Your classroom management plan doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. Four rules and three consequences will usually do the trick. Indeed, there is no magic in the plan itself.
It’s the stuff in between, the strategery (see Will Ferrell), that determines whether classroom management is successful or not.
Time-out is an excellent example. Undoubtedly the most commonly used consequence, time-out can be incredibly effective or a waste of time depending on how it’s carried out. As teachers, we’re often overly focused on what to do rather than on how to do it.
The power is in the how.
How your students fulfill time-out decides its effectiveness. With that in mind, here are 10 ways to make time-out more effective.
1. Model it. Detailed modeling is a powerful teaching strategy and is especially effective for teaching classroom management procedures. Model your time-out procedure by playing the part of a misbehaving student. Show your students exactly what is expected of them if they’re sent to time-out. Understanding the realities of your classroom management plan will reinforce the importance of following rules.
2. Never waver. Resolve that you will follow through every time and for every rule violation, regardless of what is happening at the time. You might be in the middle of a superb lesson, but if a student breaks a rule and your plan calls for a time-out, send them immediately.
3. Tell them why. Whenever you enforce a classroom rule that requires a time-out, it’s important to tell the student why he or she is being separated from the rest of the class. Be brief and to the point. It’s not a two-way conversation. Simply state the rule that was broken and what the student did to violate the rule.
4. Don’t lecture students on the way to, or while they’re in, time-out. Let the time-out be the only consequence. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking your agreement (i.e., your classroom management plan) in the eyes of your students, thereby causing resentment. Creating friction between you and your students is counterproductive and will hurt your classroom management effectiveness.
5. Don’t give them anything to do. If the time-out is in your classroom, they should be required to follow along with your lessons and complete any work the rest of the students are doing. But if you send them for a recess time-out, they should sit silently with nothing to do. Not only is this easier for you, but it works better.
6. Supervise. Time-out doesn’t work well unless you’re supervising your students yourself. I realize this can be tough to do during a recess time-out. But it’s worth it. It sends the message that your rules are important enough for you to make sacrifices. And students appreciate it. It’s meaningful to them. Children are perceptive and will pick up on how much you care.
7. Ignore. When students are sent to time-out, they’re not part of your classroom until they return. Don’t speak to them, even if you’re supervising them during recess. The rest of your class should ignore them as well, but know that after the time-out is over, any returning student is once again a valued member of the class.
8. Let the student decide when he or she is ready to come back(note: only for in-class time-out). For students who have a proclivity for misbehavior, this can be especially effective. Simply say, “Let me know when you’re ready to be part of the class again.” After twenty minutes, if the student did what he or she was supposed to—as defined by the time-out procedures—and is sitting quietly with his or her hand raised, walk over and say, “Yes?” If the student is remorseful, then invite him or her to return.
9. Don’t hold a grudge. After the time-out is over, it’s over. The student has paid the fine and is therefore a class member in good standing. Holding grudges and taking behavior personally will result in more bad behavior.
10. Have fun. For time-out to be effective, your students must feel like they’re missing something. If your classroom is an exciting and interesting place to be, they will always feel like they’re missing something. However, there is nothing wrong with reminding them. Placing a student in time-out is the perfect time to start a learning game or a fun activity.
There you have it. Ten ways I’m certain will result in a stronger and more effective time-out consequence.
If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving articles like this one in your email box every week.