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Classroom Management

For new teachers, and a few old ones, classroom management is the bane of teaching. If you are a teacher having classroom management problems, you probably are having discipline problems as well. Improve your classroom management, and you decrease your behavior problems. Discipline and classroom management go hand in hand, but they are not the same. Classroom management helps you be an effective teacher.

Classroom management is how you run your classroom on a day to day basis. Discipline is your punishment/reward system for wanted/unwanted behaviors.

The following will give you a general idea on classroom management. It is not a cure-all. It is a starting point to good classroom management. Only with teaching experience, over several school terms, can you begin to be an expert on classroom management.

There is really only one main point to great classroom management. That is getting, setting, and keeping a routine. Especially how your class starts and ends Your students should know exactly what to expect as soon as they enter your classroom.

Classroom management starts before the first day of school. You MUST come up with an effective game-plan as to how each class should start. It must be an easy routine to start, follow, and maintain. What you do the first ten minutes of class is of utmost importance.

Ask other experienced teachers. They are by far the best resource for a starting point. However, do not take what they say as gospel. Only you know what your personality and experience can do. Your teaching skills will improve over time.

With that said, now you can plan your class. Basically, for good classroom management, there are four basic parts. These are only my ideas. Most books and classes have different ways. But classroom management is related to lesson planning.

Let's go over how to start a class session. This is one important first step of classroom management.

Four Basic Parts of a Class Session
1) Start time-what do the students do when they first come in?
2) Review-You must review the previous lesson.
3) Introduce new material-This is where the new lesson is.
4) Review and end class-This is almost a reverse of the start.
Obviously, #2 and #3 are flexible depending on the day. The transistion between sections of your class is the art of classroom management.

The First Ten Minutes of Class
Teachers must have something for students to do immediately after the students come into the classroom.

If you do not follow this, your classroom management is doomed to fail.
Your class must be under control as soon as the bell rings. This can be a question, assignment, etc. that is written on the board. If your class starts with this each and every day, your students will expect it. It must be a solo assignment.

It must be an assignment that takes at least eight of the ten minutes. Sometimes students straggling into class is a disruption. That is, students sitting in your class, talking, goofing off, until the bell rings. You have two choices to maintain order. Tell students that if they are in the classroom, they are here to work. They must be working on the assignment given. If not, they need to be outside, but still are required to be in their seat when the bell rings. The other option involves locking the door until there are two minutes left before the bell rings. I have even seen effective teachers not opening the door until after the bell rings. Your classroom must be looked upon as a place of work, not fun. No, this does not mean you cannot have fun teaching and learning.

What Does the Teacher do During This Time?
Anything and everything that has to do with normal classroom housekeeping. Passing back papers, taking roll, etc. You MUST do these things during this time. You must do them efficiently. You must do them swiftly. Any other time during class is upsetting your classroom management. Using seating charts is a plus. I would actually almost insist on it. You decide where students sit. Passing back papers can be a time wasting activity. Learn to do this in a couple of minutes. I did mention in the previous section that students in class before the bell rings can be a pain. But, allowing students in early can facilitate passing back papers. The early arrivals should immediately be met with their previous papers. When passing back papers, you do not need to walk around to each student. Give the first student in each row any paper for any student in that row and have them pass it back. Here's a trick I learned. If you have a set seating chart, (and again this is almost a must), when collecting papers keep the entire row's papers together. Then to pass them back, simply give each row's pile to the first student in that row to pass back. Simple!

What do I do After the Ten Minutes is Up?
You discuss the answers or responses. But only shortly. You need to get on with the rest of the class. Then you collect them. Yes, you must collect them and score them somehow. This is your choice. It could be worth 1 daily point. Okay. You are asking, what am I doing while I am collecting these? Downtime is a killer to classroom management! You are correct! However, an experienced teacher would have review problems on the board or overhead, just waiting to be done. Students are working on these review problems as you are collecting. These review problems are to be done in the time it takes for you to collect the starting assignment. You do not have to wait for students to finish it. In fact, you really do not want students to have time to finish it. It is a bridge. It is a review which they are doing in their notes. As soon as you collect their starting assignment, start going over the review work. This is not collected. It just reinforces the previous lesson.

And now you start the new lesson! But wait! Isn't there a little dead time between the review and the new stuff? Not really. You are not collecting the review, so you can smoothly go to the new material. However, experienced teachers will actually use the review as a really smooth transition. How? They will write one more review problem to be done as the teacher writes new material on the board. That way, you have a good start on the new material written on the board. You, as a good teacher practicing great classroom management, will always have your students on task. No down time.

What you do with the lesson from here on is your call! However, to maintain good classroom management, you MUST have activities for students who finish early. A good trick is to assign more problems than they can finish. The rest they do as homework. But not too many. Be sure and read the article titled Using Homework Effectively. Here is a little tip to help not only with classroom management, but discipline as well. When you assign problems or questions to complete, tell the students that you will shorten the assignment as to how well you think they are working until the class ends. How much you shorten it is up to you.

The Last Five Minutes of Class
The last five minutes of class is almost as important as the first ten minutes. Put one last problem or assignment on the board when there are five or so minutes left in class. Since you have given an assignment that will take longer than class time, pick one of the problems down the list. A more advanced problem or question perhaps. This way the students will have another look at you doing a problem. The class gives you the attention as you do the problem, question, etc. You can elicit prompts from the students. The goal is to actually have students attention focused on you just before the bell rings. Knowing that you are answering a homework question is also an incentive to listen up. Call it a freebie. Remember how discipline and classroom management go together? This will lead to an orderly exit of your classroom. You do not want any class time to be thought of as free time or dead time.

But I Want to Give Free Time and Fun Time!
Forget it. You will never master classroom management if you are thinking this way. You are not the students' friend, you are their teacher.

No, this does not mean you cannot be friendly. Please read the article titled, Be a Great Teacher. Your students must realize that your classroom is a work environment. It is not a place to fool around.

It is not a place for students to play games and socialize. The sooner you, as a teacher, realize this, the sooner you will master classroom management. It will lower your stress. Your school day will flow smoothly. I know that you as a teacher know may fun activities and assignments. Feel free to give those out! But your students must be engaged at all times.

You must start and maintain your routine from the first day of school. You must train your students. If you start on the first day of school, you will find this task easier. If you are well into the school year, start now! If you are starting this in the middle of the school year, DO NOT tell your students you are doing or trying something new. Just do it as if it is a natural progression. Yes, you could wait until the new quarter or semester.

Good classroom management involves having a time to do housekeeping chores and keeping students on task at all times. These are part of your daily classroom routine. Implementing these will only improve your classroom teaching and stress level!


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