Practical Application: Classroom Management Techniques

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

This practical application will use three scenarios to help you develop classroom management strategies that will improve engagement, secure a safe learning environment, and clearly communicate classroom expectations.

Behavior Management

Every day, classrooms are filled with students from all walks of life. Many students will not come ''pre-programmed'' with universally good behaviors. When students lack engagement, become disruptive, or obstruct the learning of others, it is often (at least partially) a reflection of their life outside of school. When these behaviors threaten the learning environment, it is a teacher's classroom management that brings the classroom back into equilibrium.

Let's look at three scenarios. You'll use these scenarios as a basis for creating some of your own classroom management strategies. Many of these strategies are discussed in detail in the lesson Classroom Management Techniques.

Scenario 1: Cell Phone Use (High School)

For the third time this week, Nick looked up from the material he was discussing to find no less than four students who were hopelessly engaged with their mobile devices rather than participating in the classroom. Nick was a second year teacher with minimal classroom management experience, so he sought out a veteran teacher to brainstorm ideas about how to manage this troublesome pattern.

  • What ideas do you think the veteran educator would discuss with Nick?
  • Imagine that the veteran educator had left Nick a note like the one below. Which suggestions constitute solid advice and which one(s) do not, in fact, represent good classroom management strategies?

The advice received by Mr. Nick

Reflections on Scenario 1

Based on your knowledge of solid classroom management techniques, you probably feel good about only two of the three suggestions. Encouraging bilateral rule-making and improving the physical learning environment are quite consistent with good classroom management. The suggestion for multiple, detailed rules is inconsistent with the idea that 5-8 concise, cause-and-effect rules are best. The other two proposals are far better aligned with good practices.

Now it's time to finish Nick's work. Build a list of 5-8 classroom rules that will help Nick address the constant cell phone use.

Scenario 2: Rules As Part of Learning (Elementary)

Lauren's parents were genuinely amazed when they arrived at Mrs. Green's kindergarten classroom for their first parent-teacher conference. Instead of the traditional rows of desks or tables, the center of the classroom was mostly open space. Masking tape marked off some otherwise less-than-interesting squares of carpet, and edges of the room displayed all manner of colonial-era artifacts, tools, and supplies.

When Lauren's parents asked Mrs. Green about the room, she eagerly explained.

''As you might expect, my students are an amazing group of curious, energetic young people. A few years ago I found myself spending way too much time telling them to sit still and listen, and nowhere near enough time teaching. I started thinking a lot about how I could enforce rules consistently without interrupting our work, and this classroom is how I do that.''

Mrs. Green handed Lauren's parents the paper you see below. ''Here,'' she said as she handed it to them. ''This is a list of your typical classroom rules, but you can see how we equate them to what were learning. This way, learning the rules (and abiding by them) is a fun part of overall learning rather than a distraction or interruption.''

Rules for the Mayflower

  • How do these rules compare to the best practices for classroom management?
  • Although the rules look and sound fun, are they adequate?
  • Do they contain all the necessary elements for good classroom rules? If not, stay in the same theme but reformulate the rules to make them better.

Reflections on Scenario 2

Few could argue with an assertion that Mrs. Green's classroom rules are dull or boring, and many would suggest that the rules are, in fact, pretty consistent with good classroom management. Mrs. Green's Mayflower theme is an example of an authentic activity - one that teaches the value of discipline, conflict resolution, and respect for the property of others. Transforming her students into ''sailors'' and casting herself as the ship's ''captain'' creates a positive teacher-student relationship. Both of these are hallmarks of great classroom management.

Now it's your turn. What could you do to transform 5-8 standard classroom rules into something more engaging?

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