Today’s guest post is from Betsy Weigle and is all about classroom management. I know that is always a hot topic for every teacher and can vary from year to year depending on the students. Here are some good points to assist you in keeping it under control.
Picture yourself walking two different classrooms:
Classroom 1: Semi-organized chaos. Even when the teacher is instructing, not everyone is paying attention. Pockets of kids in the back are pursuing their own agendas. Those kids who want to learn are distracted, even during “silent reading,” by students with loud and inappropriate behavior. There is rarely a time when everyone in the room, teacher and students alike, are all “on the same sheet of music” and learning together effectively.
Classroom 2: Organized learning. Chaos, when it exists for brief activities, is directed and purposeful. 80% of the time if you peek in the door, the kids are attentively interacting with the lesson or independently focusing on their individual tasks. The rest of the time they are working in small groups. Even though it is not often silent, there is never a time when there is any doubt that there is one person in charge: the teacher.
We all know which room has the classroom climate we want to teach in, which room is more fun, and which room doesn’t suck the life out of you, leaving you exhausted every Friday.
A Yardstick for Measuring Your Level of Control
How quickly a teacher can get her students’ attention is a good indicator of the climate of the classroom and who is in control.
If a teacher can ask for attention (using whatever method is selected when deciding on classroom rules ) without raising her voice over the “speaking loud” level and get total silence in about 5 seconds, then the chaos level is well under control.
Learning is important, but it doesn’t have to be serious. In other words, the kind of classroom climate we want is one where we can be serious when we need to be, but in general there is an air of silliness, of laughter, of a funny joke appreciated.
But (again), you decide what kind of fun they have. Lighthearted fun is the only kind that is acceptable, and of course we must avoid at all costs any joking or teasing that leads down the path of hurt feelings.
Teachers can model appropriate fun by using witty wordplay or silly phrases that make the kids shake their heads. If this is not your nature, don’t force it. But nearly anyone can share occasional short, funny stories about their everyday life…making a little bit of fun about yourself is not going to undermine your authority in the long run.
As kids have a natural tendency to joke and play, your main role is often keeping it in check; kids also have a natural tendency to take things too far. When you gently redirect them, they learn appropriate limits on behavior.
The Right Climate Enhances Learning for Special-Needs Students
Aside from enhancing the ability to concentrate for all students, a calm but active classroom climate avoids excessive stimulation of those kids who may have real problems focusing (ADD/ADHD students, Autism spectrum students, etc.).
Give everyone the best chance to learn at their maximum effective level. Create the kind of climate you would like to be part of every day.
Betsy Weigle is the creator of www.classroom-teacher-resources.com the detailed information source for new elementary school teachers. For more information on the basics of student performance management, visit classroom management 101.