Teachers are always looking to find new, innovative strategies for classroom management. While some traditional methods may work for a few students, we need to understand that the children that are coming into our classrooms today are very different than those of their predecessors. Generation Z is a unique group of students by far; however, it isn’t hard to “crack their code” with a few simple strategies in the classroom.
So let’s talk about a few ways that we can establish strategies for classroom management and get the most out of our students without sacrificing their zest for life.
#1: Stop saying “no” so much!
Okay, this may sound a little strange, but I have found that offering choices work well with my students. To clarify, I am not talking about having a student make the choice between doing his/her work and playing on an iPad. I am talking about breaking down tasks into smaller steps that are easier for students to accomplish.
For example, let’s say your class is writing letters to parents; instead of asking your students if they would like to complete this task at the beginning or at the end of the class, give them choices. “I can either write my letter now or complete it in a few minutes.” Offer choices that make sense and you will be surprised to see how much more autonomy your students have with completing tasks. This is probably one of the greatest strategies for classroom management. In fact, this works for adults too!
#2: Don’t set them up for failure.
I have found that many of my students do not often experience success in the classroom environment; therefore, they don’t trust adults and are reluctant to express themselves in a positive manner. However, when we can take some time before an activity to talk about how your class will function and what each student can expect from his/her peers, you will have a more engaged group of learners.
Let them know that you want to hear what they are thinking and ask them how they feel when certain things happen in the classroom. Remember, these kids are amazing! They will pick up on your strategies for classroom management and run with them.
#3: Use praise sparingly, but use it wisely.
Praise can be extremely powerful in building students’ self-esteem and motivating them to continue trying. However, teachers must avoid using praise in a manipulative way that leads students to think that they “need” the teacher’s approval in order to complete tasks or be successful. This could perpetuate feelings of inadequacy and frustration down the road when the student isn’t praised for his/her efforts.
Unfortunately, this is often missed and is one of the most overused strategies for classroom management.
#4: Engage them in the learning process.
We all know that active learners are more engaged, so why not give your students opportunities to be active participants in their own learning? This can be incredibly motivating for students and I have found that it is one of the best strategies for classroom management.
When a student feels as though he/she has some control over the classroom, they are more likely to want to be there which leads me to my next strategy.
#5: Do not make children feel like they “owe” you something by bribing them with rewards.
Instead, use positive reinforcement and treat students as though they have value regardless of their behavior. This is one of those strategies for classroom management that goes hand-in-hand with my previous one. As I mentioned before, students need to feel as though they are in control of their learning environment; this not only ensures a more engaged group of learners but also prepares them for success outside the classroom environment.
As far as strategies for classroom management go, this one is extremely powerful.
#6: When it comes to behavior management and admonishing students, be careful not to say anything you would regret.
Essentially, this means that we need to follow the golden rule and treat students in a way that we would want others to treat our own children. The bottom line is that teachers are responsible for disciplining students; however, it does not mean they have a license to be demeaning or disrespectful.
Students will not forget when a teacher was mean to them and it can change the way they feel about school. This needs to be a focus in creating your strategies for classroom management because the alternative is not good.
#7: Understand that there is a difference between being supportive of students and losing your temper when things become frustrating.
I am all about providing support for my students; however, at times this means removing myself from the situation and giving the student and myself a chance to calm down. It can be difficult, especially when you have been working with students for an extended period of time; however, saying things that you will later regret or treating a student poorly is never going to help them become successful learners.
In terms of strategies for classroom management, this is helpful for the student and for you.
#8: Remember why we do what we do!
I am not going to lie; teaching is difficult and anyone who says it isn’t, has never tried it. In spite of the challenges that we face as educators, I can honestly say that I love my job and have found a way to make it work for me. It all starts by remembering why you decided to become an educator in the first place. This is why I engage with other educators.
As a side note, engaging with others is also a great way to determine new strategies for classroom management.
#9: Do not bring problems into the classroom.
It may seem as though students are oblivious to what their teachers are going through; however, I can promise you that they notice when something is off and can tell when a teacher really isn’t present. I’ve found that when my life is relatively stress-free, I am a much better teacher and have much more patience with those who don’t think before they speak or make poor decisions.
If you find that there is an issue in your life that needs to be dealt with, this is wholeheartedly the correct time to take a day off from work. Those days exist for a reason and you need to take them not just for your physical health, but your mental health as well.
#10: Do not forget to take care of yourself!
Many of us have heard the saying that “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, and it couldn’t be more true. If you want to be a better educator, you need to fill your own cup first. This means eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising, and having some sort of activity that is just for you.
Whether it’s running, reading, or taking a class online; a hobby is important and will help you maintain the energy needed to be successful with your students. I have found that when I take time away from my day-to-day activities to engage in something just for me, I am refreshed and ready to return to my work the next day.
#11: Remember that you are not alone; we all need support!
Whether it’s your mentor or online education communities; having someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of can make a world of difference. This may be the same person every day or a different person every day, but it’s important to make sure you have someone that will listen without judgment. The number one reason why I find other educators online is that they understand what I mean when I say “this is so hard”.
For many of us, the idea of leaving our students in the hands of another, or someone different each time; either way, there is strength in numbers. Not to mention, teachers are an extremely supportive bunch and there is nothing like a person who has “been in your shoes”. If you find that you need someone to talk to, reach out.
#12: Participate in professional development!
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Professional development is one of the best ways for classroom teachers to learn new, innovative, and effective strategies for classroom management. Not to mention, it provides a chance to get together with other educators as well as be entertained by guest speakers. This is one of my favorite times during the year as I find that I always leave feeling rejuvenated and ready to come back the next day.
We have an awesome program that opens twice per year that helps teachers create a 100% student-led classroom that propels student engagement through the roof and squashes most classroom management issues before they start. If you are interested in getting on the waitlist, click here.
#13: Finally, do not forget to re-evaluate yourself as a teacher!
It is only natural for educators to “burn out” from time to time, and this can be detrimental if it isn’t dealt with appropriately. This is why I like to take a step back and ask myself the following questions:
Am I being fair? Am I truly doing the best I can to teach my students in the best way possible? Am I getting enough sleep? Do I have someone that is willing to listen to me when things go awry?
Being a good teacher isn’t easy and there will be days that are harder than others. This is why it’s important for educators to take the time and re-evaluate themselves as professionals.
Commonaility between Strategies for Classroom Management
At the end of the day, successful strategies for classroom management have three things in common:
1) The discipline plan is based upon the philosophy, goals, and procedures of the district.
2) It’s practical to implement.
3) Classroom management is implemented consistently by all teachers in a building or school district.
One cornerstone to all successful strategies for classroom management rests on establishing compliance with students’ behavior in a way that fits with your classroom culture.
In other words, the teacher must have a classroom management plan that is based upon mutual respect and trust.
Without this foundation, there can be no basis for negotiation or compromise.
Another important element to adopting and maintaining effective strategies for classroom management is assessing whether your efforts are working over time. This means evaluating student behavior to see if the methods you are using to manage your class are having a positive effect.
If it is clear that what you’re doing isn’t working for you, then it’s time to try something new.
While there is no such thing as the perfect plan for managing a classroom, there are plenty of strategies for classroom management that can be attempted to find a system that works for you and your classroom.
I hope you have found this list of tips to be helpful. Remember, you are not alone! We all go through it and there is always someone willing to help when things seem bleak. If you need support from other teachers or your mentor, feel free to reach out in whatever way is comfortable for you. And remember, if all else fails, a day of relaxation and rejuvenation never hurt anyone 😉
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