2. The next step is for the teacher to actually abide by his or her set plan, and to apply it in a light-hearted but firm manner. For me, this was the most difficult part of establishing solid classroom management. Let’s say you have a set procedure for entering the classroom quietly and Ricky comes barreling into the classroom jumping to hit the top of the door frame as if he is doing a layup. (Of course, this is not a made up scenario and has actually happened in my classroom more than once!) “Let’s try that again!” is your best response. Ricky may mockingly walk through the door as if he is a geeky students and may even get some chuckles, but your point is made. “Let’s try that again!” is your key phrase. Remember, Ricky’s rowdy behavior is expected. Your students will test the plan.
3. Consistency and timeliness in following through on your plan is paramount. If the behavior of the whole group does not meet your expectations, nip it right away. Stop whatever you are doing and correct the behavior and then have the class try it again.
4. If it’s an individual problem, pull that student aside. If you need to discuss a behavior issue or can not re-direct behavior in a light-hearted way, talk with the student one-on-one, outside or away from the class. If a student needs to be removed due to belligerent behavior, I recommend a simple, “Out.”
5. Use whole class rewards.
I have used a Marble Jar Reward System
in the 4th through the 8th grade with good success. I have also have seen electronic versions of this. Brooklyn's Brightest
offers an engaging and clever idea for a whole class rewards system for middle school students using Instagram as a theme. Class Dojo
can also be a very effective behavior management tool for elementary grades.
6. Be present. Roam your classroom as much as possible while students are working. Your proximity will keep them at work and gives you the opportunity to help them individually and connect more on a one-on-one basis, helping you build trust.
7. Seating is under your control and can have an enormous impact on learning and behavior. Use it. Assign seating.
8. No matter what the grade, I always teach with a stop watch. I use it mostly for myself so that I keep things moving at a good pace. A stop watch also allows for noise and moving about, which you need to allow. “Class, we have three minutes to put things away and be ready for the next activity.” With a stop watch, I know that the class will be loud with lots of movement for a given period of time, and then we’re on to the next thing.
9. If you feel as though you have a system in place with good follow through and you are still having issues, look at your lesson planning. Is your class engaging? Are you presenting material that you find interesting? Are your expectations too high? Is your class too easy? Do you have too much routine? One of my early teacher mentors taught me to plan organically – to think about breathing in and out when laying the plans for a day or for a lesson. This could be changing from independent reading to physical stretching or taking a break in a lecture to allow students to simply think-pair-share (https://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/think-pair-share).
10. There are special cases. You may have a student who is under enormous stress outside of your control or one who suffers from mental illness. If you are at a loss with an individual, get help. You are the teacher, not everything. Tell your administrator or school counselor so that the student can get the specialized help they need and so that the climate in your classroom is preserved.