Googling “classroom management” will yield some 98,100,000 results. And if that isn’t evidence enough that teachers are craving classroom management advice, there is plenty of research that suggests the same thing. So how can principals coach teachers to better handle resistant students and hone their classroom management skills? A recent article written by Mike Anderson offers several suggestions; we liked the article so much that we’ve boiled down a few of his ideas (and threw in a few of our own) to share with you—so you can share them with your teachers.
5 Ways Teachers Can Improve Their Classroom Management Skills
1. Hope is not a classroom management strategy
If we’re honest with ourselves, Hollywood creations like Dead Poet’s Society’s John Keating (Robin Williams) have probably helped construct the ways in which we conceive of the ideal teacher. Keating, a self-depreciating freedom fighter capable of liquefying any tin heart he touches, set the bar—and, boy, is it a tall one.
Sure, Keating had his problems, but we don’t recall any of his students kicking or swearing at him. So let’s just set the ideal classroom aside and work with what we’ve got. Resistant students are going to be a part of our lives…so why not simply embrace them? We can’t rely on hope alone to transform our classrooms, so why not start planning for a good challenge (just like we prepare our lesson plans) before the challenge arrives?
2. Make collaboration and mentoring a part of the culture
A semi-recent study (2007) found that beginning teachers often work 10 to 12-hour days creating lesson plans, grading, attending meetings and other extracurricular school events. This doesn’t even take into account the preparation and grading that happens on the weekends. Why 10-12 hour days? There are a number of explanations, but here’s something to ask yourself: Does our school support collaboration, mentoring and teacher development?
The most effective teacher leaders are often those who work in schools that support team work and collaboration among colleagues. When principals put an emphasis on teamwork, foster continuing education, provide curriculum building workshops, etc., teachers are more likely to grow, relax and collaborate.
3. Role play or practice classroom management strategies
Teachers may intend to react to a disruptive student in a well-measured way, but that can go out the window in an instant. It’s one thing to read about classroom management in a book and another to experience misbehavior or disruption firsthand. We improve through practice and mimicry. Why not have teachers role play hypothetical classroom management experiences with a mentor or colleague?
4. Save your energy and let technology do the talking for you
If students are particularly rambunctious, there’s no need to strain your voice or get frustrated. Give some of these sly, low-energy maneuvers a try:
- Quietly walk over to the light switch and flick them on and off
- Walk over to your computer, click on your Spotify app and slowly turn up the volume on, oh, how about Chopin’s “Nocturne for Piano, No. 8 in D flat Major.” This will silence them.
- Pull out an object that is associated with the lesson, hold it up and start looking at it. Ask your students to tell you what they see; then ask them why you brought it.
5. Know when enough is enough
So you’ve verbalized and modeled clear expectations; you tried being assertive rather than antagonistic; you spoke with the student after class like we suggested in a recent classroom management blog? It didn’t work? When all else fails, swallow your pride and kindly ask the student to sit outside of the room or head to the office. As Mike Anderson suggests, we need to debunk the myth that “good teachers should be able to handle student meltdowns by themselves.” This simply isn’t true.