Classroom Management: Ready, Set, Go!
Before I was lucky enough to become an elementary school teacher I was able to work for my local school district as a behavior analyst. I would often get called into schools to provide additional support for students who are struggling behaviorally. In most situations, I discovered that classroom management strategies we’re not being utilized or were not being enforced. This experience provided me the backbone of knowledge that I currently use for my own classroom practices. While my college program adequately prepared me with the knowledge to construct an effective classroom management plan, it was the the on the job experience that instilled the importance of maintaning and enforcing the plan.
For those that are new to teaching, here are three common classroom management mistakes that teachers frequently make related to classroom management. It is my hope that many new teachers can avoid these pitfalls.
Common Classroom Management Issues
1. Lack of Consistency
Students thrive on consistency in the classroom. If there aren’t any rules, it is difficult to encourage consistant behavior in the classroom.
While serving as a behavior analyst, when I walked into a classroom I would instantly look to see if there were 3 to 5 specific rules that were posted in the classroom. However, if the teacher didn’t consistently enforce the rules, it didn’t matter if the rules were posted. In a well-managed classroom, students should know if they have broken a rule and what the consequences are without needing to ask the teacher. In order to help the classroom maintain behavioral expectations, I utilize a “what if” chart. The chart is communicated to students using verbal and nonverbal cues that will serve as warnings to students if they misbehave. I often point to the chart and reference it throughout the year. As a result, the students actually help me be consistent with enforcing the classroom rules.
2. Lack of Praise
The greatest deficit that I saw as a classroom observer was the infrequent amount of praise that was provided by the teacher to the students. This is still something that many teachers that I observe struggle with on a regular basis. Teachers should be constantly ready to praise students academically and behaviorally in the classroom. Praise can be used as a tool to redirect, prompt, and reengage students. Offering praise is a far greater tool than using public humiliation to put fear into students in an attempt to make them comply. Everyone wants to be told they are doing a good job, especially students. Let’s give them what they want!
3. Excessive Teacher Direction
One reason that students become problematic in the classroom, is not due to poor classroom management of the teacher, but rather the student is not engaged in learning. This can happen for several different reasons. Perhaps the student is not receiving instruction on the appropriate level (high or low). Maybe the student is not being given an opportunity to learn about things they are interested in. Problematic behaviors of this nature are likely to occur when a teacher runs a classroom in a very teacher directed way. The more voice and choice a student can possess, the more they will be interested in their own education. In order for this to happen, teachers need to modify their classroom roll to be a quote “guide on the side” instead of a quote “sage on the stage.”
The Real Deal to Improve Learning
Because a child will struggle to learn when their behavior is out of control, classroom management skills are heavily needed in today’s classrooms. By being consistent, utilizing academic and behavioral praise, and running a student centered classroom that provides voice and choice, teachers will be equipped to successfully manage a classroom and help students be successful.
If you are struggling with bahavior issues in the classroom, you may also be intereted in this article entitled Behavior Interventions for Aggressive Students.