I have spent the last five years observing classrooms, talking to educators about what’s hampering learning and how to maximise learning opportunities for children in schools. One factor that constantly came up during these conversations is classroom management. Teachers with effective classroom management skills and strategies were able to significantly create better learning opportunities as opposed to their counterparts, who spent much of their time in managing behaviour and keeping the students silent.
What is classroom management?
Classroom management refers to a variety of skills, strategies and techniques that teachers use in classrooms to keep students organised, focused, and engaged in learning. To simply put, classroom management is all about creating an atmosphere that is conducive for active learning in the classroom.
Simple math on classroom management:
The following two simple equations help us to understand the essence of classroom management.
- Energy spent by a teacher in the classroom = Energy used for promoting learning + Energy used for managing disruptions
Effective classroom management essentially means teachers spend less energy on managing disruptions and spend much of their energy in enabling learning.
- Time spent by students in the classroom = Time spent being confused/clueless/fearful/disengaged + Time spent in active learning
Effective classroom management is all about making sure that students are spending more time in active learning.
What's in it for teachers and students?
A closer look at the above two equations reveals that effective classroom management techniques create a win-win situation for teachers and students.
For teachers, the benefit lies in the fact that less energy is wasted on shouting, managing misbehaviours, and therefore, they have peaceful and joyful teaching experience.
For students, there is more productive learning time, less confusion or chaos which in turn reduces their possibility of being victims of corporal punishment.
Effective classroom management strategies:
Here are some of the most important strategies that I found to be very beneficial during my career in teaching.
- Setting up agreements - a set of mutually agreed expectations set up in classroom by teachers and students
- Using attention grabbers and giving clear instructions helps to get students focused and reduces confusion while doing tasks
- Cold calling students by name to answer questions is a great way to reduce group answers and enable student participation (use ice cream sticks, roll no.)
- Using time counters (like open the book in 5,4,3,2,1) and giving specific time for activities keeps students on task
- Perform brain-gym activities or energisers in between the instruction so as to break the monotony and help students to recharge
- Creating peer groups enables collaboration and also helps students to have an immediate support system to clarify their doubts or misconceptions
- Creating processes and routines like note books collection for correction, entry and exit process into classroom etc. reduces chaos
- Using behaviour trackers and designing appropriate rewards/consequences go a long way in managing behaviours
- Moving around the class, strong teacher presence and proximity (going close to any student who is not engaged on the topic being discussed)
Teachers need to be consistent in their use of these techniques to get the maximum benefit out of it. School leaders need to train teachers on effective classroom management techniques as they are essential for promoting active learning in classrooms.