Few things make a teacher’s job more difficult than disruptive students. In addition to making your life more stressful, disruptive students also ruin the learning environment for the students who are ready to learn. Each year that you teach you get better at managing issues in the classroom and realizing that the best discipline plan is a well thought out lesson plan. A well thought out lesson plan is focused on providing the “most effective first time instruction” so that ALL students are likely to learn. Yet, it’s never a bad idea to review classroom management strategies that work best. Keep reading to learn about some general tips on classroom management and dealing with disruptive students.
Get Their Attention
Don’t begin your lesson until every student is focused on you. If you start before you have their attention, the chatty students will think it’s okay to chat throughout the entire lesson. It’s not prudent to shout to get their attention. Essentially every discussion about effective classroom management stresses how critical it is to establish and enforce rules and procedures. Therefore, teachers should spend a significant amount of time at the beginning of the year establishing a clear signal/procedure for getting students’ attention. Once everybody is paying attention to you, then you can begin your lesson.
Dealing With Disruptions
Oftentimes, the students that sit in the back of the class tend to be disconnected or unmotivated. This isn’t always true, of course, but you need to be aware. A good strategy is to walk around the class as you teach. Marzano refers to this as “with-it-ness,” a teacher’s continual awareness of all that is going on. This will discourage students from having side conversations. If you see students engaged in a Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., sometimes all it takes is a look to get them to stop. You can also redirect a chatting student by asking him/her to re-read the learning objective out loud. This management strategy of referring back to objective throughout lesson will serve a dual purpose of reinforcing for all students what you expect them to learn by the end of the lesson.
Let Students Choose Their Seats
Sometimes students will behave better if they are given some level of autonomy. For example, if you let students pick their own seats they will make an effort to behave well so that you don’t move them. On the first day of class, you can have them sit in alphabetical order. Then, a couple of days later, tell the class to choose which seats they will sit in for the remainder of the semester or year. Most students will sit next to their friends, and they will not want to lose their seat.
Providing your students with incentives to perform is one of the best ways to manage their behavior. For example, consider rewarding students with a pizza party at lunch if everyone meets a rigorous goal, or hand out small prizes to small groups or individual students. At times, though, all it takes is recognition. Make sure that you tell individual students how well they are performing—even if it’s only for little things. This is an especially good strategy to use with disruptive students who are often just seeking attention but going about it in the wrong way.