In this NJEA Review article, Tracey Garrett (Rider University) refutes three common myths about classroom management: (a) that it can’t be taught and must be learned by experience; (b) that it’s a bag of tricks; and (c) that it depends on giving students extrinsic rewards. In fact, says Garrett, one of the major success stories of educational research in the 20th century was establishing a set of principles and strategies that can be taught, observed, and emulated. Here’s her take, with a major focus on preventing discipline problems from happening in the first place:
• Develop an organized physical layout for the classroom.
-Purge the classroom of all unwanted clutter.
-Personalize the classroom so it communicates information about the teacher and students.
-Plan pathways to avoid congestion.
-Plan adequate space for students to line up by the door.
-Make it clear where materials belong.
-Provide space for both academic and social tasks.
-Display students’ work.
-Involve students in the design of the classroom.
-Locate the teacher’s desk in an appropriate place.
• Develop clear rules and routines.
-Create 4-6 classroom rules that clearly specify appropriate behavior.
-Consider involving the students in generating these rules.
-Write the rules using positive language.
-Post classroom rules and refer to them as necessary.
-Develop routines to provide direction about how different classroom tasks are accomplished.
-Teach and demonstrate classroom rules and routines as specifically as you do academic
• Establish caring relationships with and among students.
-Get to know something personal about each student.
-Be aware of students’ accomplishments and comment on them.
-Send positive notes, phone calls, or e-mails home.
-Be sensitive to students’ moods and concerns.
-Praise more, criticize less.
-Hold high expectations.
-Be a “real person.”
-Maintain a sense of humor.
• Plan and implement engaging instruction.
-Match the physical layout of the classroom to the teacher’s style.
-Have all materials organized and ready before the start of each lesson.
-Establish an attention-getting signal.
-Adapt content and activities to students’ interests.
-Ensure students work at the appropriate level of challenge or difficulty.
-Give students the chance to exercise autonomy and make choices.
-Give students the opportunity to finish and display their work products.
-Show enthusiasm for the curriculum
• Address discipline issues when they arise.
-Use nonverbal interventions such as proximity, eye contact, hand signals, and facial expressions
to redirect misbehavior.
-Ignore minor misbehavior, if possible.
-Use brief, concise, and specific verbal interventions to redirect misbehavior.
-Use positive teacher language to tell the student what to do rather than what not to do.
-Implement logical consequences to help students learn something about why that particular
misbehavior was inappropriate.
“Classroom Management: It’s More Than a Bag of Tricks” by Tracey Garrett in NJEA Review, Oct. 2012 (Vol. 86, p. 17-19), http://bit.ly/Qsy5CV (spotted in Education Digest, May 2012)