If you’re looking for elaborate or decorative classroom management ideas, you won’t find them here.
Though prevalent, such ideas are unnecessary, even counterproductive, for classroom management.
On this site, we’re focused on only two things:
1. What works best.
2. What is simplest for you.
The goal of classroom management is to eliminate distractions, disruptions, and poor behavior, so you are free to inspire your students.
The results are happy and high achieving students.
Anything that interferes with this goal, or doesn’t contribute to it, should be thrown out.
Too many teachers chase the next great classroom management idea and are continually disappointed. They try one thing after the other, searching for the magic solution that will finally “get through” to their students.
In the meantime, they’re stressed and tired of dealing with behavior issues. For them, teaching becomes an act of drudgery rather than what it can and should be:
An act of joy.
So instead of chasing trends, why not focus on what is proven to work? All students respond predictably to certain principles and strategies. Master them, and you will never worry about classroom management again.
True, your fellow teachers may not “ooh” and “ahh” over the cleverly contrived classroom management charts or newfangled methodologies you’re using, but they will marvel at your ability to control your classroom.
And, most important, you’ll be able to focus your energies on what attracted you to teaching in the first place: the chance to make a lasting impression on your students.
A couple of days ago, I spoke to a former student on the phone. I was his sixth grade teacher. He is 24-years old now and a recent college graduate. I’m thrilled with his success and couldn’t be prouder of the person he has become.
But as we were talking, it saddened me to hear him say that he couldn’t remember his fourth or fifth grade teachers. He couldn’t even describe them to me.
Until you have a solid understanding of classroom management and how to implement the strategies that really work, your classroom will be forgettable too.
You can’t be the inspiring, influential, and memorable teacher you want to be unless your students—all of them—follow your rules.
Classroom rules are a fundamental tenet of classroom management, and they form the core of your plan. They’re important, to be sure, but they don’t need to be complicated. In fact, the simpler, the better.
Here are four keys to creating classroom rules that work.
1. Clarity trumps all. Your students must clearly understand your rules in order to follow them.
2. Use only four or five rules. Any more than that will make your rules harder to remember and, thus, harder to follow.
3. Make sure your rules cover every eventuality. You can’t enforce a behavior unless it falls under the banner of one of your rules. Doing so is confusing and unfair to students.
4. Make them specific. Everyone, especially you, needs to know when or if a rule has been broken.
Many years ago, I discovered a set of rules that fit the criteria listed above and have used them ever since. They’re nothing special. In fact, they’re really quite boring.
But they work.
Remember, the rules themselves don’t motivate students to follow them. You do. (To learn how, see other articles, sign up for weekly updates, or read the book Dream Class.) To repeat an often-used refrain on this site, there is no magic in your rules.
But they are an important part of your classroom management plan, and creating them thoughtfully is the first step to having complete classroom control.
Drum roll, please:
1. Listen And Follow Directions
2. Raise Your Hand Before Speaking Or Leaving Your Seat
3. Respect Your Classmates And Your Teacher
4. Keep Hands, Feet, And Objects To Yourself
These four simple rules should cover every behavior that threatens to disrupt your classroom and interfere with learning. However, if you need to, you can always add one more.
Notice that these rules are related to behavior only. I know some teachers like to include learning expectations as well, like, for example, Complete Work On Time or Work Independently. But combining them with behavior rules can be confusing.
Keep your learning expectations separate from your behavior rules.
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