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10 Classroom Management Mistakes to Avoid

Janelle Cox

It’s not just first year teachers who make mistakes, it is all teachers. We all learn through trial and error, and for some us, classroom management can really give us a run for our money. We may think we are doing a good job at classroom management, but then all of a sudden you realize you’re standing in front of a room that is out of control. Here are 10 common classroom management mistakes that most teacher tend to make. These are things that you will definitely want to avoid to ensure a smooth-sailing classroom.

1. Not Making the Classroom Management Schedule Predictable

Children thrive on predictability. It’s important that students know what to expect each and every day. Being predictable in your routine will ensure that students won’t misbehave. 

2. Not Having Clear Expectations

A well-managed classroom means that students have a clear view of what you expect of them. It’s OK to set your expectations high because you can always lower them later. Be sure that students know exactly what you expect at all times.

3. Creating Rules That Are too Complex

Keep rules simple and to the point. Choose three to five rules and post them somewhere in the classroom where it is easy for you and students to reference them. Make sure that rules are positive versus negative to help you teach students the preferred behavior that you expect.

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4. Not Having a Clear Procedure

Just like your expectations, the procedure needs to be clear as well as predictable. If you decide that you want students to come into class each day and do morning seat work, then make sure that you stick to that each day. Not having a clear procedure will lead to an out of control classroom, where students don’t know what they should do next. When this happens, students tend to misbehave.

5. Making Lessons Too Long

Do you remember how boring it was to sit in a classroom and listen to the teacher talk for an hour? Make lessons short and to the point. Research shows that students can’t sustain attention for more than five to 10 minutes. Break your lesson into parts, and involve students by using cooperating learning groups. You can also incorporate a few “brain breaks” where students get up and get moving to help them release some energy.

6. Waiting to Deal with Discipline

You see “Joey” and “Brady” having a small agreement and you decide to just deal with it later, do not do this. If you don’t deal with the problem when it is small, it will escalate into something bigger later on. Deal with the problem when it occurs, to ensure that there will not be a bigger issue later on.

7. Letting Transitions Become Chaotic

Transition time between lessons or in-between specials like gym and art can be the worst part of your day. Make transitions quick and use a visual or non-verbal prompt to get students attention. Try a few attention signals and see which ones work best for you class. Again, when students know what you expect of them, they will be more willing to do it.

8. Lacking Confidence

Students can sense when you are not confident. Even if you feel that you are not confident, fake it. Develop a plan in your head (or on paper) on how you will respond to common situations that occur in class. Then, practice in the front of the mirror or your children how you will respond to them with confidence.

9. Not Being Organized

Organization is the essential key to a well-managed classroom. Without an organized classroom, you have an out-of-control classroom. Label everything, and I mean everything! This will help eliminate all of those trivial questions students ask, like Where is the extra pencils, or paper? For younger classrooms that can’t read yet, place a picture of a pencil, or a picture of paper instead of just the word.

10. Selecting Being Nice Over Being Firm

It’s natural to want everyone to like you. But you have to remember that the students are not your friends, and you are there to teach them, not be their buddy. It is possible to be nice and firm at the same time, you just have to choose your words and tone of voice very carefully. Keep your high expectations of your students, and care enough about them to be firm.

Do you have any classroom management mistakes that weren’t mentioned? Please share them with us, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators