For new teachers, successful classroom management can require a bit of a learning curve. Start off on the right foot by using positive strategies from the first day of school to the last. By using positive reinforcement and modeling the behavior you want to see, you’ll help your students develop into respectful, productive and ethical citizens.
Make your expectations known.
On the first day of school, let your students know that you respect each and every one of them and that you expect them to respect you and each other in return. Instead of telling the students about the classroom rules, invite them to have a discussion of what they expect to get out of the class. Together, brainstorm reasonable classroom rules and write them on a poster board to hang on the wall. This gives students some ownership over the rules and incentivizes them to follow those rules.
Keep students accountable for their learning.
Work with your students in such a way that makes them take ownership of their own learning. When they feel responsible for what they are supposed to know and be able to do, they are more likely to be fully engaged in the learning experiences that you have designed. For example, at the beginning of the year, you can have each student prepare an interactive notebook. Every day, at the end of a lesson, they can write about whether they met the lesson’s objectives. That notebook can be a part of the student’s authentic portfolio assessment.
Speak at a normal volume.
Even the best-behaved class will get a little talkative at times. When you’re ready to teach but your students aren’t ready to listen, don’t try to talk over them. Stand in front of the class and smile patiently, making eye contact with the talkers. After a little while, you’ll likely hear other students shushing the ones that are still talking. A self-regulated classroom is a happier, more productive classroom.
Give positive feedback to parents.
When students are praised for making a good faith effort or for doing something well, they tend to put in even more effort in the future. When they’re disciplined, students often feel resentful and they might disengage from the class. Of course, you may need to use disciplinary action at times but you can also proactively prevent problematic behavior. Send a few emails or make a few phone calls each week to the parents of students who have demonstrated good behavior and a strong work ethic in your class that week. Undoubtedly, the parents will let the students know about your compliments.
Sometimes, the best way to manage a classroom is to let your students kick back and relax. Celebrate your students’ accomplishments as a whole by announcing a class pizza, donut party or a trivia game. For instance, at the beginning of the month, you could let your class know that they can enjoy this reward at the end of the month if each of them turns in every homework assignment on time.
Nurture positive relationships with each student.
Many teachers must manage large class sizes. This makes it difficult to get to know each student as an individual but you can still set aside a few minutes here and there. If Joan walks into class early, put down your notes and ask if she had a good weekend. If Hector seems down in the dumps, take him aside to privately ask if he’s alright. These mini conversations don’t have anything to do with the curriculum but for a student, knowing that a teacher genuinely cares can make all the difference in the world.
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