Five Essential Classroom
Many new teachers find themselves
overwhelmed by the diverse behaviors and personalities in their classrooms.
Teacher prep courses often do not equip teachers with adequate strategies for
classroom management. Here are 5 foolproof tips to control behavior and maximize
instructional time in your classroom.
1. Praise positive behaviors. Rather than
constantly correcting Johnny and giving him negative attention, ignore his
behavior whenever possible and focus on your model students. If you say, "Becky
is doing such a nice job of sitting at the rug. I can tell she is focused and
here to learn," Johnny will most likely copy her behavior in hopes that you say
his name, too. If he corrects his own behavior, make eye contact and give him
verbal praise immediately.
2. Provide SOME extrinsic rewards. While our ultimate goal is for
students to intrinsically monitor their own behavior, children thrive when they
are working toward some sort of goal. This does not necessarily mean you have to
spend a lot of money on rewards. Some of the most popular "prizes" in my class
are 1 night of no homework, lunch and board games with the teacher (the students
eat their cafeteria lunches in my classroom), and sitting at the teacher's desk
for a day.
3. Post your rules in the front of the class next to the chalkboard and refer
to them often. Be specific with your verbal praise: "Johnny, thank you for
following rule #5. Raise your hand to speak." Also, keep the wording of your
rules simple and kid-friendly. Here are the classroom rules I use for my lower
elementary students: 1) Listen carefully. 2) Follow directions. 3) Work quietly.
4) Respect people, places, and things. 5) Raise your hand to speak. 6) Clean up
4. Plan ahead for effective transitions. Your students are like
sharks-they smell fear and prey on weakness. Always stay one step ahead in your
thinking. For example, when one lesson is almost over, be thinking whether you
want the students at their desks or the rug for the next activity. While they
are writing their names and the date on their paper, grab the materials for the
next lesson so you will be ready as soon as your students finish the current
assignment. And don't forget to let your students help you. One student can be
collecting papers while another student is passing out the next assignment.
5. Silence is powerful. When your class becomes unruly, do not shout over
them. They will win every time. Instead, use a calm, quiet voice. They will
mirror your emotions and tone. I only raise my voice few times each year, and
then my students know I REALLY mean business. Try counting backwards from 10
slowly (and show it on your fingers as a visual cue). This shows the students
that you value their conversations and you respect them enough to let them
finish, but you also need them to refocus. When teaching, if you need to stop
talking mid-sentence because you feel that no one is listening, do it. Most of
your kids will notice and stop talking immediately, and then they will signal to
the kids who are still talking. In my class, we have an unwritten rule that
says, "If you waste my time, I waste yours." For every minute I spend waiting
for the class to quiet down, they lose one minute of their recess. I usually
only have to do this a few times in the beginning of the year for my students to
learn. Now when they see me looking at the clock, they know I'm waiting for them
to get quiet.
These 5 strategies tell your students that you are in control, and that you have
high expectations for their behavior. By using these classroom management
strategies, you will spend less time managing difficult behaviors, and more time
by Melissa M
I have been an elementary school
teacher for 7 years. I have taught first and second grade, and I love the
excitement and challenges of teaching at the primary level. Are you looking for
ways to differentiate instruction and target state standards? Improve your
students' reading, phonics, spelling, math, writing, science and social studies
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