How were your classroom behavior management strategies last year? Be honest. If you are like me, the results are mixed. They were good because you kept the stuff that worked for years and applied it and got rid of the stuff that didn’t. Unfortunately they were also bad because situations you didn’t think about arose and created problems in your classroom management. Well, right here, right now is the time we should be examining all that in preparation for a new year. There are many things I have learned through the years that work for classroom management. I believe that effective classroom management techniques must start with a dynamite lesson plan.
So, before we even talk about behavior, we have to spend time in a straight-backed chair (or the equivalent thereof) completely focused on crafting the best lessons we can. The lessons should explicitly teach and solicit responses from all the kids. If we aren’t doing this, that is our glaring error we will never overcome.
If we have done this, then our kids should behave rather well. Most kids want to engage, many have been taught there is nothing to engage with. You need to be the teacher who re-awakens that natural wonder. It’s kind of like a dare: are you up for it? I triple dog dare you ;) Okay, now that the obvious elephant in the room has been identified, let’s get to those three techniques:
- Effective classroom rules – These are usually a “given” but I want to revisit them. These rules can get you out of many binds. The lack thereof can also get the entire class is a mess that’s hard to escape. The word on these is simple: Make concise, relevant rules that number no more than 7. I have had discussions with teachers about how they want more rules. This defeats the purpose of rules in my opinion. If the rules on the wall become impossible to follow, or retain for that matter, they will be ignored. In my class, I never go above 5 rules. My only guideline in creating these is that every possible scenario can be linked to one of them.
- Classroom management intervention – You should have a system in place that protects the “good kids” who are obeying and trying to learn. Before they happen, you should have a system that quickly diffuses the “rule breaker” and returns the focus on instruction. There are many ways to do this and I am sure you know them. Many times I forget this tip and there is a lot of raucous before Christmas. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be this way with some pre-planned intervention.
- Assertive discipline classroom management – This is Lee Canter’s method and I subscribe to it 100%. Apart from my feelings about the lesson plan coming first, he has some amazing ideas that started in the 70’s in an authoritative style and have developed into a more democratic style. The word I like best is “assertive.” An assertive teacher addresses situations and works through them to her/his advantage.
Okay, so there you have it. Those are my 3 tips for you. We all hope we will get a perfect class every year and it’s no wonder we’re frazzled by Halloween! You can declare power over your year and when you do you will see that we have been entrusted with one of the most valuable jobs on Earth: teaching kids.