How do they do it?
Successful classroom management is not magic. Some teachers, however, make it look so easy that you’d think magic is involved. How do they do that? Are they just born with magical skills that turn them into excellent classroom managers? Or can these skills be learned and developed?
There is no magic when it comes to classroom management. There are concepts and ideas that any teacher can learn and implement with the right mindset. As with most things, it’s best to keep it simple. Let’s take a look at three features of effective classroom management.
We know that students’ focus on mindfulness “correlates significantly with better academic achievement and behavioral outcomes” (Gutierrez, A., Krachman, S., Scherer, E., West, M.R., and Gabrieli, J.D.E. 2019). But what about mindfulness for the adults in the classroom? In her book, Mindfulness for Teachers (2015), Dr. Patricia Jennings teaches us about the importance of teacher mindfulness, not only for stress reduction in the classroom but also for effective behavior management. In an essay that she wrote for Greater Good Magazine, she shares Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers. Mindfulness is an important strategy for overall calmness and effectiveness in the classroom. It supports understanding our own emotions better, improved communication and increased awareness of how to work with a student who demonstrates challenging behaviors.
Establishing routines is absolutely necessary to successfully making it through each day. This does not mean that you can’t be flexible and spontaneous from time to time. It does mean that everyone, students and teachers, needs to have an understanding of what is expected and what is going to happen in class each day. Let’s start with what it means to establish a routine in your classroom. A classroom routine extends well beyond your daily agenda. It includes everything from how you collect completed work or homework to what to do if your pencil breaks in the middle of a test. It also includes what students are expected to do when the teacher is interrupted by a phone call from the front office. Some routines are easy to anticipate and establish during the first weeks of school. Others will need to be identified and established later in the school year. The most important aspects of the routine are communication (what, why, how) and consistency. We Are Teachers Editorial Director Hannah Hudson offers 12 Must-Teach Classroom Procedures and Routines that will give you a good place to start or refresh on important classroom routines.
You are the leader of your classroom and guess what? Effective leaders involve those they lead by listening to them, asking for input and offering empowerment. If you are looking to manage the behaviors in your classroom, strive for getting student buy-in. There are many ways to invite your students to have a say in what happens in the classroom. For example, establish your classroom vision as a group, or offer multiple ways to complete important projects (e.g. choose to create a written essay, visual presentation, or how about recording a podcast?). Students are more engaged in schoolwork when there is a level of autonomy, clear relevance and some choice (Assor, A., Kaplan, H., Roth, G. 2002). You can become a fabulous classroom manager through student engagement.
Classroom management is not magic. There will be strategies that fail. That’s normal and expected. It’s also seen as action research! Luckily for all of us, successful classroom management is not impossible if you keep the big picture in mind.
- Assor, A., Kaplan, H. & Roth, G. (2002). Choice is good, but relevance is excellent: autonomy-enhancing and suppressing teacher behaviours predicting students’ engagement in schoolwork. British Journal of Educational Psychology 72(Pt 2), 261–278
- Gutierrez, A., Krachman, S., Scherer, E., West, M.R., & Gabrieli, J.D.E. (2019). Mindfulness in the classroom: learning from a school-based mindfulness intervention through the
- boston charter research collaborative [PDF] Retrieved from https://www.transformingeducation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2019-BCRC-Mindfulness-Brief.pdf
- Hudson, H. (2019). 12 Must-teach classroom procedures and routines. Retrieved from https://www.weareteachers.com/classroom-procedures-save-sanity/
- Jennings, P. (2015). Seven ways mindfulness can help teachers. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_mindfulness_can_help_teachers