Proactive classroom management strategies focus on implementing strategies emphasizing how students should behave in the classroom, the expectations in the classroom, and how to make the classroom as structured and predictable as possible to avoid disruptive behaviours.
Class-wide strategies are implemented with all students within the class and address the needs of most students in terms of behaviour, while individualized strategies might be needed for a small number of students who will not respond appropriately to class-wide strategies.
As discussed above, a classroom management plan will help a provider establish clear rules, set class norms, and define consequences, while classroom management strategies work to keep the students engaged, connected, and keep students on-task as much as possible and therefore less likely to be disruptive or exhibit challenging behaviours during class time.
• Create a classroom management plan:
Although creating a classroom management plan is a short activity it is crucial in establishing how the classroom with function. As mentioned above, the classroom management plan should be posted during every lesson, reviewed often, and referred to when challenging behaviours arise.
• Understand the power of day One:
Day One is the first day you are in the classroom with the students. Day One is the most important day you will spend with students because you set the tone for the classroom and the rules and class norms are established. Work to create a classroom that is warm, inviting, and inclusive. Show enthusiasm for the lessons you are teaching and show students you are excited about being able to spend time with them. We want students to leave the classroom after Day One and look forward to the next lesson and the time they will spend in the classroom while you are facilitating.
• Access a seating chart ahead of time:
Young people want to be addressed by name. If at all possible access a seating chart ahead of time so you can make name tents for each student to grab on their way into class and take to their desks or arrange with the classroom teacher a time before your lesson starts for students to create their own name tents on a piece of paper. These name tents should be used each time you have class and will not only assist in you learning the students’ names but will eliminate the need to reference a seating chart and take time and attention away from the students. The simple act of looking down at a seating chart and searching for a student’s name is plenty of time for students to start to disengage.
• Greet students as they enter the classroom:
Even in the beginning when you aren’t certain of student’s names, it is important for students to feel a sense of belonging and to know you are excited about being at school and are happy they are a part of the class. Simple phrases like, “I am glad you are here today” or “welcome to class” can help students feel connected and engaged. Also, to show students you enjoyed your time with them and look forward to seeing them again, always say goodbye and reference when you will see them again for the next lesson.
• Create an agenda for each day:
Start each lesson on time and quickly review what is listed on the agenda for the lesson. Check off agenda items as they are completed to build on a sense of accomplishment and to help students know what is coming up next. This helps students understand there is a routine followed during your class time and predictability of what is coming up next.
• Be genuine and sincere with praise:
While praise is very important and is oftentimes a great prompt to the class acknowledging appropriate behaviour, empty praise or praising for small tasks or less than adequate work can actually cause students to disengage and lose interest in your feedback. Be thoughtful in what you say to students and work to find ways to offer genuine praise and feedback. Always try to focus genuine praise on the work and behaviour of a student and not the student themselves.
• Balance teaching and facilitating:
While maintaining fidelity to the curriculum, look for ways to balance teaching and facilitating. Teaching is typically the class listening to the information being shared by a teacher or facilitator while facilitating involves sharing knowledge and including the audience in the lesson. Look for opportunities to have students actively respond and participate. Offer opportunities for students to read aloud, write on the board/smartboard, answer questions out loud, and assist you during the lesson. Depending on the student’s learning style they may learn best when reading, listening, writing information down, or maybe even moving around the classroom a bit. While we can’t accommodate each student’s learning style each time, we can make an effort to allow students opportunities to actively respond.
• Circulate the room:
Facilitators should circulate the room as a way to keep students engaged and attentive. Not only do students have to pay attention and follow where you are, but it allows you the opportunity to check to make sure students are on-task.
• Find a seating arrangement conducive to learning:
While during some lesson activities you may have students working in groups with desks connected, typically when student’s desks are arranged in rows students tend to stay on task, focus, listen and complete more work. During activities promoting or encouraging student engagement, a u-shape or circle might be effective, but overall other arrangements may help with managing disruptive behaviours. Check-in with the classroom teacher ahead of time because the teacher may already have a seating assignment that works and has certain students in certain seats.
As a rule of thumb, it is best to avoid any seating arrangements which cause your back to be to the class or even part of the classroom for any length of time. If there is the need to write materials on the board it is a good idea to delegate different students to write on the board for you while your facilitate class instead of turning around and writing on the board.
• Be effective when giving instructions:
It is important when giving instructions to provide information in a way that is clear and concise. Once we have gained the student’s attention it is important to:
1. Wait until students are seated and not moving around the room.
2. Give one instruction at a time.
3. Use a clear firm voice and repeat each instruction.
4. Wait for student compliance.
5. Provide an opportunity for students to acknowledge understanding of the instruction given. This can be by done asking for thumbs up or thumbs down and answering questions or concerns of the students with their thumbs down.
6. If a class is struggling with following verbal directions you might want to write out ahead of time and post directions for an activity. Having a posted copy of the instructions allows students to refer to this information if they are confused or have questions or concerns.
• Avoid answering too many questions and stalling the lesson:
Always have a way students can get questions answered, even when there isn’t time in class. You can provide a “parking lot” flip chart sheet that is posted in a certain location in the classroom during each lesson and post-it sheets with pens near the paper and students can write questions and post them to the sheet to be answered next class period. Also, a question box can be located in the classroom each class period and have index cards and pens so students can write and submit questions.
Finally, as a way to minimize interruptions and keep students and lessons on track, you can decrease pause time between student responses and move on to the next question or task.
• Handle disagreements with respect:
Let students know throughout your lessons information may be presented that a student might disagree with. Create a classroom atmosphere where students know it is ok to disagree, but disagreements are always to be respectful.
• Integrate students’ interests when appropriate:
During activities, such as role-plays, try to use language youth can connect with and names they connect with as part of their culture. It is important to remember the goals and messages of the role-play must remain unchanged and prioritize curriculum fidelity.
• Be willing to give a little to get a lot:
Some days students enter the classroom and you can tell the energy level is high and it is going to be an enormous challenge to keep students focused and on-task. Whether it’s the weather, a school holiday or break is coming up, or a student has a birthday, offering a small incentive might be just the key to get students to tune in and be alert. Incentives don’t have to cost money but can offer students an opportunity to interact with each other and relax.
You can tell students if they work hard, stay focused and on-task for the 45-minute lesson they can have the last 2-3 minutes of class to talk to each other, stand up, and use up some of their energy. While we don’t want to give up our facilitation time, many times offering an incentive can help your facilitation time go smoothly and instead of dealing with constant disruptions, you can focus on the lesson and make the most of your time in the classroom.
If you find this post helpful please don’t forget to drop a message in the comment section below.