As a teacher, you spend several hours a day in the classroom with possibly hundreds of students. Without effective classroom management and a positive learning environment, you’ll find it difficult to motivate students to behave well and study, and their academic performance will inevitably take a hit. So how do you manage a classroom successfully, and what exactly is classroom management?
The basics: what is (effective) classroom management?
Classroom management refers to the strategies you as the teacher use to organize your classroom, deliver course content, manage student success, monitor student behavior, and create an overall positive learning environment. Effective classroom management is the foundation for effective student learning and here are some tips to get you started.
3 tips to create an effective learning environment
1. Set clear expectations
When you organize your classroom effectively, your students know what their responsibilities are and what you expect of them. It also gives students a structured daily routine for your class (eg., starting class with a warm-up period and then transition to lecturing) and helps them manage their learning better.
Consistent expectations are especially effective when dealing with students who like to test the limits of your patience or want to break the boundaries you’ve set. A poorly managed classroom lacks expectations and creates an ineffective learning environment rife with behavioral issues, inattention, and chaos.
Be persistent in setting up both your classroom rules and expectations, and you’ll maintain a good learning environment in the classroom where both you and your students are happy.
2. Focus on positive reinforcement
Learning cannot flourish in a mismanaged classroom environment. If you spend more time in class correcting students for their misbehavior than you do on enforcing effective strategies, you’ll negatively impact other students’ academic performance by wasting valuable class time.
Consider this: students who misbehave tend to crave attention. When you react to negative behavior, you are reinforcing a student’s desire for attention — and their misbehavior becomes a means to that end. So instead of issuing commands like “Stop doing that” and trying to correct your students’ behavior, consider taking other approaches.
For example, you could assign special roles to misbehaving students to keep them busy during your class — this would give them the attention they seek but in a controlled manner. And don’t underestimate the power of compliments — they can go a long way in reinforcing positive behavior! If a student is talking with his peers during an English lecture, for example, then you could say, “John, could you help me with the first passage? You’re great at expressive reading.” This would effectively redirect the student’s attention to the task at hand while also reminding them of their aptitude.
3. Try out different classroom management strategies
Each classroom is different, and not every strategy will work for you. You know your students best, so make sure that whatever strategy you employ aligns well with their learning patterns, preferences, and behavior. Here are some ideas to help you out:
- Consider the actual physical layout of your classroom. For example, you can start by arranging your classroom in a way that allows you to see every student easily and that minimizes the potential for distractions.
- Use varied activities in your lessons. There’s no harm in planning lots of activities for a lecture and then scrapping any that don’t fit into the time frame. Bored students tend to misbehave, even the good ones. On the other hand, engaged students look forward to your class.
- Be authentic and empathic. Students feel more comfortable in class when they know you can relate to and understand them. So instead of always delivering lectures in a standard format that works well for you, consider incorporating educational games into your classroom to show students that learning is fun.
Your best weapon is your smile
Classroom management certainly isn’t easy, but it’s a valuable skill that any teacher can acquire through patience and a willingness to improve their educational experience. In any case, remember to stay positive! When you’re happy, your students are happy.
Photo credit: Laurie Sullivan / Flickr.com