K-12 Classroom Management Tips You Need to Know

Whether students are disruptive or attentive, managing a classroom is no easy feat. Though some techniques and strategies of classroom management can be taught, there are some aspects of it you have to develop through experience.

For many teachers, developing good relationships with students is the best way to start. Learning from other teachers and classroom management techniques can help make up the difference.

Don’t be discouraged if you’re struggling with classroom management. It’s a skill all teachers have to develop over time. But these classroom management tips can help hone those skills and create strategies to make your classroom the best it can be.

Build Relationships With Students

Maintaining good relationships with students will go a long way in painting the order in your classroom. Take the time to build relationships and repair them if any conflict arises during the school year.

Better relationships often mean a student is more likely to respect a teacher, which can make for better behavior in class. Perform regular check-ins to see how students are doing in and out of class. And focus on finding solutions to issues to help reduce disruptions.

Relationships are especially important with virtual learning. In virtual classrooms, physical distance is increased, so feeling close and engaged should be a top priority.

Create Productive Seating

All teachers know that some students shouldn’t sit together. Whether they don’t get along or they’re best friends, it is best if some students are sat across the room from each other.

According to a 2012 study, allowing students to choose their seats can be more disruptive to the classroom. Assigned seating can be a great option when trying to manage a classroom.

But you can also get creative while getting productive. Allowing students to choose where they sit can create a more welcoming environment. But their choice is only on the condition they can pay attention and get work done. If they’re unable to focus, then they must sit in a designated seat.

This gives the students more agency and motivation to do well if they want to keep their seating options open.

Make Expectations Clear

Rules are essential for a classroom, but they shouldn’t stop there. You shouldn’t just lay out the rules as a bulleted list. Instead, discuss the rules, why they matter, and that these are the expectations.

It also helps to get students involved, asking them to create rules for how they want their classroom to work. Have the class come up with action and descriptive words that relate to their ideal classroom.

Feeling like they get a say in their class will help them build a sense of community and involvement. These expectations are also easy to point to when they’re not met in the classroom and help students develop social-emotional learning.

Praise Behavior

It may seem counterproductive to ignore disruptions in the classroom. But giving attention to disruptive behavior can encourage it at times. When it comes to low-level disruptions, ignoring the behavior can be the best course of action.

Instead, acknowledge and praise positive behavior. Of course, if a student is being majorly disruptive, then you can address their bad behavior. But giving attention to positive behavior reinforces those types of behaviors.

This is the basic principle of ABA or applied behavior analysis. Using this method, the teacher strives to increase helpful behaviors and decrease behaviors that are a problem. This therapy works well for students with autism.

Focusing on behaviors rather than students when it comes to praise will help you reinforce the behaviors you want to see in your classroom.

Consistent Rules

The notion of “fair” is important to many students. Most students can tell when they’re being treated differently or have to follow a different set of rules than other students. Teachers need to apply the rules consistently across all students.

For example, when it comes to a dress code, it should be enforced equally across all genders and races. This prevents students from feeling singled out or attacked. It also helps build trust between students and teachers.

And when applying the rules, it’s the best practice for teachers to address the behavior of a student and not the student themselves. Make it known there are classroom expectations, but not faults within the student.

Active Presence

Regardless of age, it can be easy for students to get distracted. Because of this tendency, they need a constant presence supervising them. However, this isn’t an invitation to police your students. After all, as they get older, they should be able to work quietly on their own.

Positive reinforcement through nonverbal cues can reduce the physical and psychological distance between students and teachers, as reported by a study done by Janis F. Anderson. These nonverbal cues, like smiling and eye contact, can boost the positive feeling about the teacher and course material.

Use this as an opportunity to walk around the room, check progress, or answer questions even when they’re doing solo work.

Greet Students Before Class

You want to set a positive tone for the entire day as soon as possible. Greeting students as they come into class can achieve that. For example, standing at the door and acknowledging them as they walk into the room. Many elementary teachers will stand at the door and offer students either a handshake, high-five, or hug. But as they get older, you may offer just to stand there and ask them about how they’re doing.

This offers connection right as they come in the door and before class even starts. It sets a tone for the day and helps increase engagement during class.

Classroom Management Tips for Teachers K-12

Every grade has its unique challenges, but what they all have in common is the need for good classroom management. Kids, no matter their age, can get unruly and distracted. But this shouldn’t discourage teachers or make them feel like they’ve lost control of their classroom.

Building relationships and employing the right strategies are the ideal combination for managing a classroom of students of any age. Both first-year and veteran teachers can benefit from these classroom management tips.

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