Classroom discipline and management causes the most fear and consternation in new teachers. However, classroom management is a skill that is not only learned but practiced daily.  It is something that is learned by new teachers in time, not only by reading professional literature but when they are already dealing with the real situation.  There is no magic that makes one an effective teacher.  It is a combination of rules and procedures, disciplinary interventions, and relationship with students.

Classroom management is a choice.  A teacher can be strict, distant and with detached attitude towards pupils.  Another teacher can be warm, nurturing, a good listener and communicator.  Still another teacher can decide to care more with the task on hand rather than the children assigned to them.  Either way, the teacher’s choice of her way in dealing with students will be reflected by the pupils’ way of dealing with her.  It is because pupils are not like puppets that will just do as the teacher says.  They are human being with feelings and intellectual capacity.  They react and respond to every situation they get involved in.  They have family and community background which affect how they deal with life.  So as a teacher, to be able to interact well with her pupils, she must know them first.   Classroom management then follows.  There is an effective classroom management procedure and technique for each individual in the classroom and for the class itself.  The teacher simply needs to know and implement it.

Discipline and management of a classroom seem like an easy task, but actually it is not.  Much has been said about it.  But if you ask teachers today, they will complain more about the noise and friskiness of the students while the class is going on rather than the hardship of teaching every subject matter.  There are lots of causes that lead to this, which could be teacher, pupil, environment or other factors.   But to help lessen these classroom management problems, here are some tips for neophyte teachers:

First, start your first day for the school year with a good discipline plan. Students quickly assess the situation in each class and realize what they will be allowed to get away with. Once you set a precedent of allowing a lot of disruptions, it can be very hard to start better classroom management and discipline techniques.

Second, be fair.  Pupils can discern what is fair and what is not fair. Pupils respect fair teachers.  Once they see that a teacher has a favorite and unfair ruling, they will not be persistent in following rules.

Third, Be consistent. One of the worst things you can do as a teacher is to not enforce your rules consistently. If one day you ignore misbehaviors and the next day you jump on someone for the smallest infraction, your students will quickly lose respect for you.  Once this happens, they will lose the desire to please you.

Fourth, Deal with Disruptions with as Little Interruption as Possible. When you have classroom disruptions, it is imperative that you deal with them immediately and with as little interruption of your class momentum as possible. If you have to stop the flow of your lesson to deal with disruptions, then you are robbing students who want to learn of their precious in-class time.

Fifth, Keep High Expectations in Your Class. Expect that your students will behave, not that they will disrupt. Reinforce this with the way you speak to your students. When you begin the day, tell your students your expectations. For example, you might say, “During this whole group session, I expect you to raise your hands and be recognized before you start speaking. I also expect you to respect each other’s opinions and listen to what each person has to say.”Sixth, overplan.  Prepare extra activities for the day.  This will keep the pupils busy and thus their attention will not be turned towards taking to their seatmates and interrupting classes. Last, start fresh everyday.  This does not mean that you will forget what has happened before.  Or neglect the distractions and interruptions that have been made by pupils.  It is a state of thinking that today is a new day.  That the pupil who misbehaved the other day will not necessarily misbehave today.  This way, every school day will be a day worth waiting for, both for you and your pupils.   

There is no single technique to a disciplined and well maintained classroom.  It is a choice, it is a skill, and it is a habit.  But most importantly, it is focused on building a good relationship with pupils and making them enjoy respecting and following the most valuable person inside their classroom, the teacher.

By: Ms. Aileen M. Canaria | Orion Elementary School

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