One of the greatest challenges in teaching is classroom management. Students are always looking for ways and opportunities to test the limits of acceptable behavior. For teachers, these constant experimentation with the boundaries of how to act are extremely tiresome.
However, there are several strategies that teachers can use to limit poor behavior. Some of these ideas include the following.
- Setting routines
- Rehearsing transitions
- Anticipating behavior
- Non-Verbal cues
Establishing clear routines will help to regulate the behavior of students tremendously. When everybody knows their role and what to do there is usually less curiosity for a student to see what they can get away with.
Routine need to be explained, demonstrated, and practice in order for students to master them. Once a routine is established most students enjoy the predictability of having set actions that they need to perform and certain times of the day. While instruction should be varied and exciting routines provide a sense of stability and security to brilliant teaching.
A specific form of routine are transitions. Transitions are those moments in class when you have to move from one activity to another. An example would be going out to recess or coming in from recess, etc.
It is at moments like these that everyone is active. With so many moving parts and actions taking place, this is when the most breakdowns in behavior can often take place. Therefore the teacher needs to be extra diligent during the moments and make sure the routines are thoroughly drilled to avoid near absolute chaos.
Anticipating has to do with seeing what might happen before it actually happens. An analogy would be to an athlete who sees an opportunity to make a great play because of the actions of his opponent. A teacher must be able to read the class and be one-step ahead of the students.
A term related to this is called withitness which means to have a constant awareness of what is happening in the classroom. Or in other words to have eyes in the back of your head. As a teacher gets to know their students it becomes easier to predict their actions and to make adjustments beforehand. This can greatly reduce behavioral problems.
Talk is cheap, especially with students. Non-verbal cues save the voice while getting students to do things. Every teacher should have several non-verbal commands that they use in their classroom. Examples may include ways to get the classes attention, to grant permission to go to the bathroom, to give permission get out of one’s seat, etc.
Most classes have a rule for students to raise their hand. However, non-verbal cues should not stop there. The more non-verbal cues the less talking. In addition, non-verbal cues reduce arguing because there were no words exchanged.
Behavior is a challenge but there are ways to overcome at least some of it. Teachers need to consider and employ ways to anticipate and deal with behavioral problems preferably before they become big problems.