Remember when you were getting ready to begin your student teaching and being informed what you're in for when you have no experience to tie that information into? You simply can't fathom what that means or what it looks like in reality. We need a lot of experience in order to make sense great classroom management. In addition, there's a lot of trial and error that goes with figuring it all out.
Here's a few ways that we can manage a class and each method's pros and cons. In addition, I have a few acton steps at the end of this post to get you on a great path to train your students toward self-regulation.
Management by proximity is when you move to stand near a student when they're...
As we head into the holiday madness and the home stretch for 2019, everyone's in anticipation mode. This can be fun or agonizing depending on what's going on in your classroom and school.
On the one hand, there's holiday programs to prepare for and all kinds of assemblies and other events that are fun and exciting. On the other hand, losing precious instructional time is always difficult for us teachers. I want both but something has to give. As I always say...a YES to one thing is a NO to something else. We have finite time in our day. We simply can't do it all.
Put everything on the calendar that you have no control over - Christmas play, a sing along, school assembly, etc. Make up your mind to be happy for all the moments that make your school a community.
What are the essentials I need to teach in...
There are lots of classroom management mistakes we can make. But, here's one thing that many teachers do and never think to do differently. They don't have a CLEAR vision for how they want their classroom to run each day.
Yes, you have rules and consequences. Having a list of systems and procedures to train students is common these days, and you probably have that as well. But, do you have a clear vision in your head of HOW you want your classroom to run all day long?
Do you know what each part of your day looks like, sounds like and feels like? Whether it's whole group instruction, small group instruction, individual work time or some combination going on all at once, you should KNOW exactly what you're aiming for. What is the ideal right down to noise level, how each group of students is conducting themselves and what you, the teacher, are doing.
What I'm ask you is...Do you know how each process and system will work when thrown...
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...
I've had my classroom management failures just as much as the next teacher. What I've done with all that info is what has set me up for success over the years.
When you've been knocked on your rear for the umpteenth time (been there) and head home defeated (been there, too) , remember, you CAN do this. If I can do it, YOU can do it! You really can fix your classroom management and have a well-run classroom.
By taking all of my successes and, even more importantly, all of my FAILURES and reflecting, making changes and refining, I've gotten to the point where I can step into any classroom and be successful. It didn't just happen. All the hard work I put in simply paid off over time.
There isn't a "silver bullet" that will solve all your problems (I've looked). A well-run classroom takes time, reflection and training of both you, the teacher, and your students. It takes having and understanding all the keys to success...
So much of our classroom management skills start in our own heads. Dealing with our own MINDSET and beliefs about who we are and what we're capable of is the first step in both changing your classroom management and making those changes STICK.
You find a new system that works for a colleague and decide to try it out. It works great for awhile, but then, it starts to unravel. The system starts to drain a lot of your time and energy just to keep it going. It's hard to figure out why it works for them and not for you.
Before you know it, you're questioning yourself and your abilities. But... YOU are not the problem. It's just a mindset shift that needs to happen. So quit beating yourself up and struggling to make a failing system work.
Instead, let's talk about how your mindset it SABOTAGING your classroom management. What lies (about you, your students or even classroom management) are you telling yourself without even really knowing it?
My very first year teaching, was a year of surprises, lots of learning and improvising. I had 34 kids in a 3/4 split that quickly turned into a straight 4th grade. The school was in a very poor, rough area of Los Angeles. I was in a mobile all alone at the furthest end of the school with no classroom phone (this was before cell phones). The teachers at the school were reserved and not exactly welcoming to a young teacher at first. I realized later, the teachers had stacked the class I was given as were regretting that just a bit. Oops.
About 2 weeks into school, I had assigned some reading to the class and they were to get busy while I started working with a small group of struggling readers. Within the first minute of that assignment I had a student pick up his desk, throw it and shout, "I'm NOT going to do this!" To say I wasn't prepared for this would be an understatement. I stood in shock for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only seconds. Truly, I...
We all want to have well-managed classrooms and students who reach their potential. Creativity, curiosity and independent thinking and learning (think lifelong learners), are certainly things we hope for with our students. But, what makes for the best environment to promote these in our students? Well, it starts with something that seems counter-intuitive to creativity and independence, structure.
“I have finally realized that the most creative environments in our society are not the kaleidoscopic environments which everything is always changing and complex. They are, instead, the predictable and consistent ones— the scholar’s library, the researcher’s laboratory, the artist’s studio. Each of those environments is deliberately kept predictable and simple because the work at hand and the changing interactions around that work are so unpredictable and complex.”
Lucy Calkins, The...
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 ...
Did classroom management get you down this year? You're not alone! It's tough to train and manage a class well. There are lots of pieces to successful classroom management. But, let's start with just a few.
The more complicated your classroom management system, the harder it is to implement on a daily basis. Here's where I put on my inner Marie Kondo of the Classroom Management world. Simple is best. Simple expectations and consequences are easily remembered and followed by everyone. I have only 2 written expectations (rules) for students and myself. They cover pretty much everything. You can do more if you prefer. But when you get to more than 5 expectations or rules, it's too complicated.
While I know this is something many of you don't want to hear, I firmly believe it needs to be said out loud. I have 5 kids of my own and more than 20 years of teaching experience. Begging or bribing...