible table/desk and include (at the very least): clearly labeled bins for student work, a stapler, tape dispenser, electric pencil sharpener, and a three-hole punch. This creates an area for them that has everything they need all in one place. –No wandering up around the teacher’s desk looking for something, no wondering where to turn something in, etc. (Tip: decorate this are with current and trendy posters, stickers, or signs that students will find “cool.”)
Say it with me: With.It.Ness. If you don’t have it, get it. You should always have a view of each student’s desk in your room from wherever you are. Be aware of what goes on in your room at all times. You should notice things like the fact that Johnny has gotten out of his seat four times to throw something away-aka- copying answers as he walks by, dropping off a note to his buddy, waving to someone in the hall…this includes honing in on your peripheral vision, sensing when a noise is exactly what you thought it was: a spit ball flying through the air, someone whistling through a pen cap, etc.
4. Rules, Expectations, & Consequences
Do I really need to elaborate here? Be sure these are posted in your room and students understand that you will adhere to them. (Tip: I even go so far as to require my students to point out which rule they broke and which consequence will be applied based on what’s posted so that they understand that their choices have a direct action.)
This ties in with # 4. Classroom management requires consistency and thrives on it; it also creates peace and gives students that feeling of pattern and reliability. You want students to feel that they can trust you to remain on solid ground, not perpetually up and down the hills of discipline with unpredictable actions.
Students think of you as a professional role model, so keep it that way. Have your handouts, textbooks, and any other supplies ready to go when class starts. We expect this of the students, and we have to set the tone for the class. If we are running around unprepared, what are we teaching them?
7. Parent Contact
Although this is not a direct tip for classroom management, I still consider it vital-indirectly. Contact parents for the GOOD things student do, not just the bad things. Parents dread when an email pops up from a teacher because it almost always means bad news. I try to break this assumption by emailing parents when I see a student showing positive behaviors/good grades. Parents and students alike love this; in turn, the students respect you more for it and parents support you more.
Classroom management ideas flourish in teacher conversations, so talk it up! Find out what other teachers do in their rooms. Sometimes, just reconfiguring a few physical pieces can change the climate of a room. Walk around and look at the different layouts of classrooms in your building, or how they utilize their bulletin board space, or their teacher area. You get the idea.
9. Pick on Students
No, not like that! -Pick students you can rely on to help you with those tedious jobs-such as passing back papers, collecting assignments, organizing those pesky workbooks, etc. Once students notice that these are the “good” kids, begin choosing others. If a problem student has a great day, allow them to help and this will help reinforce their good behaviors. (Note: this works for all ages of students, not just the younger ones…)
10. Reinforce the positive, diminish the negative
Make a BIG deal out of solid work ethics, great assignment samples, and good behavior. Try (it’s hard I know) NOT to point out the negatives too often. Instead, establish what you do like to see and promote those examples.
11. Enhance it all
Keep your students actively engaged with your content. Use technology (interactive websites, class blogs, Glogster, etc.) as often as possible, play academic games (Ex: Jeopardy review games), and leave that boring textbook behind when you can!
Allow students choices when it comes to demonstrating what they’ve learned. We know how many different types of learners there are, so actively promote choice to better reach all students. Allow students to participate in group work projects; they love the collaboration and it’s great to see the creativity spark when they’re together.
If teachers can master these tips for classroom management, they become an easily patterned behavior. Novice and veteran k-12 teachers alike can adapt these ideas to foster a positive learning atmosphere in which all students can blossom.