It's sort of weird to talk about classroom management when it is something I feel that I still don't have a firm grasp on. It's one of those things that you (meaning I) never seem to get entirely right and always have to change it around-- which I suppose is teaching in a nutshell. So here's a rambly list of things I've learned from my old Uni Classroom Management
class, as well as a hearty recommendation that every teacher read everything Grace Dearborn
ever wrote. If you can get to one of her seminars, do so.
Ten Strategies for Classroom Management
Strategy #1: Never talk over students
Letting students talk over you diminishes your authority. It also sends the message that what youʼre teaching is not important. Use your teaching spot and a verbal and/or non-verbal cue to ask for studentsʼ attention. Wait until you have complete attention to begin talking again.
Strategy #2: Call it when you see it
Respond EVERY time a studentʼs behavior stretches your classroom boundaries
Calling the behavior way after the fact (like the next day) is better than not calling it at all. Refuse to be a silent witness to inappropriate behavior,
Strategy #3: Clearly describe and model the behavior you want to see. Use a whole class treatment that describes the desired behavior.
▪ YES: This is a silent work time. I expect all of you to work without talking.
▪ NO: It's getting louder in here. I'm getting angry.
Refuse to allow yourself exceptions to your own rules
If students should be silent, practice silence yourself. If they aren't permitted to use phones, keep away from your phone.
Strategy #4: = Focus on primary behaviors, not secondary behaviors
State clearly to the individual or to the class the primary behavior you want to see (not what you currently see)
If needed, (re)state the rationale for the behavior your want to see. If students comply with the primary behavior, ignore any secondary behavior (eye rolling, mumbling, moving slowly, being a typical surly teenager) unless the secondary behavior is so egregious that it stretches your classroom boundaries (swearing loudly so others can hear, causing a larger disturbance)
Praise the student for doing what you asked (the primary behavior)
If needed, follow up later with the student to talk about the secondary behavior
If secondary behavior is egregious, this rule does not apply
Strategy #5: Give students take up time
State your expectation or request and walk away. This communicates respect and lets students save face
Strategy #6: Choose the right response
Broken routines require reteaching, broken rules require consequences
You can choose a combination of reteaching and consequences for individual students or for the whole class. You can choose a combination of individual and whole-class treatments (ie, you can give private or public consequences; you can reteach a behavior privately to one or more students, or publicly to the whole class)
If you have to give an individual consequence, give a restorative consequence that restores what was taken from the class by the student's bad behavior or that adds to the class (i.e., trash pick up restores your classroom)
Starting the consequence with the student helps break down resistance (i.e., you can pick up the first few pieces of trash with the student while talking about how easy and helpful this task is, then let the student finish the task solo and provide end goal, like a time limit or a number of pieces of trash to pick up)
Strategy #7: De-escalate anger, frustration or willful refusal
Choose a kind but firm tone
Clearly state the behavior you want to see. Find a way to bring the conversation back to learning and work production
Give students outlets for their anger (writing, rocking in a chair, sitting outside)
Strategy #8: Ask "What?" questions before "Why?" questions
“What?” questions get the students thinking about what they need to do or how they need to do it. “What?” questions place responsibility on the student
YES: What should you be doing right now?
“Why?” questions take the immediate responsibility off the student, so save these
for one-on-one, private conferences with students. Adolescents often don't know the real answer to your "Why?" question, or don't want to say
Strategy #9: Always follow through
If you ask a student to stay after class, follow through
If you need to give a consequence, follow through
If you need to reteach a routine, follow through
A clipboard really helps collect and remember all this data!
Strategy #10: Have daily amnesia
Give the student a daily fresh slate. Expect that the student can live up to your expectations. Find opportunities to praise the student sincerely and specifically, and tell the student what his or her strengths are. Remind the student of past successes
YES: I know you can do _____ because I have seen you do ________
Leverage your faith in the student
YES: I know you care / are a good person / want to do the right thing
I'm by no means perfect at any of these. I forget. I get stressed. But when I do manage to follow them, things do tend to run more smoothly.
Some strategies that aren't on the list, but were also mentioned in the class or in some classroom management literature (Grace Dearborn
Don't run anywhere. Walk briskly.
Sometimes, you can send an energetic catalyst student out to get a drink of water while you get the class under control. When they come back, hopefully everything will be calm and they'll be the odd one out and not want to make a scene.
Have something for kids to do at all time. Idle hands are the devil's plaything, and the second they finish an activity early, they're going to want to do something else. Get ahead of it so the thing they're doing isn't obnoxious. (As an ELD teacher, NoRedInk.com and ReadTheory.org have been lifesavers).