9 Effective Classroom Management Strategies | Teacher Friendly

If you ask any teacher, they would most likely agree that classroom management is highly linked to good teaching and optimal student learning. But acquiring these skills might not be so easy.

The topic of classroom management is often not sufficiently covered in teacher preparation programs. And licensed teachers may have limited professional development and continuing education courses available to them. Teachers also have limited time to search for online quality teacher preparation programs and advanced degree programs.

With so many demands placed on today’s teachers–meeting state standards and testing benchmarks, increased parental and district expectations, and the diverse needs of students–teachers undoubtedly feel overwhelmed. There is just too much to do.

Interestingly, there are over 400,000,000 articles online that deal with the subject of classroom management. These suggestions can be adapted to your classroom and teaching style. Let me share 9 classroom management approaches to help with creating an orderly environment to maximize student behavior and learning to make your job more satisfying.

1. Be a Positive Role Model – “Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating.” – John Wooden, former head coach UCLA

Use polite language and respect any differences among faculty or with your students. When talking to students, maintain eye contact and don’t interrupt. Show professional conduct (don’t chew gum, eat food, look at your phone) while teaching.

2. Allow Students to Help Make Up Classroom Rules – “We’ve got to have rules and obey them.” –  Jack in Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Discuss what rules would make for a quality classroom environment with your students. Narrow the list down to cover the most important areas (e.g., level of noise tolerated, treating others with respect, etc.) Make a chart of the rules to post in the classroom. Students will have more buy-in if they are involved with this process. Some teachers print a copy for each student to have for reference and others have students and/or parents sign a copy as well. This way, everyone will know what the rules are so they can be enforced fairly and consistently.

3.  Apply Positive Discipline – “Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solution, not retribution.” L.R. Knost, author and social rights activist

When a student misbehaves and violates a classroom rule, talk to them individually. It is never a good practice to punish the entire class. And instead of addressing the student with a negative comment (e.g., “Stop talking and disrupting the class; you better pay attention and quit fooling around or else…”), rephrase your language to redirect the student (e.g., “Do you have something to say? Do you need help focusing?”). Students will be more likely to change their behavior without disruption, anger, or non-compliance.

4. Give authentic praise – “Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.” Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs

Students, like everyone else, thrive on praise. When a student’s effort is acknowledged, their self-confidence increases and their actions are reinforced. This leads to better academic performance. The class is also inspired. The research proposes that you should praise the process rather than the person. So, instead of saying, “You are so smart,” it is better to say, “I can see that you really thought a lot to solve that multiplication story problem, and you listed the steps to get the correct answer,” or “I like how you drew that conclusion from the text to infer in your writing how the Civil War actually started.” Be specific, genuine, and immediate. You may also consider contacting parents by phone or email to convey the student’s effort. Parents will have more buy-in toward your class, learning, and you, as well. 

5. Use differentiated strategies and varied materials –  “Differentiation is simply a teacher attending to the learning needs of a particular student or small groups of students, rather than teaching a class as though all individuals in it were basically alike.” Carol Ann Tomlinson, educator 

No matter how many students are in your class, they each have different learning needs and preferences. Howard Gardner, an educational professor, outlined 8 different ways students learn to include reading, listening or doing.  By offering a combination of strategies, you can better meet your students’ needs. Besides the process of learning, you can also differentiate by content. An example is to group students based on knowledge (by using pre-testing) and then have the different groups learn either different things about the subject or vary the group learning on the depth of the content. Tiered assignments are another way to address varied abilities where different objectives/learning outcomes designed for the various student levels. Compacting is yet another differentiated strategy that allows students who know the material to test out of it and then substitute new learning activities instead. This way, students can best learn at their level and also stretch their learning. The product can also be differentiated. For example, instead of strictly using paper-pencil tasks, you could develop hands-on activities, organize group work and presentations, and integrate technology. Likewise, instead of administering only a certain type of test, let’s say multiple-choice, you develop essay tests, oral questions and answers a culminating project, etc.

6. Build background knowledge and excitement of content – “What students already know about the content is one of the strongest indicators of how well they will learn new information relative to the content.”  Robert Marzano, educational researcher

Think of it this way. If you are having students learn about any subject and they have never heard of it before or can’t imagine what it is about, they are less apt to make connections and get excited about learning. Incorporate ways of building background knowledge into your teaching through real-life presentations or virtual field trips. I bet you can remember a favorite field trip from your elementary or high school years, no matter how many years ago it occurred. Use pictures and videos. Add sensory experiences and hands-on activities. Find multiple texts and explore digital libraries for extended resources. Consider pairing up students to talk about the content; you can and also use small groups and one-on-one mentoring to provide all of your students with enough background to be able to build new learning. By being cognizant of filling in these gaps in learning, your students will be undoubtedly more excited to learn.

7. Allow choice – “Student choice is more than simply picking a task. It’s about owning the entire learning process.” John Spencer, professor 

By offering choices to your students, you help them connect their strengths and interests to the learning. Students feel more empowered and in control over the learning. They are also more able to adjust the learning to the appropriate challenge level. This, in turn, maximizes their interest and motivates them through the process. Think about your day. You undoubtedly made tons of choices, everything from what you ate for breakfast to what you were going to wear. And if you are at work, you thought about what things you should tackle first. Choices allow us to gain momentum throughout our day and to feel good about what we have accomplished. Try incorporating choices in your instruction. For example, students can choose to read a biography of a person from the 21st century or they can interview someone who is living today. You might opt for a written report, an oral presentation, a collage of pictures, or a slide presentation of their learning.

8. Build relationships – “Sometimes the thing your students need most has nothing to do with what’s on your lesson plan.” relationshipgoals.life

Building relationships with students helps to strengthen your classroom community. The learning environment is more positive. And by talking with each student and getting to know them, you show true empathy. Also, by talking to them about their outside interests and activities and possibly attending a few extracurricular activities and sporting events, you will show that you care. Students will most likely better respond to you in the classroom, show mutual respect, and try harder in your class–and although they may never say so, they will probably appreciate you for taking the time to get to know them. You will be better equipped to incorporate your students’ interests and passions into their lessons. Another way to get more information about your students is through student surveys, interviews, or journaling.

9. Encourage Best Work – “The harder you work for something, the greater you’ll feel when you achieve it.” Success.com

As a teacher, it is important to encourage your students to do their best work. By doing so, you instill excellence. You help them build drive, creativity, and curiosity. These attributes are, in turn, the building blocks to spark more learning and more “best work.” One way is to show examples of quality work and explain your expectations with a rubric. Another is to point out areas of improvement as students work and help them pinpoint ways to bring their work up to a certain standard and be the best it can be.

In summary
Classroom management approaches will help build a more friendly, engaging, and orderly classroom. It’s one way to increase student-teacher interactions and boost student learning, and it will inspire you to enjoy teaching even more!

Learn more about how revamping your classroom management strategies can help you earn graduate-level semester credit. Teacher Friendly offers a variety of professional development courses for educators seeking to meet their salary advancement and/or recertification requirements. The courses offered will encourage you to develop meaningful and positive classroom management approaches to impact students immediately and effectively.

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