For Teachers

5 Class Management Techniques for Teachers

By The Room 241 Team January 26, 2013

Teachers worth their salt know that good learning only occurs in calm, conducive environments where interest level is high and fear and threat are low. Unfortunately, even one difficult student can change a classroom from a wonderful educational setting into a poor one. Even worse, multiple students or an entire unruly class can wreak true havoc on learning.

Often times, however, there are simple modifications a teacher can use to his or her teaching style to control poor or disruptive behavior and bring students’ attention back to the subject at hand. Class management for teachers doesn’t have to be drastic, but can instead represent a series of small, continual actions that regulate a classroom environment for the better.

1. Use Visual Cues

Sue Nelson-Sargeant, writing for the National Education Association, says that visual cues are some of the best methods for regulating a classroom from preschool all the way up to high school. Because visual signs do not require a teacher to raise her voice or to be heard over the hubbub, they can be very effective.

Among her suggestions are:

  • Signing “wait, sit in seat please” to the entire class while I verbally respond to another student’s urgent need for my attention
  • Holding up a yellow card indicating the class is getting too loud
  • Using a photocopy of my hand print to indicate a “high five”
  • Using a “chill out” card for a student who is escalating to a meltdown
  • Encouraging students to use ASL to communicate with others

The one thing to be aware of when using visual cues is that students must be able to see them. Therefore, use these cues when you already have a large portion of student attention, or use a signaling device like a bell to let students know a visual cue is coming.

2. Include Students in Creating Rules

At the beginning of the year, invite your students to make classroom rules with you to increase their buy-in. Scholastic recommends starting with a master list and then expanding from there to meet the needs of your individual classroom situation.

3. Regulate Novel Stimuli in the Classroom Environment

Certain items are guaranteed to cause misbehavior even in the most obedient of students. Among these are treasured possessions from home that detract from student attention, electronic devices that distract the owner as well as the students around her, food items and animals.

While a widespread ban on these items generally isn’t the most effective approach, ensuring solid classroom rules that all students understand can help keep the results of allowing them into the room in check. Make it clear when items from home are tolerated and when they are not; create rules regarding holding classroom pets; restrict food to snack time, if you allow it in your classroom at all times, or to students who use appropriate behavior while eating.

4. Punish in Private

Sometimes, of course, classroom management can’t be accomplished before things get out of hand, and a student will need to be removed from the situation. When a teacher does this, however, it is important to keep public penalties to a minimum level needed to remove the student from the classroom, and conduct the rest of the punishment in private.

Kids, like adults, do not respond well to public humiliation, and will be driven to save face in front of their peers. This often has the opposite result from that intended by the teacher; i.e. students will act out in ever-greater proportion to prove that the punishment is not having an effect on them. Respond to misbehavior by calmly removing the student from the group and conducting further consequences in the privacy of the hall or principal’s office.

5. Know Your Students

What works for one student may not always work for another, so always make sure you know each individual you are teaching. What calms them? What makes them afraid? What excites them? What is most likely to embarrass them? Knowing these things about each student can help you avoid hot button issues and tailor your responses, whether positive or negative, to their individual needs.

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