Much has been written about how to develop effective classroom management. It seems as if each year new ideas are put forth which may or may not work. Classroom management does not mean that your students are quiet with books open and everyone on task. On the other hand, a noisy classroom doesn’t mean there is a lack of management techniques and no learning taking place. On the contrary, sometimes students are really excited about an activity and are on task. If students look forward to coming to class, you have achieved the right mix. Having over twenty three years as a full time classroom teacher, the following strategies worked for me
The first step in classroom management is organization. As a teacher you are expected to have an organized classroom. This does not mean just the physical appearance but bookcases, cupboards and filing cabinets as well. Your desk may look chaotic at the end of the day, but always straighten it up. You don’t want to face that chaos early in the morning. . Keep it organized.
Over the years I found the best teachers were and are the ones who are organized. You know where you can find what you are looking for. If you feel you are lacking in this skill, you can get on track now. Organize your desk, kitchen cabinet or closet, and keep it that way. After all, teachers expect students to be organized.
Among the things you have to take care of before school year starts are:
- Room arrangement
- Seeing that you have the supplies you need
- Decorating bulletin boards
- Lesson plans
If you don’t have an organized plan to accomplish these tasks, you will not be ready on the first day of school.
The next step, after you have taken care of the initial tasks, is to make up seating charts. Having seating charts made up before the first day saves time in the long run. You will receive your class lists during the teacher in-service days. Although there will be changes, they will be easy to cope with.
In order to have that effective classroom, you must start on day one. If you don’t establish your authority then, it may be too late. This doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. It just means students understand who is in control, and they are there to learn.
If you allow students to choose their own seats, they will sit next to their friends. Experience shows that this can cause problems. I told my students when they had a job they could not pick their boss or co-workers. They had to learn to get along with others. Not only did they learn to work together, new friendships developed.
Seat your students alphabetically. Why? It’s easier to take roll. You can do it in less then a minute at the beginning of the period. I was always dismayed by teachers who called roll every day or changed seating arrangements each month. This is a waste of valuable teaching time and is not how to have effective classroom management.
Write the names on 3×5 cards and tape the card to the desk. If you are at the secondary level just list the periods on each card and write the student name next to the appropriate period. This way they can find their own seats.
The next thing you will need is a list of your classroom rules to hand out on the first day. There are those who suggest letting each class set its own rules. This takes time and gets complicated. If you are the secondary level, you will have five different sets of rules. It’s your classroom, your rules
Tell your students what you expect in the way of behavior standards. List your policy for homework, late work, test make up, tardiness and absences. Keep it simple and no more than one page. The last two may be school rules, but reiterate them since most students don’t bother to read the school’s handbook. Have a place at the bottom for a student and parent signature and the date. Go over them on the first day. You might want to offer some extra credit to students who return them the next day or class period. Make sure you get them back. They are a great tool for parent/teacher conferences.
Have an activity ready to go on the first day. If you are going to maintain discipline you must keep students interested in learning by having a variety of activities. If you are a new teacher, ask one of the veterans for ideas. The teacher’s guide to the textbook is also a good source. While consistency may be the norm, doing the same things the same way every day can have a numbing effect on learning. Plan group activities, presentations, audio-visual followed by a discussion. Make your students look forward to the next class.