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Article: Bringing Order to the Classroom

By Karen Zauber

If you're a beginning teacher, you probably worry about classroom management. You're not alone. 

Classroom management -- managing both student behavior and the physical learning environment -- is an ongoing concern of all teachers. And a topic you'll continue to read and learn about.

Begin by considering the following four areas of classroom management:

Establishing Classroom Climate

To create the climate you want for your classroom, you must first decide the look and feel of the room. Think about the types of activities that will go on in your classroom as you answer the following questions:

  • Can you tolerate noise? Must the room always be quiet? Or can you put up with a mix of noise and quiet, depending on the learning activity? It's easier to start out more controlled and gradually open up to activity and noise than the other way around.
     
  • Must your classroom be neat (orderly rows, clean boards, limited clutter) or can you stand it messy?
     
  • What do you want your desk and surroundings to say about you? I'm neat and efficient. I don't worry about clutter, but I like some order. I like flowers and color. I value students' work and enjoy displaying it.
     
  • How do you want students to turn in their work? Do you want them to put it into your hands, into baskets, or e-mail it to you? Let them know.

Tell students how you feel about classroom climate and how everyone can help maintain a pleasant, productive learning environment.

Conducting Class Efficiently

When you streamline classroom procedures, you make things clearer for everyone and you make more time for teaching and learning. An efficiently run classroom enables students to focus on their work, which, in turn, helps reduce discipline problems.

To streamline your classroom procedures, use the following approaches:

  • Set long-term goals and keep them in mind as you do your daily planning.
     
  • Quickly learn and use student names.
     
  • Gain students' attention before beginning a new activity. Don't try to talk over student noise.
     
  • Give students their next assignment before you collect or return papers.
     
  • Don't interrupt students while they are on task.
     
  • Edit any materials you write for students. On tests be sure to avoid using poorly worded, ambiguous questions.
     
  • Don't introduce too many topics simultaneously. Think through the delivery of content before you get to the classroom.
     
  • Think through directions you will give students (write them down, if that helps, before giving them verbally). Directions should be brief, and as the word implies, direct.
     
  • Don't stretch out the time for an activity.
     
  • Be consistent in what you say and what you do.

Reaching All Students

Three strategies will help you teach and reach all students. Vary your delivery to keep students awake and interested in learning. Encourage all students to do their best and let them know that you believe they can succeed. Apply proven teaching techniques to keep student interest and monitor whether they are learning.

Vary Your Delivery

  • Modulate your voice. Avoid speaking too fast or in a high-pitched tone.
     
  • Use a voice level that can be heard easily in the back of the room.
     
  • Be animated in your delivery. Using facial expressions and body language can be very effective in teaching.
     
  • Move around. Don't stand or sit too long in one place.

Encourage All Students

  • Accentuate the positive.
     
  • Be serious about getting work accomplished, but add some humor and fun to class each day.
     
  • Let students know that you expect them to succeed.
     
  • Talk to and interact with as many students as possible, not just your favorite students.

Apply Proven Teaching Techniques

  • Vary your teaching strategies or combination of strategies during the week.
     
  • Use three or more seconds of "wait-time" after asking a content question.
     
  • Balance the time you spend with one student or group and monitoring the entire class.
     
  • Do appropriate comprehension checks -- as you are teaching -- to see if students understand the content.
     
  • Praise students appropriately. If you praise them all the time -- especially when they're only doing what's expected and no more, they won't strive to do more. Remember, intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful way to reinforce positive behavior. Be selective in your praise. Be honest. Tell them when they've excelled and how they can improve.
     
  • Read student papers for correct answers and for process and student thinking.

Establishing Discipline

When you establish an atmosphere of consistency and mutual respect, you will eliminate some discipline problems and facilitate the solving of others. Here are some techniques to use:

  • Be consistent in what you say and what you do.
     

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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