Classroom management is an extremely fickle beast. One thing that has become apparent over the last few years of educational study and pedagogy is that the old-fashioned screaming teacher has lost touch with today’s students. They no longer live in fear of their teachers and the yelling just further creates a gap that will quickly become impossible for the teacher to cross. But, teachers must still maintain some control and organization, lest there is no structured environment for learning to take place. This can easily be done without yelling and ranting at the students in the classroom. Students today respond much better to even tone and respectful voice in class.
Sometimes, the easiest way to keep classroom control is to let go of it a little bit. The students need to feel like they can talk to the teacher. If the teacher talks to the students and not at them, it will make a world of difference in the ability of the teacher to maintain order. Order is not the same thing as control. A little chaos every now and then, for the right reasons, allows the students to have fun in the classroom and enjoy the experience. This goes miles with building rapport with the students and creating a comfortable, learning environment.
The other part of building a comfortable environment for the students is to actually get to know them. Attend activities they are involved with, ask them about their weekend (and actually care), get to know what they like to do outside of the classroom. This creates a level of trust and respect that makes running a classroom on a daily basis a breeze. Once the students respect the teacher, keeping order is not longer a concern, it is an automatic. Without respect, it becomes a daily battle.
This is the simplest way to control the classroom, and still one of the most effective. There are so many methods and ideas about how to arrange desks, they could never all be covered in one general article. The first part of the problem, of course, is the size and layout of the classroom. If the room is large, a teacher has several options. If it is smaller or overloaded with student desks, the options obviously become limited. The other major factor for desk arrangement is what subject and teaching style will be employed. A more Socratic Method classroom needs a layout that encourages discussion, whereas a lecture style classroom could operate very well with traditional rows.
Besides desk arrangement, where to place individual students is a skill that many teachers take years to develop. One of the best techniques is to randomly assign students to their seats. This takes away the fear of “favoritism,” which can cause its own set of problems. This can also be done every week or month or whatever set interval the teacher prefers. The advantage to this is that the students never get too comfortable with any neighbor, and that limits discussion and interruptions.
Keep them busy
The most useful tool in maintaining classroom management without having to raise voices is actually so incredibly simple, it is often lost on teachers. Every teacher can do it without any special training or amazing social skills. KEEP THEM BUSY. It is honestly that simple. If the students are working or engaged in some activity, they are not being disruptive. If they have something to do, they are not doing something else.
It sounds too easy and simple to be effective, but the truth is, most things are, especially in education of young people. Think about the times when kids are most engaged in whatever it is they enjoy, they are not being loud or unruly, and they are focused and attentive. If a teacher’s lessons grab a student’s attention and hold it enough to keep them busy, they will behave and the teacher will almost never have a need to shout. It does not require the greatest lessons on the planet, just something that is not busywork and offensive to their intelligence. The quickest way to lose a classroom is to give them something well beneath them and expect them to respond with positive behavior. The other extremely dangerous thing that unprepared teachers do is to allow students “free days” to do work. This is a formula for disaster and quickly digresses into a teacher being very frazzled and without control.
Raising voices at students nowadays is often counter productive. Everyone loses their temper from time to time and gets upset, but that is not a practice that a good educator should make common. It is counter to the goals the teacher is trying to achieve. Students do not enjoy learning if they are constantly being berated. Fear in the classroom is not a motivator. Any teacher that can maintain an even temperament in the classroom will have a much better behaved class, more productive lessons and will enjoy the job much more. A happy teacher very often means happy students.