Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mastering Classroom Management (Part 2)

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mastering Classroom Management (Part 2)

Article excerpt

Last month I shared some basic strategies for creating a classroom that's a productive, focused learning laboratory. Those strategies are more than just tricks for dealing with unruly students. Rather, mastering classroom management means anticipating problems that might arise and creating systems that help you avoid them. Last month I discussed assigning seats, maintaining proximity, and planning engaging lessons. This month I cover making smart decisions that deal with problem situations quickly and effectively--before they grow out of control.

Build relationships and save face. Most teenagers want someone to care about them, even when they don't behave that way. Our students deal with myriad issues in their daily lives, and for some students the connection with you is the only structured or healthy relationship they have. What does this mean for how you manage your class? While teachers' management philosophies differ, I believe positive relationships are built on mutual respect and common concern for one other.

First, consistently apply clear classroom expectations. Blatantly disrespectful or unsafe behavior should be stopped immediately. For lesser infractions, firmly direct the student to meet you after class rather than embarrassing the student with a public reprimand. (High school students hate being embarrassed.) At the after-class meeting, try to personalize the conversation, relating the incident to possible stressors in the student's life (e.g., academic difficulties, problems at home, etc.). This nurtures a positive relationship. This is the silver lining of classroom management: Sometimes an uncomfortable situation evolves into a positive one.

Learn from your mistakes. Teaching involves making quick decisions on your feet. All teachers, not just new ones, make mistakes. But veteran teachers have learned to discern what went wrong and how to avoid the situation in the future. You must too.

Visit with veterans. The great thing about veteran teachers is they've already made all of your mistakes and know practical ways to fix them. Sit in on the class of a mentor or trusted colleague. …

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