What is Proactive Classroom Management?
Proactive classroom management is strategies that a teacher uses and implements to promote social-emotional well being and to prevent misbehavior and conflict with their students. Being a proactive management teacher is a lot of work up front, but the payoff is that your students learn to respect each other and build a classroom community. This also provides an environment where you prevent disruptions and behavior infractions so that you can focus on teaching your students.
Strategies for Proactive Classroom Management
Establish positive relationships with your students (and your students with their peers)
It is so important for students to know their teacher cares about them. As teachers, this is why we teach—because we love kids! But, you have to show kids that you care about them and want them to be successful. Once they know, they will work hard and learn so much more than they would with someone who does not take the time to establish a positive relationship with them.
A great way to begin the year is to have everyone bring in a family photo and create a “me bag.” Students can present these to the class so that they get to know each other. The teacher then learns personal interests and details about all of their students. This gives teachers ways to connect with their students on a personal level, which will begin building that positive relationship.
It is also important for students to learn to build positive relationships with others—this builds rapport and a community in your classroom. Something great to start with is to have each student write something nice about everyone in the classroom; you can choose one student per day and then you can have circle time to discuss what everyone had to say. This makes each student feel special and valued and begins to build those positive relationships. It is important to teach kids that we should respect each other even if we don’t always get along.
Teaching students how to have mindfulness will help them to calm down when they are anxious and learn how to control their thinking and their bodies. Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques are just a couple of ways that you can begin to introduce mindfulness to kids. Mindfulness can be very effective by teaching kids to be proactive and taking charge of their own thoughts and feelings.
Establish Expectations with Your Students
If you establish clear expectations with your students at the beginning of the year, then they know what they are supposed to do. Having that positive relationship will help you have discussions with them in a loving way when something happens and they don’t meet one of those expectations. The best way to get buy in is to get students to help you establish those expectations so they have a voice of what they think is and is not acceptable in their classroom. It belongs to them just as much as it belongs to the teacher.
Positive Rewards System
Instead of punishing kids when they do not meet an expectation, reward them for doing the right thing! You can do something as simple as give a verbal praise: “I love the way that Sammy is really working hard on his reading response.” This will motivate those that aren’t doing the right thing to be re-directed. Students can also earn tickets or some other kind of tangible reward and the teacher can have a prize box or a list of free rewards when they earn so many; i.e. wear socks for the day, eat lunch with a friend, bring a stuffed animal to school, etc.
Teach Conflict Resolution Strategies
Teachers can also have whole and small group lessons to teach kids how to solve conflict when something does come up. You can play a conflict resolution game, read a book, role-play, or use specific strategies such as a peace path or choice wheel.
Use Visual Cues and Reminders
This is another effective strategy for having a proactive approach to classroom management. You can teach the kids special rules such as “everybody freeze” and have a visual cue such as an icicle and when you hold it up everyone stops what they are doing to think about their behavior and/or get quiet. There are many other visual cues that you can come up with for any behavior that you want to quickly address—be creative and have fun!
The most important thing that you can do as you are setting up your expectations and implementing proactive strategies for a positive classroom environment is to be consistent. So many students do not get this at home, and they will take advantage of someone who is not. Say what you will and then follow through with doing what you say—even when you don’t feel like it or it would be easier not to. Consistency is key!