One of the best “aha” moments for me as a new teacher was the day I realized that classroom management was not me keeping the busy children in my class under control. Instead, the secret was creating a system where children were motivated to manage themselves. Here are some tips for incorporating teacher- and student-friendly classroom management.
- Help students begin their day well. Greet your students, make eye contact, and help each student feel welcome every day. Include a morning ritual, such as quiet music and a morning meeting.
- Use your natural, calm speaking voice with inflection to maintain interest.
- Speak only when students are quiet and ready. Teach students how to read your signals. For instance, when you are standing tall at the front of the room, looking at them, then they should be quiet and ready to listen. If students are engaged in activity, a gentle sound such as a tinkling bell or a clicker can help bring them back to attention. See this Scholastic blog for more ideas about attention signals.
- Use hand signals and other non-verbal communication. Teach your students hand and facial signals. For example: eye contact, tapping nose, hand on heart, holding up fingers can communicate anything from, “I need to use the restroom!” to “I agree with Jeremy’s thinking.” Make sure to include a few signals that communicate feelings. This way, a student can alert you, so you have the opportunity to respond to a student before feelings grow into a bigger problem or a meltdown. Introduce signals one at a time and teach students the polite words for what the signal means. Wait for one signal to become fluent, and then introduce the next. Look for more ideas from Laura Candler’s strategies.
- Build in plenty of opportunities for students to discuss learning and actively participate in lessons and classroom procedures.
- Have regular classroom meetings. Let students have a proactive part in brainstorming classroom rules, procedures, learning, and solutions to problems.
- Empower each student with a responsibility. Strategically match each student with a job that contributes to the well-being of the class or school and that utilizes that individual’s special interest or need.
- Build in curiosity and anticipation. Give hints about what the class will do later in the day, or the next day. Say just enough so students will want to think about it between now and then.
- End each school day with a connection ritual: this can be a special goodbye, a class song, a well-wishing signal, or words of appreciation for each other.
No doubt, unpredictable challenges will present themselves; however, the creation of a peaceful self-managing culture will benefit all students.
Other helpful links:
Edutopia: Teaching Your Students How to Have a Conversation, by Dr. Allen Mendler
An Ethical Island: 27 Ways to Greet Students (ideas for students of all ages) by Mia MacMeekin
Marti Beeck enjoyed volunteering in her three children’s classrooms so deeply, that she returned to school to earn her CLAD teaching credential. For the next thirteen years, she worked as a classroom teacher in grades 1-3. Her experience as a primary classroom teacher, as well as adult school and intervention for elementary and high school, was inspired by her background in psychology and interest in brain-based learning. Marti currently works in the field of educational publishing as an editor.