As a teacher begins to draft their philosophy for classroom management, there are so many moving pieces to keep into consideration. It is important to remember that their philosophy for classroom management will be created with the intent of providing a positive and supportive learning environment for all students. It has been shown that keeping a classroom climate where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions leads to higher engagement levels, which ultimately leads to greater academic success. Furthermore, by creating a safe place in your class it allows you to build rapport with your students, which will help them to experience more positive relationships with their peers and you.
All of this is not to say that creating an effective plan to implement your philosophy for classroom management should come at the expense of all other factors. Rather, it is important to consider how each decision could affect student learning and their overall academic success. For example, when considering your personal philosophy for classroom management, how will it impact your ability to provide individualized instruction? Additionally, how does it affect the opportunities that are available for students when they are in your class?
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As you begin to consider these larger things, take into consideration the smaller choices. For example, how will students be expected to act during transitions between tasks? What is your philosophy for classroom management in regards to students not following the rules? These are all things that need to be considered in order for you to create a philosophy that will benefit your students.
Another thing to consider is how you can support your philosophy for classroom management through tools and resources. For example, picture cards on which you write expected behaviors or phrases that can help students who struggle following directions. Having an approved recording device in your classroom can be helpful in documenting student behaviors, particularly in regards to students with IEPs or ESE plans. These are just some of the ways that you can help support your students when they are not meeting expectations for behavior by taking control away from them and providing direction and structure through your philosophy for classroom management.
When you are forming your philosophy for classroom management, it is important to think about how each decision will support the overall intent of creating a safe place for learning and good relationships with students. One element that I feel strongly about is getting my students involved with creating their own classroom lists. In doing so, it takes some of the power away from me and gives students a sense of responsibility for their learning environment.
For instance, choose specific behaviors that we want to work on improving and allow my students to come up with 8-12 phrases or words that they feel accurately reflect what you are trying to accomplish. These words then can become part of your class mantra, which you can visit in the morning when you walk in and at the end of the day when you are walking out. This helps students to stay focused on what is expected of them by their peers, especially when they feel like they have an equal voice in creating these rules.
As you work through creating your philosophy for classroom management, think about how you want to be perceived by your students. Do you have an idea of how they should act? Is there a specific way that you would like them to greet one another in the morning? What are the consequences if these behaviors are broken or not followed? By thinking through these things and being consistent with your responses, you can create a safe and positive learning environment.
Lastly, remember that this is an ongoing process. There will be times when your students are having a particularly challenging day and you find yourself repeating the same phrases over and over again in an attempt to redirect behavior. When this happens it is important to take a step back and reflect on what may have caused this lack of control or misbehavior.
At this point, it is helpful to think about what you could have done differently in order to prevent the undesirable behaviors or lack of following teacher direction.
After you have had time to process these things, are there changes that you can make based on what happened?
It is important to recognize when things aren’t working and be okay with making changes to your philosophy for classroom management.
If you plan on changing, be sure to think about the things that need to happen in order to maintain a safe and positive learning environment for your students. For example, what does it mean if you implement a reward system? What will happen when there is no more room left on the poster? How will you make sure that students continue to complete the tasks you have assigned in order to maintain this reward system?
These are all questions and concerns that need to be thought through when making changes.
What’s Working and What Isn’t
This is why it is important to reflect on what isn’t working, determine a solution for these struggles, and then plan how you are going to maintain these changes.
If something isn’t working well in your classroom management, it is okay to try something new. Be sure you have a specific plan for this change and the steps needed to ensure success.
When things are not working, take responsibility for figuring out what went wrong and how you can fix it so that you create the best learning environment for your students.
I feel that when there is a lack of control in the classroom, it is often due to students not understanding what you are asking them to do or how they are expected to behave. By creating lists that give students an opportunity to voice their concerns and ideas about your classroom rules, you are helping avoid miscommunication and misbehavior.
Remember that this is YOUR classroom and it should be reflective of what you see happening with your students. Find ways that work best for you and your students.
Don’t be afraid to make changes if needed.
Considerations to Make and Questions to Ask
What is it that you want your students to know and understand about what you expect of them? This can be a simple phrase like “Be Respectful” or something more specific like, “When I say ‘raise your hand’, this means to raise one finger with your palm facing towards me.”
Write your phrase(s) down and post them in the classroom along with a visual to help reinforce this concept.
This can be as simple as attaching a picture of what you mean by “raise your hand” or printing off checklists that students complete throughout the day.
These types of visuals serve as great reminders for students and give everyone a clear understanding of what is expected.
Sometimes, things can get out of hand or there may be too much noise to move around the classroom and teach effectively.
To help prevent this situation, it is important to set up zones within your classroom where students are able to work without interruptions by posting signs that indicate these designated areas.
If students know that these areas are for independent work time, they should respect this and be able to stay on task without disruption.
This is a great way for students to learn how to focus and complete tasks independently so that you can use this as an opportunity to circulate and check in with each student during your next lesson or small group instruction.
The skills that your students learn in order to stay focused and on task will help them later in life when they are required to complete work independently.
To prevent misbehavior, discuss with your students what it looks like and what you expect from them during independent work time. This is also a good opportunity for students to voice any concerns they may have about where they should do their work.
For example, if students feel uncomfortable with sitting at their desk alone, provide an area for them to sit and complete their independent work.
If you use the carpet or rug in your classroom, this is a great place for students to hang out while working independently. However, if you prefer to have students work at desks or tables, make sure they can do this safely and without distraction.
It is important to take the time to discuss things like appropriate noise levels with your students, where they should go when needing a break from their seat, how long it will take them to complete their assignment, etc. Students need to know what is expected of them so that they can be successful.
The Essence of Classroom Management
All-in-all, a strong philosophy for classroom management starts with setting your rules (and policies) and making sure that you are able to provide a safe environment for your students.
You want students to feel comfortable in your classroom so it is important to be consistent in what you expect from them, take the time to discuss how they should behave during independent work time, and make changes when needed.
Taking the time to discuss classroom management with your students helps them understand what is expected of them.
By having a regular schedule, establishing strong rules and expectations, and taking time for check-ins will help your students develop self-discipline so that they are able to succeed in school.
Your Philosophy for Classroom Management and the 4 Keys
Solidifying a great philosophy for classroom management 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.