The Complete Teacher


18 Classroom Management Strategies & Techniques

Posted by Caroline Smith on 18 January 2021 4:00 PM SAST
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Poor classroom management will elevate your stress and burnout rates. Therefore it is important to support your health and wellness by creating an orderly learning environment! This will benefit your students too, as it establishes academic engagement and prosocial student behaviour. There are many approaches we outline below that are simple to implement. You can choose those which best suit your teaching style and situation.

1.     Model ideal behaviour 

Teachers are the champions of the classroom, which gives them the power to shape good behaviour. The behaviours a teacher exemplifies will mould the students’ morals and future roles in society. Therefore, it is important at all times to conduct yourself in a way that is respectful and kind. 

Students will model their behaviour on yours. Here are a few manners and behaviours to model to your students:

·       Demonstrate polite manners and language 

·       Maintain eye contact 

·       Keep your phone away or in your pocket

·       Let others speak without interrupting 

·       Raise concerns to other’s statements in a respectful manner.

2.     Create classroom rules together 

When teachers collaborate with their students to decide on the rules together, it sends a message that their teacher respects them and it matters what they have to say. 

This generates students to develop a sense of responsibility for their learning, and it can encourage independence. Further, it leads to a mutual respect between teacher and student. 

Have a discussion together and ask your class what rules should apply to them like how loud the noise levels can be, and when phones are okay. You may be shocked at how strict students can be when discussing the proposed rules!  

3.     Document the rules 

In order to honour the rules you have created together, it is important that you present your students with a copy of them. You can do this as a class activity together, where you write your classroom’s ‘Constitution’. Or you can simply print and distribute them like you would a syllabus. Doing this emphasizes your respect their ideas and intend to adhere to them. And, when a student breaks a rule, it would be easy for you to point to this document. 

4.     Avoid punishing the class 

It’s important that you address behavioural issues on an individual basis. Clumping all students together can hurt your relationships with other students who are on-task, which can jeopardize classroom management.

Instead, call on specific students in a friendly but firm manner. This approach allows you to maintain a positive disposition while immediately acknowledging poor behaviour. For example: 

·      “Do you have a question?”, not “Stop talking and disrupting others”

·      “Do you need help focusing?” not “Stop fooling around while I’m talking”

5.     Encourage initiative 

Almost inevitably, you will have some eager students in your classroom. Allowing students to work ahead of a lesson’s content promotes a growth mindset. For example, if you are reading a specific chapter in a textbook, you can propose that they read the following one too. When they preview the next chapter on your behalf, you may find that the other students want a bit more work as well! 

6.     Offer praise 

It’s important to praise students for jobs well done. This form of recognition improves their academic and behavioural performance, as well as encourages students to repeat positive behaviour. 

Praise can: 

·       Inspire the class 

·       Improve a student’s self-esteem 

·       Reinforce rules and values you want to see 

7.     Use non-verbal communication 

Supplement your instruction and words with action and visual aids to improve content delivery. This can help students focus and process lessons. Using a range of communication methods embraces multimodal learning techniques, which is an effective way to enhance students learner and engagement. 

8.     Hold parties 

Acknowledging students’ hard work motivates them to keep their efforts up. A nice way to do this is to throw a classroom party, even if its just for 20-30 minutes. Clarify that you’re holding a party to reward them and they can earn future parties by demonstrating ideal behaviour, collectively scoring high on assessments and more. 

You can celebrate by playing games and, if possible, with some snacks too. 

9.     Give tangible rewards 

Reward specific students at the end of each lesson in front of the class as another motivation for good academic and behavioural reinforcement. Before the class ends, you can give raffle tickets to students who actively listened and participated throughout the lesson. State aloud what the students did to earn the tickets. This will promote others to adopt the same techniques.

On Friday, they can submit their tickets for a prize such as being able to choose a game for the next class, what theme the following class party should follow or sweets. 

10.  Make positive letters and phone calls 

Keep students’ spirits high in and out of class by pleasantly surprising their parents with a phone call or sending complimentary letters home. Making parents aware of academic effort and behavioural progress has a trickle-down effect. The positive feedback will make them eager to return to class and earn more. 

This can also entice parents to invest more in a child’s learning, opening the opportunity for at-home learning. This is such an important aspect of education. Another benefit is that it allows for culturally-responsive teaching. 

