When it comes to sharing effective classroom management strategy, there are lots of different ways of thinking. Most educators believe things should be done a certain way and many of these ways are vastly different. Many of these methods have also enjoyed years of success; if it works, it works. The question is, is there a comprehensive universal list of approaches regarding effective classroom management that can help all teachers?
Since every classroom is vastly different, probably not. However, below we give you some ideas which are the consensus across many of the educators we’ve interviewed, and perhaps they can help you no matter if you’re a veteran or the new kid on the block. In other words, all teachers can benefit from the following 5 effective classroom management tips.
1. Write Down the Rules
It seems like every teacher hands out a syllabus at the start of the class year that details when students are responsible for reading this chapter and that. It specifies when there will be tests and quizzes, and tells students how their grades will be determined. In today’s age of technology, it also outlines acceptable use of both school tech and, in the case of BYOD, personal technology.
Consider drafting up and handing out a two- or three-page “student handbook” that details what students are allowed and not allowed to do and when. You can also benefit from downloading our Global Digital Citizenship Agreements if you want to streamline the acceptable use policy for technology in your class, no matter what year level you teach.
2. Let Students Help
Your learners are much more apt to follow guidelines they helped create. Rather than hand out the behaviour syllabus on the first day of class, spend time discussing these potential rules with the students. You will be surprised how many of them will want stricter rules than you do.
It’s important that the rules are mutually fair and practical as well as constructive, so make sure there is a majority consensus on whatever the class adopts. Guide the class discussion so there are no rules that will cause too many class disruptions or too much undisciplined behaviour.
It’s also important to be consistent with the guidelines once they are put into practice. Many students hate it when troublemakers get away with misbehaviour periodically because teachers don’t want to penalize every single violation. This kind of inconsistency can result in students who are generally well-behaved being disciplined as often as students who are clearly more disruptive.
3. Encourage Questioning
Make it crystal clear that students can, and should, ask questions at any time. The printed rules should specify what students need to do to ask questions. Generally, students need to raise their hands. As a teacher, you should not be so focused on your lecture that questions aren’t encouraged.
A lack of questions might mean that your lesson isn’t interesting. A teacher should be more invested in getting the students interested in the subject matter than making sure that all the facts in the textbook are conveyed. Try not talking solo for more than five minutes at a time. Instead, ask the students questions and invite them to ask follow-up questions that steer the discussion in the direction of critical thinking skills development. You’ll find our Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet to be a big help if your learners are looking for discussion prompts.
Yes, all the questions should be answered, but not necessarily by you. Encourage students to volunteer answers to their classmates’ questions. Students often learn better when the information is explained to them by another student.
4. Let Students Lead
Are all students the same? Of course not, so why should they all read Chapter 1 this week, Chapter 2 next week, etc.? Ask your students who is interested in writing a short paper about a subject that is mentioned in the chapter. Reward students who accept your challenge.
What about encouraging your learners to step into your shoes for a bit? Asking them to listen to you day after day is often an ineffective way to teach. Letting them tell you and their classmates what they have learned can be an effective teaching tool for these student “teachers” and their classmates. Let students who are interested make a 5-minute presentation on the subject matter.
5. Encourage Group Projects
In every teacher’s toolbox for effective classroom management, there should exist lessons and tasks that bring students together for building teamwork and leadership skills. Today’s digital students love working in groups; it’s in their nature.
They work, game, and connect online constantly and in school it’s no different. They look to their peers to collaborate and share ideas. They’re just as likely to work with students across the world as they are students in their classroom. Collaboration Fluency skills are a huge asset for life after school. The working world is being affected by new communication technology and one’s ability to function in teams that are both real and virtual is important.
Students who work with each other inside and outside the classroom might develop more respect for each other. Some students will develop leadership skills and others will learn to be more responsible about completing assignments when there is a group grade that affects their friends and classmates. You can get some help with how to use collaboration by downloading the free Collaboration Fluency QuickStart Guide as a reference.