Classroom management involves much more than discipline. It is all about managing the classroom ahead of time in order to provide a nurturing, welcoming, safe and inspiring environment where students can learn effectively and where the teacher can avoid discipline issues. To run an effective classroom, teachers must take into consideration many interconnected elements including the physical environment, classroom atmosphere, classroom routines, students-teacher interaction and how disruptions will be dealt with.
The physical environment of the classroom reflects the foundation for an effective teaching and learning to take place in the classroom. The key is to have a well organized classroom. As a matter of fact, students and teachers should be able to find resources and materials easily to avoid wasting time. One way to keep the classroom organized is to use baskets placed in set places in the classroom for the purpose of handing in and handing out materials and assignments. Another method of simplifying the distribution and collection of materials and assignments is to use monitors/helpers. Having monitors in charge of collecting/handing out materials to their groups/peers provides students with an opportunity to be responsible classroom citizens at the same time as increasing the efficiency of classroom operations. The position of students’ desks is another main factor that contributes to students’ focusing and concentration. In fact, using “Brain Gym” techniques, a teacher could initially identify some of the characteristics of students and place them according to their special dominant character in specific positions. And depending on the activity, the teacher should re-arrange desks in different ways in order to accommodate individual or group work.
The overall classroom atmosphere has a great impact on how well students learn. For this reason it is very important for the classroom to be warm and welcoming.
An effective teacher must have a positive attitude and encourages students to have a similarly positive attitude towards school life. For example, greeting students individually in the morning at the door helps me to see how they are feeling that morning and helps students feel that they are cared for and respected in their class. Encouraging a well performing student sitting near a reluctant one is more effective that directly warning the latter one. In fact, I try to promote self-esteem and confidence at every chance I have. Another important factor for a successful classroom to run smoothly is the set up of classroom routines right at the start of the school year.Another important fact that creates a nurturing environment to help students better acquire the concepts taught is to cover the walls of the classroom, in a very organized way, with meaningful visual aids.
Classroom routines need to be established right at the start of the school year. For this reason, I plan out in advance how I want the day to run smoothly. I take in consideration the following steps and I set up a procedure that I follow from day one till the last day, as follows:· The method I choose to use to get my student's attention? (Count to ...? Raise my hand? Turn on-off the lights or use a bell? Etc...)· The activity my students expected to do when they come in first thing in the morning, from recess, from Lunch. Etc...· The routines that are in place when students finish work early.· The way do my students ask for assistance.· The consequences for unfinished work, late work, messy work, and students who refuse to work?· The consequences when a student disturbs others.· Where do students turn their assignments/tasks in?· The routines for sharpening pencils.· The way a student asks to leave the room to use the washroom and how many are allowed go at a time?· The dismissal routines.· The tidy up routines.· The way to make my students aware of all of these routines (post all the above steps on strategic spots on the classroom walls using very attractive and expressive visual aids).The most important thing of all is Consistency which is the key if classroom routines are to be effective. Being consistent in classroom routines allows students to know what is expected of them and for class time to be used as efficiently as possible since routines cut down on time wasted and confusion.
Student-Teacher and student-student interactions:
The key to successful student-teacher interaction is mutual respect. In order to ask my students to respect me I must treat them with respect first and be a role model for them so they apply it, as well, with their peers. According to my previous experience, I believe that effective teaching-learning rapport is based on founding a partnership between students and the teacher. For this reason I believe that constructivist lessons and activities allow students to maximize their learning since they give students a certain level of control over their own learning. Furthermore, I don’t think that classrooms should be silent places, it’s important to me that students are comfortable discussing their learning with me and with others. For that, and since day one, students should be involved in defining classroom routines and regulations so they can assume/predict the consequences for every action.
How disruptions will be dealt with:
In any classroom it is to be expected that there will be certain disruptions to the flow of the day. In the case of interruptions from outside sources, i.e. assemblies, strike days, etc. I think that the only way to deal with these disruptions is to be flexible.
If classroom rules and routines have been established firmly in the beginning of the school year many discipline issues can be avoided before they happen. However, a certain degree of misbehaviour is to be expected.
In the case of student misbehaviour it’s important to address the behaviour immediately so that students are not given the impression that acting out in class is acceptable and depending on the type of misbehaviour an adequate follow up action is sometimes required.
As outlined in the “Classroom Atmosphere” section, a positive rewarding system should be always visible to encourage student to compete for better rewards rather than direct confrontation with misbehaving/reluctant students.