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Academics (Teaching Excellence): Classroom Management

Classroom Management is an important aspect of Teaching Excellence regardless of the level of teaching (elementary, high school, college, etc.)

They KEY goal of Classroom Management is to maintain a safe and effective learning environment for all students. I teach Behavior Management for classroom application so it is difficult to condense this to one page, but I will try!

Below I've listed some tips on how to prevent and manage behavioral (and scholastic performance) issues in the classroom.

The Syllabus

The Syllabus is a very powerful tool of Behavior Management. It represents a contract of behavior between the student and the Faculty/Institution and should be presented as such (some Faculty even have students sign a document stating that they have read and understand the syllabus!)

Here are some areas in the Syllabus that can make your life in the classroom a lot better! Once you have the policies in hand you avoid a lot of the issues that arise regarding student conduct in the class.

  • Outline your grading policies very clearly
  • Outline your policies on attendance, being late for class, late assignments, make-up work, and incompletes very specifically
  • Provide your students with a list of classroom behavioral expectations regarding food, guests, cell phones, computer use, talking, turn taking, group work, and preparedness for the class. Be very specific with all of these.
  • I actually create a separate document called "Class Policies" that I distribute to all my students on the first day of class. Click HERE to download a copy of it for reference.

Student Code of Conduct

Familiarize yourself with the Student Code of Conduct and remind students that you are familiar with it and that they will be held accountable to it. Each student gets a copy of the Code so there is no reason for them to not be familiar with it.

The Engaged Classroom

One of the first rules to Classroom Management is the assertion that a student who is actively engaged in learning is less likely to act out. This is true at all levels of academics.

Interesting, dynamic, and interactive classes have less behavior problems. Experiment with different styles of teaching, have your students do meaningful group work, change seating arrangements, provide for different sorts of activities, and provide an opportunity for open discussion about the topics. This will go a long way towards keeping your students engaged.

Also, a teacher needs to have their materials organized and ready to go when class starts (remember that if you want your students to be prepared for class you must be also!)

Climates for Learning

So how do you go about creating this learning environment? This section refers to "climate" and it is an apt description.

  • How "warm" or "cold" is your classroom presence?
  • How available do you make yourself and your knowledge to your students?

These are important points of self-evaluation as you develop as an instructor at KVCC. Here are some important points to consider in order making the "Climate" in your classroom conducive for learning:

  • Be very clear about your expectations of students' performance in all that you communicate (in your syllabus and in your actions) right from the beginning.
  • Respect the knowledge that your students ALREADY possess while you challenge them to question it themselves.
  • Remember that you are teaching adults…they have lives, relationships, experiences, thoughts, etc. that are different than yours. Your class "fits" into their schedule and sometimes the fit is very snug. Hold them responsible for performance, but respect the challenges they face.
  • Maintain a sense of humor.
  • YOU are the most important component of instruction in the classroom…no video, website, textbook can replace the person you are. So use it…use your experiences and your knowledge to engage your students.
  • Deal with classroom and academic discipline fairly and immediately. Students share their experiences with other students so it is important to be fair and even handed in your class.
  • Create an atmosphere of respect for diversity. Everyone arrives with an opinion, encourage its expression but also encourage an acceptance that not all will share this opinion.

Qualities of a "Good Instructor"

We all want to be a good instructor…for some this comes natural with little thought while others will need to develop new skills. Here is a short list of what I think makes a good instructor:

  • Professionalism
  • Sense of humor
  • Recognition of their own mastery of the subject matter
  • Organized • Effective use of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism…don't stop with simple criticism…if someone has done something wrong, teach him or her how to do it right!
  • Fair
  • Holds students accountable
  • Allows themselves to be held accountable by students

Set up Zero-Tolerance Policies

Sometimes student behavior can get pretty bad and can have a profound influence on the atmosphere in the classroom. Remember that it is up to the Faculty to set the tone for the class, not the student.

Students who are rude, harrass, are non-compliant with class policies, or simply create disturbances LOSE THEIR RIGHTS TO BE IN THE CLASS. You have no obligation to work with, deal with, nor tolerate ANY behavior that you feel distrupts the class. There is no legal ADA accommodation for behavioral disruption in the classroom and there is no medical condition that justifies a student's presence in class.

I'm not saying that certain disabilities don't make specific behaviors more likely...I am saying that if these conditions are not under substantial control in order to meet the behavioral expectations of the classroom, they cannot stay in the classroom.

Feel free to outline zero-tolerance policies in your syllabus, to kick students out of class, to request that students be unregistered from the class (contact your Department Chair), and or seek out Campus Security to help deal with a classroom situation.