ABC of Class management
Class is a group of students coming from varied backgrounds with varied abilities aptitude and interests, different desires and dreams. What they have in common is their age range. That is how a class is defined in educational set ups – all students of the same age are put in a group and are instructed together and have similar goals to attain. The instructional incharge Teacher, has to wear multiple hats to cater to this diversity in his/her class.
One such hat that connects various demands and role of a proactive teacher is that of an effective classroom manager. As an effective classroom manager it is important that the teacher understands the developmental stages of children and designs class instruction, defines class rules accordingly and sets the parameters for the expected level of independence from children.
Class management aimed at creating a class environment for most conducive learning has three aspects –
Physical – caters to infrastructural needs, technology and teaching aids, space, furniture, etc.
Social – The social world of a school for a child comprises teachers, caretakers, coaches, parents, peers, value systems, skills, etc.
Emotional – I feel, I can, I am capable and I belong. Emotions in a classroom allow connect, bonding, where a teacher inspires, child overcomes fear, understands how to handle anger and competition, accepts differences and develops a well rounded personality to deal with life.
A to Z of Managing a Classroom Positively!
A for ALERTNESS – Teachers should be alert to intellectual and emotional needs of the children; alert about what is happening in the classroom. Are all children on task? Are they working towards set objectives? Is anyone drifting away? An alert teacher keeps all activities and behaviour within his/her span of view. Alertness leads to timely decision and timely corrective action
B for BUSINESS to know each child – The children should perceive the teacher and his/her action meaning business. The classroom is organised as a busy place keeping everyone on task. Everyone is busy in realising the goals set for the individual as well as the group. Clear directions and the competence to inspire children to follow direction contribute to effectiveness of teachers.
C for CO-OPERATIVE LEARNING – Indians are excellent individual achievers, but still need to go a long way in team work. Co-operative learning in pairs, small groups, and large groups provide opportunity for meaningful interaction and enriched experiences.
D for DISCOVERY – Children should be guided to discover new ideas and solutions to problems. It helps children in becoming independent and resourceful learners.
E for EXPECTATIONS – Expect children to succeed in learning. Achievement of children is related to a teacher’s expectations. The energy input in teaching-learning process depends on the expectancy.
F for FEEDBACK – Provide immediate feedback to children on their learning process and performance in a non threatening manner. It helps to keep them on the task and take timely corrective action to ensure completion of the assigned task.
G for GOALSETTING – Children need to be involved in goal setting. It is necessary that children are aware of what they are expected to strive for and achieve. Also an effective class always has a defined goal.
H for HUMOUR – Teaching should be punctuated with humour to release tension and relieve fatigue in children. Achievement is better when learning is perceived as fun, comprising pleasant experiences.
I for INVOLVEMENT – A teacher when involved with a child becomes the inspiration and builds belief in a child. A teacher’s involvement motivates children to learn.
J for JOURNAL – Keep a journal of teaching which contains an account of critical incidents related to teaching. Introspection and action helps.
K for KNOW – Know the children well – nature of the child, his learning style, potential and limitations, likes and dislikes. Such information is helpful in matching teaching style and learning experiences to a child’s needs.
L for LINK – Link new learning to previous learning to make the subject meaningful. Establishing learning links helps in assimilation of learning.
M for MOTIVATION – Motivate children through raising curiosity and involvement. Sustain motivation through appropriate use of praise and other means of recognition. Teachers’ tool kit should have various strategies to motivate children in different situations.
N for NEED – Teachers’ understanding of psychological needs of children is very important to make them effective class room managers. Curriculum need and individual needs of the child are to be harmonised to ensure success in learning.
O for OUT OF CLASS ROOM – These experiences are important for practical learning and application to life situations.
P for PRAISE – Praise children for their achievements and successes. Verbal and
non-verbal praise should be used.
Q for QUIZ – Quizzes are excellent means of monitoring learning processes, review and sustenance of interesting learning. Quiz provides the experience of success and challenge children to learn more.
R for REVIEW – Review of techniques and strategies is a critical continuous process. It provides indication about the need for practice.
S for SUCCESS – Success breeds success; it motivates the learner to achieve more. Start from what the child can do and increase the difficulty level of the learning task.
T for TUTORING – Some children do need tutoring, children who learn faster are a good resource in the class room. Peer tutoring helps both the tutor as well as the taught. Effective class room managers always make use of this ready resource.
U for UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTERS – Teaching is a social activity involving human behaviour. The process does not always follow the predictable course. Despite careful planning it is a challenge as well as an opportunity for the teacher to demonstrate his or her life skills. All that we teach and what the child learns is experiential; unexpected encounters create a vista to do so.
V for VARIATION– It is essential to provide a variety of learning experiences and there should be variation in the presentation mode as well.
W for WARMTH -Teacher’s warmth establishes emotional bond with children, reduces their fear and allows them to reach out with belief.
X FOR X RAY OF THE LEARNING PROCESS – Continuous x ray of the learning process helps the teacher to take timely corrective action. Remember Deming’s wheel, develop, revise, review, feedback and plan action again.
Y for YOU – You are the most important person in teaching. You design experiences, you create learning environment, you are the manger of learning. You should be eager to kindle desire in children to enjoy learning .
Z for ZEAL – Teachers’ zeal and enthusiasm are necessary to complete the learning task and achieve excellence. Demonstrate your zeal and enthusiasm in every action of teaching.
Avoiding disruptions in class
This is an area a great deal easier to write about than to follow through, but we all keep battling against unpredictability of the human factor!
Establish a few, clear rules of behaviour in your class. If possible, involve the pupils in the development of these rules. The more ownership you can allow them to feel regarding the rules, the more likely they are to at least try to follow them.
Reward good behaviour immediately with positive feedback – a smile or a few words of praise or encouragement. Try also to ensure that you are quick to reward the good behaviour of pupils who are often guilty of bad behaviour – they may really respond to some positive feedback.
Deal with any misdemeanours before they become major incidents. Often, it is best to deal with minor incidents as privately as you can. Public confrontations arouse too much interest!
Establish sanctions for transgressing rules. Ensure that such sanctions are reasonable, practicable and consistent.
Avoid unreasonable exceptions of pupils- but don’t demean them either. Ensure that the level of the work you set is suitable for all the individuals within the group, and that pupils experiencing difficulties have manageable targets. Direct the emphasis of your comments towards the work or lack of it. This involves getting to know what each pupil is capable of, and setting realistic targets.
Look for signals. Be adaptable – change the pace or content of a lesson as soon as you realise it’s not working well. Changing your approach on the basis of feedback you receive is a strength, not a weakness!
Provide ‘cooling -off’ time. If you, or a pupil, lose your temper, try to allow a few minutes for you both to calm down- take the pupil involved out from the room for a short while. It can pave the way towards progress to say something along the lines of, I’m sorry this happened. How can we make sure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again?
Have ready something interesting to give the class to do. This can be invaluable when you need time to calm down yourself, or when you need to have those few quiet words outside the door with an individual pupil who has been causing problems. Prepare a verbal quiz or game for the last 10 minutes, either as a reward for work well done, or because you have finished a useful activity and need a change.
Managing a class requires multiple skills, variety of strategies and a plethora of experiences. There are no short cuts; it is a journey of discovery.
Director of Umeed Foundation, Salony Priya is a counselling psychologist, HR Trainer, consultant and parenting expert. She conducts workshops for schools, teachers and parents.