Upon graduating from college with an education degree, many new teachers wish they had more direction with regard to classroom management. After over 12 years experience teaching seventh through twelfth graders, Kristen Wilkerson has developed several preventative classroom management strategies that help her to increase on task behavior. This article shares some of her most frequent classroom management tools as they relate to a student’s physical location.
Part of creating a positive learning environment is to prevent issues before they occur. While it is not always possible to predict friction, many problems can be avoided by following a few tricks. One such strategy is in strategic student placement. Wilkerson requires students to adhere to a seating chart throughout the year. She does this for several reasons. First, to accommodate 504 plans or individualized education plans, particular students may require seating near the front of the classroom. Secondly, pairing individuals who work well together in the middle or back of the room helps model on task behavior for those who may otherwise refrain. Third, using physical distance between troublemakers helps keep them focused. Finally, having a seating chart allows Wilkerson to take attendance within seconds as opposed to searching for each student’s face. Substitute teachers have left positive feedback concerning the seating chart strategy as well, because they come in knowing very few names. Monitoring a class becomes much easier for a sub when they have the power of knowledge – and knowing a student’s name truly is powerful.
Another preventative classroom management strategy is to require students to remain in their seats until the bell rings. Too often students like to gather at doors in anticipation of seeing their friends in the hall. By requiring students to remain seated, several behaviors can be thwarted. Shoving becomes a non-issue. Stealing out of nearby backpacks disappears. The noise level remains low. On task behaviors can also take place for the entire class period instead of ending early. Overall, maintaining power over a student’s physical placement helps the teacher gain respect from the student as well as their compliance.
What should a teacher do when a student refuses to stay seated or move to a particular seat? Simply and calmly say, “In ten seconds I will begin timing how long we need to keep the entire class after class to practice sitting correctly.” Then look at the classroom clock. The rest of the class will usually use positive peer pressure to get him or her to make better choices.
Using these preventative strategies can help a class flow more smoothly. Do you have any additional classroom management techniques to share with new teachers? What has worked in your classroom? Do you use a seating chart? Please comment below.
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