Whether you're a first-year teacher or a seasoned pro, effective classroom management is a critical piece of any successful classroom. Share what works.

An Engaged Classroom . . . Dos and Don'ts

Tracie Weisz Middle School teacher from Alaska

We all know that students when students are truly engaged in their learning classroom discipline becomes a non-issue. So without going into specific activities, what I would be interested in hearing what types of activities engage in different age groups, and what types of activities will shut them down. I think we will find that there are more do's and don'ts than we realize!

I'll start with the easy and obvious don't - lecturing! There are those times when you just have to tell them something, but I think it's best to keep this at 5 min. or less for younger students, and not much more for older students.

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5th grade teacher in Tallahassee, FL

A Do or Two

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1. Ask questions eliciting their thoughts.
2. Listen to their responses.
3. Modify/tailor curricular activities accordingly.
4. Laugh with them.

I teach English & Social Studies at inner-city high school in Sacramento,CA

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I've got a lot of ideas on this topic, but my brain is a bit fried tonight.

So, for now, I'll contribute just one idea:

I like to think in terms of two-way "conversation" instead of one-way "communication." Certainly Tracie's idea of not lecturing is part of that, though I also think of it in broader terms. I would consider it a guide for the culture of the classroom, as well as the kind of preferred teacher/parent relationship.

Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

10 Rules of Engagement

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There's a great article by Tristan de Frondeville on "How to Keep Kids Engaged in Class." Here are his 10 rules to get students engaged.

1. Start Class with a Mind Warm-Up
2. Use Movement to Get Kids Focused
3. Teach Students How to Collaborate Before Expecting Success
4. Use Quickwrites When You Want Quiet Time and Student Reflection
5. Run a Tight Ship When Giving Instructions
6. Use a Fairness Cup to Keep Students Thinking
7. Use Signaling to Allow Everyone to Answer Your Question
8. Use Minimal-Supervision Tasks to Squeeze Dead Time out of Regular Routines
9. Mix up Your Teaching Styles
10. Create Teamwork Tactics That Emphasize Accountability

Thoughts? Do you all agree?

Middle School teacher from Alaska

Great do's and don'ts so far!

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Great do's and don'ts so far! Some that I am latching on to are Jason's points about asking good questions, and also Elan's point about teaching students how to collaborate - we so often don't think of this as a skill, and wrongly sometimes assume they possess it. I just saw this over on the GenYes blog about lecturing - she makes some good points...http://bit.ly/3YADXN

Professor, manager of K-12 website on conflict resolution

Building Conflict Resolution Concepts into the Classroom

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A quickly growing group of schools of education are incorporating conflict resolution concepts as part of the key skill set for new teachers, hoping to help teachers create an engaging and conflict-smart classroom environment. A new (free) resource that speaks to this is the Conflict Resolution Education Connection Teacher's Calendar for 2009-2010 that provides ideas for incorporating Conflict Resolution ideas throughout the year. See it online at http://www.creducation.org/cre/lo/teacher_calendar/

Professor, manager of K-12 website on conflict resolution

More information on schools

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More information on schools implementing CRETE can be seen here as an interactive map.

Great idea

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I'm always very surprised when teachers at our school assign mindless tasks and expect students to stay still and just work! Great tips, btw.

Algebra teacher, Maryland

Participation - desk slapping

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On the occasion I have to lecture, I'll have students slap their desk.
For example,"If you got that question right, slap your desk."
"Slap your desk if you understand." etc. Shouldn't be overused but it gives a little variation and makes a really cool sound.

Engaged students are happy students!

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I have found that if my students feel like they're learning something that's relevant to their lives, they'll be much more actively engaged in the lesson - writing letters to pen pals, for example, instead of just writing a random letter to show that they know how. If I absolutely have to lecture, I try to be as animated as possible, walking around the room, gesturing, etc. I also will let the kids put their feet on their desk or even sit on their desk with clipboards if I have to teach something fast that is probably not remotely interesting to them but has to be done.
Another way that I keep the kids engaged in learning is to put them in charge of a project. For example, when we study insects for life cycles, the students have to design their own bug. It has to be an insect (so I can assess if they know what that is) and they have to describe eating habits, the life cycle, habitat, etc. Everything they need to know has to be reflected in this project, but they DIG it and are completely engaged. If only I could do that with every standard!

6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

Listen, Listen, Listen

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I've found that it's important to listen to students. See what they like and enjoy. What are they into? What would they like to do/learn? I've always tried to incorporate their interests into everything - give them choices.

One of the best learning experiences I had in a classroom was something a student teacher did. She was designing a writing lesson and asked the kids what they wanted to do? They wanted to make something so she built a writing assignment around make a "no-bake" dessert. The kids LOVED it! They were so engaged and ... hold onto your seats ... they were having fun!

Things are so crazy with timelines, mandates, NCLB, test scores, etc. But we can always make things more interesting if we just listen to our students. They have so much to give us!

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