Here's my top 5 traits of teachers with great classroom management.
This one is obvious and well-touted in education. Student engagement has become the "silver bullet" for many teachers in classroom management with room transformations, classroom stages and a lot of hoopla. (Can you tell how I feel about it?) That's a lot of pressure on a teacher. To be honest, it's possible and more realistic (think sustainable) to simply love your students and be passionate about what you're teaching. From there, find simple, interesting ways to convey your message. Sure, do an occasional room transformation if that's fun for you, but don't feel like you're failing if you don't. (You're not.) Students need to learn how to be engaged in learning without all the drama in order to become lifelong learners because that's the way real life is.
I can't say enough about this. One of the biggest problems I encounter in poorly managed classrooms is lack of clarity. Now, lack of clarity can take different forms. There's the vague rules and expectations lack of clarity. Then, there's the rules and expectations that are spelled out to the nth degree which is overwhelm. It's possible for you to be clear and still cover quite a bit in 10 rules or less. Lastly, there's the too few rules that leave too much for interpretation lack of clarity.
The second piece of clarity is training students. If we don't model and practice our expectation with our students, then quite often, students will miss the mark. They misinterpret our expectations. Taking the time to make sure everyone fully understands and can remember your expectations is 100% worth the extra effort.
I worked with a teacher, we'll call her Sue, who had no sense of time. She was either late or way too early all day long. Her lessons ran over and then it affected her ability to get to all she needed t get done each day. Sue had a real problem but she didn't know how to fix it because she was like this in her personal life as well. It became a classroom management problem because she was always rushing her class out of the door to get to specials and lunch and then her students were frazzled. It just snowballed.
Managing our time well is essential to our success as teachers. In order to create a calm and controlled environment for students, we need to be a able to manage our time effectively and efficiently. We simply have too much to accomplish to waste time.
If you're time challenged like Sue, you can learn to compensate by creating routines, setting timers, having reminders and checkpoints to anchor your day and manage your time.
Many teachers hear "firm discipline" and think mean. This doesn't mean you are mean or can't smile until Christmas. It means you're caring enough to stand your ground and help your students learn how to be good citizens.
Students need clear, firm guidelines about what is ok and what is not. In order for students to feel safe, someone has be in charge of the ship (and that someone better be the teacher). Firm discipline has a side benefit, it promotes trust with your students. If you stick to the plan you laid out 100%, then your students will be able to trust you in other ways as well.
This isn't about patting kids on the back and praising them all day. It's about creating an atmosphere where students can trust you. They feel free to ask you questions and ask for help when they need it. They know you are calm in your responses and won't overreact. They know the rules and can trust that you will do what you said you would. Which, in turn, means they can trust what you say and teach is the truth. This creates a low stress atmosphere which snowballs into better learning and retention of learning for students. That's a win.