Classroom management is a tricky subject in the field of education. Creating a positive environment that keeps every student engaged is not easy. Maintaining that environment is close to impossible. However, there are ways to create and maintain the productive environment that every teacher dreams of, and what better time to start than the first day of a new school year. Following these simple steps, you can transform your classroom into a cooperative and collaborative learning environment, and make coming to class less of chore, and more of a hobby.
1. Lead by Example
One thing that we always try to emphasize to our older students is to lead by example. As teachers, this is one of our most important responsibilities. Students learn so much from simply observing behaviour and mimicking what they deem to be acceptable. Make sure your students have no excuse to bring negative behaviour into the classroom by maintaining a positive, respectful, and consistent demeanor for them to embrace happily.
2. Create a Positive Environment
Positivity is the key the above task. Positivity is contagious and creating and maintaining a positive environment in your classroom will undoubtedly feed into student behaviour. While you do need to be authoritative when necessary, try to keep the negativity to a minimum. After every negative altercation, reaffirm your positive energy as quickly as possible.
3. Display Clear Policies
Much like everything in life, if you’re unsure of something, you’re unlikely to do it well. By displaying your policies on classroom behaviour clearly (encouraging respect, cooperation, and positivity) around the room, and going through each one repeatedly, this ensures students are aware of what is expected of them, what the consequences are of not adhering to the policies, and why they are in place. Try to avoid the term “rules” and to incorporate more positive wording such as “policies” or “expectations”. (Keep an eye out for Fishtree classroom posters on social media next week!)
4. Display Clear Learning Objectives
Much like your behaviour policies, displaying clear and understandable learning objectives is equally as important. If a student is in doubt as to what he/she is trying to achieve in a particular lesson, or is unsure as to why a lesson is being taught, he/she is less likely to engage, and more likely to get distracted. Make sure that your learning goals are visible and understandable to each student, and your lesson will run a lot smoother.
5. Provide Individual Feedback
A lot of students act up in class or get distracted due to a loss of faith in their learning. You may find that if a student isn’t getting the individual attention and feedback that they crave, they will voluntarily disengage from your teaching. In order to avoid this, it’s important to make the time to provide students with individual feedback, assessing their performance and progress as often as possible. This can be something as simple as a passing comment in class, or a smiley face on an assignment. Either way, keep them engaged in their learning process as much as possible. If you’re looking for help from digital tools, Fishtree is a great resource for providing fast, effective feedback with one click.
6. Create a Class Contract
A class contract is a great way to get every student on board when it comes to promoting behaviour policies and stamping out bullying. A class contract, or an anti-bullying contract, gives the students a heightened sense of responsibility, affirming them as citizens of a community. By enforcing the fact that this community depends on their cooperation and respect, it applies the contract to real-life, making it a lot more relatable for every student involved. Once the contract is signed by every student, display it on the classroom wall as a means of reinforcing the agreement.
7. Make a Discipline Plan
Every teacher needs a detailed discipline plan. This generally depends on the specific policies implemented by an individual school, but each school policy should integrate easily with your own to create a rigorous and clear plan. Once your plan has been devised and you have outlined in detail the process for dealing with all types of discipline issues, make it known to your students. If they are aware of the exact consequence of every action, they have a clearer understanding of what constitutes minor and major offences and will know exactly what type of behaviour is expected of them.
8. Implement a Reward System
Students love rewards, even the older ones who brand it childish secretly relish the idea of being rewarded. Rewarding doesn’t always include special prizes or gold stars, it can be something as simple as awarding positive feedback, or giving a student a choice of topic. But by implementing a reward system known to each student, this will ensure better student engagement and cooperation as whole. Films, quizzes, day trips, sweets, and technology are just a few of the tools you can use for your reward system. Come up with your own, and make it known!
9. Be Fair and Consistent
This is one of the key rules in implementing effective classroom management. A teacher who practices fairness and consistency is guaranteed to engage a class effectively. Whatever policies or plans you implement in relation to behaviour and discipline, make them consistent, and make them fair. Students are extremely sensitive when it comes to equality and fairness in terms of punishment. Clear, consistent rules and consequences means no student can argue with your decisions or strategies. Inconsistency also encourages the students to take a more relaxed approach the rules and to test them out in different ways. So make your policies known, and stick to them!
10. Reward Good Behaviour
We’re all for punishing bad behaviour, but what about rewarding good behaviour? When you notice a positive change in a student’s behaviour, no matter how small, don’t let it go unnoticed. If these efforts go unrewarded, students may think you don’t care or realize these changes, and revert back to their old ways. If you reward this behaviour by merely commenting and emphasising the fact that it hasn’t gone unnoticed, a student may well see this as a beneficial change and continue on down path to cooperation.
11. Use Humour
Humour is a great asset for a teacher. If you can engage your students through laughter, you’ve officially cracked the code. While you do have to remain sensitive to the teacher/student barrier that affirms you as teacher and not a friend, laughing with them every day is a great way to gain their trust. Beginning a class with a bit of humour gets a class interested and engaged, and starts the lesson on a positive note. You can then proceed with your lesson and the students will cooperate happily thanks to their new-found respect.
12. Begin Each Day Anew
A great skill for a teacher to possess is the ability to forgive and forget. By beginning every single day anew, it ensures every student receives a fair chance. As hard as it may be, don’t hold on to grudges. Deal with any situation that arises on the day, and tackle the next day with a clean slate. This makes your teaching a lot more enjoyable and maintains that positive environment that we all strive for. Every day as a teacher presents a new challenge, so be prepared, and be resilient!
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About the author:
Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Subscribe to her blog or follow her on Twitter.
P.S. Teachers use Fishtree to plan lessons, find standard-aligned teaching resources, create assessments and see students performance, all in one place! If you’re a teacher, use Fishtree to prepare for your class and understand how well each student is learning. What’s more, it’s safe, secure, collaborative and easy! Try the next generation learning platform or contact us for a demo.