I’ve been teaching for 10+ years now, and I’ve consistently heard the same sentiment from colleagues: Teachers College doesn’t focus enough on the things that we actually need to know as educators.
I’ve heard it so often that I decided to pose the question to hundreds of middle school and high school educators in person and over social media:
What do you wish you learned in Teachers College, but didn’t?
It’s clearly a hot-button issue, because responses POURED in.
The list went on and on.
But without a doubt, one topic topped the list. Any ideas?
I’m sure you know.
There is a consensus that classroom management is not only not taught well enough in teacher training, but also that it’s arguably the most important part of teaching.
You can have the best content knowledge…
The best ideas…
The best grading hacks…
The best classroom decor…
The best intentions.
If you don’t have strong classroom management skills, your teaching life will be harder than it needs to be.
And it’s not just YOUR issue.
Kids won’t learn as much as they would in a well-managed classroom. It’s just the truth.
So…great. We know what the issue is. Now what?
When you ask people what goes into solid classroom management, the responses are vague:
All of these things are true, to some extent.
But it’s extremely overwhelming as a new teacher to take in these tidbits of advice and try to implement it all on the spot when you’re facing 30 kids that are strangers to you.
I’ve done a TON of research on this topic and I’ve also taught all grades from 7th – college in multiple countries.
When you have a well-managed classroom, you won’t just experience fewer disruptions, but you’ll also have students exceeding their own expectations and finding joy in learning.
So I’ve done a lot of reflection lately about my own experiences with classroom management…basically, if you’re looking for help in this area – I’ve done the work so that you don’t have to.
There are three main components that contribute to a well-managed classroom. Ready?
All three of these things need to be mastered if you hope to develop solid classroom management and enjoy a stress-free classroom.
- Creating and Implementing Systems
This is one component of classroom management that everyone seems to agree on. You should have procedures for various aspects of your class like how to enter, how to exit, how to turn in work, what to do when you’re absent, etc. Your expectations should be clear and become second-nature to your students.
2. Building Relationships
Fact: Kids are going to learn more from somebody they like. They are going to respect someone who shows respect to them in turn. It’s important to put effort into getting to know your students and letting them get to know you a bit beyond what you teach.
3. Reacting in the Moment
This is the part that new teachers are often worried about – the worst case scenarios. What do you do when a student challenges you? What if a kid is rude? What if students are arguing? What if someone won’t stop talking? If you’re a new teacher who is unsure of how to handle these scenarios, it can be helpful to think through the scenarios you’re nervous about and plan how you would handle them, including if or when you would contact administration. It is also helpful to speak to a mentor teacher about the school culture and get any tips they might have.
Once you master these three pillars, you’ll have the confidence to face any new group of students and know that you’ll be able to build a positive classroom environment where learning is the top priority.
And if you’re reading this and you know the importance of classroom management but are thinking…
✔️You’re not sure where to start…
✔️You’re afraid of making early mistakes that will be hard to recover from…
✔️You know relationships are important, but it seems like it would be hard to connect with each kid…
✔️You’ve heard lots of different opinions about how strict you need to be…
✔️You’re worried about being challenged by students and losing control…
✔️You have some ideas of how to organize your class, but you don’t know what you don’t know…
✔️You have a passion for science and/or math, and you want to pass it on to your students…
✔️You don’t have time to waste! You want to start the year off right, and you don’t want to spend days piecing together information from books, blogs, and social media at the cost of actually planning your lessons!
…then you might want to take a peek at my course…What You Wish You Learned in Teacher College: Classroom Management.
I’ll walk you through everything you need to know – including strategies tailored to science and math courses! – so that you can concentrate on your content instead of managing behavior.
Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you have classroom management under control, you can be adventurous with lessons! Check out some of my fave blog posts below: