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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What's The Best Classroom Management Advice You've Gotten?

What's The Best Classroom Management Advice You've Gotten?

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I thought it might be useful/interesting if people shared the best piece of classroom management advice they've gotten/read/heard... Mine comes from Marvin Marshall, who is my favorite (by far) writer/thinker on positive classroom management. He’s written a question that we as teachers might want to consider asking ourselves regularly. He wrote: Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating? Of course, we’re just human and all of this is far “easier said than done.” But it’s not a bad level to aspire towards…

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LindaC's picture

I also saw and read about Doug Lemov and his Uncommon Schools. It was helpful an did you want to know more about such techniques, please also find Tools For Teaching by Fred Jones. Fred has been researching for 40myears. You will find national award winning teacher training DVDs and classrooms and teachers who have had great success in raising achievement and reducing discipline problems. He also has an award- winning parent training series. You can go to his website or to youtube and search Fred Jones Tools For Teaching to see some examples and to add his program to your repertoire.

LizzyLiz's picture

Ask questions and get to know you students. Once they know you care about them, they will then listen to what you say. But use your talk time wisely and always keep the focus on them and what they need to know. Make sure it all relates to them. It's been working great for me.

Jocelyne's picture
French teacher High school and college

I agree with Alice. Sometimes we spend (or waste) a lot of time trying to solve a problem we think unique and others already dealt with it.
I receive a very good advice from a colleague: never decide something is "evident". Always explain to your students why, how, what for...
It can be evident for us but is it for our students?

Tanya Shank's picture

I noticed that students that are difficult are masking something else. I find out what is in by "Slaying the dragon". I become a friend to the student. I pester them into becoming my friend. I go to their games. Talk to them at lunch etc. I notice how they react to the learning process. If a child has difficulty reading or math we privately work on those issues before or after school. I call them to remind them of test and homework. Eventually I along with my family may invite that student to join us at an event like a parade or game. I enjoy helping students. I spend less time disciplining them when I get them to understand we have to work together.

Joseph D's picture

The best piece of classroom management advice I ever received was rather simple -- frequently vary the delivery of your instruction.  Often times we as teachers get caught up in doing things one way.  We are as much creatures of habit as anyone.  Especially at the secondary level, it's easy to fall into the trap of spending 90% or more of our time teaching a subject utilizing direct instruction (lecture).  A veteran teacher once told me, "No wonder some teachers have discipline problems.  The kids are bored.  Wouldn't you be?"  When things become boring and too predictable, discipline problems are undoubtedly going to become an issue.  Vary your instruction.  Keep kids on their toes.  Keep them interested.  It may take a little more time and effort on your part prior to lessons (planning) but it will save you a tremendous amount of time and headaches in the future. 

David Ginsburg's picture
David Ginsburg
Instructional Coach, Leadership Coach, Math Specialist

The best advice I received came from student feedback, through which I was reminded that classroom management involves much more than behavior management. And on further reflection it was clear to me that a lot of misbehavior in my classroom was the result of me neglecting key aspects of classroom management such as organization and time management. Once I tightened things up in those areas, teaching and learning time increased dramatically. And best of all, classroom culture improved too. I've devoted several blog posts to sharing these classroom management improvements including Disorganization-Proofing Your Classroom.

atom_box's picture

I realized the hall was the best place to confiscate a phone from a texting student sometimes. And a I do a mini-hall by speaking sotto voce when I go down the rows. Also, in the same style, I sometimes wordlessly give a gesture or pantomime to remind of a rule. For some reason a pantomime really pricks them less than words.

atom_box's picture

Totally. And the two quickie versions of the hall conference are:
1- Sotto voce, right at their desk, so quiet that noone can hear except the two of you, and even better,
2- the pantomime or gesture. Somehow, non verbal rule reminders disarm them. Maybe they seem goofy or inherently friendly.

Elisabeth Deaton's picture

Lots of great suggestions here! No matter how long you teach, you always have things to learn. :)

My students took off - in a good way - when I realized that classroom management is a balancing act. For the base, you need a positive relationship with each student. This does not mean "being friends" with the student, but showing each student that you are on his/her side and will do whatever it takes to foster success for each person in your class. Positive phone calls, side-by-side chats, and using every minute to help kids learn develop this base.

On top of the base come procedures and routines. Thank you, Harry and Rosemary Wong, for teaching me about the importance of these. When the procedures and routines are consistent, students feel secure, and lots of "discipline" problems, which were actually a result of confusion about procedures, disappear.

Finally comes a discipline plan. It's critical to know what to do when there is a problem. However, positive relationships with students and efficient routines and procedures make use of discipline plan pretty minimal.

Best to everyone for a new school year!

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