Classroom management refers to how a teacher chooses to coordinate their lessons in order for effective learning and student behaviour to maintain a positive balance. This ensures there is a healthy relationship between learning and having fun (without either side becoming dominant over the other). Classroom management involves setting rules and boundaries, and using discipline when those rules and boundaries are broken or crossed.
Therefore, teachers need to introduce various strategies throughout their lessons, in order to keep a class flowing smoothly. These strategies can be divided into two main groups – proactive and reactive strategies. The main difference between them is that proactive strategies are used before any sort of off-task behaviour occurs, whereas reactive strategies are used after a student has gone off-task. Some examples of proactive and reactive strategies to come!
Classroom management is crucial in order for effective learning to take place within the English classroom. No matter how academically sound a curriculum is, it is of no use if a teacher cannot maintain control of their classroom.
Lessons should be fun and enjoyable for students in general, however, a teacher needs to ensure they are equipped with the tools to steer a class in a certain direction whenever things go off course. Failing to do so will result in a classroom filled with disruptions and misbehaviour. This will not benefit your students, the classrooms around you, and certainly not your reputation as an effective teacher.
As mentioned previously, when it comes to using discipline, teachers can use either proactive strategies or reactive strategies.
Below are some proactive tips to get you started with your classroom management:
This goes without saying – the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to remain in control of your classes. Determine your classroom management strategies before starting your lessons. That way, when a class goes slightly off course, you are able to implement effective classroom management without any hesitation.
Students are very good at picking up whether a teacher is comfortable in their role of authority or not. Should you be a new teacher struggling to accept your new role, do your best to remain confident in your decisions despite this, especially when reprimanding a misbehaving student. If you punish a student and remove the punishment soon after (out of pity), your students will sense that you are not confident and view it as an opportunity to go off-task.
The individual activities you perform in class are obviously important, however, the transitions between them are something that many teachers do not stop to consider. Why would these transitions be important? Think of watching a movie – would most people prefer playing and pausing a movie continuously while watching? Of course not! This will interrupt the movie’s flow and enjoyment of the viewers. In the classroom, if you take too long to transition from one activity to the next, students can become restless and distracted, which ultimately interrupts the flow of momentum you had already built up.
This is crucial to remember, especially if one of your students is misbehaving and causing an interruption. As a teacher, you never want to damage a student’s confidence no matter how they might act out in class. When it comes to dealing with young and adolescent students especially, always be clear that certain behaviours are inappropriate during a lesson. Never talk down on a student’s character in a moment of annoyance.
If you have access to a computer and projector, make use of an online/virtual classroom system, where students can each be allocated a character. Check it out over here!
Below are some reactive tips to get you started with thinking of effective classroom management:
Should your students be getting rowdy and off-task, simply stand facing your students with your finger over your lips (as if you are saying “sssshhhh”). Once all students have noticed you and imitated your actions, there should be silence, allowing you to redirect your students.
Here is an example of a virtual timer. You can use this when trying to settle your rowdy classes down. For example, establish a class rule with your students that if you ever start the timer and your students are not quiet by the time it hits zero, a reward is removed at the end of a lesson e.g. no YouTube video will be watched.
This works well if you have a student who has finished their work before their peers and are getting bored while waiting for them to finish. Try giving such a student a responsibility as this can distract them and doesn’t interrupt the other students in the process e.g. cleaning the whiteboard/chalkboard.
This involves removing a point from a team, should you be doing a group activity or playing a game. If one student is consistently misbehaving or compromising the enjoyment of their peers by misbehaving, removing a point from that student’s team gives them more reason to get back on-task and stop misbehaving.
Although proactive classroom management strategies are important (and prevention is better than cure), reactive strategies have their place in the classroom too, as you will often have students acting out of line and going off-task in some way. Be sure to prepare yourself as well as possible with both types of strategies.