As a teacher I pride myself on my classroom management skills. I attribute a lot of this with things that my Mom taught me while I was babysitting an unruly child. Now, while I do not yet have my own classroom as an elementary teacher. I have had day care classrooms that were my own and have taught in many a classroom as the teacher. So I have managed many a group of young children. It is a strength of mine, but that doesn’t mean a class I have will be managed perfectly at every moment. Kids can get wild, and sometimes you just can’t seem to get them under control. They are kids, it is their nature. And in all honesty, sometimes they just need a moment of chaos to get it out of their system. I have field taught in multiple classrooms, observed multiple classrooms, and worked in various day cares and have seen my share of bad (in my opinion) classroom management. I believe that there are 7 deadly sins that many teachers make when managing a classroom.
DISCLAIMER: If you are reading this and are a teacher with your own classroom, you may not think I am qualified to say any of this yet. I will argue with you that I am. I have taught in day cares for years, nannied, taught swimming lessons, field taught and babysat some pretty rambunctious kiddos. And in just four short months I will have a teaching degree. I think that gives me enough experience under my belt to
Using the Word Please
When you are the teacher, you are in charge and the students should listen to you and follow your directions. Many times I have heard teachers or day care staff ask a student to stop doing something. They say “please, stop throwing toys Johnny.” Well there is the mistake. If the rule is no throwing toys, then Johnny darn-well shouldn’t be throwing those toys. If he is, he needs to stop, end of story. If he is asked to “please stop throwing toys” it is a question and therefore an option in little Johnny’s mind. Teachers, do not ask students to “please” stop doing something… TELL them to do it. You are in charge, so act like it!
This is a huge one, that I see way too often. I can’t tell you how many times I would hear a teacher say something like “Jennifer, if you pull Katie’s hair one more time you are going to pull a card!” Jennifer then reaches out that little hand and yanks on little Katie’s hair with all her might. Now what should that teacher do? I hope you are all saying “make her pull a card! Make her pull a card!” Yes, you are right because the teacher said if she did it one more time she would have to. Well then the teacher drops a doozie and says “Jennifer, I wasn’t kidding. If I see you do it again you will pull a card!” Well that is confusing, I thought she said one more time. But now it’s two more times? What is this lady even talking about? Yep, and that is what the kid is thinking too. Now Jennifer thinks she can do it again because she will probably get another extension. And you can imagine how that all goes. Poor Katie isn’t going to have any hair left on her head by the time she jumps in the mini-van with her mom. Bottom line, if you say there is a consequence for an action, then you better follow through with it or the kids will walk all over you. SIDE NOTE: I am typing this at work and just sent the little boy I nanny for up to nap an hour early because I stupidly threatened it “if he spit one more time.” And well, he spit one more time. My first thought was, great now both kids won’t nap at the same time and I will have no child-free time. But, I said it and I meant it. So off to nap he went and now me and the baby are hanging out until she goes to bed. Which will most likely be right when he wakes up. See… follow through!
Should I even have to say anything about this one? Seriously if you are not a teacher you would be surprised at how many teachers scream at the top of their lungs at their students. And I am talking about the scary monster voice kind of scream. All this does is scare the kids or let them know they got under your skin. It doesn’t help and it is not pleasant for you or the students. It breaks my heart to be in a classroom where the teacher yells at the kids all the time. It makes it feel like a scary classroom where there isn’t much warmth or love going on. Also, you don’t always know what kind of life those kids have at home, they may already get yelled at all evening at home. As you can guess, I am not a yeller. I do however have a very stern voice I can use if needed. It’s my secret weapon 😉
Using Food As A Punishment
Yep, this happens in many classrooms. In a classroom I worked in I almost said something about it because it broke my heart so much. I didn’t want to overstep my bounds though. This was a school where eighty-six percent of students were on free and reduced lunch (meaning their families cannot pay the full price for their child’s school lunches). This teacher would take away their snack for the day if they behaved badly. Can you imagine that child’s heartbreak when they lose their snack, which in many could be the only snack they get all day. Taking food away as a punishment is a terrible form of management. You do not know all the circumstances of those children and if they get enough food at home. Just don’t do it.
Not Being Creative With Management
I know that some school districts require a classroom teacher to use a certain management system. Things like pulling cards, point systems, or writing names on the board. But if the school district doesn’t dictate what kind of behavior management system you use… get creative! There are all kinds of ideas on Pinterest and online of ways to keep children accountable for following rules of the classroom. Also, if you come up with a way you like using that works well for your class, it is more likely that it will run smoothly!
Keeping Kids In Their Seats All Day
Kids have energy. Energy needs to be released. Simple as that! If kids are made to sit in their seats all day, that energy doesn’t get released. Or it gets released in the form of drumming disruptively on their desks, kicking their friends chair, or getting up to “sharpen their pencil” 22 times. Pent up energy means more classroom management issues. So let kids stand up, sit on the floor, walk around the room, get hands-on and be active. This will eliminate many issues and make for much happier students!
Not Loving On Your Students
You may not understand how this falls under classroom management, but it most certainly does. If you don’t show your students that you love them and care about them, then they won’t build a relationship with you. If they don’t have a relationship with you, they won’t respect you. You don’t want your students to fear you (well maybe a tiny bit ;), you want them to respect and love you and want to please you! Hug your students, tell them you love them, get on their level, ask about their weekend, listen to their stories, complement the hundreds of drawing they give you. If you got into the profession of teaching, you should love kids. Keep that love alive in your classroom and I bet you will see amazing results in their behavior!
Once I finish student teaching and get a classroom of my own, I may have some things to add to this list. After all, experience is the best teacher!