New teachers often run into management problems when they get their first classroom. This is ok, it happens to all of us.
The most important thing is to have a set of guiding principles to get you through difficult behavior situations. Keeping things simple is the key to success. Below are a few suggestions for the beginning teacher. This will improve your classroom management and allow you to become a more effective teacher.
1) Apply the Golden Rule
Teaching requires hundreds of decisions per day. Treat students as you’d want to be treated. Most, if not all, of your decisions will be the right on so long as they come from a place of respect, kindness, and honesty. Students are people and you will earn their respect over the course of the school year, it will not happen in a day. You earn that respect by being consistent. However, also expect students to treat you with that same respect.
2) Be the Adult
You are the teacher for a reason. You are the immediate authority on matters involving your classroom. As an educator, your job is to communicate content clearly, teach appropriate skills, and help young people grow into adults. This is an immensely satisfying part of teaching. With that said, remember that you are not a student’s friend. Say no to them when required, set limits, and be consistent. If you say no bathroom breaks, be prepared to go to the mat to enforce your policy. Thus you have to pick your battles.
3) Stick to the Plan
One of the best ways to mitigate classroom management issues is to plan out a specific lesson, create a schedule for the day, the follow it as closely as possible. When you have students engaged with your content, they have less time to screw around. At my first job, my department head offered very sage advice: “teach from bell to bell.” Once you establish this pattern of a consistent schedule, students will settle into a routine. They will see you as a professional.
4) Put the Desks in Rows
When first out of an education program, it’s tempting to place students in groups in order to create a feeling of community. Avoid this temptation. Row seating is traditional for a reason: it is effective. Behavior management is easier when you can see your student’s faces. You can always break out into groups during the lessons.
5) Talk Under, Not Over
As a new teacher the volume level of a classroom can be overwhelming. Teenagers have unrivaled energy, and with that energy comes the capacity for noise. Enjoy the energy, channel it, use it to your success, but don’t try to talk over a teenager, they will always win. When faced with a noisy classroom, either at the beginning of class or during the lesson, talk more quietly than normal. This will get students to pay attention to you without having to expend undue energy. If they don’t hear you, just keep on talking quietly or pause and make eye-contact with the offender.
6) Ask for Help
If you have a management situation that cannot be resolved with the student, call the parent. If that step proves fruitless, schedule a meeting with the student’s parent and your supervisor. You need to attack problems as soon as they arise in the classroom for two reasons: it will create a more productive classroom for all your students, and equally if not more important, it will provide administrative cover.
7) If Parents Get Mad at You, its Okay
If a behavior problem must go to the parents, you may initially meet resistance or even anger. They may vent at you. This is normal. Listen respectfully, its part of the job, but do not become a punching bag. In this situation, most of the time the parent is angry or disappointed with their child and they take it out on the messenger. Stay solution oriented. Offer specific suggestions as to what you expect from the student to correct his or her behavior.
About The Author:
This post was written by Adam of nomadicteacher.com. He is a high school history teacher with five years teaching experience and also teaches at a graduate school of education in the Pacific Northwest.