By Teachers, For Teachers
Classroom management is not just the ability to discipline your students and try and keep them in line, it’s having the ability to effectively manage all aspects of your classroom. Classroom management is the way you create and communicate your rules and procedures, to how you create your lessons and transition between them. For many teachers, classroom management is a constant struggle, which they learn from through trial and error. Through this, they make a lot of mistakes. Here are the top classroom management mistakes you may be making and how you can correct them.
Classroom rules and procedures should be short and straightforward. They should not be too complex, and have multiple steps -- this will only confuse children. When choosing classroom rules, only chose 3-5 rules and post them somewhere in the classroom where it is easy for the students to refer to. Make sure that these rules are positive versus negative, to teach students the preferred behavior that you expect. For example, a positive classroom rule is, “Raise your hand before talking.” A negative classroom rules is “Do not talk without raising your hand.” Choose the positive rule that is clear and to the point so students know exactly what is expected of them.
Just like your classroom rules, your procedures need to be simple and to the point. They also need to be predictable, so that students will be able to easily follow them on their own. For example, if your expectation is for students to come into the classroom each morning and do bell work, then make sure that you stick with that routine each morning. Not having a clear procedure can lead to loud chaotic classroom, because students don’t know what they should be doing next. When this happens, students tend to misbehave. Remember to always make your rules and procedures short, straightforward and predictable.
Another popular classroom management mistake many teachers make is creating lessons that are too long. Even if you design a lesson that has you lecturing for half of it, and the other half is students working in groups, if it lasts for an hour on the same topic, then students will lose interest. Make your lessons short and to the point. Research has shown that students can’t sustain attention for more than five to 10 minutes. With that knowledge, it’s important that you try and break your lesson into parts. If you want your students to learn something that you know will take a long time, then have them read or watch a video on the topic the night before for homework. This way, you can use your classroom to have students work in groups. You can also incorporate a few “Brain breaks” in between the lessons where students get up and get moving to help them release some of their energy. The take-away from this tip is to always create lessons that are shorter rather than longer.
In addition to creating long lessons, you may also be forgetting to plan for transitions between lessons or specials. Transition time can become extremely chaotic if you don’t plan for these times in advance. In fact, many teachers find this time to be the worst part of their day, because the students think it’s free time to talk with their peers. Take back control and make transitions as quick as possible. Many teachers find that a visual or non-verbal prompt helps to get their students’ attention when it’s time for another subject or for the students to go somewhere. When students know what you expect of them, they will be more willing to comply.
Many teachers think that if they wait to deal with discipline that it will not only help to not disrupt the other students and the lesson, but it will also help the child that is getting disciplined feel less picked on. However, if you wait to deal with a discipline issue, then it can escalate into something bigger later. You need to deal with any discipline issues as they occur. Here’s a good example of what you can do. When a student is annoying another student during a lesson, 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 firmly look 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 in the day.
In short, make sure you always have a classroom management plan in place.
What classroom management mistakes have you made? What have you learned from mistakes? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you 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.