How To Drastically Improve Your Class

Smart Classroom Management: How To Drastically Improve Your ClassThere is a secret a small cadre of teachers share that can drastically improve your class.

It works in all situations and grade levels.

It’s simple and straightforward.

It causes a giant leap in progress—from behavior and listening to work habits and attentiveness.

It’s an approach, or rule of thumb, you can abide by and count on every day.

It does take a bit of discipline, especially in the beginning.

But the results can be remarkable.

So what is it?

Just this:

If ever your students aren’t giving you what you want . . .

  1. Stop them in their tracks.
  2. Reteach your expectations.
  3. Begin again.

Now, this very likely isn’t new to you. You may have tried this strategy in the past or believe you’re following it fairly well right now.

I call it a secret, however, because after observing hundreds of classrooms over the years, only a small percentage of teachers actually do it.

You see, it isn’t something you can dabble with or only kinda-sorta do. Trotting it out every once in a while—or even more often than not—is not only confusing to students, but it sends the message that you don’t really mean what you say.

You’d be better off not doing it at all.

But if you follow this simple script for every time your students fall short of your expectations, and really commit to it, you can transform your class. Few areas of learning and classroom management will be unaffected.

But again, it must be an every lesson, every routine, and everyday part of your classroom culture.

The strategy works because it forces you, as a natural consequence, to become extraordinarily effective with your initial instruction. At the same time, it causes students to become strong, active, and tenacious listeners and doers.

In other words, it holds both you and them accountable for performing your jobs well.

In time, you’ll become so good at communicating what you want, whether how to work in groups, turn in assignments, select a library book, or anything else for that matter, that the exact vision you have for your students will materialize before your eyes.

Reality will match your mind’s eye to a scary degree.

Your students in turn will become experts at knowing what it is you want and translating it into action. This is no pie-in-the-sky scenario. However, there is a caveat.

When you first begin using the steps in earnest, it may be slow going, especially if you try putting them into practice mid-year. Your class may be so used to half listening, or not listening at all, that you’ll have to repeat nearly everything you do.

You may feel as if you’re falling behind your grade-level counterparts or that you’re never going to get through all that you need to teach.

But if you stick with it, the light will flicker on, bright and clear as the coastal sun.

Your students will realize that when you give an instruction, when you teach and model what you want in explicit detail, or just make a simple request, you really do mean for them to follow it.

Every day will get a little better. Every day your class will get sharper, faster, and more efficient. Eventually, you’ll have more time than you’ll know what to do with.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to offer the kind of accurate, worthy praise that matters to students and pushes them on to greater and greater levels of accomplishment.

But it starts with an all-or-nothing commitment to mean what you say, to make your actions congruent with your words. After all, raising expectations isn’t about what you say.

It’s what you do.

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17 Responses to How To Drastically Improve Your Class

  1. Cari January 13, 2018 at 10:51 am #

    Where is the simple script you mention?

    • Michael Linsin January 13, 2018 at 11:06 am #

      Steps 1-3.

  2. Jill January 13, 2018 at 12:17 pm #

    Thank you for this reminder. I forget so often and so easily that going over expectations can’t be a one time thing, I actually do a pretty good job with this as far as procedures go, but realized in reading this post that I need to start each day reminding my 1st graders what it looks like when they are paying attention and when they are participating. Then, if they are not following those expectations, I can stop and reteach! Thanks so much for helping me get another part of my class on track!

    • Michael Linsin January 13, 2018 at 3:34 pm #

      You’re welcome, Jill!

  3. Carissa January 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm #

    This works SO well, this is the first week back from break. They entered the class noisily once and I retaught expectations then sent them out to do it again. Kindly but firmly. They did it perfectly the next time.

    One thing I think is important to add is tone of voice, although I know you have other articles about that. So often I hear teachers speaking sharply and sounded frustrated such as, “It is JANUARY I should NOT Have to tell you this again!! Go BACK into the hall and come in again!!” This is received completely differently than a calm and reasonable tone that says, “Hey class this is how we enter the classroom, maybe your feeling a little rusty after the break but I know you can do it. Let’s go back out and do this again.” Same basic idea but one way works way better than the other. It’s hard to convey tone of voice over the computer but you know what I mean!

    • Michael Linsin January 13, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

      Very true, Carissa. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Mike D Pickering January 13, 2018 at 1:00 pm #

    Thanks Michael. I am so sticking with all you teach me. I have set a goal of reading from my notes of your online summer course everyday. I have been with you for about a year and a half now and will never turn back. What magic my students are becoing capable of, me too. Few words can express my appreciation so here they are, “Oh my gosh! It really works.” I have learned to be a patient student of yours always and forever more easing further into the magic we teachers so deserve to impart to our students. Here’s to the most magical year ever, Mike Pickering

    • Michael Linsin January 13, 2018 at 3:36 pm #

      Hi Mike,

      I’m so glad to hear it. Indeed, cheers!

  5. Alexis J. January 13, 2018 at 3:21 pm #

    Thanks! I needed this. My week ended with me feeling so frustrated because my students go back to their tables and immediately lose focus of the assigned task.

  6. Moumita January 13, 2018 at 8:10 pm #

    Thanks! But still this is not helping in controlling the class. They get noisy after few minutes. Please tell me how do I control. Thanks!

    • Mark January 16, 2018 at 7:44 am #

      What age group are your kids?

    • Mark January 16, 2018 at 7:57 am #

      When I had a really awkward year 3 class (7-8 years old), I used a rainmaker to signal that they weren’t following my instructions. They knew that they had until the ‘rain’ stopped to stop, look and listen because they weren’t following my instructions

      Importantly, this was a different method to how I ask for the class’ attention when the kids are busy (through a clap, or show me 5 for example). The rainmaker was only for stopping the class to address expectations. It’s a calm noise, that didn’t require me raising my voice but got silence and their attention.

      The class instantly knew they weren’t meeting my expectations and that they were going to be repeated. Mostly, I didn’t have to explain how they weren’t meeting my expectations as they knew this from the rainmaker – therefore, the whole explanation and then repetition was a wholly positive exercise. It worked very well for that class.

  7. A cohen January 14, 2018 at 8:51 pm #

    Does it happen that they take advantage of wasting class time to repeat everything you instruct them to do? I can imagine that this is what one of my classes would do. Does this also work well if you have a class A few periods a week?

  8. Carol January 15, 2018 at 7:13 am #

    I know I need to do this better, but I only see my classes once a week. It’s hard to pull them together when I don’t see them often.

  9. Raquel January 15, 2018 at 10:19 am #

    This is great advice and it comes at a good time, mid school year. I would love to see a video of this in action.

    • Janine January 16, 2018 at 7:34 am #

      I was thinking that too! I would love to see a video of these strategies in action!

  10. Hedy Kolb January 15, 2018 at 1:36 pm #

    Thanks for reminding me how frequently I must go over routines! I have to keep building those skill muscles in the kids, and if I slack off, those muscles weaken, just like physical muscles. It is worth whatever time it takes to remind them; however, sometimes it is accomplished by just pointing to a procedure I have posted on my walls.

    But, boy, does it pay off. I have been reading your newsletter for a few years, and I have purchased a couple of your books; your suggestions are always helpful, and time-friendly! I hope to have a personal coaching session with you sometime in the future!

    Thanks again!

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