The Complete Teacher


New teachers' strategies for managing classrooms

Posted by Hlengiwe Zwane on 25 January 2022, 13:00 SAST
Hlengiwe Zwane photo

If there is a thing that you need to do as a new teacher that you need to do is smile, be consistent and have fun. We understand that sometimes it is hard to know what is important and what should go to the bottom of your priority list. Everything takes a back seat to classroom management because if you can not effectively control your classroom, nothing will work as it should. You must master this one area first otherwise teaching can be especially unforgiving.

With hundreds of strategies out there at your disposal, only a few are absolutely critical. The following are the cornerstone principles from the first day to the last for a successful year of teaching.

Remember that a smile sends a subtle but powerful message to your class that kindness and politeness are expected. It also calms nervous energy and builds instant likability but be sure to draw a fine line between being kind and demanding respect. This is critical because when your students like you and are comfortable around you, they will want to listen to you and behave for you. As you meet your class, look them in the eye, say hello and smile.

Have clear rules
Classroom rules need to be put in place to protect every student’s right to learn, enjoy school and your right to teach. These must cover every possible disruption, interruption and misbehaviour and there should be no misunderstanding regarding what constitutes breaking them.

Clearly define each rule during the first few days at a school. Show your students examples of the precise behaviours that break your rules and also show what are the possible consequences.

Have clear consequences
Consequences hold students accountable without having to lecture to or scold them. Maintaining a positive relationship is crucial in reaching and inspiring your students to mature socially and academically. Walk your students through the steps of misbehaving, from initial warning to parent contact. Use the exact words and body language you’ll use when you give a warning, send a student on a time out, or inform them that you must call home. In this way, there are no surprises, no arguments and no anger when it goes wrong.

Inconsistency is the fastest way to lose control of your class. When you let misbehaviour go and sold instead of calmly enforcing consequences, you essentially tell your students that you can not be trusted. This creates disappointment, resentment and ultimately more misbehaviour.

The key to consistency is to continually remind yourself that your very success depends on it. The moment your students learn that you are not a person of your word, the floodgates will open. When you witness misconduct of your rules, your response should be automatic, even robot-like. Simply approach the misbehaving student, tell them what rule was broken and the consequence, and then deal with things accordingly.

Teach detailed routines
Routines are essential to a well-run classroom. They save time, keep students focused on learning and reduce misbehaviour. Anything and everything you do repeatedly such as lining up for lunch, turning in work or circling into groups should be made into a routine.

The key is to teach children in a detailed way. Pretend you are a student and guide them through the steps you want them to take. After checking for understanding, ask a student as a model then practise as a class until perfected.

Add some fun
It is easy to get caught up in teaching your objectives that you forget the importance of making school fun for both your students and yourself. If there is a secret to classroom management, this is it. When your students are happy, engaged and look forward to your class, you have powerful leverage.

Be open to sharing a laugh with your students. Be yourself and never be afraid to show your personality. Your students will relate to you easier when you do this. 


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