I am enthusiastic about teaching. I feel highly satisfied teaching children and other people. I was extremely happy the day I was engaged as a teacher.
After a week or two, I realized my success is dependent on my ability to successfully manage my classroom and lessons. This is because I started to become stressed after my first weeks at the position. I had to learn practical strategies to help me succeed in class.
In other words, what I learned from school is not practical enough to help me effectively manage my classroom.
Then I started researching online, reading books and articles, and consulting experience colleagues to guide me on the best strategies to employ to nail classroom management.
Throughout my search, consultations, and personal experiences, I found the following nine strategies/skills that truly works irrespective of the level you teach:
1. Build positive relationships with students
2. Effective time management
3. Giving effective commands
4. Giving effective warnings
5. Effective management of temper tantrums
6. Effectively managing transitions
7. Constructing effective behavioral contracts
8. Effectively minimizing interruptions
9. Managing out-of-class settings behaviors
10. Developing an effective homework routine
I realized that the success of effective teachers is founded on their ability to effectively achieve and implement the above strategies.
My 9 Killer Classroom Management Strategies
Let’s look at the strategies identified above in detail and identify some of the ways to improve ourselves on each of them:
Positive Relationships with Students
One of the critical techniques to manage your students and their behaviors is by creating healthier relationships with them.
Research has shown that students put up problem behaviors if they have broken bonds with their teachers (Sheets and Gay, 1996).
Teachers who have good relations with their students can model their behaviors to make them desirable for effective teaching and learning in the classroom.
A colleague teacher lost it in the classroom against an oppositional student. She lost her temper because the student consistently challenged her commands and instructions.
Amid the scuffles between them, the teacher cursed the student. It escalated and became a serious issue and the disciplinary board had to step in.
After the case, the relationship between the teacher and the entire class got strained to an extent she could not manage them anymore. After failed attempts for three weeks, she had to make a formal complaint to stop teaching that class
The case above shows how important a positive teacher-student relationship is in classroom management and teaching as a whole.
Suggested Ways to Develop Good Relationship with Students
1. Learn to be an active listener.
2. Create and maintain a good impression.
3. Work to create a community.
4. React positively to events and behavior.
5. Don’t use sarcastic and negative statements when responding to students.
6. Beware of students’ distance.
7. Be mindful of cultural diversity.
8. Make use of effective verbal and nonverbal messages and behaviors.
9. Treat students with respect and decency.
10. Avoid sexually explicit conversations with students.
11. Avoid the use of double
Click here for more information on how to build relationships with students effectively.
Effective Time Management
Time management refers to the process of managing time efficiently. It is one of the key factors that every successful and effective teacher does well to understand and implement.
When I began, I was overwhelmed as to the number of activities and lessons to be performed. In light of this, I struggled to plan and deliver quality lessons.
Even though, I was not a fan of using a to-do list I had to explore them and learn other time management strategies.
Even I still use time management strategies to help me focus on what to do at what time.
Time management is extremely important for every teacher if they need to be effective. In that case, you and I have to improve our time management skills.
Some Strategies to Help You Manage Your Time Effectively
But how can we develop and improve these skills? The following are some of the possible ways to do that:
1. Create and use effective to-do lists if it works for you.
2. Identify all your time wasters and find strategies to eliminate them.
3. Work in an environment with no or minimum distractions and interruptions.
4. Be specific and flexible in your plan of how to use your time.
5. Create a specific but flexible/adaptable plan of how you will deliver your lessons in class.
6. Consider splitting a lesson into pieces if the topic in consideration is broad.
7. Plan for possible distractions and interruptions when planning your lessons.
Giving Effective Command with High Success
Teaching involves interaction between teachers and students. These interactions consist of giving instructions, asking questions, and giving commands.
During teacher-student interactions, oppositional/defiant students would have problems obeying you and your commands.
I have come across defiant students and it is a difficult task to get them to do what you want.
Your ability to get everyone to obey instructions and commands impacts highly on your success in the classroom and increase student achievement.
That is why we should invest much effort to improve our skills in giving commands that work effectively.
Suggested Procedures to Help You Give Commands Effectively
What I have found to be useful is giving direct and simple commands that do not expect students to undertake multiple actions at a time. Obtaining compliance for such commands is quick and smooth.
I follow the following steps and techniques, in order, to help me give commands in my classroom:
1. Work to get the attention of the student. Doing this, call the student’s name and make sure to establish eye contact. These procedures are key and will help you get your students’ attention.
Don’t give long-distance commands because they are not effective.
Try as much as possible to get students to stop whatever they are doing and listen, especially with teenage students regardless of whether you established eye contact with them.
2. Be respectful always while staying firm when addressing students. Maintain a commanding posture but don’t violate the space of the students.
Also speak in a clear, firm, and commanding tone.
Don’t ask students to do you a favor when giving them commands.
