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Burden (2000) described classroom management as the process of ascertaining that lessons are taught smoothly in the classroom in spite of any disruptive behavior by the learners. Managing students is the most difficult task for many teachers and has even made some teachers to leave this profession altogether (Charles, 2008). Research has shown that once a teacher has lost control of their class; it becomes very difficult to regain the control later (Burden, 2000). If the classroom is not well managed, it may lead to lower academic performance of students. The teacher has to be consistent and firm on the strategies he or she uses so as to get the intended results (Charles, 2008). This paper discusses common strategies that a teacher can use and how appropriate they are to different developmental levels.

Proximity

Proximity is the distance the teacher keeps between himself or herself and the students (Cummings, 2000). This can only be determined by the arrangement of desks in the classroom. There should be free space in between desks to allow the teacher to be able to approach all students with ease (Burden, 2000). A teacher, who walks around freely in the classroom, has a more personal contact with the students as compared to a teacher who stands before the students facing them (Burden, 2000).  This technique ensures that the teacher keeps a good relationship with the students, at the same time control their behavior. Students are unlikely to misbehave if the teacher is within earshot (Charles, 2008). For instance, when a teacher stands by students who are disruptive they will immediately change their behavior. This is effective for both young and older students.

Bell work

Teachers must utilize every minute of academic time because students are involved with a lot of activities every day. Stone (2005) defines bell work as the assignment that students do when the bell rings. Bell work assignments will make students work once they enter the classroom, which ensures that they will not be making noise or disrupting other students (Burden, 2000). Bell work can be a review of what the students have learnt, journal writing, or silent reading, while the teacher is taking roll calls and lunch counts (Stone, 2005). A teacher should plan bell work in advance, so as to make copies if they are needed. For it to work effectively, students should be given a chance to grade for themselves. This ensures they get immediate feedback and can be getting a chance to ask questions on those areas that they have not understood well.

Class period normally starts five minutes after the bell has rung (Charles, 2008). This period is usually called settling in, and is the time for students to settle and get ready to learn. This is the time when the teacher takes roll calls, students sharpen their pencils, talk, listen to announcements as they go to their seats (Charles, 2008). This period is very important as it ensures that students settle down and prepare to start learning. In elementary, the teacher uses this time to collect milk money, lunch money, book club money and field trip money (Stone, 2005). A kindergarten teacher can tell children to choose one activity area they are interested. The child can choose the shop corner and pretend to be buying and selling, thus the child will be busy during that time. Older students can be told to fill the missing words, while high school students can be told to write a journal. Bell work ensures that the day starts smoothly (Cummings, 2000). The students understand that time should not be wasted.

Establishing clear expectations

Establishing clear expectation for students helps teachers to reinforce the rules, and students will clearly understand what is expected of them (Charles, 2008). To ensure that this works, teachers should post the rules in the classroom and remind students to read them over and over to ensure an in-depth understanding. The rules should be mounted where students can see them easily, and they should be easy to remember (Cummings, 2000). The teacher should take time to discuss the rules with students and ensure they clearly understand what is expected of them (Stone, 2005). The rules should always be stated in a positive and not negative (Stone, 2005). Example, the teacher should state what students should do and what not do.

The clear expectations help the teacher to remind students the behavior they are supposed to portray, and if they fail to do so, the consequences that follow (Cummings, 2000). After some time, the teacher will be able to anticipate the behavior of each student. Anticipation helps the teacher to set expectations of inevitable behavior and be able to intervene before the situation heads to the wrong direction (Cummings, 2000). With time students will internalize the expectations and be accountable for their choices. They will understand that, bad choices lead to consequences and it is good to make proper choices up front.

In young children, the teacher should be specific on what he or she expects a child to do (Charles, 2008). For instance, when the teacher wants a child to step aside, he or she should tell the child where to go, if it is to the wall or chair. Then the teacher should discuss with the students why he or she was told to go to the chair and if they are ready to meet the expectation. The child, for example, could have snatched another child’s pencil, and the teacher would want the child to understand that it is wrong. The child should promise that he or she will not repeat the same mistake. Then finally the child should apologize to the other child. The child will come to understand that it is not good to wrong others, and that there are always consequences for any wrong doing. For older students they already understand what is expected of them, so the teacher will just post the rules on the wall, and if students misbehave they are punished there and then.

Modeling appropriate behavior

In the classroom, the teacher is the role model (Charles, 2008).  Students usually observe and emulate what the teacher does. It is not surprising for a teacher to find students pretending to be the teacher in class and doing what the teacher usually does. Young children learn a lot through imitation, and so it is important for a teacher to model good behavior for the benefit of the child (Cummings, 2000). The teacher should always remain positive no matter how tired he or she is. If the teacher is positive, the students will also be positive (Stone, 2005). Children will do what the teacher does. Older children also expect adults to behave in a good manner. If the teacher wants the student to come to school early, then he or she should learn to also come early.

Student involvement

Students should be fully involved in the learning process (Burden, 2000). They should also be involved in making the rule so as to be able to understand it well and get ready to face the consequences. Young children, if involved in making the rules, feel they own it and will not intentionally misbehave (Burden, 2000). If they make a mistake, they will be ready to accept the consequences without question. For instance, when the rule indicated that one should say sorry if he or she has done something wrong, the child will do so. Older children always question authority and would want to justify all actions (Stone, 2005). A teacher should involve older children in setting the rules but set clear and firm consequences. The consequences should be followed to the letter.

Conclusion

Classroom management strategies are very important for smooth learning and discipline in student. They also create a good learning environment for the children to learn and be fully involved in daily tasks of the school. Teachers should create a good rapport with students and set high expectations. The strategies should be consistent to ensure that student do not take them for granted. The teacher should always be positive and not concentrate on the negative behavior.

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