Teachers have one of the toughest jobs in our society: educating the children of our future. Though it’s an incredibly rewarding career, teachers often feel undervalued and even unprepared for the enormity of the task.
In fact, nearly half of teachers, especially new teachers, feel unprepared to handle students that are disrupting the classroom. Being overwhelmed by the number of students and the nerves of managing a class is hardly contributing to this. Instead, the problem lies in the education of the teacher. Average training programs for teachers spend only eight hours on classroom management discussion and training. As a result of this lack of training, teachers turn to classroom management applications and articles with classroom management tips for help.
Below, you’ll find the classroom management tools you need to keep your classroom in order and your students engaged.
Classroom Management Mistakes
The first mistake starts with the teacher’s education. As mentioned, teachers only receive around 8 hours of formal instruction on classroom management techniques. This results in a loss of approximately 144 minutes of instructional time in any given week in the classroom. The lack of training forces teachers to discipline and redirect students based on instinct, traditional practices they saw teachers use when they were students, on their practices as parents, and on tips passed between teachers or found on articles like this one. This often leads to a lot of mistakes that simply eat up more lesson time.
One of the first mistakes teachers make is believing they have to be exceptionally firm with a classroom, reprimanding them in a manner similar to a parent. While you should lay down expectations for your students from the very beginning, as well as clear classroom policies, the best way to rule the classroom is with trust. You want to build a relationship with students that conveys mutual trust and respect for all in the classroom. Ironically, the more freedom you provide students, the more likely they are to behave.
One study actually found when you discipline a child in class, you’re more likely to increase misbehavior. The student you reprimand may stop their activity temporarily, but they’re likely to continue later and other students may mimic this behavior. This means that teachers should avoid direct reprimands like “stop talking” and “sit down”. Instead, students respond better to reminders of existing rules that are outlined ahead of time. Students are more likely to have a positive response when teachers have quiet discussions about their behavior instead of embarrassing them in front of the class.
Aside from using direct reprimands, below we’ve compiled a list of things to try and avoid in your classroom:
- Not communicating your expectations early and clearly.
- Being inconsistent with rules and consequences.
- Not creating a classroom management plan that shows expectations, consequences, and how students can redeem and improve themselves.
- Ignoring bad behavior.
- Using punishments too big for the crime (especially as a first offense).
- Threatening and not following through with discipline.
- Not getting to know the student and the reasons why they may be acting up.
- Not building a relationship of trust.
Instead, we recommend integrating classroom management strategies like these:
- Utilizing a social-emotional learning curriculum to help students to express their thoughts, emotions, and help them cope with the world.
- Build a community so students have a sense of belonging.
- Trust students to follow the rules and do their work.
- Lead with kindness.
Top Classroom Management Apps and Websites
There are dozens of other classroom management strategies that teachers can employ in the classroom. To build off your existing management strategies and promote better behavior in the classroom, check out these eight tools:
Google has a range of systems to help students and teachers, Google Teacher being one of the best. It’s a free site that offers teacher training, certifications, and networking opportunities.
ClassDojo is a simple app designed to improve communication between parents, teachers, and students. You can share photos and videos, make announcements, and message parents directly. This helps to build a sense of community in the classroom.
ClassroomScreen is a free app that projects a clock, timer, traffic light, work symbols, and even a sound level tool. You can draw or add text to provide instructions for students to view as they work, or you can add directions such as “silence” or “work together”.
Woodstock Solo Silver Zenergy Chime
Instead of using your voice to direct students, use a timer app with a chime to signal students to move on to their next activity. This established time limit keeps you from being the director, or an authority they don’t feel they can connect with.
Early-Finisher Task Cards
Having task cards for students that finish their tasks or tests early can be extremely helpful for maintaining order in the classroom. Fill the box with things like “write me a letter” or “tell me what you want to learn about”. This will help reduce distractions for students still completing their work.
Some students tend to fidget on their own, banging their fingers on desks or distracting other students by pouncing their knees. To help these students focus (and others around them), provide sensory fidgets.
Calm Down Kit
Calm down kits are especially helpful for younger students because they don’t always have the emotional intelligence to convey their feelings. This is why some kids have tantrums or act up during instruction. To calm them down, lower yourself to their eye level, speak to them calmly, and say “Would you like to talk about it?” If you don’t have time to speak with them, you can help them deescalate by providing them with a calm down kit.
Classroom Management Software
Classrooms today are inundated with technology and students do a lot of their learning online. This can make it difficult to keep them from distracting and harmful content. To keep students on track use classroom management software with URL blockers, blacklists, and whitelists.
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