Handling more than 5 children at a time is tough. Children are unique and what works for one child will probably not work for another. If you’re a teacher, you’re probably expected to handle a group of 30-40 students at once. You have to make sure they’re occupied for 8 hours a day in a way that is fun as well as productive. That is quite a task! Having good classroom management skills is essential if you want to have a rewarding teaching career.
One of the first major topics of classroom management is class control. When your students get distracted, how do you bring them back to the topic? If you have a trouble maker in class, how do you deal with them without losing the flow of your lesson?
There are a few different ways to handle these difficult situations. You just have to keep in mind that you’ll have to try a few methods before deciding what works best for you. And more importantly, you have to be creative and constantly change your methods. Remember, you always have to be one step ahead of your students!
Identify the problem
Even the best teachers have bad days. It’s usually one against 30, which are not good odds! But if your classes are going consistently out of control, then there is something you need to do about it.
The first step is to identify the problem. What makes your children lose focus?
Find out if your students are able to understand you clearly. Something as simple as using different language will make them follow your orders better. For instance, rather than constantly shouting at them to ‘pay attention’ clarify what those words mean. Do you want them to listen to you or take notes? Being clear in your instructions will leave no room for error.
Fixing the underlying cause of bad behaviour is often more effective than just reacting to the situation.
Children thrive when there’s structure. So every time your class feels like it’s going out of control, have a call and response action that will bring their focus back to you.
A call and response is a great way to control your class with minimum effort. Pick a phrase and teach your students an appropriate response at the beginning of the school year. You can make it as fun as you want! Here is a detailed list of 50 call and response actions for you to try out.
You can also teach them to respond to non-verbal cues such as hand signs and other actions. If you turn it into a game, students will be more inclined to respond.
Mix it up
It’s unfair to expect student sit still and listen to someone talk for 8 hours. Can you blame them for being fidgety? Researchers are finding out that young kids simply don’t have the core strength to sit in a chair all day. There’s a very simple answer to this problem – physical activities or ‘brain breaks.’
Finland has some of the best schools in the world. The reason? Recess! They discovered that giving kids time for ‘free play’ for 15 mins after every 45-minute lesson, make them concentrate better during that lesson. During this 15 minute break, the kids are allowed to choose what they want to do. Read about an American teacher’s culture shock with this system here.
It’s a big stretch for teachers to implement the same system in India, but there are small ways to incorporate this into our routines.
Brain breaks are fun activities that you can do with your students in between taxing lessons. A five-minute break for fun every hour or so will only improve their concentration and make them look forward to your class! A simple example is playing a game of Simon Says, with a small twist. Confuse your students by doing a different action to the instruction that you give. They will have to focus on listening to you rather than copying what you do. Check out this article for more brain break activities that you can do in class.
You can also use unconventional methods to teach your lessons in order to make it fun. For instance, you can use games to teach phonics!
Carrots or sticks?
It’s very tempting to dole out punishments to students when they’re misbehaving. But does it really work?
If you’re punishing a child for misbehaving in class, are you sure the child has learnt exactly what he/she did was wrong? For instances, sending a troublesome child to go and stand outside the classroom might solve the issue temporarily, but what is the benefit for the child? They’re missing class and you’ve lost an opportunity to connect with that child and find out why they’re acting out.
This holds true for very young children as well. In kindergarten, we’re expected to teach kids how to read and write. But why do we expect them to learn acceptable behaviour on their own? If you put your 3-year-old in a timeout for biting other children, what is he learning (other than the fact that he probably shouldn’t let you catch him the next time)?
And what about the flipside? Is it acceptable to reward students in order to get them to listen to you? It works in the real world (bonuses, promotions, etc.) so it should work in classrooms, right?
Well, not really. Once you start incentivising good behaviour, there is an expectation attached to their behaviour. What if you run out of things to bribe them with? And what’s the limit on rewards?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. Just make sure that whatever reward or punishment system you are using doesn’t do more harm than good in the long run.
Most experienced teachers will tell you that the effects of harsh punishments and rewards are short-term. Long term change in a child’s behaviour will come with patience, hard work and understanding.
The point of class control is not to beat your students into submission, but to make sure that the learning process is enjoyable and productive at the same time.
When it comes to classroom management, proactive methods work much better than reacting to bad behaviour. If you’re able to get in front of the situation, you will not feel like you’ve lost control. The important thing here is to have fun with it. You can be the fun teacher and have kids listen to you! Be creative, talk to your students and develop a lasting relationship that comes with mutual respect.
“A compliant child will make your job easier, but an engaged child will make your job rewarding.”
Do you agree with the above quote? Let us know how you keep your children engaged in the comments section. If you found this article helpful and want more information on how we manage our classrooms successfully, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!