Establishing an orderly classroom is fundamental to the learning process. To put it bluntly no learning will take place unless there is order in the classroom. In order to create an orderly classroom, teachers themselves should understand the importance of the environment they establish at the start of the school year. Where do you start? I hear you ask. There are several things that teachers can do to help manage student behaviour and increase students’ engagement and learning.
Establish a classroom structure
The fundamental thing to remember is that students want structure even though they may act or state that they do not. prior to students entering the classroom on the first day of school, teachers should plan ahead. They should identify key routines and structures that will ensure that the physical space is highly productive for students. Some of these tasks may include passing out and collecting papers or materials, line-up routines, and other activities that engage students. plan every minute of the first day or even the first few days. What will you do first, second, etc.?
This may sound like over planning but if you are new to the classroom or the country this is very necessary. a key part of planning is deciding on the right strategies that will allow for easy implementation of classroom activities. Introduce useful guidelines and expectations on the first day. Rehearse it with students several times daily over the course of a few weeks. This will create routines that students will follow without hesitation and facilitate an organised and orderly classroom.
Engage students in learning
Another key strategy is to engage students in learning, yes, tell them what they are going to do and why, give them timelines and keep them busy. You know what they say about idle hands. Students want to know how and why what they are learning is important. provide them with real world applications in order to help them understand how to use the information in real life. allow students to explore and direct their own learning individually and in collaborative learning tasks. These activities require them to think critically and be creative while the teacher facilitates learning. When students feel empowered during the learning process this can result in less behavioural issues.
A proven strategy for managing classroom behaviour is simply being positive in your interactions with students. Too often we focus on students’ mistakes and fail to point out the good things students do well. Even if it is the smallest task, when a student does well, let him/her know and praise that student in front of others. Call parents to tell them how good their child was in class. You will be surprised at just how much this will transform the manner in which students behave.
These are just a few strategies that can facilitate the creation of a well- managed classroom. Students can spot inconsistency and will take advantage of it. Therefore, when using these strategies, be firm and consistent with the implementation. This does not mean that you cannot modify strategies upon reflection, if they are not working, do not give up. Students are also trying to see how committed you are. Show them you are committed to helping them learn.
By Dr Thomas Gamboa Jr., Ed. D.
Dr. Gamboa has nearly 20 years of teaching experience at all levels from elementary to university graduate level. He is currently in his second year as a cycle three public school English teacher in the UAE.