The reality of any classroom management plan is that it will not be perfect. It will not solve all of your student behavior problems and it will not be a fix-all solution. No classroom management plan ever is. There is no one classroom management plan that is all-encompassing and guaranteed to hold up under all circumstances. There is no ultimate list of classroom rules.
If we're being honest, it can also be really easy to get overwhelmed by all the things coming at you from every direction when you're new in the classroom. There are just so many things to do that routines and procedures sometimes accidentally fall to the wayside.
Common Classroom management mistakes and how to avoid them
Unfortunately, most inappropriate behavior doesn't start out as a huge problem. This disruptive behavior escalates over time because it isn't dealt with. That's why I'm sharing my three most important tips for creating an effective classroom management plan that you'll actually be able to follow through with.
Mistake#1: You try to overhaul your entire classroom management plan at once.
Fix: If you're overwhelmed with classroom management strategies, focus your energies and start small.
Remember the saying “You can't eat an elephant in one bite?”
That applies here. In other words, don't try to change everything at once because you'll end up overwhelmed, exhausted and you won't get results. It's too hard to hold students accountable if you try to focus on everything at the same time.
That being said, I'm totally guilty of starting five new things all at the same time when I feel like management is getting away from me. My husband, who works with kids with emotional and behavior issues, always reminds me to start small.
Pick one thing to change and stick with that thing instead of taking the shotgun approach and doing them all haphazardly. It doesn't have to be anything crazy.
For example, you can pick one classroom rule you're going to start noticing students following and give praise when you notice positive behavior.
This strategy offers an extra bonus because it also helps foster a positive classroom environment because you're focused on who is doing it RIGHT rather than who is doing something wrong.
Mistake #2: You pace your lessons to the calendar not your students.
Fix: Don't forget regardless of their grade levels, they're kids.
Again, guilty as charged. It is sometimes easy to forget they are 8…or 9…or 10. With all the pressure to be on track with your district curriculum and to get through X, Y, and Z before testing begins, it can be easy to forget that they are just kids.
Effective classroom management is not about control. It's about reading the room and responding. It's about creating an environment that sets learners up to be successful.
Student misbehavior often occurs because we aren't doing our part on the front or back end of that process.
Regardless of your teaching style, kids need time to run and play.
They can't sit still for 45 minutes when your mini-lesson becomes a maxi-lesson. When we don't recognize that student behavior is a form of communication.
Regardless of your expectations for students, there is only so much time their bodies can sit still and learn. individual students may be able to push those boundaries and attend for longer, but it is very likely they aren't attending as deeply as they were before. This is why it is so important that we are responsive to our students instead of our lesson plans.
I have started to be so much more cognizant of this, and when the kids get fidgety, I know my lesson is done (at least for 10 minutes while we take a brain break).
As a result of my flexibility, I have found the behavior of my kids improved 12-fold. I also moved to yoga balls a few years ago. (Read more about my flexible seating tips here.) That, too, made a huge difference.
Mistake #3: You've gotten stuck in complaint mode.
Fix: Look for things within your circle of control.
When you're having one of those years, it can be easy to end up grumpy and overwhelmed. We've all ended up stuck in complaint mode where we find ourselves constantly frustrated with behavior issues that we can't seem to control. Somehow no matter what we do. Not matter how frustrated we get or how many times we lecture, nothing improves. Why can't we just get things under control?!?
Too many people think that classroom management is about controlling the students in your classroom.
Let me tell you. Effective classroom management is not about control.
Positive behavior is not the result of control.
You do not want students to follow classroom rules because you have the power in your classroom because in the long run that doesn't serve your students as citizens in the community.
The reality is you have no control over any of the kids you teach.
Zero. Absolutely none.
Your circle of control ends with you. Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that if only Joey would stop talking, then he would be understanding the lesson better…or whatever kid and behavior has caught my eye that day.
The truth is, I cannot control Joey or Janet…or any of them really.
I can, however, change my approach to the behavior or that child. When I take a step back and really consider what I am doing and what I can do differently, I typically begin to see the whole situation in a new light.
It is so hard to do when you have that one friend who knows (and pushes) every button you have, but in the end the only thing you can really change is yourself and your behavior.
How you choose to do this (or not do this) impacts how your students react to you…and can make your job so much easier.
Building relationships with students
While the mistakes above are common, they are just a small piece of the puzzle. One of the most important things you can do to help encourage positive student behavior and create a classroom community that you're proud to be a part of is to build relationships with your students.
When students truly believe their teachers care about them and want to see them succeed, more often than not they'll choose to engage appropriately in classroom activities and your class time will be more enjoyable for the entire class.
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