Whether an elementary school teacher works in a classroom or online, effective classroom management creates an atmosphere in which students can learn and grow. While most teachers hone their classroom management strategies throughout their career, many can benefit from a few guidelines.
At its most basic, a positive learning environment requires trust between teacher and students. A teacher can cultivate a trusting relationship with students by taking a personal interest in them, asking questions, and expressing genuine concern for their well-being. When a student feels known, the classroom begins to feel more like an extension of their family. When the students trust the teacher, they are more likely to follow rules.
In this trust-building endeavor, details matter. Teachers should learn to pronounce students’ names and inquire if they have preferred nicknames. A teacher should receive questions with curiosity and patience, never making a student feel silly for asking. Humor can play a key role in cultivating trust, but sarcasm may seem harsh or belittling.
Teachers should celebrate students’ success. Setting achievable goals and acknowledging milestones provides valuable feedback for students and motivates them to continue working hard. Each teacher can choose different ways to highlight student achievement. They may select a student each week to speak about their accomplishments or invite a student to share a personal story about overcoming an obstacle. Seeing their peers’ work celebrated may inspire students to stay focused on their own goals.
Effective teachers clearly outline classroom expectations. More importantly, they communicate the reasoning behind the rules. For example, a teacher may say, “No talking without raising your hand,” which may feel authoritative and harsh. By explaining that taking turns shows respect, students make the connection between behavior and intent.
Teachers can also create expectations aligned with the development stage of their students. A strict no-talking rule in a kindergarten classroom, for example, is bound to fail. Teachers should encourage appropriate taking while keeping students focused on the task at hand.
Over the course of a school year, teachers may be tempted to relax expectations. While flexibility is important, consistency plays a role in classroom management. Classroom rules should be posted and pointed out frequently. Following through on consequences and rewards shows students the importance of the rules.
A prepared teacher generally struggles less with classroom management. Preparation involves lesson plans that account for teaching style and the individual needs of all learners. In addition to aligning with all curriculum standards, lessons should engage the curiosity of students. Approaching the school day with a plan in hand, teachers increase their ability to respond to individual student needs as they arise.
In addition to cultivating trust with students, teachers can build relationships with students’ parents. Making a positive phone call to the student’s home can be a powerful tool in classroom management. Instead of calling home only when a student misbehaves, teachers can involve parents in celebrating their children’s success. Children tend to repeat the behaviors that attract attention. When a teacher calls a student’s home to report a student’s kind comment, for example, the call reinforces the child’s positive action and encourage more of it.
To manage a highly functional classroom, teachers must account for each student’s learning style. A student with special needs requires a different approach than another student and responds better to certain incentives. Teachers can avoid many classroom management challenges by proactively explaining procedures and consequences. Some students understand best by listening, while others may need visual reminders.