As every teacher knows, how you handle classroom management can make or break a school year. Poor classroom management leads to disorganization, stress, and behavioral issues. Great classroom management can lead to a fun-filled, organized year that runs smoothly from start to finish. So, how do you establish a well-run classroom at the beginning or middle of the year? Consistency is what it is all about.
The Truth About Classroom Management
Let us be clear about what classroom management is and is not. Classroom management is not having a reward treasure chest at the end of the week for good behavior. Classroom management is establishing rules. Classroom management is not collecting papers from students’ desks. Classroom management is establishing a system for paper management. Classroom management is not trying every new technique that comes across your path. Classroom management is being consistent in rules and routines. In other words, classroom management is about effectively managing the systems of the classroom and instruction.
What are those systems that need management then? Surely behavior is part of it, but it is far from being the entire piece. Rules and procedures, time management, material management, classroom set-up and layout, and properly managing instruction also come into play. Think of it this way – as a teacher you are responsible for getting everyone where they need to be, when they need to be there, doing what they need to do, while keeping track of what they have done, how they have done it, and facilitating learning to meet their needs. And people think that teachers do not deserve summers off.
It’s All About Procedures
Establishing the necessary procedures and rules from the very first moments of the very first day of school is essential for making sure that the year runs smoothly. Being firm, consistent, and praising students who follow the procedures and rules is vital. If you are coming in to a classroom mid-year or need to revamp your current rules and regulations, because they are not working, be prepared for a tougher road, but one that will eventually lead to a well-run classroom.
Having a procedure for everything from morning attendance to lunch count to learning center completion is imperative. Think about what you want students to do on their own, what habits you want them to establish when they enter and leave the classroom, and the behaviors you want to see take place during transition and learning times. The systems that you set-up must reinforce those goals. For example, if you want students to immediately settle into their desks and complete a quiet activity when they enter the classroom in the morning, having a bunch of activities that requires them to move around the room to drop off papers, record lunch choices, or do their classroom jobs is not going to get you the results that you want. A quiet morning routine might begin with journal writing until morning announcements or until you call each child up individually to turn in homework and then complete their attendance count and lunch choices. Every action has a reaction, so think about what will happen when students complete the tasks you have assigned.
The way that you set-up your classroom is also going to play a huge part in how smoothly your classroom runs. An overcrowded classroom with a lot of visual distractions is going to make it more difficult for students to focus and get from place to place efficiently. If one area of the room is a constant source of disruption, maybe because of where it is located or what is around it, change it to function as a different space. Do not be afraid to change what does not work to create a classroom that does work. It is also important to note that the needs of students will change from year to year and your classroom management systems may need to accommodate those changes.
Get your systems in place. Take the time to find out what works and what does not work for your students. Be consistent. Set rules and regulations as a class and then stick to them. Children watch your every move and if you let even one rule slide for one student, the next day more students will be testing the limits too. Come up with a classroom schedule that allows for maximum instruction time and easy transitions. Classroom management is multi-tasking at its best and requires a commitment to excellence. Any teacher can have a classroom, but only the best teachers have classrooms that work.