What do we mean when we talk about Classroom Management?
Classroom management refers to actions that an instructor takes to create and maintain a learning environment that is conducive to successful instruction. These actions include decisions about structure, organization, and course activities that support students by managing their expectations and behaviors. Effective classroom management can create a positive learning environment that:
- Fosters an environment that supports academic, social, and emotional learning;
- Facilitates a structured and organized environment where students can focus on learning; and
- Builds trust and healthy relationships between instructor and students, and peer-to-peer among students.
- Maintains attention and fosters motivation and engagement; and
- Minimizes disruption and interference with learning.
Ecological Approaches to Classroom Management:
The classroom is a learning environment with particular purposes, features, processes, and dimensions. Classrooms are public places and yet each class can feel like a private sphere with shared stories, inside jokes, and particular comforts and discomforts. Each classroom can also have its own dynamics that are affected by the people in the room, the time of day, the physical space, and many other factors.
The instructor can have a big influence on the ecology of the classroom by attending to many of these factors through course and lesson planning. What works:
- Being “with it”: scan the room and be aware of what is happening at all times
- Overlapping: do more than one thing at a time, such as maintaining eye contact and using proximity to keep attention
- Momentum: teach well-prepared and briskly paced lessons that keep students’ attention
- Keep the group alert and accountable: use teaching techniques that keep students’ attention and reduce predictability
- Offer varied and challenging assignments: different ways to use their minds at the right level of difficulty
Classroom management can often feel like a battle for control between students and instructors. If it starts to feel that way for you, it’s time to reflect on your approach.
- Are your rules consistent with your larger purpose and learning outcomes? Do they promote or hinder student motivation? Are any of your rules or procedures unnecessarily rigid or punitive?
- What degree of control do you need to have and in what areas? How should you balance control for maintaining a healthy group order with individual student needs for control over their own learning?
- How can you promote individual and collective responsibility for learning? How are you building a community of learners?
- How do outside factors (e.g. time of day, classroom location, weather, etc.) affect your class mood and behavior?
- What will be more important for you to do in large classes vs. small classes, or lecture vs. lab/studio classes?
- How do you show respect for yourself and your students in your respective roles?
Strategies for Starting and Ending Class:
Get Off to a Good Start
- Come to class early, if possible, to set up everything you need and be available to chat with students.
- Start class on time, every time.
- Post a question or problem on the board/screen that they need to start working on right away; this can be related to their homework, a concept from the last session, or kick off a concept for that day’s session.
- Use the intro activity to do a think-pair-share exercise with a peer; this gets them talking!
- Connect what you will do today with the last class or place it in the bigger picture.
- Activate prior knowledge by asking questions, doing a demonstration, or using a Student Engagement Technique.
End Class with Confidence
- Leave time at the end of class to review what students learned that session and how it connects to the course or unit learning objectives; ask students to summarize.
- Use a Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) to find out what students learned and what was confusing.
- Don’t ask for questions at the end of class; no one wants to hold up the class from leaving. Be clear about how and when is the best time to ask questions.
- Give instruction and reminders for homework or upcoming deadlines.
- Provide a preview of the next class and how it will connect.