It's A Classroom Not A Bootcamp: Classroom Management 2.0

THE PROBLEM: TEACHERS START THE YEAR WITH “NO”

 Ah, yes—the first day of class. That special time of the year when everything starts fresh.

New students. New ideas. New opportunities.

And the same old first-day routine. If you are like many teachers, the first day of class, whether it be the beginning of the year, a quarter, or a semester, is often spent going through introductions, expectations, and rules.

And while the introductions generally start things off on the right foot, momentum starts to slip a bit once you start talking about expectations. And by the time you hit the rules, well, that’s where the “no” rainstorm really opens up.

  • No chewing gum.
  • No eating or drinking in class.
  • No going to the bathroom without permission.
  • No talking without raising your hand.

Now I don’t know about you, but nothing gets me pumped up like being given a list of what I can’t do!

While there is an argument for being firm and laying the foundation for the rules right off the bat, there is also something to be said about overdoing it. And from my experience, if you go overboard with the rules early on, there might not be a lifeboat that can save you when you need it.

As you begin to redistribute the power of the class in ways that are more student-centered, your students will become much more invested in wanting all aspects of the class to succeed.

For far too long now, traditional thoughts about classroom management have stressed the need for teachers to hold complete control over the classroom. The problem with this, however, is that effective classroom management isn’t about control. It’s about understanding the needs of your students.

So whereas the outdated 1.0 version of classroom management focused on the teacher retaining power over the students, the new 2.0 version provides students with the opportunity to take some ownership in the daily happenings within the classroom.

So rather than starting the year by telling students what isn’t allowed, classroom management 2.0 provides students with a little more freedom in regard to what is permitted.

Essentially, with just a few minor tweaks to what you already do, this hack will transform the basic elements of your classroom management routine into processes that benefit both you and your students.

Utah English Teacher of the Year and sought-after speaker Mike Roberts brings you 10 quick and easy classroom management hacks that will make your classroom the place to be for all your students.

In his book Hacking Classroom Management, he shows you how to create an amazing learning environment that actually makes discipline, rules and consequences obsolete, no matter if you’re a new teacher or a 30-year veteran teacher.

 

THE HACK: REMEMBER, IT’S A CLASSROOM, NOT BOOT CAMP

Classroom management 2.0 is a concept based around the idea that students should be treated a little less like soldiers and a little more like people.

As teachers, we ask a great deal of our students each and every day, and as a show of good faith, we should find little ways where we can loosen the chokehold of control and give them an opportunity to have a voice in what their class will look like.

By providing them this freedom, you are also giving them the opportunity to take more ownership in the class. This, in turn, will result in a more engaged and attentive class.

here are a few more simple ideas that will solidify your classroom management by adding clarity and student responsibility to your routines.

REVIEW YOUR RULES. If you are like I was, I often kept certain rules around, not because they were effective and improved my classroom management, but simply because I had always used them.

With that in mind, take a few minutes tomorrow and evaluate the effectiveness of each of your rules. I’m guessing that if you really look at them, you will discover that a few of them could be dropped without impacting your effectiveness.

PUT UP THE DAILY SCHEDULE. Students like knowing the plan for the day, and putting the class schedule on the board is an easy way to keep them in the loop. And you don’t necessarily need to be super specific with this – a general overview is enough.

This simple act will help improve classroom management because it allows students to know what is coming up versus leaving them in the dark. Uncertainty often leads to disruptive behavior, so knowing what to expect alleviates this.

Plus, as the teacher, this schedule will help you stay on track, eliminating tangents and overdoing a topic (two additional issues that lead to student misbehavior).

 ELIMINATE COLD CALLING. Look, I get the logic of this one.  You are trying to get everyone involved in the class discussion, and sometimes students need encouragement to participate.

But let’s be real here – while it’s true that cold calling on kids improves the level of student participation, it’s crucial to note that it’s a forced level of engagement. It would be like saying that the draft improved the number of people in the military.

