It’s natural for teachers struggling with classroom management to try to do more.
They talk more, move around the room more, and meet with students more. They raise their voice and micromanage. They hover and pace.
They race through lessons hoping to finish before losing students to the hum and distraction of a rowdy class.
They create another chart, try out another incentive, and have another go at behavior contracts.
Before long, they become so accustomed to the frenetic pace that it becomes normal, the cost of being a teacher.
But what else is there to do but something more?
Doing Less Equals More Control
Take a deep breath…
If you slow down, move less, talk less, and at times do absolutely nothing, you will gain more control.
And classroom management won’t be such a challenge.
Here’s how to do less:
It’s always smart to take your time. If you rush or get ahead of your students, you’ll lose them—and control of your class. By slowing down, you’ll cover more material, get more done, and have better behaved students.
You’ve probably been told that teachers should move around the room a lot and avoid staying in one place. But unless you’re checking in on students working independently, this is poor advice.
Your students need to focus on you and your instruction and nothing else. This is best accomplished by staying in one place. There should be no misunderstanding about where their eyes, ears, and thinking ought to be.
Most teachers talk too much. The reality is, the more you talk, the less your students will tune in and the more likely they are to misbehave.
If you want your words to have meaning, be brief, get to the point, and move on. Save your voice for inspired lessons, readings, stories, and activities.
When giving directions or providing information, pause often. Allow a beat or two of silence between sentences.
This helps students focus on your message, allows them to process what you’ve told them, and gives you a chance to see how well they’re following along.
If your students aren’t giving you what you want, stop whatever you’re doing. Stand in the most prominent place in the classroom (I like to stand on a chair) and do nothing.
When your students are silent and looking at you, wait some more. Gather your thoughts. When you’re ready, tell them again precisely what you expect and then have them do it again.
Lower Your Voice
When you raise your voice, you train your students to listen to you only when you get loud and to tune you out the other times. It says, “Okay, I’m yelling because I really mean it this time!”
If you want your students to listen, speak softly. They should have to lean forward ever so slightly in order to hear you.
Trust Your Classroom Management Plan
You created a classroom management plan for a reason. So use it. Let it do the heavy lifting. Pull yourself away from the drama and frustration of trying to plead, persuade, counsel, manipulate, intimidate, bribe, and will your students to behave.
These methods, all examples of trying to do more, don’t work.
A New You
Decide today that you’re going to start doing things differently. Gone are the days of trying to do more, of chasing trends, of being stressed and in a hurry, of hoping your students will behave.
Instead, decide that you’re going to do what really works.
Students respond predictably to certain teacher behaviors. You can’t just wing it. You can’t just do what comes naturally or what feels right.
More than any other area of teaching, effective classroom management requires you to work smarter, not harder.
Today’s topic is a perfect example. Rather than doing more and having little to show for it, do less and become more effective.
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