are aware that engaging students for the entire class period
is one of their greatest challenges. According to Judith Brough
at Gettysburg College, “the average middle school student’s
attention span lasts only 11 minutes in a 50 – 60 minute
class.” Given this, how do we manage classrooms effectively
to ensure maximum learning and minimal disruption.
classroom management begins at the door everyday, it even
begins before the term starts with letters and phone calls
home welcoming students to your class. Personalizing greetings
helps to build stronger relationships.
management requires effort and time. Students need time to
discover what the teacher’s expectations are, and teachers
need time to learn about their students. Students, especially
adolescents, want and need a positive personal connection
with an adult authority figure. A few minutes of personal
time over a one to two week period can make a difference in
student behavior. It also sends a positive signal to the rest
of the class that each of them is worthy of personal time,
and that can decrease behavior problems.
interest and or attention wanders, teachers need a set of
strategies or “interventions” that are ready for
use. There are three levels of intervention used by Todd Johnson,
a behavior-management consultant with Rivertown Consultants
in Grandville Michigan. These interventions work best with
a minimum amount of power to correct behavior.
Look”: Giving students a stare without stopping the
lecture lets them know that they are being watched.
Making a hand motion or snapping fingers signals that the
disruption must stop.
Moving close to a student can curtail conversations; continue
the lesson while next to them.
Level Intervention (Verbal)
behavior with humor: Use yourself as the object of the humor,
not the student.
the obvious: Just say, “Johnny, you’re talking.”
Denial or discussion will lead to the next step.
private conference: If there is a continuation of the behavior,
the teacher can call the student aside after the class to
discuss consequences of disrupting. Never argue with a student
in front of the entire class. That rewards the student with
Level Intervention (Action)
contracts: Both teacher and student sign a guided, mutually
determined set of rules, not a dictated code of behavior.
If the disruptive behavior continues the student is given
a “choice” of leaving the class or being escorted
from the class by a Dean. The teacher needs to stay calm
and in control, the student is trying to “set you
belittle or bully by making idle threats, it doesn’t
try to be “cool” or make every student a friend,
you are their teacher, not their friend.
us try too hard in managing our classrooms. Teachers can influence
behavior, but the rest is up to the students. Consistency,
persuasion, and calm are often the best resources that we
have. Johnson says, “No one will ever have one answer
to discipline questions. There is no magic bullet. It’s
always about the relationships that you build.”
John. “The Essential Ounce of Prevention: Effective
Classroom Management Means More than Intervention,” ASCD, Education Update, March 2006.
I hope you’ve found this article
helpful. If you have a question or suggestion, don’t
hesitate to e-mail me.
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