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Consistency is Key with Classroom Management

Janelle Cox

As a teacher, we all know and understand that children thrive on routine and consistency provided by foolproof classroom management techniques. Students do not welcome surprises, nor do they like a classroom management system that is disorganized. Think about when you were a substitute teacher and you would enter a classroom and the students would say, “That’s not how my teacher does it.” Or, think about the day you get back to school after being absent, and the students rush to your desk to tell you about how the substitute teacher they had did it all wrong yesterday. Children feel safe when they know what to expect each day. As soon as something disrupts that feeling of consistency, children are reluctant to embrace it. Using classroom management to be consistent in an inconsistent world helps children feel comfortable and safe because they thrive in a stable and nurturing environment.

Classroom Management: Consistency is Key

The first step into implementing any kind of management tool into your classroom is to be consistent. Consistency is key, especially for those students who do not have it at home. Research shows that a large number of children experience instability in their home life. Change in family circumstance, such as family income, family structure, and family employment has a lot to do with it.

It’s not just the families that face instability because of circumstances, it’s also the families who have inconsistent parenting skills. Think back to when you were a child and your parents would say, “No means no.” Did you ever happen to find a loophole when your mother had just enough of you begging for the same thing over and over that she just caved in, and let you have what you wanted? This is exactly what you do not want to do in your classroom. Do not let your students find a loophole in your classroom management plan because the next time, you will have a hard time getting your rules to stick.

Being a Consistent Teacher

Being a consistent teacher means everything that you do in your classroom, such as how you organize your space, your time, your students’ learning materials, and everything else that surrounds learning, has to be in a consistent learning environment. An excellent example of this is in a 1st grade classroom at Fricano Elementary School. Mrs. Kennedy’s class has a student with a severe food allergy in the classroom, so each morning before students even enter the classroom they must first wash their hands in the nearest bathroom. This morning routine is consistent and well-structured. Students know what to expect, and what they have to do before they even enter the classroom.

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Another example of being a consistent teacher comes from a 2nd grade classroom where students are expected to enter the classroom, put their lunches into their cubbies or go over to the lunch board and choose their lunch option. Next, they must go to their seats and begin their morning learning packet at their desks. This well-structured procedure is consistent and provides security for students because they know what to expect each and every day.

Successful Classrooms

In rooms where effective classroom management plans are executed daily, students feel relaxed and comfortable, and more eager to learn because they always know what is always coming next. Effective teachers take the time to set up these routines and procedures starting on the first day of school, because they know that children thrive in a stable learning environment.

Successful classrooms are the rooms that are filled with students who are responsible for following the daily routine. They are a place where students are focused on learning and they do their best work because their teacher has established a well-structured classroom management plan.

Why You Must be Consistent

Teachers who have raised a family know all too well the importance of taking the time to be consistent in your routines and your actions both inside and outside of the classroom. They’ve learned firsthand to combine firmness and consistency in order to maintain a stable environment. For teachers who have little experience with this, and who may turn a blind eye to students talking out of turn or chatting with their friends when they should be working, they will be surprised when the same issues keep reoccurring time and time again. You must be consistent in all aspects of classroom management in order to govern misbehavior.

Here are a few more reasons why it is essential to always be consistent.

  • Student behavior will reoccur. Like stated earlier, if you are inconsistent in your classroom management skills, the unwanted behavior will reoccur. If you allow students to talk to their neighbors but have already set the rule that it is not allowed, then you must expect that students will not take your rules seriously, therefore the unwanted behavior will happen again and again.
  • Students will lose respect for you. It’s a fact that your students will lose respect for you if you say you are going to do something, then don’t do it. You are sending students the message that your word cannot be trusted, therefore students will not have any respect for you.  
  • Students will test you every chance they get. When students learn that you are inconsistent with your word, then they will test you every chance that they can get. They will push the limits and continually walk a fine line around your rules. You will forever be challenged and your frustration will be at an all-time high for the rest of the school year.

A well-structured consistent classroom management plan is the key to having a successful classroom. This plan must be executed on day one and must be taught, modeled, and practiced over and over again until the students can do it in their sleep. Never make a rule that you are not willing to reinforce or state a promise that you cannot keep.

Do you have any classroom management tools or tips that you would like to share? Please leave your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.

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.