For new or even experienced teachers, it can often be difficult to control the classroom when students race between desks and focus on their chit-chatting. The efforts and strict disciplinary measures you take might even backfire without a good plan and strategy. As a teacher, poor classroom management unavoidably yields unproductive learning outcomes for students and increases your own stress levels.
Luckily classroom management skills and techniques can be learned. You can read about pedagogical methods, classroom management strategies, and of course observe how other teachers do what they do. Below are 6 classroom management best practices and tips. Most of these well-researched and tested techniques work in the classroom and even when teaching remotely. Feel free to use the ones that best appeal to your situation and teaching style!
1. Create classroom rules together with your students
“One of the most effective and practical ways teachers can give students a say in the classroom is by allowing them to participate in developing the classroom rules or behavior guidelines.”, says Jonathan Erwin the author of the book Classroom of Choice.
Indeed, holding a class discussion at the start of a new year or semester and allowing students to have a say in their learning environment suggests that you value their thoughts. You can discuss with them for example how to treat each other, how they would like to be treated, in which circumstances mobile phones and other devices are allowed during class, and so on.
Rather than being the passive receiver, students are now given the power and freedom to shape their classroom instead of being just told what and when to learn. You might be shocked at the extreme active engagement and the strictness of the proposed rules. As rule-setters, students are likely to adhere to these rules and achieve your expectations and even help you control the classroom due to their responsibility for the rules. The feeling of ownership and a sense of control from one’s learning environment and learning outcomes can also improve learning results.
2. Grouping students
When teachers group students for a task, it is not an invitation for chaos but, in fact, engagement. Belonging to a group and working collaboratively with members means support from and a sense of responsibility for the group. Working as a group to complete the given task or sharing ideas with another group requires each members’ participation and contribution. Therefore, students are less likely to engage in off-task conversation. The desire or competition for honor boosts their engagement in the task and group cohesiveness.
3. Build rapport with students and earn authority
Educators argued that balancing warmth and strong boundaries is key to the success of a teacher-student relationship. Taking them as your children and loving them unconditionally but being consistent and flexible by holding them accountable are important factors to establish a healthy and positive relationship.
Tips include but are not limited to learning their names quickly and correctly to value their identity and diversity, sharing their work to value their progress and development, and making small talk to help break down learning barriers should all indicate your intentional care and contribute to building the relationship.
4. Praise your students
Research studies revealed that students in every grade and all subjects like to be praised for their work. Even as an adult, praise from professors or the boss could make my whole day brighter. Given the identified positive effects of teacher praise, teachers should try to make better use of this tool.
Effective praise should be connected with a particular behavior or process which serves as the reason for praise in a manner as timely as possible. The sooner the feedback is received, the better and longer-lasting impact it has. You can use praises like:
- I can definitely see how hard you have worked on this task/assignment
- I see how difficult this problem is to solve and how much time and effort you have put into solving it
- I am so proud of the work effort you have put into this task
- You have learned so much that this assignment might not have been that challenging for you, so let’s try and find something new and interesting next time that will help you learn even more
5. Involve parents
Understanding the family’s culture and the relationships between parents and the child help teachers support students’ well-being and development. The family is always the first teacher and is central to the development of the child. Time and effort are of course required to get to know your students’ parents but here are some helpful and effective tips to get started:
- Send them a welcome email prior to the beginning of the school. Let them know your lecture plans and goals and if they agree on your expectations and rules.
- Get to know your students’ parents during teacher-parents conferences and other school events or activities. Create a systematic plan to talk with as many as possible.
6. Motivate students with gamified approach and with educational technology
Many teachers have agreed to this: “nothing makes the teacher’s life as easy as sparking their students’ motivation to learn“. Think about it yourself: when you were in school, were you easier to manage when you were truly motivated to learn and interested in the task at hand?
You can always incorporate gamified aspects to the traditional physical classroom by using board games or using different educational technology tools. Modern digital native students might even expect that technology would be leveraged better in schools and in their learning environment.
One challenge that teachers face is to make sure that their students are continually engaged and motivated in their studies. As more and more learning is delivered remotely, it becomes increasingly difficult to prevent students from dropping out or from falling behind due to a lack of motivation and engagement. Educational technology tool providers are therefore heavily focused on addressing this challenge and gamification is one of the most popular (and successful) ways for them to respond. Modern educational technology tools often incorporate gamified elements such as rewards, puzzles, user choice, and avatars to get students engaged.
Read also our other article on how educational technology tools can benefit the students, the teacher, and the whole school.