What you must do to get classroom management right

Classroom management is perhaps the most critical skill to master in the classroom.

Get it right, and you’ll have smooth sailing ahead. Your students will achieve their academic goals, and your administrator will sing your praises to the top of the textbook room.

But if you walk into your classroom without a concrete plan for classroom management, and you’ll spend far more time redirecting and retraining your students while regretting skipping over the critical component of classroom instruction: classroom management.

You classroom management plan must include your rules, student ownership, consequences, and reward for it to be effective. Creating an environment of structure and order promotes learning and reduces off-task behaviors for everyone, including the teacher.

Establish rules

The first order of business in any classroom is establishing the rules by which everyone agrees to work and play.

Many teachers recommend setting a limit to how many rules the class will have. Usually, a half dozen or fewer rules are all you need. If you don’t limit the number of rules, you may end up with a laundry list of commandments that no one can remember. The longer the list of rules, the harder they are to enforce.

Invite ownership

Your students must have ownership in developing the class rules. You can guide their decisions, but without a vested interested in the rules, students may decide that these rules belong to you, not them.

Likewise, have your students help you develop and define consequences for broken rules. Teach your classroom management system to your students, explaining how and why it works. Talk about the possible behaviors one could see in the classroom, and what to do about the behaviors if they occur.

Think of teaching the rules as giving your team the playbook. Teach the playbook on the first day of school, but don’t stop there. Refer back to it frequently. Revisit the rules and consequences periodically, but especially after the semester break.

Redirect individuals who break the rules

For your classroom management system to work, you’ll need to hold students accountable. You established rules in the classroom to keep everyone safe and uphold respect. Address students privately when they commit an infraction. They follow up with the consequence you agreed upon at the beginning of the year.

Students must understand that their behavior affects others in the classroom (and in the community). Good behavior allows everyone to learn, but disruptive behaviors prevent learning and creates discord.

Praise and reward what’s right

When everything is going well, it’s easy to want to keep going without interruption. After all, the curriculum is calling.

However, the time you take to celebrate even small successes will pay off. Your students see that you notice when their behavior is positive, so take the time to recognize their eftorts.

Ultimately, positive classroom management grows out of the rapport and working relationships you develop with your students. By being organized from the outset, you have positioned yourself as the instructional expert who recognizes what needs to happen to make the day’s goals a reality.

Give your students the playbook. They’ll know what’s expected of them, and they’ll also understand the consequences are of not following the rules — as well as what to expect from you when they do.

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