I know spending time managing a class and dealing with behavior problems is not the fun stuff or the reason we all got into teaching. But the reality is once we actually become teachers, we realize teaching isn't all unicorns and rainbows. In fact, how confident and skilled you are in managing your class can make or break your year.
I find that teacher mindset is the biggest hurdle to great classroom management. I know that sounds bold and it is. But, it's true. When we have a mindset of fear, lack of confidence or self-doubt or other mental hindrances to taking charge, there isn't a system in the world that will work. We have to get our mindset right. You CAN and SHOULD take charge. Someone has to steer the ship and if that's NOT you, it will be your students [and that won't end well].
Take the time before school starts to do my Classroom Management Inventory. It will help you explore your mindset and get you started on the right track.
This is usually the least likely problem in classroom management failure. I find most teachers do an amazing job of connecting with and getting to know their students.
However, you might have that one student who is hard to draw out or connect with. Don't give up. Keep trying. Get creative. Ask other teachers for ideas as well. That is the child who probably needs to connect with you more than any other. It's more effort and time on your part but completely worth it.
Consistency is the second biggest culprit for classroom management issues, but it often goes hand in hand with teacher mindset. Honestly, this was my problem when I first started teaching. It took time for me to get all the parts and pieces of teaching down and this one I let slide bit that first year. What a mistake!
You live life at 100mph in your classroom. It busy and there are a lot of little people needing your time and attention. You're tying to stay organized, teach and manage kids all at once. It's a lot. So, getting exhausted and letting things slide is so easy to do.
Don't do it. When you sacrifice consistency, you are telling your students you can't be trusted to keep your word. You're also saying some students are more important than others and deserve different treatment. This causes stress for everyone and increases the chances of behavior issues because your classroom becomes and unsafe or unpredictable environment. In short, you're ruining those relationships you worked so hard to build with your students.
The more complicated the system, the harder it is to stay consistent, to remember our own system and for students to remember all the expectations. Keep your system, expectations (rules) and consequences as simple as you can so everyone can relax and focus on learning.
Training is the third big reason classroom management systems fail. I know you train your students in your classroom management system. However, how much time do you invest in training them? More is better.
The more we repeat an action or learning, the more our brains create strong pathways so the behaviors become habits. When you think about student training as creating habits of behavior, that changes how much training we think our students actually need. Habits can take 30 days or more to be fully instilled enough to be truly on autopilot. Taking a bit of time each day in the beginning 30 days of the year is a solid investment in your [and your students'] success.
Take some time to reevaluate your classroom management before school begins again. You can grab my free Classroom Management Inventory here. Then, create a plan for how you'll make the changes you need in order to be successful.
You can thank me later.