At the beginning of the new school year, teachers are busy preparing their classrooms and lesson plans. In all of the hustle and bustle, it is quite easy to forget to think about classroom management and discipline. As every teacher knows, however, these two issues can eat up valuable class time and cause undue stress if not handled correctly. Here are some tips to develop an all-inclusive plan to help your school year run more smoothly.
It is a common mistake to start the school year off without a discipline plan in place. Students, smart creatures that they are, make a quick assessment of your plan – or lack thereof – and will know exactly what they can get away with. If you set low standards and accept disruptive behaviors at the beginning of the year, it will be more difficult to correct the problem than if you set a standard for appropriate behaviors from the first day forward. The key: start out tough to maintain appropriate classroom behavior throughout the year.
As hard as you try, there may come a time when you encounter a difficult student that needs a little more attention in the discipline department. It is important with students like this to not engage in confrontation in front of other students. In a confrontation, there is always a winner and a loser. When dealing with a particularly difficult and quick spoken student, it is easy to come out looking like the loser if you get frustrated in front of the class. With this type of student, it is wise to handle discipline issues privately, after class. Asking a student to stay behind when the bell rings calls very little attention to the situation; and also allows you time to formulate proper discipline without letting emotions guide you.
Communication is paramount for kids of all ages. In the classroom setting, a teacher will do well to clearly communicate their expectations for each session. For instance, if you are entering into a quiet reading time, you may announce “during this session, I expect that each of you will read quietly, without talking, for 20 minutes.” You may need to state your expectations at the beginning of every session, or every day, for several days before your students know exactly how they may and may not behave in your classroom.
This communication begins on the very first day of school and does not let up until the end of the year if need be. Every student should be held to your standards; even though it is expected that you will have certain students that you “click” with more than others. Students are very aware of what is fair and what is not and so it is important that you, as the leader of your classroom, be fair in your dealings with each and every student.
It is the responsibility of the teacher to create an environment of learning for their students; not just to lecture facts and figures. In order for students to learn, they need to engage; and in order to do that, they need the right environment. And to get that, they need you to have a plan.