We have all probably been in classrooms where it seemed as if the teacher was teaching to the wall. Few students were focused, participating, or even in their seats. What these teachers lacked was a classroom management system. There are several basic tenets of classroom management that can smooth the rough edges of any school year, no matter what the student population.
Set boundaries. Discuss with students well-defined rules and consequences, as well as rewards. Help them build ownership in the rules by brainstorming reasons for each guideline.
Accentuate the positive. Recognize and reward worthy behavior publicly. This will sharpen students’ hunger to please you and be recognized in front of the class. Appropriate and positive behaviors should receive public accolades each time they occur. Consistent positive reinforcement will do more to curtail negative behavior than consequences!
Be fair and consistent. Negative behaviors should receive the same consequences every time. Let students know that any behavior that impedes learning is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Refrain from making threats without following through. This will do wonders for your credibility! Students need to know that you mean business.
Give warnings before giving penalties for negative behavior. We all need to be urged to step back in line at times without consequence. Simply say,“This is a warning,” and make sure the student understands what the warning is for. Use “the look”. All teachers inherently have this facial expression that warns students they are on thin ice.
Stay calm when negative behaviors occur. If students make bad decisions and you react as a “loose cannon”, they often do not know what to expect. As one of their primary role models, students need and expect you to be cool, composed, and consistent. Simply give the student who made the bad choice a consequence and move on.
Choose a management system that is easy to use and that students are interested in. Whether it is a program like ClassDojo, a clip chart with colors and clothespins, or card pockets with multi-colored cards, be enthusiastic and consistent when using it. Routine and structure are crucial here.
Communicate with parents. This should be an integral part of any management system. Begin the school year with a positive communication for every student. When you have completed one positive contact for each student on your roster, start again! The rewards you will reap are invaluable!
Make parents your partners. Consider making home visits to build a rapport with families and students. Keep the lines of communication open with parents throughout the year with positive phone calls, written notes, emails, ClassDojo messaging, and personal contacts. Not only will this help build your relationship, but it shows parents that you are dedicated to the support and success of their child. This will garner parent support and make things easier if you ever need to contact them with news about negative student behavior. If you have their support, half of the battle is already won!
Document everything. Negative behaviors, positive behaviors, as well as parent contacts need to be documented. This can become quite tedious, so find a system that works well for your teaching style and preferences. Choose something that makes documenting simple. If it isn’t easy for you, or you don’t have a system, you are more likely not to do it. For example, ClassDojo keeps record of specific positive and negative behaviors as well as what dates they occurred.This makes data collection easy when needed for RTIs, IEPs, or conferencing.
Being a strong classroom manager is never easy! Remember to be consistent, accentuate the positive, and make parents your partners. Utilize these tools to help make your school year as smooth as possible. Keep calm and teach on!