Effective classroom management is necessary for all teachers and facilitators. Classroom management involves all aspects of what is going on in the classroom while a lesson is being taught. Not only does classroom management include how the teacher or facilitator delivers the curriculum, but also how the students interact with the teacher and with others in the classroom and extends into the classroom environment in which students learn as well. Students cannot learn in chaos.
Classroom management includes elements of classroom discipline, but focuses more on creating a peaceful learning environment that is comfortable, organized, engaging, and respectful for both the teacher and the students.
It almost goes without saying, but it is an important reminder, that in the end kids will be kids. If we are not taking the steps and putting in the effort to actively engage students in the lessons we are facilitating, they will actively engage in something else…and that’s what we all want to avoid.
DEVELOPING A CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT PLAN
A classroom management plan is where clear rules are set, class norms are developed, expectations are stated, and consequences are defined. The classroom management plan does not have to be lengthy, complex, or intricate. A simple set of rules or class norms and consequences hand-written on a piece of flip chart paper is all you need to create your plan.
The classroom management plan, also referred to as a classroom management contract, is a contract you create with your students focusing on providing for their needs in the classroom and a commitment to help students learn without interference and disturbances. Once the classroom rules or norms are developed, the contract is presented to the class and is the document that defines the classroom norms. The contract should be followed at all times and requires teachers and facilitators to hold students and themselves accountable at all times.
This applies to both the Youth Prevention Education teacher or facilitator or the classroom teacher. While we rely on the classroom teacher for handling most discipline issues, it is often our responsibility to keep students on task and deal with smaller classroom management issues.
It is important for students to know what is acceptable and unacceptable in the classroom as well as what the expectations are. By allowing students input on developing the classroom management plan, they are invested in following the rules, but should they break a rule, they know what the consequences are.
Some important points to keep in mind when creating a classroom management plan or classroom management contract with students:
- Involve students in all aspects of creating the classroom management plan.
- Create no more than five rules or class norms – Keep things as simple as possible. If you create too many rules, students will feel overwhelmed by the classroom management plan. Look for rules that cover behaviours that could interfere with the learning and engagement of your students. Creating a classroom management plan should be a short, rather quick activity meant to set the tone for the rest of your time together. Always state the rules or classroom norms positively and be as brief and to the point as possible.
Rules that work well in most situations would be:
1. Respect yourself, your classmates, and your teachers.
2. Raise your hand before speaking or leaving your seat.
3. Keep your hands, feet, and materials to yourself.
4. Listen, follow directions, and ask questions when needed.
5. Be positive.
- Work with the classroom teacher ahead of time to know what some appropriate consequences might be if a student breaks a rule. You don’t want to create a rule that isn’t enforceable or doesn’t match the teacher’s classroom management plan. Students oftentimes come up with very harsh consequences, so having the conversation with the classroom teacher ahead of time might give you some ideas to suggest to students if needed. The classroom teacher may have some very valuable insight into what might help keep students on track or what is currently working well in the classroom. Our goal is to work with students to create consequences that can be carried out and offer valuable life lessons. Here again, you want to keep the consequences short. Usually you can have a three-step consequence plan allowing for a more severe consequence each time a rule is broken. As a rule of thumb, it is always good to have students receive a warning the first time they break a rule. A warning works well as a first consequence because it doesn’t take up a lot of class time, doesn’t involve conflict, is stress-free for the teacher and student, and isn’t personal. Even if students don’t suggest a warning as a first-time rule violation, the teacher should try to establish a warning as the first consequence.
- Block off a portion of the flip chart paper so students can sign on the sheet that includes the rules/classroom norms and consequences. Take the flip chart paper down after every lesson and post it up at the beginning of every lesson and in a brief overview at the beginning of each lesson review the rules.
- Remember to include both the class rules or class norms and the consequences. Neither listing the rules alone or the consequences alone does much to change the classroom environment. Students need to know what the rules are and be aware of what will happen when a rule is broken. By including the consequences on the flip chart, it allows students to know what will happen if a rule is broken, and that the consequences are the same for everyone. It makes the rules predictable and your responses predictable, which can help establish trust in the classroom. Students don’t have to wonder what will happen; they know what will happen and that it will be the same for all students, every day.
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