Plenty of educators, including the ones that were part of my school years, have a specific classroom management strategy they swear by. Both they and their learners benefit from it because it works for learning. But how can there possibly be a “one size fits all” for this sort of thing? Can one single classroom management strategy work across all levels and styles of learning and instruction?
Yes, it can. That strategy is all about building relationships.
Dominique Smith discusses this concept in his article The Classroom Management Strategy That Works Every Time. Teachers and students are inherently curious about each other when a new year or semester begins. Each considers what the other will be like to spend so much time with for the upcoming term of learning. It’s the prime opportunity to begin building the kinds of relationships that are constructive, honest, and unified in their learning goals.
“As I think of classroom management and the strategies that go into making a positive classroom community, my first thought is relationships,” Smith declares. “Relationships are key to building classroom norms and classroom expectations–maybe your most powerful tool as a teacher.”
So how does a teacher go about adopting this particular classroom management strategy in a way that’s beneficial for all? It begins with getting to know your students. Here is Smith’s advice: “Make every effort to get to know your students–especially on their ‘turf’ and in non-academic ways. What are they interested in? What do they love?”
This kind of relationship building takes a lot of work and diligence. Obviously it’s completely unrealistic to expect to befriend students right out of the gates, and teachers know this.
In his article, Smith shares a mantra that has allowed him both to grow as an educator and to help many a struggling student: A child doesn’t learn from a teacher they don’t like. However, this is more about modelling openness and about establishing trust than it is about striving to be the “cool teacher” every student wants. This can be done by:
- Relating lessons to learners interests
- Encouraging them to respond to challenges using critical independent thinking
- Abstaining from judgement in all situations
- Not being afraid to make mistakes
- Showing them you’re learning also
This kind of classroom management strategy develops a comfortable learning environment where learners feel safe and supported. As a teacher striving to build rewarding relationships with your students, you’ve got a very short period in their lives in which to inspire and motivate them. By showing them you are all connected and all learning and progressing together, you naturally lead them toward displaying the greatness within themselves.
Read Dominique Smith’s full article The Classroom Management Strategy That Works Every Time on TeachThought.