Teachers and all other educators may want to revisit their strategies for classroom management before they venture back into the classroom in 2014. If the things you have done in the past have not worked, you may want to make a few changes or remember the preferred behaviors, but were not always consistent reinforcing.
First of all, take control at the door. If you want to be successful teaching your lessons, you have to be an authoritative leader, but not necessarily authoritarian. Setting the tone for the lesson or lessons you want or continue with, will be easier if you have established classroom management outside of the classroom.
Refrain from barking orders, reading the riot act because a teacher that shouts and screams will not get respect. Students of all ages will simply ignore you if you shout at them. They will not listen to you. Remember to settle them down gradually. You can be assured that no group of students are going to re-enter the classroom after being at home, another classroom, or the playground immediately. If you can wait and be patient, they will be more likely to listen and settle down to work when you tell them to.
Reinforce the things that you want by using words like "thank you" and making non confrontational statements. Follow your own rules because confrontational statements and talking constantly about the things that are going wrong will set a negative tone. Refrain from questions and statements like: "Why are you always late?", "Stop fighting", "Get lined up against the corridor" will deter from the results you want.
Anything said the least bit threatening, will signal a red flag for combat and negativity instead of getting down to the business of learning, so try to keep things positive. Easier said than done, but in the long run, it will garner the kinds of behaviors you want.
Let yourself be comfortable with informal chit chat with students because that will set a more positive tone. If you want their respect, then you have to get down with "kid culture" to some extent, to let them know that you understand their wavelength. They will respect that you care enough to know what they care about.
For more challenging groups of students you will have to be very clear about what you want from them. Being ambiguous will open the door for them to make excuses about why they cannot do something. If you make every instruction crystal clear, you will get better results. Having classroom order requires that you have a seating chart, so you can know where you want them to sit. Also having the right equipment available and on the desk ready and waiting helps to make distracted students more focused. Having an activity for them right away helps students settle in without any intervention from the teacher; a warm-up to the lesson is a good ice breaker.
Again, ironing out the problems before entering the classroom is like an ounce of prevention to the pound of cure. Forgotten homework, class clowning, peer pressure and bullying can all be dealt with at the door so that problems do not materialize. Don't forget to praise good behavior with statements like: "You are to be trusted, you have lined up the way I asked." and "You have shown me that you can follow direction," will help filter out problems before they get started. Focus your attention on the students, however small the group, that are compliant with your wishes and don't forget to thank them. The others will quickly fall in to a positive approach.
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