Educators are some of the most overworked professionals around (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2019). This, even if it only ranks 45th among the highest-paying college majors. Aside from making sure that they have teaching skills, they also have to develop and maintain a meaningful relationship with students and their parents. On top of that, educators deal with tasks beyond class activities and lesson preparation such as administrative work.
One of the many significant challenges in an educator’s career is managing the classroom. They may be able to connect with each student. But, the dynamics change significantly in the classroom setting. As such, many are unprepared, which can have significant issues when it comes to teaching.
In fact, issues with classroom management are among the leading reasons why educators leave the field (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003). This means developing a classroom management plan is an essential part of preparing for the school year, especially for young teachers and professors. Even experienced educators develop such plans to ensure that every aspect of the classroom is managed.
This article explores what classroom management is and why it is important whether you are teaching in a college, university, or other school types. Furthermore, it also outlines steps on how to develop a classroom management plan. Also, do not miss out on tips for managing a class.
Classroom management is considered one of the foundations of the educational system. It refers to the actions that educators take that create a supportive environment for students and teachers alike. The right classroom management plan provides opportunities for academic, social, and emotional learning (Koran & Koran, 2018).
A well-managed classroom has three important elements (Popescu, 2014):
Therefore, educators need to develop a strong classroom management plan to ensure that the strategies are laid out and implemented properly. It combines rules, guidelines, layouts, plans, procedures, and more for most scenarios that the educator and the students may experience in the classroom. It allows the teacher to understand the overall learning goals, how it translates to the classroom environment, and how students can understand and follow the guidelines.
Classroom management serves as a solid foundation for learning. When all aspects of the classroom work efficiently and in harmony, the students can maximize their learning potential, and the teacher can better educate the class.
Classroom management is considered one of the most crucial factors in determining the success of new teachers. Additionally, it is also influential in the students’ academic success (Marzano & Marzano, 2003). However, many educators feel that they are unprepared to manage a classroom. This is evident in a report from the U.S. Department of Education.
Source: US Department of Education
While each classroom management plan is different, they usually have the following goals:
A primary benefit of developing classroom management strategies is to prevent misbehavior that reacts when it happens (Lewis & Sugai, 1999). It allows educators to anticipate and identify potential behavioral issues before it worsens.
Preparing a classroom management plan may include creating class rules, outlining steps for daily tasks, or describing consequences of various actions (Sayeski & Brown, 2014). You can start working on your bigger goals down to specifics to create the full plan.
Begin by understanding and defining your motivations for creating a classroom management plan. By starting with your reasons, you can take into account the issues that you expect to encounter, the age and attitude of your students, and your overall goals.
Writing down your objectives will also help you adjust them according to your teaching style. Additionally, you can prioritize which objectives are critical and which ones can be further developed as you progress into the school year. In this way, you can modify the plan when needed.
Next, consider your learning goals for the students. Aside from the types of lessons and topics, you may also include how you want to achieve these goals—factor in their abilities, learning habits, and home life.
Writing down your learning goals will also allow you to identify opportunities for better learning. Additionally, you can explore relevant tools that will help you achieve these goals. Essentially, you are creating a roadmap for you and your students for the entire school year.
A vital part of classroom management philosophy is motivation. A motivated student remains focused and hardworking. They are far less bored, which minimizes any interruptions. As such, you need to create various motivation strategies that will create better learning opportunities. It is essential, especially when you are tackling particularly difficult topics. You may want to consider some Meaningful Engaged Learning (MEL) best practices and strategies such as continuous improvement, higher order thinking, and the like to formulate your strategy.
Furthermore, you want to identify and write down your motivation philosophy. This will help you create interesting lessons and keep the students motivated.
Are they more focused when competing with each other? Or do they prefer collaborating with each other? What about short-term and long-term projects? What kind of tests do students prefer? And which ones push them to study more?
These are just some of the questions that you can explore when developing your motivation strategy.
Make sure to consider school policies before making your plan to ensure that your classroom is following the required procedures. You can also use these policies as a guide to creating your classroom management plan. This creates continuity not only within the classroom but within the larger school environment as well. It helps the students maintain the level of conduct during the entire school time.
After creating your learning goals and objectives while incorporating the school policies, it is time to create the procedures and rules. If possible, you can involve your students in this process. Students are often more engaged and committed to programs where they contributed significantly. It also improves the ownership of their actions as they help create the rules that they follow. Furthermore, they are encouraged to work together to maintain motivation and reduce misbehaviors during class.
Focus on rules and procedures that promote the development of healthy habits among students. As mentioned, it should provide structure without restricting their freedom. Instead of focusing on controlling their behavior, classroom guidelines should provide opportunities for the students to make the right choices.
Beyond punishment, you should reward students who show exemplary behavior, attitude, and effort. By incorporating the students’ opinion on the rules and regulation and applying positive reinforcement, it encourages the entire class to maintain discipline and improve their overall behavior (Sadruddin, 2012). Following the rules becomes something that the students will look forward to instead of something to be feared. In this way, it is also much easier to motivate the students to achieve their learning goals.
After creating the classroom management plan, it is important to communicate with the students clearly. It is critical that the students fully understand what is expected of them. Communication strategies will depend on the age and the behavior of the students.
While strategies may vary depending on your circumstances, they may include the following (Goodman-Scott, 2019):
Because you have clear goals, procedures, and rules in the classroom management plan, it is much easier to evaluate the class’s overall performance. Based on your plan, determine whether you are achieving your daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Additionally, you can evaluate whether your students and yourself are following the procedures consistently.
Furthermore, you can identify which part of the plan needs changing. The behavior and motivation of students change throughout the school year. As such, you can accommodate these to take advantage of learning opportunities and avoid significant issues. For example, if students can show that they can collaborate well with others, you can allow them to pick their own groupmates on the next project.
Implementing classroom management plans can be challenging and complicated. A great classroom management plan example is something that you can consistently implement throughout the year. Here are tips and tricks to help you maintain a harmonious classroom.
Source: Teach 100 Mentor Survey
Managing a classroom full of students with different personalities and abilities is challenging without a solid strategy. A well-defined classroom management plan allows you to set objectives and goals while setting up the roadmap to achieve them.
Furthermore, by having a plan in place, you will know how to handle various situations when they come up. Whether it is a significant improvement in test scores or a misbehaving student, you will have an appropriate response ready.
A classroom management plan is an essential tool that will allow you to handle a class much more efficiently. Like any complex endeavor, having a plan ensures that your efforts are not wasted and that you can maximize any opportunity.