Did it accomplish the goal? Yes. Did it get total buy-in from everyone involved? Probably not.

From my experience both as a student and a teacher, this method can backfire if the student that you call on doesn’t know the answer to your question. And rather than getting that student engaged in the discussion, you just embarrassed that kid in front of the entire class.

The end result is that you negatively impacted your relationship with that student, thus damaging any potential sharing that student might have in the future. The worst part is that while it might work nine times out of ten, that one wrong answer given by the student can erase all nine correct responses in one gigantic swoop.

From my perspective, it’s just not worth the gamble.

If you truly want to get some of the less-vocal students more involved, front-load the situation by giving them a heads-up after class about what you will be discussing tomorrow, and let them know that you would like to hear their thoughts (see Hack 2).

Tell them that they can pick their moments, but when their hands go up, you are going to call on them. This not only gets them involved this one time, but it also establishes a trust with them (and perhaps a willingness to answer questions in the future) that will remain throughout the year.

How to Implement

Commit to letting students be empowered.

It’s one thing to say you are transferring some of the power of the class to the students, but it’s another to actually do it. This is not as easy as it sounds, and you may fall back to your old ways at times.

But just remember that the end goal is to empower your students more in the routines of class, and every time you stumble, get back up and keep moving forward.

Frame expectations in a positive tone.

The more rules you have, the more likely students are to break them. So rather than posting a bunch of rules all over your walls, why not establish a few class agreements that encompass the big-ticket behavioral concepts?

And instead of posting signs about no swearing, hitting, yelling, or running, why not establish and discuss what appropriate behavior looks like? Putting these ideas into a positive context will let students know what they should be doing, rather than constantly telling them what they shouldn’t be doing.

Include students in the implementation of rules and procedures.

Letting students have a voice in the rules and procedures of your class will greatly improve the odds of these concepts lasting throughout the course of the year.

By providing them with a say in the rules, it will make it easier to refer back to what “we” (the class) came up with as a guideline for class, rather than what “I” (the teacher) assigned if/when things start to fall apart.

Don’t punish the entire class.

As a general rule, the vast majority of your students listens and behaves themselves during class—although there are always exceptions.

Because of this, class punishments really can have a negative impact on the atmosphere. If a student misbehaves, deal with that student individually. And if you aren’t sure who caused the infraction, lay low until you have a chance to investigate and make an informed decision.

If you panic and punish the entire class, you’re isolating yourself from a large percentage of innocent students. Plus, if you start interrogating students and looking for information, you are often unintentionally pitting students against one another.

This is a surefire way to break up any trust you’ve built within your class, and as a result, rather than eliminating issues, you may be creating them.

Stop sharing the class average.

While sharing the class average on tests and assignments might seem harmless, in reality, it sets students up to compare themselves against one another.

Once grades get involved, students tend to get competitive, and by promoting what “average” looks like, they will naturally compare themselves against that score.

An easy solution is to ask students to reflect on their own grades to see if they represent their best efforts.

This allows your class to think about what they did in comparison to themselves versus comparing their score to what everyone else earned. I always tell my students that the only score they should be concerned with is their own.

Besides, your students shouldn’t strive for mediocrity, and that’s exactly the measurement you are asking them to compare themselves against when you post the class average.

Change as needed.

Like most everything else about teaching, be ready to adapt these concepts. In a perfect world, all of these classroom management strategies would fit perfectly with your learning community. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a perfect school.

Find what works for both you and your class, and build from there.

By giving your students a little leeway with the classic rules of classroom management (seating chart, bathroom breaks), and tweaking how you run the day-to-day routines (no more cold calling, mass class punishments, sharing the class average), you can dramatically improve the engagement, learning, and relationships.

As you begin to redistribute the power of the class in ways that are more student-centered, your students will become much more invested in wanting all aspects of the class to succeed.

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