Classroom management is a prickly concern for most new teachers. Most of the teachers feel unprepared for disruptions caused by students despite extensive trainings. The reason is often attributed to complex nature of children and their individuality. This makes it hard to maintain a certain discipline in classrooms. Moreover, only a minute segment of teachers’ trainings involve behavioral and psychological aspects of managing classrooms. Increasing influence of parents in private schools and imposed limits on teachers’ response to student commotions has added to this problem in recent years. However, there are now several empirical studies that provide effective guidelines for teachers regarding management of classrooms. This article therefore, highlights some new classroom management techniques for teachers that can enrich student-teacher interaction and class decorum.
1. Display Model Behavior
A class of 15 students or more means a wide cultural, social and attitude mix for teachers to handle. Remind yourself that children do as they see. Start with displaying model behavior with your colleagues and working staff in front of students. This helps in establishing a base of acceptable behavior in classroom among students. Holding mock conversations and discussions in class premises or grounds can also teach them about managing temperaments and arguments.
2. Make students part of Guidelines formulation
During the first week, establish a clear and concise guideline for students regarding class behavior, expectations, acceptable and non-acceptable behavior. Discuss with students how they perceive these rules and what changes they think should be made and why. This will help in finding a common ground and understanding with class without losing your authority over classroom environment.
3. Display Guidelines as a constant reminder
Telling the class rules to students is one thing but how they retain them is subjective to individual personalities. Reminding or rebuking students over forgotten rules of classroom decorum is an exhausting task. It also results in negative influence on classroom environment. Instead, try to find a way to have the established guidelines printed and displayed as a constant reminder. Try pasting them on classroom boards or walls or giving printouts to students.
4. Build Meaningful Relationship with Students
Probably one of the most important strategy among dozen others. The interaction between teachers and students is bidirectional. This means that students respond to teachers based on their relationship and communication with them. Research shows that even a positive greeting by teachers on class doors give energy boost to students. This also creates a positive class environment. When students have a meaningful relationship with teachers, they tend to make extra efforts to maintain discipline and follow guidelines. It also helps them overcome their fear to ask questions, rectify their mistakes without emotional turmoil and play healthy role in classrooms.
5. Avoid Punishments and Increase Behavior-Specific Praise
An empirical study involving more than 800 students by Reinke, Herman and Newcomer (2016) found that students who received more negative feedback showed more concentration, emotional and behavioral problems compared to students who were appreciated more often or given positive feedback. That being said, Individual mistakes or problems should be dealt with individually instead of punishing the whole class. It is also observed that ignoring low-level disruptions while sending out clear cut instructions can be more effective in disciplining children then giving punishments or reprimanding for tiny mistakes. Moreover, teachers should try to give behavior-specific praises instead of reinforcing rules and regulations in classrooms. For instance, praising children who get seated on time, raise hands and wait for their turns or make proper lines instead of rushing in and out of class. Name the act clearly while praising them to inspire others.
6. Embrace learners of all levels
In order to manage a diverse classroom, it is important for teachers to understand themselves that each child has a different learning curve. Most of the time teachers get upset when some students are lagging behind due to lack of grasp on a topic and whole class has to wait before moving on. This often results in frustration and misunderstanding that the weak students are not paying attention. Start teaching with an open mind and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your students. Work on the weaknesses and create an embracing environment in classroom with your own attitude.
7. Involve Parents with Positive Communication
Keep parents involved with students’ progress by sending positive notes regarding their progress. This can reduce the negative influence of parents regarding imposition of restrictions and guidelines by teachers as their involvement and commitment with students is obvious through constant communication with parents.
8. Introduce Free Study Time and Open-Ended projects
The classroom management techniques have changed overtime due to evolving times and thus, younger generation’s mindsets. Free study time is a great technique to provide students with extra time to catch up with several things related to studies like solving remaining tasks, notes that have been missed during class or processing information from lectures through discussing with peers. Give them small tasks, both out of syllabus and related to it like quick research on Steve jobs or World War I and discuss their findings. Such open-ended projects brings variation in classroom environment which can be refreshing for students and keep their interest in studies intact.
9. Optimize class seating arrangements
This is a new approach to optimizing learning spaces that is being implemented in various developed countries. While traditional classroom settings of predefined seating arrangements work in several scenarios, a teacher can always experiment with flexible seating arrangements for addressing disruptive behaviors. It can be done by introducing non-traditional seating settings like placing rugs for children to gather on, allowing students to select their own seats, using gym balls or rotational seats or whatever can be fit in the budget of school. Remember that monotony can get to children faster than adults and adopting such out of box strategies can surprisingly enhance the mood of classrooms.
10. Maintain Authority At All times
Regardless of the non-traditional approaches adopted in modern classrooms, teachers need to establish their authority over students in terms of discipline. Getting close to students, understanding and addressing their concerns and being creative does not and should not invalidate the ability of teacher to set the tone and agenda for classrooms. Teachers need to make sure that students understand that while their input and opinions are important, they cannot overstep the authority of their educators. Be the guiding light that they can follow and open up to but not transgress.