Keys to Effective Classroom Management

  (Updated August 30, 2022)
Dr. Selena Kiser
Dr. Selena Kiser
Second grade teacher; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis
A teacher asks her elementary class a question and they all raise their hands.

Why is Effective Classroom Management Important?

Dr. Brad Johnson stated the essence of effective classroom management, “Classroom management is focused on control. But we don’t control people, we lead them. So, focus less on gimmicks for behavior and focus more on leadership. Building essential R’s (respect, relationships, responsibility, relevance). We want students committed not just compliant.”

Classroom management should not be about control, but more about building relationships with your students and facilitating classroom learning experiences. K-12 classrooms should include a myriad of opportunities focusing on students’ engagement at higher levels and being directly involved in their learning experiences. Classroom management is one of the most important aspects of teaching because it includes establishing relationships with students and their families.

Effective Classroom Management Strategies

Establish Relationships

Get to know your students, their families, and establish a relationship with all of them. This is the most important facet of classroom management because everything will go smoothly when this foundation is established. There is a quote that resonates in all classrooms by John C. Maxwell, “Students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Communication is imperative with students and their families. For elementary classrooms, teachers should get contact information from their students’ families before school starts to establish effective communication at the beginning of the school year. A few examples of effective ways to communicate are setting up a classroom Facebook page or Remind. Sending home letters or paper copies is becoming less popular for various reasons, and electronic communication seems to be more successful.

Model Behavior

Teachers need to point out positive behaviors to cause a ripple effect in the atmosphere in the classroom. When a teacher compliments a student on something positive they are doing, others follow suit immediately. This usually extinguishes negative behavior without saying anything. Most students want to do well and please the teacher. They will comply when other students are getting positive attention.

Never Punish an Entire Class for One Student’s Behavior

There are always students that are on-task and conscientious of exactly what is going on in class. Teachers should never punish an entire class for a few students’ actions. It is always best to point out positive behaviors and speak privately to students that are not on-task. It is also important not to call students out in front of an entire class.

Teachers need to recognize triggers for students and extinguish negative feelings and behaviors before they begin. Teachers should include different ways to earn positive behavior incentives individually and as a whole group. There are many ways to reward students individually, including free ideas that don’t cost you anything:

  • Flexible seating
  • Privileges within the classroom: snacks, candy, drinks
  • Praise
  • Other small tokens or prizes

Rewards that may work for the whole group may work include:

Set Guidelines and Stick to Them

Rules and consequences must be established on the first day of school and implemented with authenticity during the first week of school. Students crave structure and will be more successful with routines and organization. It is better to over-plan lessons than not having enough. Teachers should also consider some downtime in theirs lessons as well.

We must think about students as we are and think about what we need and enjoy in a classroom. Classroom autonomy and students’ choice are great ideas for setting and establishing classroom rules and boundaries.

Ample Opportunities for Movement

Provide ample opportunities for movement and hand-on learning-provide recess, brain breaks, and various opportunities for students to burn off energy. They are more focused, and you can get more done in less time. There are many resources for teachers online that help with creative brain breaks, and opportunities for students to move, dance, exercise, and practice mindfulness and other relaxation techniques. Some examples of these are GoNoodle and Cosmic Yoga on YouTube.

Include Activities that Meet All Learning Styles

Students have varying personalities, backgrounds, genetics, background knowledge, needs, and the list goes on. For these reasons, teachers must include a variety of activities to teach the skills to meet the plethora of needs represented. We live in a time where students face challenges of many kinds, and these challenges are present in the classrooms.

Oftentimes, there are few students that come in ready to learn and the majority with burdens on their minds. This makes keeping classrooms fun, exciting, hands-on, and creative so important and necessary.

Create a Safe Space in your Classroom

This means creating a physical and emotional space. Establishing relationships is key to this safe space because students will know how you feel about them and know they can be themselves. Setting the tone each day and being intuitive to students’ needs will help create an emotional safe space. Teachers need to be mindful of being an approachable type of person so students know they can share with them if needed.

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