Children spend a large proportion of their lives at school. But, the experience of going to school is about far more than learning the curriculum and getting good grades. Today, school is a primary opportunity for kids to learn more about themselves. It’s the chance for them to learn social skills, skills that allow them to grow into contributing members of society.
With the above in mind, building a strong classroom community is one of the most valuable skills you can acquire as a teacher. By mastering this and combining it within your classroom management strategy, you’ll equip your students with the skills they need to succeed in the future.
Understanding the Different Classroom Management Strategies
When it comes to teaching your children, you must choose a classroom strategy that will enhance their learning and engage them. With this in mind, it’s about more than choosing one strategy and sticking to it for the year. Instead, you have to adapt depending on the day, subject, and how your children interact with you.
Despite the above, there are certain strategies you should adopt no matter what the circumstances. Here are some of them:
Wait for Compliance
When it comes to giving your students instructions, you should always wait for compliance. This will ensure that they understand every step of your lesson. For example, instead of these instructions: “turn to page 100, grab a pen, and write a paper on X, Y, or Z.” start with: “turn to page 100” and wait for them to do it.
The idea isn’t to scare your students. If they break the rules, start by assigning the smallest consequence you can think of. If this gets the job done, you know it’s enough for them to not do it again. Don’t use big consequences too quickly or they will fear you.
Assign Appropriately Difficult Work
Many of your students would prefer to get kicked out of class than appear less intelligent than their peers. With this in mind, it’s important that you assign the right curriculum to your classroom. You may even have to assign different difficulties of work depending on the student. This will reduce the risk of bad behavior.
Anticipate Issues and Deal With Them in a Creative Way
You probably find that there is a small group of children in your classroom that are more prone to disruptive behavior and distractions than others. If so, it’s important that you anticipate issues so that you can deal with them in a creative way.
For example, Todd Finley recounts an instance where one of his children would barge into the classroom in a disruptive way. To deal with the issue, he asked his students to line up outside the door to play a game before getting the chance to enter the room and choose their seats.
The Benefits of Good Classroom Management
Whichever strategies, big or small, that you implement in your classroom, these should set the tone for what you expect from your students from a behavioral point of view. Furthermore, studies show that by clarifying the rules within your class, you may have a positive impact on their interest during your lessons.
In addition to the above, good classroom management has proven to increase student achievement. It also provides students with a sense of safety, allows for a more positive classroom environment, gives you more teaching time as there will be fewer disruptions, and it promotes relationship building among students as well as between teachers and students.
The Impact of Building a Sense of Community on Classroom Management
While good classroom management is essential, it’s not the only factor that will contribute to high student achievement. Today, it’s just as important to create a strong sense of community among your students. This is because social and emotional learning is a crux to creating a classroom where children feel invested, empowered, and motivated to learn.
Strong communities feel passionate about contributing. They share goals and experiences. They also trust one another. All these attributes are what enable cooperation, teamwork, and the ability to draw to one another’s skills. These are the types of attributes that will make it easier to implement your classroom management strategy.
Tips for Building a Sense of Classroom Community Quickly
While it’s clear that creating a sense of community within the classroom can have many benefits, this may seem out of reach to certain teachers. This is because teachers in some parts of the world work with children who don’t even want to be in school in the first place. With this in mind, it’s essential that you build that sense of community as quickly as possible in order to better engage your students. Here are some tips:
Create a Classroom Constitution
The best way to achieve a sense of community in your classroom is to create a constitution that not only gets everyone involved, but also on the same page. To do this, spend a section of your first week with your class asking them what is most important to them in their learning environment. Then, help them decide on three to five guidelines that they pledge to agree to.
Aside from encouraging them to take responsibility of their actions and learning process, this allows them to get to know each other better. It also helps build trust between you and your children. You’re essentially showing them that you trust them to make decisions and think for themselves.
Create a Routine and Stick to It
A routine will help breed familiarity and comfort within your classroom. This also deepens shared experiences, thus strengthening the sense of community. To implement a routine quickly, start by tasking students with a similar “bell work” activity during their first lesson. You could also dedicate different activities to different times of day and days of the week. For example, on the last day of school each week, celebrate their hard work with a fun, playful, interactive, and integrative activity.
Experiment With the Classroom’s Layout
The layout of a room can have a huge impact on your students’ emotions and, in turn, their behavior. A comfortable classroom can also lead to a better student community. The best way to find out which layout suits your students best is to experiment based on the type of lesson you’re teaching. You could even set up your room to have different stations that children can use depending on the type of work they’re doing.
Moreover, you can also build a sense of community by randomizing your name-calling, modelling acceptance and inclusion, prioritizing communication and student recognition, and helping students connect with their peers. By working with a team of professionals with a mound of experience establishing a sense of community and using different classroom management strategies, you can better understand your students’ needs, thus giving them the best opportunities for success in the future.