How to Get Through To A Class You Struggle With From A Classroom Management Approach

First and foremost, you need to go into the class with a positive attitude, good body language, a smile on your face and a feeling of happiness emanating from your voice. If you go into the class feeling stressed, that will only lead to more stress which will lead to health and motivational problems for you and only make the situation worse. Students are quick to spot a teacher's bad vibes and will set out to exploit them. That's the nature of 'the student beast'. Therefore, in other words, you may need to 'fake it'. You will be surprised how that can help.

Always say, "Good morning" with gusto and a smile on your face that signals that you are wishing everyone a happy, productive day.

Make the class aware often that you are there to help them along the way; that you have goals for them and you to achieve and that these can only be achieved with their help and effort.

What happens in the classroom must be a group effort, everyone helping each other to gain the most benefit for each person. Remind them often that you want the best possible results for them.

Below, are a number of strategies that will help you create a more disciplined classroom environment conducive to greater learning. (These strategies are in no order of importance).

Strategy 1: Simple Rules

Let the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" be your starting point. Some teachers devise a set of class rules with the class. This often works well because they will accept ownership of the rules. A few simple rules are easy to enforce and easily understood by the class.

Strategy 2: Fairness

Nothing bugs these types of students more than unfair punishment and the sceptre of a 'teacher's pet'. Therefore, make sure you deal equally with all students committing the same 'offence'. Don't bring past history or reputation in to your dealings with students in a new class or year. Tell the class every student begins in your class with a 'clean sheet'. You will not remember or seek to find out their 'reputation' unless they give you cause to do that.

Strategy 3: Expectations And Goals For The Class

These must be realistic but just above their current standards to give the class an incentive to try. As they achieve each goal 'raise the bar' again. Acknowledge publicly with the class each goal that is met and exceeded. These expectations should centre on academic, behavioural, industry and cooperation issues. The goals must be published and crossed off as each is achieved.

Strategy 4: Behaviour Management

From the very beginning set the standards for behaviour high. 'Jump' on early problems immediately. (One of the guiding principles of a successful principal I worked with was this: If you are particular to make sure all the simple issues of discipline are concentrated on, e.g. good manners, being on time, correct dress and so on, the students are so concerned about being 'caught' that the more serious offences never seem to develop. It is important to note here that it is much easier to 'loosen up' on discipline later than to tighten up at a later date.

Strategy 5: Bite Your Tongue

Sometimes, it is better not to react strongly to or to pretend that you did not hear a rude comment directed at you. Here are some replies that I use to try to diffuse the situation before it escalates.

    I'm glad I didn't hear that.
    Tom, did you say something to me?
    Am I hearing things perhaps I should not?
    Did you say what I thought you said?
    I'm sorry but I didn't catch what you said. Would you repeat what you said, please?

These give the student a face saving opportunity to back down when they realise they have gone too far. If they continue, then the situation has escalated and you need to invoke your school discipline code.

Strategy 6: Firm But Not Friend

A teacher cannot be a friend to his/her students. You are 'in loco perantis'. That carries responsibility. Obviously, you need to be approachable. That means you need to have a friendly demeanour. Tell your class when and where you are available to see them about any issues they have and help they need.

Strategy 7: Praise, Rewards And Incentives

Often, students in difficult classes receive little or no praise at school and often not at home. A little praise goes a long way. Any progress the class or students make should be praised either publicly or one on one, depending on the student and the situation. Offer rewards for goals achieved, good efforts by the class or individual. These rewards might be as simple as a sticker or a stamp or a lolly. Your class circumstances will help decide.

Strategy 8: Record Cards

Read these to give a background on each child. There may be issues of family problems, health or learning problems as well as academic results. You might also learn of some talent the student has to help engage him/her successfully in class work. Knowing these things about your students will help tailor the ways in which you react to a student's behaviour. (I had an horrific evening after I had admonished strongly a male student sent to me for disciplining. He disappeared from the school. I then found out from the teacher he was suicidal. Fortunately for me, all was well).

Strategy 9: Reporting

Try always to offer positive comments. Highlight the areas of improvement and suggest ways to improve results in other areas.

Strategy 10: Don't Hold Grudges

Remember, students are self-centred. Many believe that because you are correcting their behaviour that 'you are picking on them' and/or 'you hate them'. You might get that impression from them too. Don't take it personally. It's just 'the nature of the beast'. Let what happens in the classroom stay there.

Strategy 11: Don't Punish Yourself

If you have to 'punish' students, then don't keep them in so that you have to supervise them. Give them useful work to do in their time so that you can have your breaks as a time to rest and relax. This punishment might be to report to the teacher on playground duty to pick up litter. Alternatively, they might report to you when you are on playground duty. You could remove privileges, have them on a behaviour card or on a behaviour contract.

Strategy 12: Stress Breakers

As you work through the year with your class, note teaching pedagogues that the class enjoy and the subject areas they enjoy the most. Now, when you are reaching your stressed out point use these pedagogues to give yourself some easier lessons. Alternatively, have a day off but make sure you plan a day for the relief teacher that is full of activities that they will attempt gladly to make the relief teacher's day pleasant.

At the end of each teaching period or day, make sure you review the successes of the day, remind them about homework and the important issues to come in the near future and say "Good day" and wish them a "Great day" with a smile on your face. Once you are alone, review your day noting what worked well and where you need to make changes. Note in your diary what has been achieved. This is important because it often seems that you are making no progress with the class. A quiet lesson is progress. Later in the year, look at your diary entries and you'll be surprised at what you have achieved.

Article Source: Richard D Boyce

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