Classroom management is simply the techniques teachers use to maintain control in the classroom. Educators employ a variety of strategies and techniques to ensure that students are organized, on task, well-behaved, and productive during the school day.
A lack of effective classroom management can cause chaos and stress, which can create an unsatisfactory learning environment for students and an unsatisfactory work environment for the teacher. However, these tips will help you master classroom management and create a quality learning environment.
Know Your Students and How They Learn
Implementing successful classroom management strategies creates a positive learning environment for students and ensure that they successfully master the materials presented. How this is done can vary depending on student ages and personalities. By understanding the strengths and needs of students, you can better plan activities and lesson plans that allow for a cohesive and collaborative classroom.
Teachers always want their students to succeed and thrive, but what that looks like for each individual might differ. Knowing student capabilities can greatly enhance your ability to help each individual succeed, and allows you to offer varied assessments and assignments that let students work at their own pace. This can be a challenge in larger classrooms, but versatility in the material is vital to ensure that everyone in the classroom is well-served.
You can proactively plan for a wide variety of learning styles and personalities but plan to adjust your approach once you have a better idea of the students in your class. You might consider inviting students to be a part of setting goals for themselves and assessing how they learn best if age appropriate. If not, beginning the school year with a variety of activities and assessments can help you more easily determine what your class will need from you.
Have a Strong Lesson Plan
A key aspect of effective classroom management is knowing what you're going to do. The better your plan, the better your class will likely run. Map out your intended flow for the semester or year when planning, so you can ensure that you cover everything you need to get through. It's often easier to manage your classroom when you plan well in advance, and build in flexibility should you get ahead of schedule or behind.
To help improve the collaborative aspect of your classroom, you might consider presenting the year-long or semester-long plan with students from the start, if age appropriate. This can often generate excitement and help students understand what they are working to overall.
Have Clear Expectations for Students
Students learn best when they know what is expected of them, and what they can expect from the teacher. While they tend to need daily routines, they also need to know how much they are expected to participate, what needs to go into presentations and projects, when tests might occur, and what their grading structure is like. They need to know what the teacher is looking for when assessing mastery of material and exactly how they will be assessed in their work and in their behavior.
In terms of managing student conduct, outline what is considered positive and negative behavior in advance, and communicate with students quickly to warn them of inappropriate behavior. One middle school theater teacher in Virginia made up a clever series of hand signs representing a llama and her various moods. Depending on which lama sign the teacher aimed at the students, they would know that they need to pay attention, improve their behavior, and when they are really pushing the limits of proper classroom behavior. These signs helped students better understand how much they are positively or negatively impacting the class and were simple enough to allow the teacher to continue her lessons with minimal interruption, even while communicating with students on the fly. Her students embraced this system so much, that they asked for it to be used more often.
Students need a variety of both routines and processes, as well as a balance of some free time. It's important to provide both the structured time and the free time to keep students engaged and feeling like they are part of the learning process themselves.
Have Clear Expectations for Yourself
Part of creating a positive learning experience and strong classroom management is ensuring that you have clear and realistic expectations for yourself. As the teacher, it's important for you to have both routine elements, realistic expectations of student performance, and to know how to maintain your sense of humor when times get tough. There will absolutely days that won't go as planned, and remembering that this can be expected is vital to ensuring your own success.
Managing a classroom is important to being an effective teacher, but it can take years to master classroom management skills. Younger teachers should actively look to more veteran teachers and administrators for advice and support when working to improve. It's important to remember that not every class will be a perfectly managed classroom, and how you learn from your mistakes and move forward is an important aspect of growing as an educator.