I cried almost every single week my first semester of teaching. After my first day, the principal walked into my classroom, took one look at my face, and asked how he could better support me. Nothing in my credential program or student teaching had prepared me for the real thing. Teaching is truly sink or swim. And I was sinking. For months.
You see, I believed that if I was just super friendly, sweet, and built rapport with students everything would go over just fine. Just about every teacher I know says that building rapport with students and getting to know them is the most effective classroom management technique- and they’re not wrong. It’s SO important. But you know what? It’s by no means the only thing that’s important for running an effective, efficient, warm, engaging, fun classroom.
In fact, in my first semester of teaching, I bonded like crazy with my students. I felt close to all of my classes and they genuinely enjoyed my class. But you know what? There was some serious chaos going on from day to day. Students would be chatting when I was teaching, the classroom would get so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think, students were falling behind from not finishing their work during class, side conversations were the norm, and one of my classes traumatized a sub so badly that she carried that grudge with her for years. You see, my lack of classroom management skills created very real, very negative problems in my classroom.
I’m betting most of you teachers have been where I was. Maybe you’re there right now (saying a prayer for you!). You’re doing everything “right” in building relationships with your students but there’s little classroom control when it comes to learning. Maybe you’re even dreading going to work or having that class come into your room every day. Or maybe you’re a veteran teacher looking for a few tips. No matter where you’re at, you can always hone your skill.
So I’m writing this blog series called “Classroom Management: the Non-Scary Approach.” And just to be clear- I mean it won’t be scary for you OR your students. We don’t need to become the angry, raging versions of ourselves to establish control. And it doesn’t have to be hard to implement simple, yet effective techniques. I hope you’ll join me and share your own tips in the comments along the way!
To start us off, here are my top reasons why classroom management is so important for teachers who want a student-centered, engaging classroom.
- Students feel more safe and confident in a well-managed classroom. I can’t tell you how many times students have told me they feel stressed out in a certain class because they don’t understand what’s going on and the teacher is not “strict” enough. Feel free to rid yourself of the image of the uptight, tight-bunned school teacher when you see the word “strict.” Let me translate “strict” into Student for you. Students mean “there are consequences when people misbehave in that class” or “there is good classroom management.” Kids call me “strict” all the time. But you know what else they call me? Kind. Understanding. Helpful. Having classroom management means that everyone is working together towards a common goal. Everyone is on the same page, ready to learn, ask questions, and engage. Students feel confident that they can complete their work and get attention from the teacher.
- You have time to check in with struggling students. If your classroom doesn’t go to pot every time you turn your back, it allows you more time to work with students one-on-one or check in with students who tend to slack off. This allows students to know that you see them, care about them, and desire to see them be successful. Because at the end of the day, our job is to teach and their job is to learn.
- Effective classroom management increases student engagement. When students are held accountable for staying on task and learning every single day, they don’t get off task as easily. Sure, there will be “off” days now and again, but for the most part students will engage in your lessons and activities simply because that’s the norm.
Next week join me as I give you practical tips on how to get started implementing stronger classroom management techniques 🙂
P.S. Part Two here.