Classroom Management for Dummies

: 3 steps to being a brilliant teacher :

Having previously addressed the tenets of carefully curated verbal language in the classroom (and at home), today will focus on specific strategies that teachers and parents can begin using immediately.

Step 1: Create positively stated rules and norms

Positively stated rules and norms require a “call to action” and create a culture with mutually beneficial standards for all members of the classroom or school community.

These are the norms I espouse:

  • We take turns to talk and share

  • We keep our property safe by putting it in our bag, tray, or on our coat hooks

  • We work quietly to try and finish our work during lessons

  • We always walk around the school and classroom

  • We look, listen, and keep still when others are talking

Whether you introduce these in the beginning, middle, or even at the end of the school year, they will need to be established, rehearsed and reviewed regularly so they are fully integrated into your daily routine.

Step 2: Give reminders instead of warnings

Once positively stated rules and norms have been established, you can change how you address student misbehaviour – provide reminders rather than warnings.

The difference between these two might at first seem subtle, but consider how these words are used across society and the psychological impact they have. A reminder implies a call to a specific action. We make lists throughout the day to remind ourselves of actions or tasks we need to engage in. In the classroom, reminders focus on positive behaviours we expect from students.

Warnings, on the other hand relate to actions we should not perform. We see warning signs on gas furnaces, electric fences, and even McDonald’s coffee cups, and each of these tell us of the dangers involved in careless or reckless behaviour. “Warnings” in the classroom might be required at key times, but over-using the term when engaging with behaviour can result in the term becoming meaningless.

Step 3: RESPOND don’t React!

Positively stated rules provide us with a pre-determined script that can prevent us from reacting erroneously. For example, if a student is shouting out an answer in class, we can refer them back to the classroom norm of taking turns and raising their hand. If they are running in the classroom, we can remind them to always walk around the classroom to keep safe. The chart below provides a few examples of how responses and reactions to behaviours differ (click chart to enlarge):

Whatever stage you are at in your teaching career, these steps can help you develop your confidence, become more self-aware, and create a safe and predictable environment for all students.

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