8 Tips for Successful Classroom Management
When I think about one of my greatest strengths as a teacher I would say it is classroom management. But when it comes to effectively managing a classroom of 25 plus children, I don’t think you can ever have it completely figured out. I think classroom management will always remain as an area of my teaching that has room for growth. With classes ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, which enter and exit my room in 40 minutes, the fact that I work with the different personalities and learning styles of almost every student in the school, and so many countless other variables, I am always going to have the need to monitor and adjust my classroom management system to cater to the different variables I am currently facing.
Through my experience in teaching I have discovered the things I feel are necessary to create a successful classroom management system. Here are my top 8 tips for successful classroom management regardless what grade or subject you teach.
1). MAKE EXPECTATIONS CLEAR
If your students don’t know what you expect, they won’t do it. Plain and simple. Post your rules. Practice them. Refer to them. As an art teacher I see the majority of my students year after year. But, I still spend the first days reviewing the rules, and the first few weeks drilling correct procedures and expectations so everyone starts the year off on the right foot. When students are not doing things within my guidelines and procedures, I make it clear what they should be doing instead so they will always know what I expect of them in every area of my classroom.
2). STAY CONSISTENT
This is crucial. If you expect your students to stay silent and freeze during clean up directions you need to expect that from every student every time. If you are consistent and expect every single student to do what you are asking, then your method will be much more effective. You can’t let your students get by with not following procedures one day and then suddenly expect them to do what you ask of them the next day. Does it take more work to be consistent? Yes. But don’t forget your end goal which is a class that runs as smoothly and successfully as possible.
3). CREATE INCENTIVES FOR SMALL & LARGE GROUPS
I think it is important to have an incentive for the class to work towards as a whole, but I think it is also just as important to develop an incentive for individual students or small groups of students. It’s a good thing to hold the class accountable as a team. They need to have a reward they are working towards as a class that they can achieve together, but to get there they should also to be working to reach an individual goal as well. I have a classroom goal the students are working towards by the end of each class and then I also pick one Awesome Artist/student at the end of each class.
I think it would be just as successful to have small group incentives by creating a reward for the best table group or team within the class instead of picking just one student. The idea is that students are being held accountable as a whole group but then they are also working towards something for themselves or on a smaller scale.
4). MAKE IT ACHIEVABLE AND MEASURABLE
If the reward for your incentive doesn’t seem achievable or takes too long to receive, your students are going to eventually give up trying. My students try to earn a free fun day in art each nine week grading period. The fun day is on a scheduled week and they have to earn enough points to get the fun day for the entire art class. If they don’t earn all their points by then, they don’t get all their fun day. Each nine weeks they get the chance to start over and earn another fun day. But, if I made the classes wait until they earned a certain required amount of points then it could very well take some of the more challenging classes much longer to earn their fun day, causing them to lose interest and give up. I also think it is important to have a visual set up somewhere in the room for students to see where they are in the tracking of the reward. It’s a great reminder for them to see how much they have earned and how far they have to go.
5). LOOK FOR THE POSITIVES
I have found that students will perform for the behavior you are seeking to find. If you have a behavior system in place where you are looking to take a letter off of a word or they lose a point for bad behavior then you will see negative behavior from your students. On the flip side, if you are looking to add a letter of a word or add a point for good behavior, then you still see positive behavior from your students. When you seek the positive behavior your students will make better choices because they are working to show you the good behavior you are looking for instead of just waiting until you want to take something away for them not making the right choices. Even something as simple as complimenting a few students that you see sitting quietly during your lesson can go a long way. Once the class realizes you are recognizing good behavior more students will likely straighten up and sit quietly as well in hopes of you praising them for doing the right thing.
6). KEEP IT FRESH
Even the best methods and behavior plans can become stale after a while. It is always a good idea to switch things up a little bit and keep it fresh. It doesn’t have to be a completely new classroom management plan, just a small part can still be effective. Do you have an object you put on the tables for students who are working the quietest? Switch it up and get something different for a while. Do you have a phrase the students repeat after you to get their attention? Teach them a new phrase for a little variety.
I have the chicken Hei Hei from the movie Moana that I place on the table who is working the quietest. The students love him and they work toward being the best so that he can come and sit on their table. I don’t set him out every day. I think if Hei Hei was at the tables every single time the students came to the room they may tire of him and not find him exciting anymore. Some weeks I use him and others I don’t. It leaves the students wanting him to come “visit” with them. This helps keep Hei Hei exciting, new, and interesting to the students. New things are always more motivating and exciting. This does not mean switch things up so much that your methods become ineffective due to confusion or the students not remembering what they are supposed to do. But if you have been doing the same things for a long time, I think adding a small new element can go a long way.
7). HAVE LOTS OF TRICKS UP YOUR SLEEVES
Its takes many different factors to have a smoothly running classroom. What works for one grade may not work for another. What works for one class may not work for another. And even what works for a particular student one day may not work for that same student on another day. That is why it takes lots of different approaches, processes, and methods to being effective. Be willing to try new things. Take note on what works and what doesn’t and monitor and adjust as necessary.
I love the various methods and tools I am currently using for my classroom management, but I am constantly searching for new ideas that may work better. Just two weeks ago, I discovered a new way to signal my students to stop working and listen to my directions. I didn’t see a problem with what I was currently doing, but this new idea is much better and much more effective!
8). DON’T GET LAZY
It is easy as time passes in the school year to become slack with enforcing your rules and procedures. But a lazy teacher not upholding expectations will result in a class that becomes lazy in following your rules and expectations. It is a tiresome job making sure your class runs as it should. It takes staying on your toes, lots of reminders, and lots of following through with what you say you want your students to do. But the hard work pays off. When a class is making the right choices and following your rules and procedures, you are creating a path for more learning to take place.
Spend your time creating and implementing a successful classroom management plan, and you won’t spend as much time redirecting your students. Then, you can place your time and energy on connecting with your students and giving them the most meaningful experience in your classroom as possible.