Building Your Teacher Toolbox: Five Ways to Improve Classroom Management

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Managing a class isn’t easy! Before you can teach content, you need to create a positive learning environment (check out our Class Culture Deep Dive for tips on how to do that). Building culture is a long process, one that eventually makes management easier. But what do you do when you need your class to calm down and focus? Or how do you deal with a student who is outright defiant?

We’ve all had moments when our students turn into wild monkeys, not listening to anything we say. Like anything related to teaching (or humans!), there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that will work for everyone. But adding these strategies to our toolboxes can help:

Classroom Expectations

The first step towards smooth classroom management is having clear classroom expectations. Both you and your students need to know what types of behaviors are expected in your classroom and what will happen if those expectations are not met. Even young students can be involved in creating and following expectations! In this video, watch preschool teacher Jennifer Hawkins communicate and reinforce classroom norms. Now watch how expectations can be set with older students.

Set the Tone

Once you’ve established expectations, it’s up to you to set the tone for your classroom. Think about creating an environment where students feel safe, respected, and able to take risks. Watch how Nick Romognolo communicates clear expectations while setting the tone for his algebra class. Then watch how another math teacher, Marlo Warburton, sets the tone for her class. What can you do on a daily basis to create the classroom community you’re hoping for?

Get Their Attention

One of the hardest things about managing a group of students is getting their attention. There are thousands of attention-getters out there, but here are a few to try:

Manage Interruptions

In this video, learn how Mary Abdul Wajid uses the “Three B’s” to manage interruptions. Think about how you can clearly communicate expectations to your students so they learn when it is and isn’t an okay time to interrupt you. How could you adapt this approach to manage whole-class interruptions?

Master Your Teacher Look

Sometimes all you need to do is give students a look to get them back on track. Watch this video to get inspiration for mastering your “teacher look.”

If you’re looking for more management strategies, check out our complete collection of videos about behavior management.

Here’s to a positive and productive school year!

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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