One of the great things about teaching is that every year is a fresh start. Every year allows you to wipe the slate clean, reinvent yourself, and become a better, more effective teacher.
Summer provides an opportunity to push the reset button, to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the next.
It’s the perfect time to ponder the changes and improvements you’d like to make and consider the kind of teacher you’d really like to be.
What follows are ten meditations that are sure to prepare you for the best year of teaching you’ve ever had. They provide a framework for exceptional classroom management from which inspired teaching and learning naturally flow.
Consistency in your behavior, in your interactions with students, in your speaking and temperament, and in your follow-through is critical to creating a happy, well-behaved classroom. Your steady reliability is the foundation from which you build trust, rapport, likability, and so much more.
Every repeatable moment of the school day should be made into a routine your students can perform without your assistance. Knowing what to do and how to do it well fills them with a sense of purpose, allowing them to focus on learning and cutting way down on misbehavior.
Showing your students in a highly detailed way how you want them to enter the classroom, turn in work, raise their hand, and perform scores of other routines and learning tasks is the most efficient way to teach virtually anything you want your students to be able to do.
Your temperament has a powerful effect on behavior, yet most teachers don’t give it a second thought. Maintaining a calm, easygoing demeanor settles students, removes excitability, and gives you the effortless leadership presence your students will want to follow.
Your voice is an indispensable tool for improving listening and attentiveness. Speaking in a softer tone, pausing often, and refraining from repeating yourself can infuse the words you use with greater meaning and impact. It can provide drama, anticipation, and edge-of-your-seat interest.
Although high-interest lessons are important, nothing is as effective in drawing students into learning as your personality. Simply remembering to smile and enjoy being in the company of your students will permeate your classroom with that secret ingredient so many teachers are missing.
Focusing on great instruction and then stepping back and allowing your students to prove their new knowledge—without your hovering, kneeling-down input—empowers them with fierce independence, improved attentiveness and concentration, and galloping strides in learning.
You don’t have to be laugh-out-loud funny. You don’t have to be a jokester or in any way undermine the seriousness of learning in your classroom. But being open to laughter and willing to bring regular doses of humor to your lessons is a shortcut to easy rapport and likability.
One of the maxims of Smart Classroom Management is to never move on until you’re getting exactly what you want from your students. Do this from day one and you’ll never, ever lose control of your classroom. Further, by November you’ll be cruising, rolling along with brisk efficiency.
Make a point of setting aside a moment of quiet before your students arrive each day. Take a few deep breaths and resolve to keep a calm composure no matter what happens. It’s a simple little thing, but so, so powerful—making you more effective and far less susceptible to stress.
What Really Works
The ten meditations listed above add up to a classroom your students will look forward to. They add up to behavior-changing influence, a peaceful but lively learning environment, and a teaching experience that is both fulfilling and impactful.
The best thing about them, though, is that they’re easy. Anyone can make a commitment to these simple strategies and experience dramatic results.
Effective classroom management isn’t about doing more. It isn’t about talking more, moving faster, or trying harder. It isn’t about adding another incentive system, coming up with stiffer or more creative consequences, or having interactive, color-coded this and that.
It’s about relationships. It’s about good instruction. It’s about being real and clear and direct. It’s about love and laughter. It’s about inspiration and simple kindness.
It’s about focusing on what really works.
And discarding the rest.
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