Classroom management

The main activity of teaching is “to teach” and develop the “student’s learning process”, although everyone agrees with it, we as teachers we spend a value time with classroom management problems. Why can some teachers control their classes better than others? After working in different schools I have a clear idea, first as a school, we need to set up clear routines in a “spiral curriculum“.

Have you ever been in this situation and what is a “spiral curriculum“?

– Lola you know that you can’t stay in the corridors during break time, I want you to go to the playground with your group, thanks.

-Mister Rodriguez told me I could stay in.

As you can see students are really smart, they like discussing and we as a teachers have to prevent these situations. How can we do it? It is easy; a piece of cake, the only thing we need is school organization. Image that in the first September meeting every teacher agrees some common sense rule and pedagogical principles that they will settle.

The same situation with Lola will be:

– Lola you know that you can’t stay in the corridors during break time, I want you to go to the patio with your group, thanks.

– Sorry, yes I go right now.

After this first step, students have a clear idea of what they can and what they cannot do, now there isn’t any problem to teach differents groups so everyone will follow the same rules, it should be started in infant and ended in year six or high school.

Now lets come in to class, if your school works in this lines you don’t need to spend time every year explaining them your own rules, you only need to review the school rules.

In order to have effective lessons we need good organisation, good rapport and effective discipline, we are the authority in the class and we don’t have to be scarred to use it but not shouting. I don’t like shouting, I mean I hate shouting in the class I prefer the silent. If you shout and the problem persist, what will be your next step?

I spent (no waste) a value time in the middle of the class, raising my hand and glancing each student until they are ready to listen to me. I use the “silent” and they know that I won’t start until they get ready.

After that I start working, at the beginning you can spent more that 10 minute but soon students get use and in less than a minute you get their attention. Formal authority is sustained by non-verbal methods. Stand up straight, face students, give orders with a confident tone voice and expect to be obeyed.

Don’t use “I want you…” they can understand you pose a challenge, better use something:

positive – negative – positive

“I know you are working really hard and I don’t like you noise, keep working as you know, thanks”

If it doesn’t work you can use the “proximity-eye contact-posing questions” (PEP). Walk calm, if you need invade student’s personal space, sustained eye contact while you are speaking and pose the question “Why haven’t you started? Sometimes proximity and eye contact is enough and you can end with a positive statement “Let’s start, thanks” or you need to use PEP with the student alone.

Finally use rapport, students are the more important, develop students – teacher relation, they know you are the authority now it is time to shift towards a teacher’s personal authority:

  • Show interest in each student

  • Use “please” and “thank you”

  • Be approachable

  • Be patient

  • Let students make personal contributions

Further reading check Bill Rogers web site