Give one command at a time and never debate or bargain with students when giving them commands.
When necessary ask for students to repeat the command after you.
3. After issuing the command, look at the students for about 20 seconds. For teenagers, look somewhere but remain close to the student.
4. Don’t forget to thank and praise the student verbally and nonverbally for compliance.
Giving Effective Warnings
In situations of noncompliance to your instructions and commands, we have to issue out warnings to our students.
Doing this appropriately and effectively helps prevent future noncompliance by our students.
This procedure or strategy is used when you have students who present you with difficulties that cannot be solved by Strategy 3 in this article.
How do we give effective warnings, if need be? The following are some of the useful tips and techniques that help me succeed with this strategy:
1. Remain calm and try to reduce all distractions in the classroom.
2. Repeat your command. Strategy 3 can be of help on how to give an effective command. This should be done only once. When waiting for the student’s reaction, think of consequences for noncompliance in the situation. The consequence can be from a set of preplanned consequences for problem behavior in class.
3. Issue the warning but make sure you are calm and not yelling/screaming or being disrespectful. When issuing the warning repeat the command but let the student know the consequences of noncompliance.
4. If after issuing the warning, the student still doesn’t comply, implement the consequence immediately to get the full impact.
5. If the student changes his/her mind after you administer the consequences, don’t change your mind. If you do, then you have lost it to your students.
Managing Temper Tantrums Effectively
Classrooms don’t just run smoothly. There are times when there are flare-ups and outbursts by students. This behavior could be a reaction and/or protests against your techniques or the actions of other students.
Remember these behaviors are temporary and no matter the cause, you have to be well-prepared to deal with them when they arose.
Else you will likely lose control of the class and your students.
Temper tantrums and flare-ups often occur in the form of students yelling, screaming, wailing, throwing, and hitting colleagues or things continuously.
This always distracts the progress of teaching and learning in the classroom. This is dangerous and reduces student achievement if not managed properly.
Suggested Techniques to Deal with Temper Tantrums
How can we deal with this behavior to create a safe and conducive teaching and learning environment in our classes? The following are some of the strategies that work for me:
1. Make or prepare a place in the class or a room for time-out purposes.
2. Give a command for the student to stop whatever he/she is doing. But don’t shout when issuing the command. However, speak loud enough for the student to hear you.
Try and get eye contact with the student if possible. Wait silently for about 20 seconds for the student to obey while maintaining eye contact.
3. Give a warning for noncompliance. Tell the student you will send him/her to time-out if he/she doesn’t stop what he is doing.
Try to establish eye contact when issuing the warning while speaking in a commanding tone.
Wait silently for 20 seconds for compliance. However, you may skip this technique when dealing with teenagers.
4. If the student doesn’t comply ask him/her to go to the time-out spot or room. You may help the student to go if need be.
Tell the student to remain there quietly until you ask him/her to return to the class or activity you were doing.
5. When the time you set for the time-out elapses, kindly go and ask the student to return to the class or activities he/she was doing.
But first, ask the student why he/she has been placed in time-out. For example, ask:
“do you know why I put you here?”
This will remind the student of the misbehavior. Tell the student that; you will put him/her in time-out if he/she repeat that behavior again.
Be sure not to confront and debate with the student about the time-out processes or why you him/her there.
Developing a Working behavioral Contract
Behavioral contracts are great and powerful tools for checking a variety of behavioral problems in the classroom. When you have difficulties getting your students to perform what you are expected of them without conflict, behavioral contracts can be a better strategy for you.
Behavioral contracts give my students the most privileges n exchange for performing tasks I expect them to.
Suggested Guidelines to Help You Develop Effective Behavioral Contracts
I know you can do it, never give up on getting your students to do what you want. Use behavioral contracts for improved behavior in your class.
I found the following procedure too important and helpful when constructing a behavioral contract:
1. Make chips or stickers to be issued for performing specific responsibilities in class.
2. Make a list of responsibilities to be performed by students every day in school. Start simple and small with daily classroom routines.
3. Responsibilities must be simple, clear, and easy to be enforced.
4. Ask students to suggest a list of rewards for performing each responsibility.
5. You can use privileges as rewards for obeying rules and responsibilities.
6. Consider including a grab bag of cheap items to be drawn with chips or stickers earned.
7. Each student keeps the chips or stickers they earned.
8. Only you or your assistant should be responsible for giving/exchanging chips or stickers for rewards and privileges.
9. Still, issue a chip to students who misbehave but still perform responsibilities. Deal with the misbehavior separately.
Managing Transitions Effectively and Successfully
Remember, humans cannot be fully controlled due to our nature. We don’t always have smooth days, hence expect some fluctuations in your student behaviors. On some days even the most difficult students will be cooperative while on other days even our most cooperating students will be difficult and less cooperative.
Transitions often open opportunities for students to put up problem behaviors. Usually, students have difficulty transitioning from enjoyable activities to other activities especially they are considered less enjoyable.
