Monday, February 3, 2014

Effective Classroom Management Strategies

I have been a Master Teacher for more than 10 years and it is a very rewarding experience.  The #1 problem my student-teachers face in the classroom is learning and using effective classroom management strategies. The Universities that many student-teachers attend often  focus more on lesson planning than classroom management. Unfortunately, one could create the best lesson on paper, but if effective classroom management strategies are not used, the lesson will not work. So, before my student teacher takes over the classroom we review and practice the following classroom management strategies that I find most effective:

1. Have a few classroom rules:   Here are my rules:
            1) Everyone, including the teacher, will be treated with respect.
            2) Put-downs or purposely hurtful comments or actions will not be
                tolerated.
            3) No one will be allowed to disrupt the learning process of others.

2. Have clear consequences: For example:
          First Infraction: Warning
          Second Infraction: Conference with the Teacher
          Third Infraction: Teacher Detention
          Fourth Infraction or Defiance: Referral to VP
   
Be sure to be fair and consistent with your consequences. If you say your are going to do something, then be sure to do it!
   
3. Procedures, Procedures, Procedures. It is vital to have a procedure for everything your students do in the classroom, from how students are to enter the classroom, to how they get into their groups, even how they ask a question. If you create and practice procedures in the first month of school, by the second month your class will be a "well oiled machine"!

4. Use proximity. If you notice a student is off task,  instead of disrupting the lesson by asking the student to get back on task, simply move towards that student. Most likely, the student will get back on task without you having to say a word.

5. Use whole-class positive narration. Instead of focusing on students who are off task, give attention to those students who are on task. This will remind the off-task students what they need to be doing without taking your attention off the entire class. For example, "Thank you Jennifer for taking your items off your desk". Or, "I appreciate those of you who are reading the directions".

6. Delegate Tasks. A teacher needs to focus on the classroom as much as possible. Therefore, be sure to delegate tasks to the students so you can focus on the class. For example, I have a specific place in my room where students go to get their absent work. I also post all of my assignments on-line. Therefore, I don't have to spend any time with students who have been absent.

7. "Ask 3 Before Me" strategy. If students have questions about directions, homework, etc. have the students ask three other students before they ask you. This will make sure you can focus on the entire class rather then specific individuals.

8. Build Rapport. One of the best classroom management tools is to build rapport with the students. If the students know that you care and respect them, they will often care and respect you. They will want to be good for you. Stand by the door when the students enter the classroom and engage them in quick conversations. Compliment the students. Take a few minutes of class time to have the students get to know you on a personal basis. For example, tell them about what you did over the weekend and ask them the same.

9. Get their Attention. When you want to get your students attention, have a procedure in place to do that. For example, you might ring a bell, hold up your hand and have the students do the same, clap and have your students repeat the number of claps until all students have your attention. Once you have their attention give directions from the same spot in the room. Never try to talk over the students. If the students begin talking, wait to talk until they have stopped. Use positive reinforcement often. For example, "Thank you for your attention". "Thank you for being quiet while I am talking". Respect goes along way, especially with high-school students.

10. Be assertive. Many of my student-teachers are only a few years older than my high-school seniors. So, they must be assertive and have a commanding presence. The way you speak and carry yourself can go along way in commanding the classroom.

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