11.  Build excitement for content 

Start lessons by previewing exciting portions of the content to hook student interest. At the start of the day, go through an agenda of the day’s highlights. These could include group tasks, engaging bits of content and feedback on assignments to pique curiosity. For example:

·      Why you don’t know anyone who’s won the lottery (for probability) 

·      How to talk like you’re a teacher (sentence structure) 

·      What all presidents have in common (social analysis) 

The goal of this classroom management technique is to immediately interest students in your agenda and thereby dissuade misbehaviour.

12.  Offer different types of free study time 

Provide a range of activities during free study time to appeal students who struggle to process content in silence. You can do this by dividing your class into clearly-sectioned solo and team activities. In separate sections, consider: 

·      Providing audio books playing material relevant to your lessons 

·      Maintain a quiet space for students to take notes and complete work

·      Create a station for challenging group games that teach or reinforce curriculum skills 

·      Allow students to work in groups while taking notes and completing work, away from quiet zones. 

By running these activities, free study time will begin to benefit diverse learners. This should contribute to overall classroom engagement.

 13.     Assign open-ended projects 


Encourage students to tackle open-ended projects – projects that don’t demand a specific product – to allow them to demonstrate knowledge in ways that inherently suits them. Start by giving the class a list of broad project ideas where each student chooses one. Be sure to provide a rubric for each project that clearly identifies expectations. By both enticing and challenging students, you should notice they’ll: 

·      Work and learn at their own paces

·      Engage actively with appropriate content 

·      Demonstrate knowledge as effectively as possible

·      Garner a sense of pride in their work 

·      Stimulate an independent learning process.

 14.     Give only 2 marks for informal assessments

Do you recall a time you saw a big F in red ink on your work? You were probably too upset to review the feedback and mistakes. Your students are just the same! 

Consider avoiding standard marks on informal and formative assessments. Instead, just state if a student did or didn’t meet expectations. Then, provide struggling students with a clear path to improve. 

For example, pair classmates who didn’t meet expectations with those who did, giving them a review and practice activity. When strugglers are confident they understand key concepts, encourage them to tell you. Provide a new assessment, allowing them to prove their competency. 

15.     Interview students 

Interview students who aren’t academically engaged or displaying prosocial behaviour to learn how better to manage them. You can do this while the rest of the class is busy with group work activities. Pull each student aside for a few minutes and ask about: 

·       Who they work well with 

·       Their favourite types of lessons 

·       Their favourite in-class activities

·       Which kinds of exercises help them remember key lesson points 

Note their answers to come up with activities and approaches to engage them, thereby limiting classroom disruptions. 

 16.     Address bad behaviour quickly 

Avoid hesitation when you must address bad behaviour, especially when a student is in breach of a documented rule. 

Acting sooner than later will help ensure that negative feelings won’t fester. Failure to act can result in more poor behaviour, leading to needlessly-difficult conversations. 

Keep in mind it is best to talk to the student in private, as doing it in front of peers can humiliate them and discourage positive behaviour.

 17.     Consider peer teaching 

Use peer teaching as a classroom management strategy if you feel your top performers can help engage and educate disruptive and struggling students. 

Peer teaching activities, such as pairing students together as reading buddies, can be especially beneficial for students who suffer from low confidence and poor interpersonal skills. 

This method of learning can improve self-esteem and interpersonal skills by giving feedback. Students realize these benefits by asking questions and receiving immediate clarification. 

 18.     Gamify lesson plans 

Motivate students by turning lessons into games they can play and challenge one another with, as this will continuously engage and incentivize them.

Consider gamification strategies such as:

1.     Adjust your scoring system. Give experience points (XP) along with traditional scores on tests and assignments, setting a goal for the student to reach a certain amount of XP per unit. For example, if a student scores 60% on a quiz, give him or her 6,000 XP. You can also award XP for completing extra assignments, participating in class or anything else that shows effort to learn.

2.     Using stages. Refer to topics and units as stages. The former terms have clear connotations for you, but students may not see how they fit together. If they’re gamers, they’ll understand that reaching the next stage requires overcoming precursory challenges. Emphasize this by framing certain tasks as prerequisites to reach the next learning stage.

If these strategies work especially well for individual students, you should see similar success by using them as class-wide student management techniques.

Final thoughts

These class-wide approaches to classroom management work across subjects and grade levels and do not require admin or parent support. These techniques should empower you to establish an orderly learning environment that still lends itself to a friendly and engaging atmosphere.   

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