Many people become teachers because they love the subject matter, working with children, and making a difference in the lives of others. But classroom management is a significant part of being a successful teacher. In fact, setting up effective classroom management strategies can make or break the first year for many teachers.
Carefully planning classroom management strategies such as procedures and expectations makes the start of a new year easier for both teachers and students. Having a well thought-out plan also helps ensure a smooth-running learning environment. A classroom functioning well means the teacher can focus on teaching and the students can focus on learning.
Here is what I learned in the classroom.
“The First Days of School” by Harry Wong
Before I share my own insights, I want to encourage you to purchase The First Days of School by Harry Wong. There is a reason it has sold millions of copies. It’s a great book. If you are a new teacher, you should definitely take the time to read this book and utilize as much as is applicable to your particular situation.
Effective Teachers Teach Classroom Procedures
Effective classroom management includes clear instructions of classroom procedures starting on the first day of school. Classroom procedures include times and transitions such as:
- Morning arrival
- Turning in homework
- Morning meeting time
- Morning seatwork
- Turning in papers
- Expectations in centers
- What to do when finished early
- Unfinished work
- Passing out materials
- Lining up
- Afternoon dismissal
- Indoor recess
Each procedure must be clearly explained and practiced. Although it might seem excessive to practice each procedure over and over again during the first few weeks of school, the practice will pay great dividends the rest of the year.
The rehearsed procedures will become second nature to the students which gives both the students and the teacher more freedom. It also makes it clear to the students from the start that you are a teacher with high expectations.
It’s very tempting to jump into all the “fun” stuff of being a teacher during the first days. But don’t let the fun activities derail your classroom management for the rest of the year. A classroom full of children who go through the procedures without thinking is one of the best gifts you can give yourself for the entire year.
Determining Classroom Management Strategies
Classroom procedures will be dependent on the grade level, curriculum, classroom layout, and the number of students in the classroom. The younger the students, the simpler the procedures will need to be and the more the students will need to practice as they adjust to school. Curriculum that requires a full group instruction time will necessitate a classroom arrangement that makes it possible.
A new teacher should think through the different aspects of the day and determine the best layout for the furniture. For example, where should you put your math centers and literacy centers? Sometimes the arrangement of the furniture may be adjusted as a teacher starts to think through the practical procedures and flow of the day. It is fine to adjust, but thinking through any potential pitfalls before school starts is best as it means avoiding teaching students a new procedure when they have already learned a different one.
Wise New Teachers Learn from Successful Veterans
One of the best ways to develop classroom management strategies is to seek the advice and insight of a veteran teacher, preferably at the same grade level. This teacher will already be familiar with the curriculum and any special accommodations necessary. She will be able to offer suggestions regarding how to effectively implement the school’s overall discipline and management policies at that particular grade level.
Spending just an hour with a really good veteran teacher can save a new teacher hours of planning and many mistakes. Offer to take the veteran teacher out for lunch or coffee in exchange for gleaning information. Most teachers are more than happy to help a new teacher succeed.
See the other posts I’ve written in this series to help and encourage new teachers!
And don’t forget to check out some of the practical and fun products I’ve created that I wish I would have had when I started teaching!