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Rethinking Common Classroom Management Practices

Janelle Cox

Have you ever stopped for a moment to rethink what is and is not working within your classroom management practices? Rethinking is an effective tool that many teachers use to help them transform their teaching. Teachers take the time to reflect on specific lessons or practices that they use in the classroom to help them figure out if they are successful or not. Essentially, once you rethink, your goal is to replace what doesn’t work with what does.

Here we’ll give you a few suggestions on how you can rethink your lessons, classroom management routines, and daily practices to ensure you are meeting the needs of your students.

Classroom Management: Choose Group Work Over Worksheets

Many traditional classrooms are teacher-led and favor worksheets over group work. The problem with this practice is that if you were to spend the majority of your day listening to someone talk, then work on a worksheet independently, it could get rather boring. Now imagine doing this day in and day out for an entire year! If this sounds like your classroom, then it’s time to rethink your classroom practices and make some changes. Instead of offering a worksheet for students to work on independently, try the worksheet cut-up activity. This is where you disguise a worksheet by cutting it into strips and placing students into small groups to play a learning game. For example, let’s say the worksheet had five questions on it, and there were five students to a group. Each student would take turns reading their strip of the worksheet, while the others would give their answer to the question and agree or disagree with the statement. By grouping students together, you are not only making it an engaging activity, but students are also developing their communication and interpersonal skills as well. 

Choose Student Inquiry Over Lectures

The “Lecture” is another classroom practice that many teachers use to get information across to students.  While it can be an effective tool to gain knowledge, simply covering topics by lecture does not ensure that students are comprehending everything that is being taught. If the teacher is just talking away and a student zones out or doesn’t understand what you are saying, then all of that time lecturing is wasted. An effective method to ensure student comprehension is to structure in time for student inquiry. While you can still lecture to get your point across, you can also invite students to ask questions to gain information and insight into what they are learning.

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One way to encourage student inquiry is to stop in the middle of your lecture, ask a question, and give students a few minutes to think. You can also try partner-talk, where students quickly discuss your question with the person seated next to them. This is a great way to ensure students have understanding, and it helps to break up a lecture so it’s not so boring. 

Choose Visuals Over Plain Text

As you know, all students learn differently and in a variety of ways. While some students learn better verbally, others learn better kinesthetically. However, all students can benefit from the support of visuals. In fact, research indicates that visuals help us to retrieve and remember information. Visuals such as photos, illustrations, symbols, and concept maps are all effective learning tools to help cement information into the brain. Text-heavy assignments where students have to read a lot without any visuals to help them understand the context is not a classroom practice that you want to continue to use. If you must have students read a lot of text, then it’s important to always include some sort of visuals, be it a graph, photo, or chart. As long as it’s there, it will help students gain a better understanding of the concept being learned.

Choose a Student-Led Discussion Over Teacher-Led

Teachers taking the lead is a traditional classroom practice that has been around since the first schoolhouse was ever built. While this has always been an effective way to educate children, today’s teachers are now realizing the benefits of a student-led classroom. A student-led classroom is just how it sounds -- students take the lead of their own learning while teachers act as a guide. Students are encouraged to find their own talents and passions, and the classroom is designed around the students’ needs for that. If your classroom is teacher-led, then you should consider trying a student-led classroom at least for a day or even a week. While these types of classrooms may appear more chaotic and busy from an outsider’s perspective, they are a great way for students to own their learning, and are designed around their needs.

When you take the time to reflect upon what is and is not working in your classroom, you will notice a shift in the way that you teach. You’ll gain a new perspective, and in turn will learn and grow, which is all an essential part of professional development. 

Do you use rethinking as a means of classroom management? If you were to rethink your own practices, what would you change? Please share with us in the comment section bellow, we’d love to hear your thoughts 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.