Most of the teacher candidate students I taught cited ‘classroom management’ as their greatest fear about their Bachelor of Education year.
I was lucky, well, I see myself as lucky. I cut my management teeth while working in some of the toughest neighbourhoods of Glasgow. Street brawls, crack dealers and knife fights were a continuous issue in and around these schools. Although the students were sweet, happy and thankful young people, they came from tough homes and tough streets. So, it wasn’t unusual to be told to F-off or ‘flipped the bird.’ One day, I even had a student attempt to throw a desk in my direction (at me? I doubt it. He wasn’t that angry at his regular teacher). By the time I came back to Ottawa, ‘rough’ classes seemed like a cake-walk. Sure, these students were also challenged, the weren’t Glagswegians, growing up in a city with the highest poverty levels in the country.
A few simple tips:
1) Mean what you say. Empty threats are easily ignored.
2) Stay positive. The student is not the problem, it’s the behaviour.
3) The “lesson” should fit the “crime.” A student throwing garbage around the room? She/he can spend some time cleaning up the classroom. Can’t sit appropriately in a chair? They could stand.
4) ALWAYS STAY CALM. Raising your voice will never help. I love the ‘broken record”… ‘I just need you to sit down. I just need you to sit down. I just need you to sit down. I just need you to sit down.”
5) Address behaviours as quietly as possible. Go directly to the student and lean in. Whisper your directive. If you give the student an opportunity for a show, many will take it.
There are ways to improve your classroom strategies. Great resources exist all over the internet for new teachers.
Billed as an ‘online cafe’ to post questions and queries for beginning teachers, http://www.survivethrive.on.ca/ is a great place to access good sources or start a discussion about issues you’re facing.
This website, disciplinehelp.com/ attempts to address the bigger issues at work in identifying 120 acting-out classroom behaviours.
The National Education Association also offers some pretty fantastic resources on many management issues.