TEACHER Jones walks into the Senior 3 class and finds all the students asleep. It is the last lesson before lunch and the students are probably extremely hungry.
He greets the class in a hilarious manner. But, lo! There is grave silence. The now enraged teacher spits fire. He spells doom for the blatantly rude class. A deluge of threats of dire consequences for non-attentive students follow each other.
Students wake up and gaze at the teacher as if sunk in an abyss of confusion. As Mr. Jones develops his lesson, disruptions escalate and cascade. His countenance turns dark and dark as his anger wells up. He has to get out of class because he cannot take it any more.
Many educators find themselves in similar or more complicated situations. Here are some tips on successful classroom management.
Start the school year with a good discipline plan. Students quickly assess the situation in each class and realize what they will be allowed to get away with. Once you set a precedent in allowing a lot of disruptions it can be very hard to start better classroom management and discipline techniques.
Fairness is key. Students have a distinct sense of what is and what is not fair. You must act fairly for all students if you expect to be respected. If you don’t treat students equitably, you will be labeled as unfair and students will not be keen to follow your rules.
Make sure that if your best students do something wrong, they too are punished.
As a rule of the thumb, avoid confrontations in front of students. Whenever there is a confrontation in a class, there is a winner and a loser. As a teacher it is better to deal with discipline issues privately than cause a student to ‘lose face’ in front of his friends.
It is not a good idea to make an example out of a disciplinary issue. Even though other students may get the point, you might have lost any chance of actually teaching that student anything in your class.
Be consistent. One of the worst things you can do as a teacher is inconsistency while enforcing your rules. If one day you ignore misbehaviors and the next day you jump on someone for the smallest infraction, your students will quickly lose respect for you.
Your students have the right to expect you to be the same every day. Moodiness is not allowed. Once you lose your students’ respect, you also lose their attention and their desire to please you.
Another important point is to deal with disruptions. It is imperative that you deal with interruptions immediately in order to maintain your class momentum. If students are talking amongst themselves and you are having a classroom discussion, ask one of them a question to try to get them back on track.
If you have to stop the flow of your lesson to deal with interruptions, then you are robbing students who want to learn of their precious in-class time. Disruptions can also be stopped with little humor. Sometimes all it takes is for everyone to have a laugh to get things back on track.
However, many teachers confuse good humor with sarcasm. While humor can quickly diffuse a situation, sarcasm may harm your relationship with the students involved. Use your best judgment but realize that what some people think as funny, others find offensive.
Last but not least, keep high expectations in your class. Expect that your students will behave, rather than disrupt. Reinforce this with the way you speak to your students.
When you begin the day, spell out your expectations and these will help students toe the line that you cherish.