Classroom management and discipline are probably the most important components of teaching. Let’s face it: If your class does not have some sense of order, very little learning will take place. You could be the most knowledgeable educator in the world, but if you can’t be heard over garrulous students, or if your students are running around the room, your brilliant pearls of wisdom will never enter the brains of your audience.
Establish leadership on the first day of class. Have a few simple but important rules. If your students are old enough, let them help you come up with a few rules. This helps give them ownership and definitely encourages compliance. Review the rules and the consequences for non-compliance with your classes, and post the information in a conspicuous place. This way, students know exactly what is expected of them and leaves no room for confusion. Always be consistent, too.
Also, follow the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” If you react the same way to students’ whispering as you do when students use profanity, you will lose effectiveness.
Save the big punishments for the major offenses. Sometimes simply making eye contact with a student will stop a minor offense before it becomes a major offense. Also, just moving closer to a student will often curb undesired behavior.
Be flexible; offer your students a variety of classroom activities. Boredom leads to misbehavior, so try to keep your students interested and focused. Use several hands-on strategies, and offer choices for the students as often as possible. You might have the students present information to the class in ways they choose. For example, when summarizing a story to the class, a student might present a puppet show. Or let the students turn a poem into a rap song. Students could make a video presentation for classroom viewing. Group projects and collaborative learning can be wonderful strategies, too. The possibilities are endless. Students can have fun and learn at the same time, and this definitely helps keep discipline in place.
By making your class a place students enjoy, you will encourage learning and participation. By being flexible and offering students choices whenever possible, children will feel a sense of empowerment. They will really feel that teaching is a team effort, and that they’re an integral member of the team. By creating this kind of atmosphere, learning opportunities will increase, and discipline problems will be few.