Effective classroom management for many teachers brings to mind an image of a quiet, dingy environment. They hear the term and think – controlling, curbing, compelling. They consider it means to be a severe authoritarian who forces students to behave against their wish. This post is all about good classroom management – how can you do it effectively and effortlessly.
I got into teaching when I was barely 18 years old and have about 9 years of teaching experience. Being about the same age as your students (sometimes I was a few years younger) teaches you a dozen of things much earlier than usual in life. The biggest challenge you have to overcome in early years of teaching is effective classroom management. Here I share with you the myths about classroom management, learning from my experiences and how I overcame the toughest challenge of my teaching career.
Though I do not teach anymore, I have a lot of wonderful memories as well as some not so good memories of my teaching days. The bad days find their roots in those horrid moments where I failed to manage my class. Once an administrator made a remark about the behaviour in my classroom this is what I did; threw a noose around the class and started tightening it. I started shouting orders, demanding, intimidating, shushing and lecturing. On confronting misbehaviour I started raising my voice. Though it did make a change in the moment but overall behaviour didn’t improve. I knew this were just band-aids and was stressed beyond relief.
If felt difficult and I knew I was doing something incorrectly. I researched methods to effectively manage a class and took advice from those who have walked the way before and stumbled. And it’s fair to say that most of what I learnt as a new teacher was trial by fire. I made some subtle changes in my teaching practices some of which were:
- First and foremost I stopped raising my voice to get students’ attention. Speaking at a normal, pleasant volume and differentiating my tone based on the situation helped. I could see the students mirror my voice level in no time.
- Using non-verbal mode of communication like holding hand in air, making eye contact, flicking the lights on and off, etc. when done routinely, worked wonderfully in getting attention from students.
- Another simple way is to wait and then wait for some more time till students are ready to listen and remain quiet. I fought my temptation to talk and my patience paid off.
- Handling conflicts wisely, quickly and positively helped. As far as possible I avoided interruption of the lesson and immediately addressed the conflicts outside the class. Not accusing the student and using neutral language is the key here!
- More important of all is understanding the equation: ‘Bored student = trouble’. If the lesson is poorly planned, no hands-on learning experience for the students and too much talking from the teacher alone, then there is no escaping. It is always better to over plan and run out of time than to run short on a topic. If we do not have a plan for them, they will have a plan for us.
It was not long before I realised that effective classroom management is knowledge based. Dissimilar to most successes in life, it doesn’t reward those who work the hardest. It remunerates those who work the smartest. It takes self-control, discipline and care to be sure.
Classroom management isn’t about no-fun, you-against-them method. It isn’t inhibiting, edgy or stifling of conduct. Nor does it ever need to be. Rather, efficient classroom administration is an accumulation of gentle yet powerful methods intended to create surroundings that are helpful for learning and enjoying studies. It’s about trust, influence, interactions and leadership. What is important is your relationship with students—how you talk, interact and speak with them, the way you react when they act mischievously, how you conduct yourself, how you compliment them, and the procedures you use to get work done. You have to know how to create control, how to build a connection, how to get students thrilled about coming to school and how to be an effective storyteller.
It includes severity only in a sense that precise boundaries of conduct are staunchly retained. Under this true definition, the space within the limitations represents magnificent autonomy. For students, it is the autonomy to love school, to flourish intellectually, and to make long-term friendships without being uptight and bullied. For teachers, it is the opportunity to instruct without obstruction, to build up an enthusiasm and thankfulness for the profession, and to have an effect that echoes into eternity. To put it in short, successful classroom administration is where the wishes and satisfaction of both students and teachers meet.
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