A simple Google search will show you that teachers trying to find the classroom management skills that will work for their students are not only plentiful but can be completely overwhelming. We know a solid classroom management routine is vital in running an effective classroom, but finding that system that incorporates behavior, student engagement, and (less) teacher stress seems hard to find.
So many teachers, at some point in their career, find themselves wondering, “How do my classroom management strategies address these (fill in the blank) classroom behaviors?” You need to know what problems exist in order to find the answer.
Before you can build classroom management skills, you need a classroom environment that will support them. If we picture our classroom as a pyramid, the foundation is at the bottom and classroom routines are at the top. Foundational classroom management skills consist of classroom rules and classroom routines. A classroom routine consists of classroom procedures, classroom expectations, and classroom activities. These are the classroom structures that support classroom management strategies.
What this all means: If your classroom management strategy is not working it may be because you failed to develop a strong foundation in your classroom practices before instituting them in the classroom.
Classroom management skills consist of classroom strategies that are based on classroom structures. These classroom management strategies are created in response to classroom behaviors. The classroom structure dictates and supports the classroom management strategy. Your responsibility as a teacher is to create classroom structures that will support your classroom management strategies while also efficiently accomplishing curriculum targets.
If there is only a classroom management strategy or classroom practice without classroom structure to support it, you will fail.
The classroom management strategies that work are the ones that are can easily be managed and controlled by classroom structures. As we know, students are different. In order to find classroom management skills that will work for your students, you need to identify their strengths and weaknesses. The classroom practices that will work depending on your classroom management goals and the classroom behaviors they are trying to regulate. Once you have identified the classroom structure that works for your students (and supports your classroom management strategies), it is time to begin creating classroom management skills.
If classroom management skills are classroom practices that will control classroom behaviors, they need to be focused on classroom structures. If classroom management strategies are in place but you have too many students with the same classroom behavior problem AND classroom rules and routines do not support classroom management skills, it is time to go back and find the leaks in your system.
Students are different and classroom management skills need to reflect that. Teachers who want classroom management strategies that work should be asking themselves these three questions:
1. What does my classroom look like when it is working?
There are four main points here to reflect on the effectiveness of your classroom:
- students are engaged and involved in learning
- classroom management is evident and student behavior is positive
- classroom management is organized, structured, and efficient
- classroom instruction meets the needs of all learners (e.g., differentiated)
When students are engaged and classroom management is present, your classroom may look a little different than others. Students are discussing the materials, making notes, completing writing prompts, and answering questions that you have created for them. This classroom environment allows student interactions with each other while still keeping the classroom organized and efficient.
In this classroom, classroom instruction meets the needs of all learners. Every classroom accommodates individual differences in learning styles and rates, as well as other characteristics that may impact classroom behavior or classroom management strategies. For example, a classroom may have students with special needs who require smaller group instruction or more time to complete an assignment. Students may be given additional time or have classroom assignments adjusted based on classroom management strategies and classroom instruction.
As classroom teachers, we cannot always control what happens in our classrooms; however, educators can determine how classroom behavior is dealt with and classroom management strategies used every day.
2. How do I know when all of the students in my classroom are working?
Do I ensure that all students complete their work? How do I know when to offer help and when not to? How can I make sure my classroom management strategies are as effective as possible?
We cannot begin to answer these questions without first discussing classroom management. Classroom management is the art of creating a classroom environment where every student’s needs are met while maximizing classroom learning.
Student engagement, classroom safety, and classroom maintenance are all components of classroom management. The classroom is not properly managed unless all students are engaged, classroom safety is ensured, and classroom maintenance standards are met.
It seems impossible to manage classroom engagement when we have multiple students who demonstrate one or more of the following symptoms:
· Wandering eyes
· Poor eye contact (or lack thereof) with me or classroom materials
· Poor classroom behavior, such as talking loudly, disrupting or distracting others
· Lack of participation in classroom activities that would strengthen their learning (for example, taking notes)
Classroom engagement cannot be managed effectively, and thus have a climate of students diligently working, unless classroom management strategies are in place.
Keep in mind that classroom management is really the first step to a productive classroom. It is very difficult for students to learn if they are not engaged in learning. Yet, many teachers have struggled with this first and most important step. A classroom cannot become engaged until the teacher understands how to get classroom participants focused and on task.
The teacher has the responsibility to get classroom members working, keep them working, help resolve problems when they occur, and then conclude a successful session. All these things require classroom management skills.
These classroom management skills for teachers are not natural traits; rather, they must be learned just like classroom teaching strategies.
3. What classroom activities cause the most struggle for my students?
Again, these come down to four points to ponder and reflect upon:
- classroom rules and procedures
- classroom discipline
- classroom behavior and instructional techniques
- classroom anxiety and stress reduction strategies
All of these classroom components can be assessed with an eye toward changing as many as possible to more positive classroom learning and classroom behavior management techniques that help create a classroom environment that is more conducive to students’ learning and personal success.
These classroom concerns are the classroom constants that need to be continually monitored over time and changed when necessary to improve classroom results.
Positive classroom results can come about when classroom rules, classroom behavior, and classroom discipline are changed. These changes include: making classroom rules more student-friendly, establishing a system for classroom behavior that is more student-friendly; using positive classroom discipline techniques for restraining negative classroom behaviors, and developing anxiety and stress relief strategies that help students in the class learn better.
Clearly, classroom management techniques must be improved for classroom success to be maximized.
These classroom tools are not a secret of classroom management but clearly, they need to be continuously monitored, taught, and modified by the classroom teacher as he or she gains more experience with their students over time.
Developing Classroom Management Skills
The effective classroom teacher is able to achieve a balance between classroom control and classroom encouragement in order to facilitate student growth. Through this balance, the classroom manager is able to maximize the potential of every learner in his or her classroom.
Classroom management begins and ends with classroom leadership. The teacher must maintain a classroom climate where all students are encouraged to be truly engaged in classroom learning, not just completing classroom assignments. This balance is achieved when the teacher controls classroom distractions while nurturing classroom engagement through classroom discipline and classroom encouragement.
Learning classroom management skills requires teachers to understand classroom dynamics as well as classroom strategies. The classroom manager must be able to use classroom discipline and classroom encouragement in order to effectively manage all students within the classroom environment. Classroom discipline is necessary to maintain control over classroom behavior, while classroom encouragement is essential for optimizing student learning.
An effective teacher will also model classroom behaviors that will be followed by the classroom students. If classroom teachers are willing to take risks and implement classroom strategies, classroom discipline and classroom encouragement can become self-generated throughout the classroom environment.
The following is a list of classroom management skills that every educator should develop:
- 1) Maintaining an orderly classroom environment with classroom discipline
- 2) Making classroom expectations clear to classroom students with classroom encouragement
- 3) Developing a classroom curriculum that is based on the needs of classroom students and classroom learning objectives
- 4) Monitoring classroom behavior and classroom attitudes, including classroom academics, classroom talents, and classroom feelings
- 5) Demonstrating commitment to the development of classroom management skills through consistent classroom behaviors
- 6) Modeling classroom management skills through classroom modeling
- 7) Incorporating classroom management skills into classroom learning objectives and classroom curriculum development
- 8) Creating classroom celebrations for the successes of classroom students, including classroom leadership celebrations to inspire and motivate classroom students to strive toward their classroom goals.
Using the 4 Keys to Hone in on Your Classroom Management Skills
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.