If you’re in teacher training, or perhaps already up to your knees in the business of your career, perhaps you’ve been asking yourself: why is classroom important anyway? Let’s jump right into the reasons that classroom management matters, and afterward I’ll share more about my own rocky journey towards classroom management success.
- Students deserve to learn without excessive distractions.
Our students deserve the opportunity to work without distractions. In fact, they need to learn how to sustain their attention to a task for more than 3 minutes. No sugar coating here: it’s your job to create this environment.
I’ll admit, a distracted class can sometimes be more fun for me as the teacher. I get a tiny bit bored and/or lonely when everyone is working silently and I’m standing off to the side just awkwardly staring. That being said, I’m not the person who matters in this situation! Fun is fun, but play must always be balanced with work.
By leveraging classroom management to your benefit, you can create a classroom environment where your more academically inclined students are not constantly pulling their hair out over the lower, more likely-to-avoid-work-via-any-method-possible students who constantly seek to disrupt and derail things. Additionally, those disruptive students will learn important skills in the areas of perseverance and stillness which will benefit them throughout their lives.
Get 17 Classroom Management Strategies to put you on the road to success.
- Students, especially those with learning difficulties, thrive on structure.
Not only students, but all of us depend on routines to provide structure in our lives. The difference between a child and adult, though, is that we are the only ones who are mature enough to recognize our need for structure and then to also have the discipline necessary to develop and maintain a healthy routine.
Fun is fun! Candy is delicious! Children aren’t yet developed enough to manage the balance between work and play. They need you to do it for them. And when you do, expect some push back. Naturally, children are inclined to push boundaries. They want to learn the limits of the world in which they live. This is a beautiful quality that enables children to build a better future for us all.
Let them push, but don’t let up when it comes to structure in your classroom. As the students test the limits and receive their consequence from you, they will eventually settle into a pleasant routine in which they can learn and grow. Providing this environment is part of what you get paid to do as an educator, and as the healthy pattern of routine begins to solidify with your students, you’ll get to see them develop right before your eyes.
- It gives students a way to “win” with you.
All students want gain the attention, admiration, and respect of the adults that they admire. If this isn’t possible, though, there’s always the second best option: settle for just attention. Classroom management is an important tool you can use to steer kids on the path towards receiving that coveted positive attention.
It begins when you set your expectations. You clearly define what good behavior in your classroom looks like, every day, if necessary. Then, you use positive narration to identify and point out which students are on task and performing within your guidelines. You make sure to call out only students who are on task, not off. You make it clear that in your room, only people who have good behavior get attention.
When bad behavior is impossible to ignore, you handle it quietly, out of sight or hearing of other students. You review expectations again, and you show kindness to the offending student.
Through a firm but loving approach to classroom management, students have no choice but to see you as a fair and even tempered teacher. Their respect for you grows, making them all the more likely to work hard to gain your favor. Gradually, your experience in the classroom becomes more and more positive.
- It makes life easier on YOU, as the teacher.
Children are simply not mature enough to define boundaries in a relationship. They rely on you, the adult, to do that for them. This is great news because the sky is the limit! Whatever you want as a norm in your classroom, you can have it through repetition and positive reinforcement.
By working a little bit harder on the front end, you can create a classroom environment in which students eventually begin to manage themselves. The first time you hear a class shush a disruptive student for you will be the day you know you’ve made it.
If you’re really in the pits of a bad class, though, it’s not going to be easy at first. I promise that it will be worth it, though. I also promise that it’s definitely easier than floundering through a mess of a class day by day, praying in anxiety stricken desperation that nothing too crazy will happen today.
A Little About Me
For me, classroom management was touch and go for at least the first four years of my career. I received absolutely no university training on how to control my students. (To this day, I still wonder why they didn’t think that was a necessary part of our coursework, but I think there’s always been an underlying belief that classroom management is somewhat of a “gift” you’re born with if you are a Good Teacher.) I used to wake up every morning and feel sick to my stomach in anticipation of the day I was going to have.
I tried to hide the things that were going in my classroom from other teachers because I was so ashamed to be failing at what I thought was my “life’s purpose.” If I’m not good at teaching, then what will I do? To put it simply, I was humiliated and exhausted. If this is you now, you’re not alone.
Eventually, I decided that anything would be better than this. I left my job at that school, moved into international teaching, and began to read every book I could get my hands on about classroom management. Emboldened, I began to discuss classroom behaviors with my colleagues.
Today, I’m still far from perfect, but I am here to talk if you want to discuss! Join my newsletter to get more updates along my journey:
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