There are a number of popular notions about classroom management that are widely accepted as gospel.
But reality doesn’t always match perception. This is one reason why classroom management can be so confusing.
“I just want to know what does and doesn’t work so I can get on with teaching.” is a common, and frustrating, refrain.
I hear you.
So I prepared a list of 12 classroom management myths.
Are you ready to turn convention on its head?
12 Classroom Management Myths
1. You should never smile the first two months of the school year.
Your smile should be the first thing students notice about you. It sets the tone for the new school year and gives you a jumpstart on building rapport. Being stern and severe will cause students to dislike you, which will severely limit your ability to influence behavior.
2. If you’re nice, they’ll take advantage of you.
Students will only take advantage of you if you say you’re going to hold them accountable and you don’t. Being kind and having a pleasant personality—while always holding students accountable—gives you many classroom management advantages.
3. Too much fun causes students to misbehave.
The opposite is true. If students are having fun learning in your classroom, your rules and consequences will have more power to dissuade misbehavior. If students are bored and uninterested, however, what incentive do they have to behave? A sticker at the end of the day?
4. Time-out should be less than ten minutes.
The length of time-out depends on the offending student’s level of contrition. If your students leave time-out without having learned a lesson, then what’s the point? One look into their eyes will tell you whether they’re ready to rejoin the class or not.
5. Catch students doing something good and then praise them for it is an effective strategy.
Praising students for expected behavior sends the message that doing what you’re supposed to do deserves special recognition. It also lessens the impact of praise given for behavior or performance that is truly worthy of it. If you want to acknowledge expected behavior, a thank you will do.
6. You need tougher consequences.
You don’t need tougher consequences. You just need to strengthen the ones you have. You do this by creating a classroom that students want to be a part of. This gives you powerful leverage—the kind that causes students to loath receiving even warning.
7. Spending time with students builds rapport.
Not if they don’t like you. Being likable builds rapport—whether you have time to play foursquare at recess with your students or not. Work on being yourself in the classroom. Tell stories, use humor, and don’t be afraid to show your personality. Your students will love you for it.
8. You need to reward students for good behavior.
Bribing is a short-term fix that doesn’t change behavior. Having fun together and meaningful praise from a teacher they admire are the greatest rewards. This gives your classroom management plan teeth and you the leverage to influence behavior.
9. You should send students to the office for misbehavior.
Sending students to the office weakens your ability to manage your classroom. It communicates to your students that the buck doesn’t stop with you, that you aren’t the ultimate authority in the classroom. And they’ll continue to test you because of it.
10. Lecturing individual students improves behavior.
You may not hear teachers actually say that lecturing students improves behavior, but nearly everyone does it. The fact is, lecturing will cause students to resent you, which will increase the frequency and severity of misbehavior. Instead of pulling students aside for a “conference,” simply follow your classroom management plan.
11. Who is on your roster determines if you have a good class or not.
You decide whether you have a good class or not, not the students. You have the power to create the class you want, regardless of who is on your roster.
12. You need to work on building community.
This is a case of the cart coming before the horse. You can’t work on building community. You must create conditions so it happens naturally. Holding students accountable (which protects each student’s right to enjoy school), pursuing challenging goals together, and making learning fun will build a community that students respect and care about.
There you have it.
12 classroom management myths, sure to help you stay on the right path and away from the crowds.
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