The best classroom management techniques are subtle, pleasant, and pervasive. Rules and routines, as well as guidelines and guidance, are crucial yet should be administered with a calm and confidence that inspire trust and earn mutual respect. Because every child requires development in social, emotional, soulful, and academic learning, teacher firmness is no more or less important than fairness, fascination, or facilitation. Nevertheless, do not underestimate the impact that security, structure, and stability have on every child.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 edition of UKEdMagazine
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As the adult in charge, do not hesitate to exercise your leadership to preserve a scholarly environment that captures your students’ hearts, spirits, minds, and manners. Once you embrace the fact that all four fundamentals are equally essential and inextricably intertwined, your students will rise to the occasion and meet your high expectations—precisely because you daily attend to their most vital needs. Teachers of any level or subject area can use the following indispensable management methods to cultivate a classroom of cooperation, courtesy, and camaraderie and to gain for themselves the composure and capabilities every great leader embodies.
Management through Planning:
In order to prevent small problems from intensifying or spreading, anticipate areas where disrespect, defiance, disruption, and distraction most likely occur. Even new teachers discover very quickly the occasions when student focus and decorum typically begin to erode. Therefore, be vigilant and build upon this reliable collection of strategies to circumvent the most common discipline issues and to keep occasional isolated incidents contained.
All educators must have a set of clear procedures that outline their daily class functions. Model and scrupulously maintain protocols for the most efficient ways students enter and exit the room, pass out materials, participate in class discussions, work independently, and collaborate. Because these norms are the foundations upon which love, laughter, and learning flow in your classroom, lead by example and with authority.
Management through Positivity:
- Positive Reinforcement
Employ consistent positive reinforcement so your students feel recognised for their considerate contributions to your orderly, engaging class. Make your praise personal by using the student’s name, precise by explicitly stating what the student is doing right, and pleasant by thanking the student aloud. Prove to your students you are on their sides by enthusiastically acknowledging them for their efforts and accomplishments, rather than always searching to catch them doing wrong.
Management through Presence:
In your dutiful effort to be proactive, always position yourself where you can observe the greatest number of students. When kids know they are not being watched, they often seize upon opportunities for sloth or silliness. Therefore, purposely place yourself where you retain the best vantage point, especially when assisting a student at their desk. Besides, your students will soon realise that your eagle eye is not on the lookout for reasons to chide them but for further evidence to publically celebrate their cooperation and commitment!
- Proximity and Placement
Being close to students is the best way to prevent problems from occurring. Circulate through your classroom often as you offer help and encouragement. Proactively linger by those who tend towards mischief and mayhem. Student seat and partner designations are an art form that may take many revisions to master, so freely experiment with who sits where and with whom.
Management through Peace and Quiet:
Your leadership approach should not be constantly loud or overbearing. Instead, wordlessly convey caution or correction with gestures to keep learning and instruction flowing. Unobtrusively and serenely redirect students to focus, face forward, quiet down, continue writing or reading, and raise their hands—all without a sound.
Abrupt moments of teacher silence, especially when stopping in mid-sentence, send an unambiguous message to the entire class that something is amiss and must immediately cease. Simply and with utter assurance, wait for the misbehaving students to self-correct, and then proceed as pleasantly as before.
Management through Prudence and Poise:
- Pulling Back
Right when things begin to deviate from the norms you have set—and they will; these are kids, after all— slow down and quiet down. Pull back and structure each moment of what is beginning to get out of hand. Revisit all disregarded procedures, and actively supervise their proper execution step by step. Until your students have re-earned your trust, daily repeat this enforced precision, abundantly praising where deserved.
- Picking Your Battles
When a student is intent on being recalcitrant, deescalate! It is perfectly acceptable to temporarily back off from those rare challenges that only undermine your authority and impede the learning of everyone around. Appropriately assuage or remove the unrelenting student, and deal with the issue when you can devote your full attention to its mutual resolution.
Be kind to your students, and be gentle to yourself. Children develop in myriad ways and at different junctures, so take things in stride and take the long view. If you are truly providing your students with a balance of firmness, fairness, fascination, and facilitation, each child will eventually respond to fully enjoy the wealth of benefits you generously offer.
Classroom management takes diligence and dexterity, but it should not be complex or all consuming. Appropriate leadership is actually a means for every student to reap the rewards of learning, relationships, and self-expression. Once teachers win their students over to this positive, productive mindset, their classrooms will become places of wonder and worth!
Robert Ward is a dedicated educator who has taught English in public middle schools in Los Angeles for twenty-three years. He is the author of two powerful books for teachers, and Rowman and Littlefield will publish his new book, A Teacher’s Inside Advice to Parents, November 2016. Interact with Robert via Twitter @RewardingEdu and his website, www.RewardingEducation.com