A teaching maintaining control over her classroom of young students
For Teachers

Advice on Positive Classroom Management that Works

By The Room 241 Team February 13, 2013

In many classrooms, classroom management becomes a focus on stopping negative behavior, but positive classroom management techniques can actually be more effective. While teachers do need to address negative behaviors, they should make their primary focus in the classroom positive, and when they do, the entire classroom environment becomes one of mutual support and encouragement. These positive classroom management techniques work well in most schools.

Make a Class Volume Control

Young students often struggle to know how loud they are becoming, or when it is appropriate to talk while in the classroom. A classroom volume control gives them a visual reminder. Teachers can make a dial out of poster board using a split pin to connect a sturdy arrow to it. The dial should be labeled with three zones for “shh,” “quiet talking” and “discussion.” The teacher then displays this in a prominent position in the classroom, adjusting the “volume” of the class as appropriate for what is going on in the room. Students know when they are allowed to converse simply by looking at the dial, and the teacher is no longer relegated to constantly shushing the students.

Create a Fairness Committee

Often, students who act out in the classroom are corrected, but not given the chance to make amends. They may also feel that “their side” of the story is not ever heard. This harms the relationship of the misbehaving students with the rest of the class and the teacher. As a solution, the class can create a fairness committee.  A fairness committee is made up of students and teachers who work together to create a restorative approach to classroom discipline.

When students do wrong, they are allowed to present their side of the story to the committee. The committee will help them make amends, rather than focusing on a punishment, so that a positive balance is restored in the classroom. The committee will focus on asking questions about the situation to determine the cause and the damage, so they can help the student make amends. This technique works best for older students, particularly those in middle school or higher.

Use Eye Contact

Eye contact is a simple, positive way to maintain control over a classroom, according to the National Education Association. When teaching, teachers should stand so they can see all of the class. This allows them to quickly assess situations and then move closer to problems, stopping them before they start. Along with this, teachers should vary their routine, avoiding walking the same path in the classroom during the teaching day. Students who cannot predict where the teacher will be are less likely to misbehave.

Marbles in a Jar

While negative behaviors need to be addressed, teachers need to reinforce the positive ones as well. In fact, Edutopia recommends four positives to any negative corrective action. Addressing positive behaviors also helps students feel that they can trust the teacher. This fosters the right atmosphere in the classroom. Marbles in the jar is a technique that does this. It works well because it rewards the entire class when they do well. To use this technique, the teacher places a jar on the desk and a bag of marbles nearby. When the class is caught doing something good, the teacher places some marbles in the jar. When the jar is full, the class gets a class reward, like a fun afternoon activity, extra recess or the option to wear a crazy outfit to school.

This technique works best for young children. The visual cue of the marbles keeps good behavior in the children’s minds, while the anticipation of a group reward helps them work together toward a common goal. It also eliminates the isolation of problem students. The entire class is rewarded as a group, so students with behavior problems can contribute to the reward.

Positive classroom management techniques require some creativity, but when used well, they can change the dynamic in the classroom. With positive classroom management, teachers change from the police, looking for instances of bad behavior, to supportive educators, working with the students to help them learn.

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