Effective Classroom Management Tips and Tricks

Effective classroom management strategies can ensure a pleasant teaching environment for the entire year. Conversely, poor classroom management may lead to a difficult class and a year that drags on. These tips will get you well on your way to creating a positive environment in your classroom.

Post class rules

Students need to know what is expected of them from the very beginning. It is also useful to have visuals of the rules so that you can redirect small misbehavior problems by pointing at the appropriate rule poster. Since I have very little artistic talent I had my students create the posters for me. We went over the rules the first day of class and I had students each create a poster for two rules. We displayed all the posters for the first week. I later had the students vote on a single poster for each rule to leave up.

Post consequences

Students may occasionally break a rule. It is important that you have established a procedure for dealing with infractions. The consequences must be appropriate and clear so the student knows what to expect. Go over all consequences at the beginning of the school year and review if necessary.

Model appropriate behavior.

Since one of my rules is to respect everyone in the classroom, I make sure to be respectful to my students. Remember that you as the teacher must set the example. It will be difficult to get the students to follow your rules if you make exceptions for other students or yourself. If you also follow the rules it shows that they are important and will allow your classroom to feel like a community. Also be sure to thank your students when appropriate; we all like to be appreciated.

Develop a routine for beginning your class

Students often misbehave when they are bored or frustrated. You can prevent some of this boredom by beginning class immediately and in a predictable fashion. Students like to know what to expect. I prefer to begin immediately after the bell rings so students know that our class time is valuable. Try to avoid beginning with verbally taking roll as students will become distracted and talk amongst themselves during this time. Since my school requires roll to be taken within the first five minutes of class I take roll silently while the students work on a warm-up opening activity.

Write a daily schedule on the board so students can see what is coming next. Having a visual guide to the class time will help the students make transitions between activities. A visual schedule will also prevent some questions about what time is break and “how long do we have to do this?”

Activities

Plan more activities than you think you’ll have time for and always have a back-up plan. Most behavior problems occur when students get bored. Be sure you have engaging lessons to prevent this for most students. Also keep in mind that overhead-bulbs die and other technical issues happen so be sure that the lesson can go on even if something goes wrong.

Prepare engaging enrichment activities for the students that finish early. No matter how much you plan, sometimes students will still finish early. You will want to be sure that activities that these students will enjoy are available. When I plan units, I include extra activities that could be used for these situations. Silent reading is also a good option as reading is always valuable. This could be a book of the student’s choice or a book you provide.

Reward good behavior

Many students are eager to please and will appreciate their good efforts. Small rewards also work wonders. I use “Thank You Tickets” to thank the students for good behavior and appropriate class participation. These tickets can be traded for small prizes such as candy, pencils, or homework passes.

Be fair

Since your rules and the consequences are clearly posted it will be easy to enforce them the same for everyone. It will also be very obvious if you make exceptions for any one student. This will cause you to lose respect from all of the students and will make it difficult to manage your class. Be sure the rules are the same for everyone in the classroom. Also be sure to avoid confrontations with any students. Singling out one student will make that student confrontational and will likely distract your entire class. It is best to deal with behavior problems privately.

Use a seating chart

At the beginning of the year, you will definitely want a seating chart while learning the students’ names. Seating charts also help a substitute or classroom visitor as students respond better when the teacher knows and uses their names. At the beginning of the year I create a random seating chart by numbering desks and creating a set of index cards with matching numbers. I give students a card as they walk in and that is the assigned seating chart for the first week. It is also important to change this chart once you know the students as some students will need to be moved or separated. I find it helpful to change the seating several times a year to keep things interesting. Depending on your class, you could also offer to let them choose their own seats if they behave well for a set amount of time.

Time Management Tips for Online Instructors

Online instructors understand the need to manage their time effectively. There is much more involved than reviewing papers and participating in class discussions. Classroom management involves continuous interactions that support students’ success, and creating conditions in the classroom that are conducive to learning. At times you may feel prepared and ready to meet the demands of a busy class and there may also be times when it feels as if you are running behind. The key to development of an effective time management plan is finding tools and techniques that maximize productivity and minimize any potential stress or missed deadlines.

Examine Your Current Schedule

For the next class week, keep a record of your time, duties, and classroom activities. What requirements were met ahead of schedule, on the required due date, or were late? How did you feel during the class week and at the end of the week? Did you experience stress at any time? Did you have any additional projects scheduled that were set aside for the next week? What were your strengths and areas of development? Summarize your week by carefully examining what worked well and what did not. This is the most productive method of developing a revised time management plan.

What are Your Teaching Goals?

You can develop a time management plan that works for you if you anchor it to the goals you have established for yourself as an instructor. For example, do you want to meet the minimum requirements necessary to facilitate your class or do you want to allocate additional time to find and share additional course materials and resources? How will you provide feedback? Many instructors find that they are more effective if the feedback is divided up over several days during the week as a means of avoiding the last minute rush to complete it. If that is applicable for you, your teaching goal might include allocating time each day for specific duties. The overarching goal is to meet or exceed the faculty expectations.

Time Management

As you create your time management plan watch out for any daily or weekly activities that can be eliminated. If you are doing anything that might be busy work, consider how much of your time it takes and how you might minimize it. The most common time waster is procrastination, which can be avoided if you have an organized plan for your classroom facilitation. A method of planning your time effectively is to begin your facilitation tasks early in the week.

As you schedule time for your facilitation duties each week, determine what is most important or rank your teaching goals according to the level of priority that you have assigned each one. Projects that have required deadlines, such as feedback or instructor participation, should be given top priority each week. You can make it manageable if you plan ahead and divide up larger tasks into smaller duties.

Time management tools that can help you organize your week include a calendar, to-do list, or schedule. Some instructors prefer to use a traditional paper planner and others utilize technological tools to stay organized. Whatever your preference may be, find something that will help you be mindful of the tasks that need to be completed so you can stay focused and meet all required deadlines. And if you discover any pockets of unexpected time, use it to review your schedule and work ahead.

Downtime for Renewal

As you develop and manage your schedule you will likely feel better prepared to meet the required facilitation duties and this in turn will reduce the potential for anxiety and stress. One method of proactively addressing stress is to consider your overall well-being, which includes your attitude, the way you eat, the method you use to manage your time, and the amount of sleep you get. The better you feel, the more likely you can cope effectively with stressful conditions.

Another method of addressing and eliminating stress is to analyze your energy level throughout the day and consider when you are the most productive. If possible, match the time of day that you have the most energy to the most difficult tasks because they will require the most concentration and focus.

It is unlikely that you can completely eliminate stress. There are going to be times as an instructor when classroom management, deadlines, and student interactions feel manageable and other times when all of these demands become too much. But you don’t need to let it get the best of you. Learn to become proactive by recognizing signs and symptoms. Schedule downtime to allow yourself a chance to feel renewed and increase your productivity.

Be In Control of Your Time

There are many expectations and requirements in place for an online instructor. Meeting the facilitation duties and deadlines each week can be challenging at times, especially for adjunct instructors. Develop a list that includes everything needed to be completed each week, along with any additional projects or time you want to devote to creating a meaningful learning environment. Develop a plan that schedules or allocates a specific amount of time for each duty and stay focused on your teaching goals. You will likely feel better prepared and in control so that teaching is enjoyable and not always stressful.