If you’re a teacher you can understand how difficult it can be to get your classroom under control. The last thing you want to spend an hour doing is reeling in the craziness of your students, when you would prefer to be stoking the fire of knowledge and focus. It can be frustrating when you don’t know how or why your students aren’t thriving, focusing and listening properly. As teachers, it’s easy to take the blame for why you’re doing wrong.
Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of your classroom management, start by implementing positive direction in place of where you’re getting stuck. Keep in mind, you may be dealing with students who are struggling with personal issues as well, outside of the classroom. We’ve compiled some tips from fellow teachers who have struggled with classroom discipline to help you get a handle on a rowdy classroom. By using these helpful techniques for classroom management, you’ll be able to get to the positive aspect of teaching and give your students the knowledge, influence and growth you’re looking to facilitate.
Helpful Tools and Tricks
1. Assertive Discipline
It’s understandable that many teachers want to be “the cool teacher.” The one that makes the students feels safe, understood and comfortable being themselves. You can stick to all of those principles while also asserting positive discipline and authority. Lee Canter worked off the philosophy that if you “catch” a student being good by recognizing them when they behave, they will work harder at behaving. Can you think of some examples in your classroom where this has proven to be true? Canter also believes that there should be consistent consequences of breaking the rules that are very clear. If you make a rule, you can’t bend on it on a case-by-case basis. For your students to know how serious you are, they need to also understand your boundaries. Boundaries aren’t negotiable. Try to come up with about five rules for your classroom that are clear, concise and implemented frequently so that your students understand to adhere to them consistently. Within this rulse structure also create a set of consequences so that your students understand, clearly what will happen if these rules are broken. For individuals, consider making the consequences greater if broken more than once. Now, for your students to not feel as though that are being policed without any reward, reinforce positive rewards for positive behavior and rule following. Not only do you want to create a structure for this, announce, applaud and make clear what positive benefits they’ll reap for following your rules. Remember, the teacher (you) are the boss and have the ability to take control.
2. Direct instruction
Buzzing excitement in a classroom can call for distracted behavior or confused student. When theres a lack of direction, uncertainty sets in for the student which causes chaos. It’s important that the teacher outlines, clearly, what the goals are for the period of the class, this direct instruction gives students an understanding of what to expect. It’s also helpful to include time for the students at the end of class to do an activity of their choice. When they know that they’ll be able to use time how they prefer at the end of their work, they’ll more more efficiently and with more focus.
As the teacher, get up and move around the room. This will help you keep a better eye on your students and they’ll feel like you’re engaged with their work. By circulating around the room, a group knows that you’re going to check on their work, and oversee their progress. If there is a student who is struggling and distracted or slow to get their project finished, having your watchful eye and a gentle nudge in the right direction will help them get the ball rolling. Try using a quiet tone when approaching your students individually, it makes them feel like you’re giving them positive affirmation and personal attention, which reinforces good behavior.
“Values are caught, not taught.” says Mcdaniel, the approach of modeling behavior you’d like to see reflected from your students will be incredibly helpful when controlling your classroom. If you want your students to be enthusiastic, calm, controlled, focused, or whatever your particular goal may be, then you have to demonstrate it first.
5. Environmental control
You want your students to enjoy their classroom environment and like being there. It’s up to the teacher to create a space that is warm, vibrant and welcoming for the student. You students also want to feel connected to their teacher, if you add your own personal touch or flare as well as some personal items, i.e. a photo of you and your puppy, or something that reflects your favorite personal hobby (running, yoga, etc. ) your students will get to know you better and have less of a struggle when receiving discipline. In addition, you’ll want to consider having a quiet corner or place in your room that’s reserved for reflection with no distractions. For some students overstimulation with bright colors and visual exploration can drag them off course and they’ll need a space to recollect their thoughts and find focus.
6. Low- Profile Intervention
To avoid having a stressful, noisy intervention with a student when there’s conflict, thus leading the entire classroom off course- this can all be avoided with calm and quiet intervention at the onset of a problem. An effective teacher will take care that the student is not rewarded for misbehavior by becoming the focus of attention. The approach to misbehaving student after proper monitoring of the classroom should be inconspicuous. This will keep the rest of the room from getting involved and becoming distracted.
7. Assertive I-Messages
A component of Assertive Discipline, these I-Messages are statements that the teacher uses when confronting a student who is misbehaving. These I-messages will be clear descriptions of what you’d like to see from your student. Focus first on the child’s behavior want as opposed to behavior you don’t want; “I expect you to…” or “I want you to…” If you add in the misbehavior you’re likely to get a retort or aversion from the student which heightens the tension and stress level in the classroom. Clear, positive expectations without the focus on the fault of the student, but by steering them into a more positive direction will help keep any problem from escalating.
Teacher Ideas for the Classroom
There are the tried and true helpful tips when it comes to classroom discipline, assertive discipline, monitoring, etc. then there are some new and fun helpful tips that teachers have come up with over time and from seeing positive results that we wanted to include for you to try out. Consider some of these tips for your classroom if you’re struggling to keep them on course;
- Meet the class at your door and do not let them in until everyone has arrived and they are all calm. Smile and make sure you say hi to each student before they enter.
- Have one on one conversations with the students in the hall away from the rest of the class.
- Think very carefully about where you want each student to sit. If you have tables, make sure the dominate students sit facing you and are spread around the class.
- POST the important rules – keep it short, no more than 6 and refer to it often. These should be posted after the class has brainstormed them together. This makes the students feel heard and the expectations for a good classroom are a collaborative result.
- Never continue on with instruction when the rules are being broken – pause, delay and ensure that you have your student’s attention.
- “I give “quiet lotion”. Just a small squirt of lotion to remind them to be quiet (they can smell it to “remind” them to be quiet) really works! Kids just say no thanks if they don’t want it. Suave in the big bottles is what I use sandalwood/cinnamon rocks. I also erase one of three smiley faces on the board for noise control…” – Teacher Ali
- Enforce your rules consistently!
- When they’re not listening, change “GO,” to “Come.” “Come with me to the table so you can sit down,” instead of “Go sit down at the table.” This will change the tone of the confrontation.
- Use hand signals and other non-verbal communication. Flicking the lights on and off for attention, holding a hand in the air, direct eye contact, or clapping your hands three times and the students clap back twice.
- Create a “Noise-O-Meter” with a gauge from “Outside Voice, Inside Voice, Whisper, to No Voice” that point out where you expect the volume of the classroom to be.
- Create positive passes to give to students with good behavior; bring a show and tell item pass, sit with a buddy pass, use a pen pass, wear a hat pass, positive note to parents pass, etc. You can get creative with what the passes are for the individual student.
Resources for Teachers
Thankfully, there are many teachers just like yourself looking for some tips that they have yet to try with their classroom. Consider looking at sites like Pinterest, Scholastic, Mrs. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog, Teach for Us, The Principals Page, It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages, and Just a Substitute Teacher to help gain insight from teachers like yourself that are sharing their experiences and stories. Within these sites are tips, feedback from fellow teachers and several other sources to connect, vent, share and ask for advice on classroom management. We’d love to hear your tips, thoughts and feedback on what you do that works within your classroom, please leave us a comment and help share your ideas!
“Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” Rita Pierson