Every teacher wants to have good classroom management.
But while some aspects of being a great teacher come naturally, keeping a controlled and encouraging classroom may not be so instinctual. That’s why we succeed best when we learn from the experiences of our predecessors. Following are six tips that come from experienced teachers’ time in the classroom that will help you keep a well-managed class full of language learners.
6 Essential Tips for Great Classroom Management
Know the Rules of the Game
To have good classroom management, you will need to be clear about your expectations. That means knowing what your classroom rules are and making sure your students know them too. The best time to introduce these rules is the first day of class. That way you won’t be doing any make up work to reign your class back in. Keep your rules posted in the classroom so your students can see them every day. And be sure to keep your number of rules to a minimum. You might have your students come up with the classroom rules with you, or you might simply come up with your rules on your own. Either way, take some time to brainstorm all the behaviors you want from your students. Then try and group your big list into four or five general statements that encapsulate them all. Statements such as “We will all respect one another” and “we will promote peace in our classroom” can encompass many different specific rules. Keeping your number of rules to a minimum will make them easier to remember and more likely to be followed. It also helps you deal with specific situations that you may not have listed in your brainstorm but that come up during the school year.
There Are Always Consequences
I remember my friend’s two year old daughter crying to her mom, “I don’t want any consequences!” after she disobeyed. That’s because this little girl knew what I hope all of your students know or will learn easily – your choices produce consequences. And like everyone else in life, while your students have the power to choose their actions, they do not have the power to choose their consequences. Enforcing consequences is essential for maintaining good classroom management. But enforcing the right consequences is just as important. When students break your classroom rules, you will have to enforce some kind of consequences, but make them the right ones. Make sure you have positive goals for consequences and are focused on behavior change and not just punishment. Helping your students understand why you choose the consequences you do will help them as they work their way through them. It’s also important that you be consistent. Don’t ignore rule breaking because you just don’t have the energy to deal with it at the moment. Keep constant in your consequences to give them the most power.
Keep Your Cool
Let’s be real for a second. Sometimes my students really rub me the wrong way, and if you’re honest yours probably do, too. Those times are few and far between, but they do come. It’s at those moments that I remind myself to respond rather than react. What’s the difference you might ask. Reacting is instinctual, it’s emotional, it’s fast. Responding takes time to think, it’s logical, and it doesn’t let the fire of emotion push you to do something unwise. That’s why responding, in other words thinking before you speak or act, is part of keeping your cool in the classroom. It helps if you can redirect a student who is approaching a breach in the rules, or if you can see it coming and intervene before they cross that line. That way you’ll have less clean up to do and will still have been consistent with your classroom management. Another part of keeping your cool is not getting into confrontations with students. You do not want to bring on the wrath of a parent or administrator by butting heads with members of your class. To make sure you don’t get yourself in trouble, keep reprimands private when possible. Try not to put your will in opposition to your students’ wills especially when you teach young children. Make following the rules into a game if you can. All in all, keep a positive spin on everything you do, even when students don’t follow the rules.
Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
Part of responding rather than reacting is not making snap decisions when it comes to rule breakers. For instance, don’t punish the entire group for the misbehavior of one. That only breeds dissention in your class. And don’t give drastic punishments for minor offenses, especially when your emotions have you boiling inside. Make sure that the consequences of rule breaking are in proportion with the rule that is broken and how severe that breakage is. That way you won’t come off as a tyrant to your students and they will be more inclined to follow your lead rather than obey your dictatorship.
Don’t Keep Your Distance
If I have learned anything from working with internationals, it’s that your students want to get to know you. Be involved in your class and your students’ lives when possible. Of course you still want to keep some professional distance, but you don’t want to be untouchable. Talk to your students. Participate in classroom activities. Give feedback as often as you can. Communicate. Jump in to tense situations before things get out of hand. Show your students that you respect them, and they will respect you in return. But also let them learn who you really are. When they are fond of you, they will be less included to cause trouble for you.
Perhaps the most important aspect of maintaining good classroom management is being prepared. You have heard that proverb, haven’t you? Idle hands are the devil’s work. When you have too much time between activities or you have dead air in your classroom, when students finish an assignment and have nothing to do, that is where trouble starts. Know what you are going to do before class. Have your supplies in order and ready to go. Have fillers on hand in case you have extra time for the entire class. And have some activities for students who finish their work quickly. Keeping students directed, on task, and occupied will go a long way to making sure they are well behaved in your class.
Good classroom management is not only possible but is easy when you learn from those that have gone before you.
Remember these tips, and you’ll see your classroom is calm and collected rather than chaotic and catastrophic.