To say that math has never been my strong suit would only be a half-truth. As a student, math confounded, terrified and tormented me—until I met Mr. Bauer. Thanks to this amazing man, a 23-year old, first-year teacher with unswerving patience and kindness, math (algebra, specifically) not only became my favorite class, but the one I continued to excel in over the course of my freshman year in high school.
Most of us appreciated Mr. Bauer enough to submit our work on time, listen, take notes and ask questions when we had them, but he did have one Achilles heel: classroom management. As a result, there were always a few upper classmen who would interrupt him, throw things across the room when his back was turned and deliberately break the games he brought in to enhance the lessons. Many of us would come to his defense, but invariably, delinquency would seep in and eventually dominate. Those who wanted to learn did, but I’d be lying if I said our motivation, focus and comprehension didn’t suffer as a result.
To make a long story short, our math teacher didn’t last long. Whether he left of his own volition or not, I don’t know. What was clear to me, even then, was that he did not receive the professional development or coaching he needed to become as brilliant at classroom management as he was at teaching math which is a tragedy.
What does research say about classroom management?
Classroom management is crucial to students’ success. In fact, research has shown us that teachers' actions in their classrooms have twice the impact on student achievement as do school policies regarding curriculum, assessment, staff collegiality, and community involvement. Another study suggests the same thing: Of all the variables, classroom management has the largest effect on student achievement.
It should go without saying, but in order for students to learn, we must provide them with a well-managed classroom. Here are 5 classroom management strategies to help you accomplish this.
5 Keys to Classroom Management
1. Establish an appropriate level of dominance
“Dominance” has the same effect as a dirty word, but not when it is used in the proper context. Healthy dominance is simply when a teacher provides students with a clear sense of purpose and guidance, both academically and behaviorally.
2. Verbalize and model clear expectations
A common (and costly) misstep is to presume that students share our definitions of appropriate behavior. We must not only explain appropriate and inappropriate behavior, we must also model it. We need to remember that negotiating the nuances of social interaction—all of which takes place in class discussion, group work and peer review exercises—is uncharted territory for many of our students.
3. Consistently follow through with consequences
One way to redirect students’ behavior is by using a wide variety of verbal and physical reactions:
4. Be assertive, not antagonistic
Consider linguist Henry Calero’s suggestion that 55 percent of the messages we transmit to each other come from body movements and 38 percent from the voice—inflection, intonation, volume. Here’s the kicker: A mere 7 percent of the messages we transmit come from words. What this seems to suggest, then, is that you don’t have to be sharped-tongued to be assertive. Let your body language do the work:
5. Embed Social Skills