First-time visitors to SCM are often drawn to articles that deal with boundaries.
They want to know how to set limits and hold students accountable.
They’re looking for rules and consequences, borders and constraints.
They want to gain control and begin reining in an unruly class.
We’re happy to cover these topics.
They’re important, to be sure.
Having firm boundaries is the bedrock upon which you build a well-behaved class.
But they’re only a small part of effective classroom management.
I can’t emphasize this enough.
Many teachers assume that if they can find the perfect set of rules and consequences, then all of their problems will disappear.
But the truth is, there is no magic in the classroom management plan itself.
The magic is in making it meaningful to your students.
Your rules and consequences have to matter to them. Otherwise, they won’t provide the leverage you need to have the dream class you really want.
The secret to attaining that leverage, which can be defined as the wonderful feeling of knowing your students will behave as you wish, is to create a learning experience they love being part of.
This is a core principle here at SCM.
It’s so deeply ingrained in our philosophy and approach, in fact, that nearly all of the 400+ articles on this site either directly or indirectly deal with this topic.
One of the easiest and most rewarding ways to accomplish this is to include more opportunities for play.
Play is an area that is severely lacking in most classrooms, but it’s critical to your students’ social and academic development.
Kids need play—and so do adults—every day.
Play develops creativity more effectively than any other teaching method. It improves emotional, cognitive, and physical health and teaches students how to be curious self-starters and tenacious problem-solvers.
It readily pulls students into a state of flow, which is proven to be among the most pleasurable human experiences—where time distorts, awareness heightens, and engrossment becomes so intense that they get lost in the moment.
Play can also calm frayed nerves, stop racing and obsessive thoughts, and even cure anxiety.
Done right, and within an classroom with clearly defined and faithfully defended boundaries, it can allow you to ask virtually anything of your class—polite behavior, rapt attentiveness, perfect routines—and get it.
Not only do students appreciate opportunities for play, and will bend over backward to reciprocate your encouragement of it, but it prepares them for high-level independent work.
It keeps them fresh, present, and intrinsically motivated.
So how do you bring more play into your classroom and without it being viewed as “free” play?
Get your students up and moving.
Have them act out or demonstrate whatever they’re learning. Ask them to build, fix, direct, explore, model, present, make, assemble, and exhibit.
Head outside for lessons. Recreate literary scenes, current events, or moments in history. Assign open-ended projects that free your students to use their imagination and color outside the lines.
Turn two-dimensional concepts into three-dimensional works of art.
No, you don’t have to do it every hour. Short periods of play sprinkled here and there go a long way toward providing that certain esprit de corps.
That essence that makes your classroom different and special and bigger than its individual members.
One your students can’t wait to get to every day.
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