By Teachers, For Teachers
It’s essential that your classroom management plan is on point this new school year, because if it’s not, then you better buckle up for a year full of chaos. Without communicating your expectations, rules, and procedures early on in the school year, you’re only making trouble for yourself down the road. Here are the top five most common classroom management mistakes that you don’t want to make this new school year.
A well-managed classroom means that students have a clear view of what you expect of them. From the moment your students enter your classroom, you must convey your rules, expectations, and procedures. This means you must walk students through procedures, like how you would like them to line up or hand in their homework. Show them your expectations for routines like handling the classroom equipment or taking out books from the class library. You should also go over your rules or create the rules together as a class. Many teachers opt to create rules together because children tend to abide by rules that they set for themselves more than when they are told what the rules are.
Also, it’s important to make your procedures clear as well as predictable, this will make it easier for students to remember and follow. It’s also OK to set your expectations high because you can always lower them later. When you don’t communicate your expectations and procedures clearly, then this can lead to an out-of-control classroom, where students don’t know what they should do next. When this happens, students tend to misbehave more often than not.
Whether you’re creating the classroom rules for the students or creating them together as class, make sure that you keep them simple and to the point. Try and choose three to five rules max, and post them somewhere in the classroom where it is easy for the students to see. Make sure that these rules are positive versus negative to help you teach students the preferred behavior that you expect. Even if you’re creating the rules together as a class, you can still narrow them down or simplify them. For example, a positive classroom rule may be, “Raise your hand before speaking.” This wording is better than saying, “Do not talk without raising your hand.” This rule is clear and to the point, and students know exactly what is expected of them when they read this.
One of the biggest classroom management mistakes teachers tend to make is waiting to deal with a situation because they don’t want to interrupt their lesson. If you wait to deal with a discipline issue, then it can escalate into something bigger later on in the day. A great example of this is when a student is annoying another student during a lesson, and it’s not only posing a problem for the student, but it’s also interrupting your lesson. The best way to deal with this classroom management situation is to look firmly at the student or walk over to them and continue your lesson while standing right next to them. Deal with the problem as soon as it occurs, this way you can ensure that there will not be a bigger issue later on.
Transition time between lessons or in between specials can become extremely chaotic if you don’t have a plan in place. For many teachers, this is the worst part of their day because the students think it’s a free for all. Make transitions as quick as possible and try and use a visual or non-verbal prompt to get students’ attention when it’s time for another subject or for the students to go somewhere. You can even try out a few different attention signals to see which ones work best. When students know what you expect of them, they will be more willing to comply.
It’s completely natural to want your students to like you. However, when you are too friendly and not firm enough with your students, they will not comply with your wishes. You need to find a balance between being a “Friendly” teacher and a teacher that they’ll respect. Actually, it’s quite easy to be nice and firm at the same time, you just have to choose your words as well as your tone of voice wisely.
The start of the new school year is a time to make sure your classroom management plan is in place. Avoid these common mistakes that many teachers make and you’ll have a successful school year.
Do you have any classroom management mistakes that weren’t mentioned in this article? If so, please feel free to share them with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
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 Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.