We know that classroom management and discipline go hand in hand, but it is also important to strike a balance that works for all parties involved. When you think about it, discipline is simply an orderly pattern of behavior that helps create a safe learning environment. Students who engage in good behavior are more prepared to learn.
Classroom management and discipline are very similar. The first step to classroom management is creating rules and procedures that promote safety, respect, and order. Management involves enforcing those rules of conduct so students can learn properly without disruption or interference.
As a teacher, you are literally the manager of your classroom; you keep things running smoothly by maintaining order both inside and outside the classroom.
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Three Basic Steps to Classroom Management and Discipline
The 3 basic steps to good classroom management, whether you’re a teacher or parent, are knowing your students well enough to create rules that everyone will follow; using the least restrictive techniques first, and then moving on to more-restrictive forms of discipline if needed. Let’s look at each of these steps in turn.
Know Your Students
It’s important to start by getting to know your students. Sit down and analyze the strengths and needs of each child. Many teachers keep a profile sheet that includes information such as eye color, birthday, interests, allergies, and even the names of family members!
Once you have this information about your class in front of you, you can start to make a list of rules and procedures that will promote safety and respect. Review the profile sheets with this in mind.
For example, if one of your students has allergies or asthma, then they’ll need a management plan that includes quick access to the nurse’s office for emergency medication. If another student is constantly running around the room, you may want to have a rule that she must be seated while others are working.
Next, decide on consequences for breaking each of your rules. Consequences should fit the type of misbehavior. For example, it’s not necessary to take away recess for forgetting homework; but if a student talks out of turn, he should lose a turn to read aloud. This is key to classroom management and discipline.
Using Least Restrictive Techniques First
Your students will learn the most when they feel comfortable and safe in your classroom. Emotional support is just as important as spelling lessons! In fact, young children are the best behaved when the teacher establishes clear rules, conveys high expectations, and then praises students for following directions.
Whether you’re dealing with a behavior problem or not, make sure to let your class know what’s expected of them. For example, if it’s safe to walk around the room during reading time, make that clear.
You could also tell them, “We will walk quietly and stay in our seats to listen.” This lets students know what is expected of them while avoiding the necessity for more-restrictive rules later on. You are letting kids know that there are consequences for their actions without the need for punishment.
Create a Positive Classroom Environment
Once you have established clear rules, enforced them with positive reinforcement when needed, and addressed the needs of your students, you have created a good classroom environment. Kids are more likely to feel motivated to do their best when they feel safe and respected.
You don’t need to apply negative consequences constantly in order to maintain discipline. In fact, that can quickly wear on your students and you! They will learn more from positive reinforcement than they will from threats and punishments.
A good way to build respect and trust with your students is to let them see you as a model of good behavior. By leading by example, it should be much easier for the students to follow through with what you are asking them to do.
It is very important that you reward students who are doing things correctly (e.g.: good behavior, following directions, etc…) These rewards can be in the form of your attention, snacks, tokens, or other forms that help propel your classroom management and discipline strategy.
Effective Classroom Management and Discipline
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, students will not follow the rules. In these cases, it’s important to use discipline techniques that are effective and appropriate for their age. It can be helpful to think of alternative ways you could have handled a particular situation in the past. What would have been a better choice?
This will help you avoid repeating past mistakes. And, of course, it’s so important to keep in mind the needs of your students. You should always use discipline techniques that are least restrictive for them. That means starting with positive reinforcement and retreating to consequences only when needed.
It is important to know what classroom management and discipline techniques are in order to better manage your classroom. Knowing what to use and when will make the class much smoother for everyone involved. Classroom management is important because it sets the tone for the success or failure of a student individual or even the whole school. Low behavior problems are correlated with higher test scores, lower dropout rates, and increased graduation rates. The purpose of a classroom management system is to provide the structure and environment for student success.
Classroom Management and Discipline Techniques
When it comes to disciplining students, there are many different techniques out there that teachers choose from. Some work better than others, so it’s crucial to think about your students and what will work best with them. Here are some of the most common discipline techniques.
Positive reinforcement: The use of positive reinforcement for behavior is highly effective because it’s something students will want more of. For example, complimenting a student for following directions or getting to work quickly could help them do those things more often in the future. You can also offer treats after they’ve completed something well. The important thing is to make sure your students are following your directions so they can earn their treats!!
Behavior charts: This one is fairly common in elementary schools, but you can also consider it for older grades. All students start on the green (positive) section of the chart and move up or down depending on their behavior. This can be a great way to recognize students who are working hard and making good choices.
Consequences: There will always be times when you need to discipline your students for misbehaving or bad behavior. Discipline does not have to be a traditional, punitive experience. It can be appropriate and still support the needs of your students. Your consequences should fit the nature of their offense so it will be meaningful, but also allow for them to learn from the experience. There are so many discipline techniques out there. It’s important to pick and choose what will work best for your students and your classroom environment.
Troubleshooting Classroom Management and Discipline
Remember, the best option for everything that happens in your classroom is always the one that’s least restrictive for your students and works with your current classroom management system. However, sometimes things happen that are seemingly out of nowhere.
Here are some common troubleshooting scenarios and how you can adjust your classroom management system to fit.
Your class is consistently out of control.
Break the cycle by using “pause and reflects” after an incident instead of waiting for several incidents to pile up before taking action. If this doesn’t work, try smaller consequences more often to keep students accountable
You need to change or update your class management system.
Don’t be afraid to do this if you’re seeing a pattern emerge and it doesn’t seem like things will adjust on their own. Make sure to not make too many changes at once, that could lead to the rest of your plan falling apart. Try making one change and giving it time to work before making another.
Your students are constantly talking and not getting anything done.
Try breaking up the groups that talk together and put them into different activities, or adjust your seating arrangement to spread out their voices throughout the room instead of all grouping around one person. If you find speaking as a whole class is too distracting, try pairing students up to talk with each other.
Be creative. Sometimes what’s outside of the box and out of the norm of what the students are expecting works the best in terms of classroom management and discipline.
Classroom Management and Discipline and the 4 Keys
Finding a system for classroom management and discipline that works in your classroom isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.
If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.