How to Enact Better Classroom Management Changes Now

How to Enact Better Classroom Management Changes Now

“Many first-year teachers speak longingly about how their actions and classrooms will be improved the following school year. They describe all their mistakes this past year and how they will fix them in the fall,” says Andrew Kwok, an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning, & Culture at Texas A&M University, writing in Education Week.

“One will eventually regurgitate some version of the old saw: ‘The first two weeks of the school year are crucial for classroom management and establishing rules and expectations.’

“Teachers believe these two weeks are when they should develop the classroom structures that will allow students to know what to expect for the remainder of the school year.

“I’m here to say it’s a lie.

“Believing that one can establish their classroom management plan in the first two weeks of the school year is just one of the many ‘truths’ about ‘managing’ student behavior that teachers learn.

“In my own first year of teaching, the first two weeks—and beyond—were full of difficulties. I struggled to understand which rules to enact or how to enforce consequences consistently. At some point, things improved but only well after two weeks.

“I’ve identified some key strategies that can improve classroom management at any point in the year.

“Interestingly, these strategies have developed from what I deem as misconceptions:

“I build relationships before, between, and after classes.”

“Teachers can build relationships within lessons more effectively. Concrete strategies range from praise and check-ins to rewards and self-regulation.

“You won’t know how to manage your students until you know who they are. This means ignoring other trite expressions, such as ‘not smiling before Christmas.’

“I need to focus on a good lesson, not classroom management.”

“A good lesson engages students, reducing opportunities to misbehave. A good lesson also can be derailed if students’ perspectives are not considered. Here are a few tips:

  • “Interesting demonstrations and lectures often have students sitting quietly at their desks for a whole lesson. Consider other ways they could learn the material (e.g., small-group activities) and the appropriate directions and transitions needed to get there.
  • “Build from their interest. Whether it’s using examples about Paw Patrol or Taylor Swift, incorporating students’ interests engages them.
  • “It’s important to have an abundance of activities per day. You’d rather end long (and put a pin in it for tomorrow) than not have enough for your students to do. The more you have prepared, the less time you’ll spend dealing with misbehavior.

“I manage all my students the same.”

“Consistent rules, procedures, and expectations establish the boundaries of your classroom. But we know discipline is not administered equally.

“Just like we do with instruction, it is important to manage behavior in a way that meets students where they are rather than treating them all the same.

“Allow for some flexibility or have students offer suggestions for what’s important for their learning. Find ways to promote positive interactions, such as utilizing nonverbal actions, specific praise, and parent partnerships to accommodate for student differences.

“Teachers can even utilize the current classroom as a trial-and-error period to see which strategies they like best. Instead of waiting until next year’s first two weeks, how about changing things today?”

Education Week

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