Ah, classroom management. The dreaded topic of teachers, new and old alike. As future teachers, we’re constantly stressing over how we should manage our classroom–should we be tough right from the start to demand respect, or focus more on building relationships? Will we get walked all over if we do that? How can we keep our students in line?
Clearly, I don’t have an answer. I am also a future teacher. I also have these questions. But from what I’ve seen, read, and observed, here are a few things that I think I might use in my classroom for effective managing. Welcome to the Classroom Survival Kit!
The number one thing to keeping students out of trouble? Keep them busy. Not busy with busy work, but busy focusing on something they want to do, working proactively, eliminating boredom. Bored students cause trouble–engaged students cultivate stress-less classrooms. Invest time in keeping your students’ attention and giving them opportunities to stay involved in their learning process.
2. Classroom Safety
Yes, lab safety is important. And yes, we need to make sure we’re managing our lab safety and keeping students from getting hurt in the lab. But classroom safety goes beyond just physical things–students need to feel safe to be themselves in the classroom, without fear of getting teased by their peers (or even worse, by their teachers). I’ve witnessed teachers who enjoy making “snap-backs” at their students, laughing as another student from across the room yells “ROASTED!!!” at the student who was just made fun of by the adult in the room. The reality is, that doesn’t cultivate a classroom where students feel comfortable–rather, it encourages students to look down on their peers and gives them an excuse to essentially bully each other. Keeping labs safe is critical, but so is the emotional safety of your classroom, so make sure to keep that in mind when you’re teaching.
3. Tone of Voice/Body Language
Communication comes through verbal and nonverbal language. If you stand up front sounding bored and yawning every 3 seconds, your students are going to lose interest. They won’t want to be there if you don’t want to be there, and as stated above, less interest = more disruptions. Not everyone’s body language has to be the same, but stand up front with confidence–you are qualified to be a teacher, and you can demand respect. Meet your students where they’re at, be kind and develop relationships with them, but don’t let students walk on you just for the sake of being the teacher they like. Don’t go the other end either–the teacher who is constantly screaming and losing their temper because students are acting up. Confidence is key here–again, expect respect and don’t let yourself get too flustered in front of the students.
Students want to talk to their friends, it’s inevitable. So let them. Give them opportunities to collaborate and work together on projects, but not busywork projects–things they have to actually engage with, actually strive to understand. Make their goals reachable but not easy, and allow them to get frustrated together. Individual learning is great, but if students have opportunities to work with their friends on assignments, they’re less likely to cause disruptions by trying to chat with their friends when you’re teaching.
5. Consistency and Fairness
Consistency. Is. Key.
Be consistent with your expectations, consistent with your behavior towards your students, and consistent in how you address problems when they come up. You’re teaching young adults, and they are capable of behaving as such, but you have to be consistent. For example, students in one of my placement classrooms knew that they had to have their phones put away at the beginning of class. They would walk in, put their phones in a cubby, and sit down, and after they finished their work they were allowed to go get their phones. Because of this expectation, the teacher I was working with had minimal problems with phone use in her classroom. She didn’t take away their phones forever–just for the duration of the class where they would have been a distraction. Being consistent and fair with your expectations keeps students accountable and less likely to break the rules.
All of these ideas for classroom management in the science classroom are things I have either seen or read about, and I plan on implementing them in my classroom in the future. Most of the ideas were taken from the following website, which has 10 classroom management tips for life science classrooms: http://www.ngsslifescience.com/classroom_management_strategies.html
Until next time, teachers!