Classroom Management Strategies for the Modern Day Teacher
Although new requirements and tools may seem daunting to some educators, the new classroom management strategies available today can make life easier for everyone involved. For those well prepared, there will be more time to focus on learning, and less time lost for handling your students.
Primarily, because classes can be augmented with online tools and media you won’t need to repeat yourself as much. Also, if you manage to engage your students, they will be spending a lot more time on the materials and not on internal conflicts.
And, on the social side, there are ways to manage cliques and groups inside your class to improve camaraderie and cooperation without excluding anyone or creating conflicts.
Though it would be naïve to think that no conflicts and disturbances will happen by using these systems, you will have good tools to solve them.
How are Modern Classroom Management Strategies Different?
The main difference between traditional organizing and modern classroom management is the main focus of the class. Simple data retention is not as important today, but distinguishing between useful data is.
That change creates a chain reaction where you will need to adjust a lot of individual elements to get the best results. Also, the student’s rowdiness is not seen as the primary cause of their academic failure, but as a product of bad engagement which can be changed into potential.
Finally, a significant emphasis is given to cooperation. In modern industries, it is virtually impossible to finish some tasks without communication and cooperation. This forces every class, regardless of the subject, to focus on those aspects.
Form & Function
One of the biggest issues with both modern and traditional classroom management is that educators often focus too much on either form or function. In truth, these are both parts of a single whole.
If your classroom lacks function the fact that it is orderly and without conflicts becomes useless. Your students won’t be learning anything and their entire focus on the class will be to follow protocols you have established.
But, if there is no form to the class everything will quickly turn into chaos. You won't be able to give enough structure to what you are teaching. In the end, it might all seem like trivia for your students and not some information that they will be able to use effectively.
One of the best ideas for good modern classroom management is to have everything that should happen during class prepared on time. In some cases, this will mean that you should arrive a bit early to set everything up. But, in general, this will save you a lot of time before and after class.
Since a lot of things will be prepared before the first student even steps into the room, you will be able to have a small starting ritual. The ritual might be an active roll call or some type of teambuilding exercise. With such an approach, your students will quickly refocus from whatever they were doing before class.
You should start your classes on such a high note. Otherwise, especially if you are late for your classes, you can expect for the first few points from the lecture to be lost to social interactions between students.
Plan for Contingencies
A modern-day teacher should have a set of games, exercises, and team-building activities to use when needed. With them, you can stop conflict or end a spiral, allowing you to get back on track after a distraction.
Regardless of your class, subject, and even the character of the students, issues will arise. Conflicts are bound to happen at some point, as well as attempts for social stratification. This is where you will use these exercises to turn the discussion where you want it to go.
Use Designed Conflicts
Most modern strategies will tell you to address conflicts and bad behavior as soon as possible. But, it might be also possible to get ahead of the conflict by organizing ways to vent some disagreements in advance.
Similar to the benefits of peer learning, there are benefits to letting interpersonal bad behavior be resolved between students.
The main issue with this point is that you will need to adapt the strategy to your class and the students that are disagreeing. Every disagreement must be fair and give equal chances for loss and reward for all parties. Sometimes it can be academic or artistic, but having a dispute resolved via a race may also a good idea.
This will teach your students to find other venues besides physical or social to resolve their differences. That idea alone will help them a lot in life.
All teachers know that time is a very limited resource. But few use classroom management strategies to turn that to an advantage. If your students are engaged with the curriculum, they won’t have the time to create problems for themselves.
Also, there are ways to use other students to monitor and improve troublemakers that you might find in your class. By utilizing both individual and group engagement to the fullest, you will be spending more time teaching and less time resolving conflicts.
This is, by far, the best way to organize your class. For one, groups work as a support structure for those that might need more time to understand the subject. Also, they let the teacher focus on fewer entities at a time. You don’t need to monitor every individual student every time, because you only need to observe a group.
Ideally, you want groups between four and seven students, with five seeming like the optimal number. And there are added benefits if these are groups where students have different characters, as well as social and academic success.
Finally, these groups would need to have tangible benefits from working together. Have both grading and other rewards adjusted to assist those working within the group.
And, if there are students that exhibit increased attention deficit, there is a solution to that as well. Speak to that student individually and ask them to be your ‘’spy’’ in the group. They should report everything they see back to you for a non-grade reward.
The ''spy'' will pay more attention because their task just became more fun. This will help with their learning and increase the social cohesion of the group. Remember to never simply bribe students to behave, but rather to give something to trade.
Grades are an excellent representation of how the student is doing in school. But, they don’t have a lot of perceived value for the student. Because their frontal lobe is not yet connected, they can’t imagine the benefits of those grades in five, ten, or twenty years.
For someone in junior high, the idea that a grade today will come to fruition in five years is a third of a lifetime away for them. Those of use who have lived far beyond our teenage years may forget this. But it's important to remember that that is not the reality of your students.
Thus, you need to imagine new rewards. Although tangible rewards are always better, you can be crafty and give those with no budget whatsoever. A fun way if you have a functional online classroom is to give ‘titles’. Add ranks before their name and have something go with the title.
For instance, if there are some privileges in leading a group, make the best-ranked member of the group the captain, or a sergeant. In class, refer to these students with their rank. This little social benefit will make everyone value their time so much more.
Same Rules Every Time
Regardless of what methods you use and how you adapt them, never make exemptions. The rules should be known, as well as the benefits and punishments, and they should be enforced across the board without playing favorites.
If you are unsure if your rules might be too strict, or too lenient, discuss them with your class. They won’t be able to argue against the rules they helped establish. And, there will be a smaller chance that they would be willing to break them.
You want to keep authority as the most important factor when it comes to classroom management. Because of this, you will need to be calm, collected, and fair at all times. Even when you are emotional, always rise above the situation.
If there is one thing to take away from the variety of new classroom management strategies, it must be that it is no longer about making your classroom orderly, but rather productive. You don’t want to stifle the energy of your students.
By using software and advantages given by the online classroom, you can make everyone internalize the rules and follow them. And, with best practices like group forming and rewards, you will see even the students that used to be uninterested in your class starting to pay attention.