6 Classroom Management Strategies For New K12 Teachers to Try
When experienced teachers prepare for the new school year, they can look back to see which classroom management techniques worked. New teachers don’t have the luxury to do that. Worse, they’re often left sifting through a metric ton of conflicting advice and information on how they should manage their classrooms. It can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s helpful to have some easy-to-understand and even easier-to-apply classroom management strategies down your sleeve. But before we jump into that, let’s get some terms out of the way.
What is Classroom Management?
The APA provides a very succinct definition of classroom management.
“Classroom management is the process by which teachers and schools create and maintain appropriate behavior of students in classroom settings.”
Unfortunately, as simple as it is to define, it’s very difficult to master the art of classroom management. That’s a problem because a poorly managed classroom quickly devolves into chaos and learning stops happening. So what most new teachers really need are a set of actions they can apply immediately.
6 Classroom Management Strategies That Work
Address Problematic Behavior
Persistent, low-level disruptive behaviors such as talking out of turn are the most stress-inducing for the learning process, according to a recent study. This is because of the ongoing disruption they create. At the same time, 80% of that behavior is the direct result of poor classroom management.
One thing to keep in mind that disruptive behavior often results from learning deficits. When students lack the basic skills to take part in classroom activities, they often act out. Then their behavior distracts others. To help with these teachers can:
- Adapt tasks so they match each student’s abilities.
- Promptly respond to questions and requests for help.
- Provide verbal encouragement to stay on task.
Motivate Students With Personalized Learning Plans by Gamifying Those
It’s a fact: personalized learning plans drive results. To improve engagement levels among your students, start paying more attention to their individual learning styles. Doing so helps you come up with more relevant activities, assignment types and assessments.
Another technique to try is gamification. Studies have shown that gamification can significantly improve learning outcomes. So consider using some of the next tips, too:
- Every action to gamify a lesson should connect back to one or more elements of gaming.
- Use gamified terms to refer to points earned through classroom activities. For example students mastering vocabulary words could earn 1 XP per word.
- Give tangible rewards such as badges or certificates for successful leveling up.
- Use failures to create side quests.
Always Be Prepared
No teacher is perfectly organized. It’s inevitable that you are going to forget things on occasion, or shift daily lessons around because you aren’t as prepared as you want to be. But don’t let such things negatively impact the overall classroom experience. After all, students take their cues from you and can act out accordingly.
Here are three classroom management strategies teachers can take to ensure they are always on top of things.
- Create alternative plans in case a planned activity is cancelled.
- Pay attention to time. Be aware if an activity runs long or will end before you anticipate.
- Create checklists so you don’t forget things.
Get Transitions Right
Any time students move from one activity to another, that’s a transition. Unfortunately, many struggle with this aspect of learning. Some may feel frustrated that they need to stop an enjoyable task, or anxious about what happens next.
That’s why transitions tend to come with lots of noise and emotion. To mellow things out, try the following:
- Provide students with notice of the upcoming transition.
- Get attention before you give instructions.
- Make instructions clear and simple.
- Give a verbal and physical cue to start.
Finally, make note of where students struggle. Later, you can redesign the transition to go smoother. Imagine that things get chaotic when you instruct students to push their chairs to one side of the room. Next time, you could try assigning one or two more mature students to move chairs.
Learn to Get Focused at The Start of Class
Start each class with a strong statement that clearly states that teaching and learning is about to begin. Here, the simplest, most direct statements are most effective. For example:
- Sit down. Eyes on the board.
- Grab your pencil and focus.
- Look at the screen.
Such quick statements set the tone for two reasons. First, they command focus and attention. Second, it starts the day with a simple task that everyone can complete cooperatively and effectively.
Use The When-Then Strategy With Emotionally Charged Students
Ideally, teachers implement classroom management strategies in a way that encourages students to self-regulate. This can be done by giving them as much autonomy as possible. Students who are encouraged to make responsible decisions on their own are more likely to do so in the future.
Peacebuilders, an organization that creates anti-violence strategies for schools recommends the When-Then strategy to accomplish that. It’s a simple and effective one. All you have to do is:
- issuing a clear instruction (When)
- followed by the positive results of following that instruction (Then)
For example, “When you sit quietly in your chair, then we can finish the lesson and all go to lunch.”
When a teacher adopts the right classroom management strategies, students flourish. By implementing the action items above, you’ll be better able to keep students on task. Most importantly, students will find the learning process more enjoyable and engaging! So go on and give either of these approaches a try during your next class.
Photo by Brodie Vissers