Today’s blog entry is from guest blogger Mark Aaron! Great tips for classroom management!
Beginning teachers are often taught about lesson planning, curriculum, objectives, and assessment. Those questions need to be deferred in place of a more fundamentally important question. Maybe it is overstating the obvious, but the core skill that must be successfully mastered by any teacher, the foundation of all else, is classroom management. Without a well managed and disciplined learning environment, teachers will go nowhere and achieve nothing with their class. The most dynamic lesson plans, greatest differentiated curriculum, finest assessments, most wonderful projects….they mean nothing if a teacher cannot manage the classroom and control the learning environment. These are three simple things to use to create a successful learning environment in the middle school, which is undoubtedly the hardest place to make that happen, since we work in the “puberty school.”
1. Make promises to your students, but never, ever, ever break a promise you make to your students. If you promise a punishment or consequence for bad behavior or actions, it has to happen. If it’s a reward for doing right, it has to happen. Middle school kids respect and respond to that consistency, because they are at the age when they often feel deceived and betrayed by friends and family (even if they aren’t). Establish your integrity and credibility.
2. Hold students accountable by returning work that they give you promptly and efficiently. If we expect them to hand in work on time, without delay, and to be productive, we need to model productivity. It is part of being organized. Organized teachers show they care for their students, plan for their success, and analyze their work products and assessments. Students who feel cared for and valued as well as held accountable will behave better.
3. Tell a simple joke or short funny story once every ten minutes. Adolescents cannot focus for longer than that, if even that long, and some humor cuts through the fog and reinvigorates them. Examples include: “Have you heard the joke about the sidewalk?” It’s all over town. “If you don’t work a bit harder seventh grade could end up being the best three years of your life.” Or when a student asks you for a ruler you answer: “Would you like a king or a queen?” You get the idea. Search websites and build up an arsenal of puns to “shake the room, break the ice, and remake and refresh the learning environment.
These are three rules that have helped guide my middle school classroom management techniques for the past twenty-five years. They go beyond the simple advice of “Don’t smile until Christmas” given to most beginning teachers. Give them a try and you too can certainly improve your classroom management.
“Professionalism and reliability on the job can get teachers the respect and rewards they deserve. Assertiveness and professional development will help teachers keep those well-earned rewards from vanishing.” Mark Aaron
You can find Mark Aaron at his Teachers pay Teachers store.