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Classroom Management: How to Regain Control of a Class

Janelle Cox

Whether you’re an experienced teacher or just starting out, losing control of your classroom can be very frustrating.

It’s not always your fault and can happen for a number of reasons; the class is distracted from a peculiar noise, are not paying attention because they’re anticipating recess, or just simply have a lack of interest in the material being taught. Whatever the case may be, it’s tempting to just throw your hands up in defeat.

But by regaining control of your classroom, you are exercising your role as an authority figure and setting an example that errant behavior is not tolerated in your classroom.

Don’t wait until your students are hanging from the rafters. Use the following classroom management tips to regain control right now.

Use an Attention Signal

Here’s a time-honored classroom management idea. Refocus students by having an attention signal that alerts them that it’s time to concentrate on the task at hand. Whether it’s a bell, call and response signal, or hand gesture, make sure that your students know when they see or hear it, it’s time to refocus.

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Rearrange the Seating Chart

Social dynamics play a huge part in students’ behavior. Pay attention to where disruptive and talkative students sit and separate them. You will find that as soon as you rearrange the seating chart, the situation will most often be neutralized.

Share Your Frustration

Consider sharing your feelings with your students. Say, “All of these distractions are making it extremely hard for me to teach and for you to learn.” Sometimes just being honest with students and telling them how you feel can help rectify the situation.

Sit Back and Observe for a Moment

Often, we believe that allowing students to act disruptively or talk amongst themselves shows our weakness, but this isn’t the case. In fact, try sitting back for a minute and observe the students. It also helps to mentally ask a few questions in the process:

  • Why the situation is occurring?
  • Are the students not into the lesson?
  • Is the lesson too long?
  • What is distracting the students?

In those few minutes you may find the answer that will transform chaos into clarity, both in your classroom and your own psyche.

Stay Consistent

Make sure that you address every problem with a direct response. The more consistent you are with your expectations and consequences, the quicker you will be able to regain control of your classroom. Do not let anything get by you until you are absolutely sure that your class is under control.

Be Confident

Children are smart and can take advantage of the situation if they sense you’re losing control—just ask substitute or rookie teachers. Because your confidence (or lack thereof) transcends to your students, it’s important to bolster that skill as much as possible. If you’re looking for a good place to start, build your confidence by practicing with your friends or family. Role play different scenarios that can occur in the classroom, and practice how you would respond to them. In no time, you’ll act instinctively the next time disruptive behavior occurs.

Rein in the Over Talkers

Every classroom has that one student who thinks they have the answer to everything. If you see that student start to monopolize a classroom discussion, then acknowledge their viewpoint and move on. If you don’t rein these students in then there’s a chance that you can lose control of your classroom. Politely thank them for their response and either a) move along with the lesson or b) give them the opportunity to further discuss the topic at another time.

Lead by Example

Let’s face it, children are always watching every move we make. If you want to regain control of your classroom, then it starts with you. Do you text in class? Interrupt students when they are talking? Get up while students are asking you a question? Eat in the classroom? If you said yes to any of these questions, then how do you expect your students to listen to you when you’re doing exactly what you’re asking them NOT to do? Simply put, lead by example. By doing so, establishing or regaining control of the learning space will be much easier.

Effective classroom management is a full-time commitment. As soon as you think you can relax and let your guard down then boom, something happens. Be confident in your ability to regain your student’s attention and focus. Instead of coming home feeling defeated, try to experiment with a few of these techniques and I’m sure you will find that losing control of your classroom will happen less frequently.

How do you regain control of your classroom? What strategies have helped control you classroom? Feel free to share your experiences with us in the comment section below. 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, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.