Students with good self-control do well to suppress their frustration for stopping enjoyable activities and do as instructed by the teacher. However, impulsive students struggle to quit the activity due to poor self-control. With this, they openly express their frustrations and protest against the teacher’s commands.
We have to be able to handle this situation effectively and appropriately to be able to carry on with our lesson successfully.
You can use the following steps and guidelines to help you in dealing with the situation. I use these techniques in my class and they have helped improve the behaviors of my students during transitions. The steps are:
1. Inform students that you want them to change their actions in the coming minutes. Do that for about 5 minutes to the transition.
2. Let them know the rewards/privileges for transitioning successfully.
3. Tell them the consequences for not transitioning when needed.
4. For 2 minutes to the transition, remind them about it for the second time.
5. Get their attention by requesting everyone to look at you.
6. Give the transition instructions, reminding of the rewards for complying immediately.
7. Stand silently with a commanding posture while looking at them for about 20 seconds after transition command.
8. Don’t forget to give praises and the promised privileges for compliance. Also, administer the consequences for not complying with the instructions.
9. Remember, you may not get 100% compliance but the more you practice the more you get better with that and start seeing improvements in behavior during transitions.
Discouraging Interruptions Effectively
Being effective, as a teacher, is partly dependent on your ability to discourage distractions and interruptions during lessons.
I have got some students who are working to disrupt me during lessons. You may be having similar students in your classroom too.
Before I tell you some of the guidelines that have helped me in dealing with these behaviors, I want you to know that the perpetrators are often impulsive students who have poor self-control.
These students often struggle to differentiate between when it is appropriate to interrupt and when it is not.
The following strategies can help you deal with this behavior when it occurs in your class:
1. Make a rule on how students can get your attention when they want to talk or ask a question.
2. Give clear and specific rules such as:
“Don’t interrupt but raise your hand and wait for me to give you chance to talk”
3. Inform students about the rewards for obeying the rule.
4. Let them also know the consequences for not complying with the rule.
5. Constantly issue reminders about the rule, especially if you realize some students break or want to break the rule.
6. Give praises and the promised privileges for compliance.
7. Administer consequences for noncompliance.
8. Remember, practice makes perfect so consciously practice strategy to get the best out of it.
Addressing Out-Of-Class Setting Behaviors Effectively
Managing out-of-class setting behaviors is equally critical just like the other strategies for managing classrooms. Happenings outside the classroom often follow students to the classroom. This may impact negatively on the classroom environment.
Meanwhile, our classroom environments play a key role in reducing/increasing the incidence of problem behaviors among our students.
This is why we should invest time in addressing problems relating to out-of-class settings.
In my school, we have a duty schedule where teachers are assigned to ensure students’ behaviors are managed in different settings within the school.
The following are some guidelines I use when trying to manage out-of-class setting behaviors:
1. Setting clear and specific rules or reminding them of existing rules if available. When doing I always try to establish eye contact.
2. Identifying commensurable rewards for following the rules in consultation with the students.
3. We also set the consequences for not obeying the rules.
4. Constantly reminding students about the rules, rewards, and consequences for obeying or disobeying the rules.
5. Give only one warning to students who break or want to break the rules.
6. Administer consequences immediately if a student disobeys the rules.
7. Send or put students to time-out if they become impulsive and uncontrollable.
8. Collaborate with other staff who are around to ensure the effective administration of the strategy.
Developing Effective Homework Routine
The mention of this strategy reminds me of my encounter with one of my students regarding his homework. He always claimed to forget his book at home until I fully implemented my classroom management plan. Thankfully he always submits his homework at the required time.
Remember, problems with homework emanate from factors about the school, the classroom, and the home.
Therefore, your strategies and interventions must be administered collaboratively with other staff members and parents.
I found the following to help develop an intervention:
1. Collaborate with parents to prepare a homework setting for students at home. The place/environment should be free of distractions as much as possible but not too quiet.
2. Every student and/or family has different schedules, but there should be a consistent time for students to do their homework.
3. Keep a homework checklist for every student where you sign after student completion of homework. My school provides this checklist for every student and teacher.
4. Set rules, rewards, and consequences regarding the completion of assignments.
5. Parents monitor the students when they are doing their homework.
6. Parents provide privileges for completing homework successfully.
7. Parents offer assistance when requested by students or when they are stuck.
8. Parents don’t do homework for students.
9. Provide the promised rewards for completing homework.
10. Also give praises for performing homework responsibilities.
It can be concluded from the above that there are strategies that can be implemented to achieve successful classroom management. It is, however, important to note that none of the strategies are one-size-fits-all. You need to adapt them to your situation. Also, you have to consciously practice and implement these techniques to achieve great success and become one of the most effective and happiest teachers of your time. Please, share this article with your colleagues and help us create more useful content for you. Thank you.