There are so many classroom management options for teachers. When choosing a classroom management plan, it is important to consider the following questions: Which plan will best fit the individual classroom culture? Why do some management plans work well one year or in one grade level, but not others?
Classroom management is the set plan for a teacher to manage student behavior effectively while teaching all grade-level curriculum. Teachers can use simple rules selected by themselves prior to students entering the classroom or wait until the first day to collaborate with students to decide on the best rules for the class.
Rules should be simple and limited. Too many or too difficult rules will be easily forgotten and/or ignored by students. The rules should be visible in the classroom for students to reference when a reminder is needed. When rules are not followed, consequences may need to be set. On the other hand, positive rewards can be in place for individuals or whole-class rule following.
Once rules are set, the students will begin to sense the tone of the classroom culture. The next step is for the teacher to explain and practice classroom procedures. Similar to rules, procedures should be simple and easy for a student to follow. Classroom procedures must be outlined and generated by the teacher before the school’s first day and will start the minute a student enters the room.
The procedures can be listed each morning on the front dry erase board under a daily positive greeting, such a, “Good Morning.” Teachers refer to these daily messages as “Morning Message.” The morning message includes the simple steps needed for the students to accomplish before a day of learning can begin.
These multi-step messages create structure and routine for students. After the twentieth time the message is read by students, they will begin to habitually anticipate the morning routine in the classroom. When teachers start the message with a positive greeting and/or include classroom specific announcements, a positive tone and opportunity for building relationships between the teacher and students is fostered.
When morning and end of day procedures are explained and practiced daily, the students will develop personal responsibility as a student in the classroom. The students are now meeting the teacher’s expectations for their ability to learn in the classroom in an organized manner. These procedures are more than step-by-step tasks; they involve initiation, anticipation, and work ethic. Sometimes teachers may encourage the involvement of students’ suggestions when a new expectation arises and a procedure is needed.
Both classroom rules and procedures must be clearly explained, practiced regularly, and are only successful with consistency.
Talk to Fellow Teachers
A teacher’s peers are an invaluable resource. Teachers with various experience —first year, five years, or beyond — should take time to visit and observe their fellow teachers. An educator’s professional growth relies upon investigating other ideas to use for managing and instructing students. Many of the best ideas are those shared by other teachers.
When a teacher feels a loss of confidence, frustration, or a desire for inspiration, the support of fellow teachers is a great place to start. The teachers around us can offer inspiration or suggestions that can push fellow teachers to grow professionally.
Choose Logical Consequences
Consequences must be age appropriate and give an impactful reaction to the importance of following classroom rules.
Individual student consequences encourage individual student growth in comparison to whole class consequences. Consequences should not be made publicly or humiliate a student. Consequences are a teaching tool to promote students’ accountability for their choices and actions. Whole class consequences leave some students feeling unaffected or overly affected, and therefore learning and following classroom rules can be confusing and stressful. Consequences should make sense to students and encourage better decision making the next time.
Students can be positively acknowledged publicly only when making good choices. For example, helping one another or modeling excellent student behaviors are good reasons to be publicly acknowledged. Teachers can be creative with positive affirmations presented to students during a school day. A few positive reactions given by teachers could be accumulated over a period of time and turned in for one special treat or event.
A few positive class management ideas include:
- Debts and Credits: A classroom economy system, allowing students to earn credits for positive behavior, and accepting debts for unfavorable actions in the classroom. Students participate in a once-a-month shopping activity when they can use their remaining credits to purchase items in the class store.
- Raffle Tickets: Students earn raffle tickets for positive actions, and after a period of accumulation, students can exchange tickets for special privileges such as lunch with the teacher or student’s choice of seat location in the classroom.
- Individual Incentive Sticker Charts: Students turn in charts once the chart is filled with stars for a visit to the treasure box.
Students in middle and high school thrive when genuine relationships between teachers are developed. When older students feel supported and respected by teachers, the need for consequences is not as necessary to achieve successful classroom management.
Focus on Respect
In an effort to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to learn in a classroom, it is important for teachers to create an environment of respect among students. Teachers are hopeful that each student understands how to be respectful to others before arriving to the classroom.
A student’s prior understanding and sense of respect for others will only grow in the classroom. It is important for the students to understand, accept, and give respect in a classroom setting. Teachers take the student’s foundation of respect and build upon it by modeling respect to their students through growing relationships and treating all students fairly.
Work within District Guidelines
The school’s administration is responsible for creating a school and student handbook that are both pre-approved by the district before distributing to teachers and all other members of the school community. Teachers use these documents to guide the final decisions for classroom rules, procedures, consequences, and positive acknowledgments.
A teacher can learn from fellow teachers and rely upon district guidelines to help support the classroom management plan that will successfully create the best classroom culture for students to learn and develop appropriately. Once the best classroom management design is in place, the teacher must commit to consistency and maintaining appropriate consequences that positively affect the academic needs of the students. Lastly, the teacher’s personality must best suit the classroom management style for the rules, procedures, and all outcomes to be positive and effective.