Most principals can identify with the struggles in retaining new teachers who are in the early stages of their careers. In fact, the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) finds that over 44% of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years of entering the field.
One of the best ways to ensure new teachers feel supported and engaged is to become actively involved in their classroom management. What is Effective Classroom Management? The term classroom management can refer to any set of strategies and skills teachers use to manage student behavior and learning in the classroom. When classroom management is implemented effectively, students are engaged, organized, and successful in their learning. Although every student has unique learning needs, educational research has uncovered evidence about which classroom management techniques are most powerful in promoting student achievement.
For example, Edutopia promotes an “Establish; Maintain; Restore” approach teachers can use to nurture positive connections with students. This proactive strategy has proven to significantly impact student achievement and behavior. How Principals Can Help With Classroom Management, Unfortunately, the National Council on Teacher Quality reports that less than half of teacher preparation programs adequately train teachers how to implement effective classroom management strategies.
Principals and other school leaders must fill in the gaps to help new teachers learn the five essential skills for managing student behavior:
- Establish rules and routines — Teachers must clearly communicate and regularly reinforce student behavior expectations.
- Maximize learning time — Lesson plans, classroom layout, and learning materials should be prepared in advance to minimize losses of instructional time.
- Reinforce positive behavior — Students should receive praise for their specific actions, habits, and skills which demonstrate positive behavior.
- Redirect off-task behavior — Teachers need to practice techniques that prevent and correct disruptive student behavior which distracts them from learning.
- Address serious misbehavior — Restorative disciplinary procedures should be implemented with consistency to manage misbehavior.
As a principal, your role in classroom management is to provide evidence-based professional development, which helps new teachers promote positive student behavior. Let’s explore some strategies you can use to prepare early-career teachers for the classroom. 4 Ways to Support New Teachers Struggling With Classroom Management You may be surprised to learn that the primary reason public school teachers leave the profession has nothing to do with salary. RAND Corporation shares that about 40% of teachers quit because of work-related stress, which builds up when they don’t receive proper support from school leaders. Principals and other school leaders can reduce this stress by helping new teachers successfully navigate classroom management right from the get-go. Here are four ways you can support “green” educators:
- Visit classrooms on a regular basis to offer one-on-one support.
Professional development seminars are great for helping teachers learn about different classroom management strategies. But teachers also need direct support from experienced educational leaders like yourself. Make a habit of being present in classes so you can address the specific challenges each educator faces. When you observe effective classroom management techniques, be sure to let teachers know what they’re doing well. When you notice a teacher struggling, offer actionable advice in the moment.
- Coach teachers on how to implement “tweaks” and “resets”.
In an ASCD article, professor Todd Whitaker suggests that teachers use “tweaks” and “resets” to continuously improve student behavior throughout the school year. A tweak is something a teacher can do to improve their own practice to promote better student behavior. Whitaker explains, “An example of a tweak is a teacher deciding to use proximity to more closely monitor a student who is disengaged.” On the other hand, a reset should be implemented if a teacher feels that more drastic action is needed to curb recurring behavioral issues. “For example, say a teacher feels like his whole day is out of control. … [T]he teacher may need to make dramatic changes to his management techniques, behavioral expectations, rules, procedures, and even lesson plans. These changes, which will take time to develop, require careful reflection, research, and possibly mentorship.” School leaders should provide coaching and guidance to help a new teacher identify opportunities for tweaks. When a reset is needed, collaborate closely with the teacher to develop a stronger classroom management strategy.
- Design high-quality mentoring opportunities.
Many schools assign mentors to new teachers, but may not offer a robust system to facilitate effective mentorship. The best mentors are seasoned, high-performing educators who embody the values you want all faculty to adopt. It’s certainly helpful to find a mentor who works within the same grade level and/or in the same subject area as your new teacher; but it’s more important to pair early-career teachers with mentors who are effective, engaged, and collaborative. Once you’ve matched up teachers with their mentors, be sure to provide ongoing support for these relationships. Set clear expectations for mentors and mentees and block out time during regular work hours for them to meet.
- Provide ongoing professional development throughout the school year.
Most first-time teachers attend an initial orientation before the school year begins, but they face a steep learning curve throughout their first few years on the job. A key component of teacher retention is ongoing professional development which provides frequent opportunities to reflect on their practice, receive feedback, and learn evidence-based strategies. Plenty of research is available to help guide your professional development planning. But you may also appreciate the support of an outside expert who can provide clarity and direction for your efforts. At the Center for Student Achievement Solutions, we offer professional consulting driven by experienced educational leaders who are passionate about boosting school excellence. Schedule a free call with us to get connected with a consultant who specializes in your areas of need or just to learn more about the consulting process. We can’t wait to become your partner for school improvement.