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Classroom Management: How to Model

Janelle Cox

Do you remember how you learned to read, tie your shoes, or button your shirt? You probably learned by someone showing you. Modeling is an effective classroom management way to show someone how to do something. Teachers model for their students all of the time. Whether it’s how they’d like their students to enter and exit the classroom, to how they’d like them to answer their essay questions or hand in their homework, teachers are always using classroom management to model first. The key to successfully and effectively modeling all depends on you, the teacher. If you’re able to model in a way that your students can understand and perform the task just as you had done it, then you’ve done it right. However, many teachers model for their students just for them to get it wrong. What happens is the teachers think the student wasn’t paying attention and blames them for not listening, when in actuality it was how the teacher modeled the task that the students didn’t understand. Here are a few classroom management ways to model effectively.

Classroom Management: Provide Enough Details

If you want to ensure that your students understand what you are modeling, then the details that you provide are crucial. Do not gloss over the details and think that your students will understand what you want. Instead, provide specific details so that students know what to do each step of the way. The best way to do this is to pretend you’re a student when modeling. For example, if you are modeling how you want students to line up, then start by sitting in a student’s desk and show them how they should wait in their seat, then line up. If you’re modeling how to do a science experiment, then you must also go step-by-step through the procedure using the students’ materials. An effective way to model for students is to show students how to do something as if you were them (the student). This way nothing is left unsaid, and students know exactly what’s expected of them and how they should do it.

Let Your Actions Do the Talking

Oftentimes when modeling, teachers do too much talking and not enough showing. While it’s essential to tell students how to complete the task, it’s also essential (if not more important) to show the students how to complete the task. Your actions should do most of the talking and your words are just supporting your actions. For example, if you were modeling how to clean up after centers, then you would first pretend you were a student and sit at the learning center. Then, you’d physically show them how they should clean up while telling them step-by-step as you complete the task. This will help students imagine in their minds how they will complete the task when it’s their turn.

Model More Than Once

If you really want to ensure that whatever you’re modeling is a success, then you must model it more than one time. Try and model the same thing once a day for a few days. Then invite a few students to model with you or after you as well. The more that students practice the task just as you modeled it, the better the chance that they’ll understand it and do it right on their own.

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Practice Makes Perfect

After you’ve finished modeling, then make sure that your students practice it. For example, if you’ve just modeled a group experiment, then ask one student from each group to remodel it for the rest of the group. Your goal is for students to prove that they can do it correctly before you send them all off to do it on their own. If one student from each group can prove they know what to do, then there’s a good chance that the rest of them will be able to complete the task as well. If all else fails, keep practicing. The more that students practice what you’ve modeled, the better.

Verify Students Perform Correctly

Once you’ve modeled a task, ask students to remodel the task so you can verify that they perform it correctly. All too often, teachers accept less than what they’ve originally asked for in their students. For example, when a teacher models that students must stay in their seats until they’re called to line up, then the teacher allows them to stand next to their seats before they’re called up. This gives the students mixed signals and tells them that you’re inconsistent. When you allow students to deviate from what you’ve originally modeled, then they’ll think they can do that with anything in class. Stay consistent, and once you verify students performed your task correctly, make sure that they stick to it.

Successful teachers effectively model everything they do to ensure student understanding. Whether it’s modeling how to line up for the field trip or how to conduct a science experiment, modeling helps to get the task done. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing that your students know how to complete a task correctly.

Do you use classroom management to model for your students? If so please share what types of the things that you model in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.


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.