The teacher says “administration does nothing…”
The administration says “teachers have no classroom management…”
I call time out! Far too often in schools, it is teacher vs. administration in the blame game of managing student behaviors. As educators, we are all on the same side and need to work together to make the school environment harmonious and conducive to learning, but both teachers and administrators need to take responsibility.
As a teacher, it is important to PRACTICE THE P’s of classroom management.
Pairing, Proximity, Prioritize, Pace and Positive Reinforcement
Pairing is simple…it is setting the teacher up as the giver of goods. Goods can be in the form of a specific reinforcement statement that pertains to the behavior a child is currently displaying, or it can be as the giver or something as simple as a sticker or the chance to be the line leader. It is an ongoing process and may take time, so be patient and persistent.
Proximity to your students. Many times, being nearby your students helps improve their behavior, focus and even helps them be more on task. This doesn’t mean you should hover over your students, but more so that you move throughout the room while delivering instruction or anytime students are working independently. The idea of “proximity” replaces the tradition of standing in the front of the room scolding students in the back who are not following classroom expectations.
Prioritize the important behaviors and let go of the insignificant power struggles. If a student is standing at their desk working vs. sitting like all the other students…..LET IT GO! The student is working! If a student picks up a crayon or marker to complete an assignment (instead of a pencil) but is working quietly and efficiently, maybe, for now, you let that go too. Handle it at a later time in a way that isn’t drawing negative attention to the situation.
Pace of instruction. Teaching at a slow pace not only slows down the amount of material covered, but it can also leave gaps. Keep the pace quick with more repetitions rather than dragging out a concept. If your students are completing an assignment or even a math problem independently, put a timer to it. This lets them know they need to stay on task and helps them to be mindful of good time management skills.
Positive Reinforcement is specifically acknowledging the desired behavior, making that behavior more likely to reoccur. This does not mean never correcting undesirable behavior, but trying to keep the ratio 4:1. Remember “good job” is not specific enough. “I like the way Vander raised his hand quietly” is perfectly specific and reinforcing.
As an administrator, it is important to SEIZE THE C’s of classroom management.
Collaboration, Communication, Continuous, Coaching and Commitment
Collaboration is always key to making any relationship successful, whether it be in our personal or professional lives. Administration and teachers must work together to develop a school-wide behavior management system that works for all stakeholders, including students. It is imperative that all staff members be included in the planning process from start to finish.
Communication needs to be open and honest. If something isn’t working, then it needs to be addressed. The administration needs to provide staff with positive feedback on what is working and come up with suggestions on how to improve what is not working. It is easy to see what is or is not working. It’s much more difficult to establish an open line of communication to improve the issue at hand.
Continuous professional development needs to be provided to teachers, so they have the tools to be successful in managing a class. Most schools provide a single day of training prior to the start of school and that simply is not enough. Without classroom management, there is no instructional control and nobody is learning!
Coaching needs to be provided. Coaching can come from an outside source such as a consultant, but it needs to be backed up with data and student-centered. Feedback should be provided immediately and in the same manner, a teacher delivers praise. The administration needs to step up and also provide coaching and feedback. This means sitting quietly and observing in a classroom vs. addressing behaviors simply because you are the principal and you are in the room.
Commitment to getting the job done TOGETHER. Everyone needs to be committed to making classroom management successful. Policies and procedures must be put in place, reinforced, and periodically reassessed. Data should be collected and analyzed before making any significant changes to the current practice.
Working together as a team is vital for making classroom management successful. Many times teachers are doing the best they can with the tools they have been provided. Just like you can’t install a faucet with a hammer, you can’t manage a class without the necessary tools. It is up to administrators to provide the tools, strategies, and continued professional development to ensure those tools stay sharp! Everybody has a role to play and if all stakeholders are committed then it is the students who reap the biggest reward! Is your district or school looking for strategies, tools, supports, or coaching? Visit studentachievementsolutions.com to learn how we can help.