I have blogged about many different things, but they all tended to be more or less about edtech, learning theory, math, or science. I realized that I have never really talked about my system of classroom management. This post stems from a conversation I had with my divisional chair about whether how I help manage my class and its effectiveness.

To start off with, my system is very general and changes all of the time mostly based on the needs of my students. This post will be exploring the things that I do that stay more constant throughout the years.

  1. Keep the rules short and sweet.
    • By keeping the amount of rules low, they can be focused on more throughout each day. Students already know what is expected of them for the most part. (despite what they might have you believe). I teach high school so they have heard the rules at least 8 times already. Furthermore, nothing is more boring that student handbook that is chock full of rules. I understand the legalities of why the handbook is needed, but to go over it in class can be a waste of time.
    • My constant rules:
      • Rule 1 - Be silent when I ask for it.
        • This stems from a safety concern mostly from when I was a science teacher, but in order to run an efficient class, sometimes someone needs to be heard by all.
        • Running a flipped classroom can be somewhat of a “zoo” at times so being able to get everyone’s attention in the smallest amount of time possible is important.
      • Rule 2 - Don’t waste time!
        • For some reason, this is not a school rule, but it seems to be the most important one.
        • Students spend over 12,000 hours in school! Not a moment of that should be wasted.
        • I love this quote! “If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you'll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won't have the time. For there's always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing, and if it weren't for that dreadful magic staff, you'd never know how much time you were wasting.”
  2. Make classroom norms with the students.
    • Following the theme of students know what is expected of them, by asking students what a normal class should look like, the class gets a feel for how it should look and why. Any teacher can tell the students what to do, but to ask students to explain how other students should be is much more powerful and student-centered. Also, chiming in with a “why?” while they are explaining their norms can force students to reflect on why the rule existed to begin with.
    • When problems do arise, focus on “what we are supposed to be doing”. Asking questions such as “are we supposed to be working on this right now?” can take less “you” away from the issue and focus on the “we”.
  3. Use the right words (or none at all)
    • If an small incident occurs in class, I try to de-escalate it with the least amount of words possible or none at all.
    • Giving commands for behavior can sound negative and cause more problems in the classroom. Ask questions such as “do you think it is wise to act this way?”, “does this seem like appropriate behavior?”, or even something as simple as “really?”.
    • If a positive relationship is already created with students, then personalizing the action toward you can be effective. I jokingly say things such as “you’re killing me” to let them know they are personally affecting me.
  4. Set up your room so it’s almost impossible for major problems to happen.
    • If students are engaged, it’s really hard for them to cause problems. I know this is easier said than done, but some simple things can be done to engage students even when content is not exciting.
    • Rather than blame students for misbehaving, try blaming yourself for being unengaging.
      • Creating collaborative work environments where each member of a group has a role. These roles can be picked by the students or teacher. Sometimes the simple act of working in groups can be engaging to students, especially the social ones. This will help the disruptive students by causing them to have nothing to disrupt but their own learning rather than the whole class’s.
    • The degree of student-centeredness is directly proportional to the engagement level of the students.
  5. Don’t assume; ask!
    • Ask students why they are acting the way that they are acting rather than assume why and draw your own conclusions. Sometimes, by asking why, it forces students to reflect on their behavior which might be the root of the issue.
    • After asking them why they are acting the way that they are, ask what you can do to help them not act that way.
    • Lastly, ask them what they can do.
  6. Cut off potential problems at the pass.
    • I try to analyze each student as they walk into the room. Giving a jolly hello usually elicits a certain response from each student. Some react with laughs, while others react with a smile, etc. Once you know how students react generally, you can find out if any of them are having an off day by if they are acting different.
    • It is really hard to act happy and be deceptive about it. Once I notice a difference in how a student reacts to me, I call them over to the door where I am greeting other students and ask them how their day is going. If the relationship is there, the student will be honest about it and I would resort to asking them what I can do to help. This further builds the relationship plus builds a bridge that students are going to have with you and they might think twice about acting out in class.
  7. Focus on the good.
    • Despite what many people think, there is more good in the world than bad. Acknowledging the good as it is happening is a great way to keep yourself and the class positive.
    • The good does not have to just be academic. It can be random acts of kindness, solid collaboration, humor, etc.
  8. Reset each day.
    • Don’t label students as bad or good. This will become a self-fulfilling prophecy for both you and the students.
    • Wiping the slate clean each day sends a powerful message to the students that you forgive and that they should too.
  9. Give students choice.
    • Student Voice = Student Choice = Buy-in
    • Let the students be heard. Give them an option(s). Buy-in will be increased as a result.
  10. Be overtly enthusiastic.
    • Acting like you are happy to be meeting and having that class is a great way to spread enthusiasm.
    • Yes, you may look like a “dork”, but showing this side to students can better help them feel at ease about being excited to be in class as well.
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