Overlooked Classroom Management Techniques
When establishing a strong foundation in any subject it is of the utmost importance to have a student’s full attention. This is not always easy with the K-3 crowd. Classroom management (even at home) is the key.
There are inherent components to teaching that are difficult to capture in a curriculum guide or in lessons plans. Often these ideas evolve as teachers gain wisdom from experience.
Five overlooked or under used techniques that I have found helpful are: do not allow others to tell you the strengths or weaknesses of your students, allow students to move, make eye contact, the teacher needs to move, and keep up a good teaching pace by establishing memorable tunes, rhymes, and rhythmic sayings.
Use Your Own Judgment
One of the most helpful techniques that I have used in a classroom is this: Do not believe wholly what someone tells you about a student’s learning abilities whether positive or negative. Often the information passed on about a student is negative and you instinctively treat him or her differently. My most memorable teaching experiences have surfaced when I was able to get a child to respond to something that he or she wasn’t supposed to be able to do.
Allow Students to Move
You must have the child’s full attention, but that does not mean that he or she has to be sitting still. Learn to allow for some movement and wiggles. Movement does not make a child attention deficient or hyper; it is normal. It can also stimulate the brain and help attention span. Playing with an eraser, Velcro adhered to a desk, or chewing gum (Spry would be our recommendation, and no we’re not being paid to promote this chewing gum) can be helpful for concentration. http://chewingum.wordpress.com/2008/10/01/chewing-gum-as-a-learning-tool/
Make Eye Contact
Another important tool in a teacher’s arsenal is to make sure you have eye contact from every student. Eye contact is central in the foundational learning process for a student. A student hears with his eyes and ears. For instance, if you are teaching the phonograms, the sounds of the English language, the eyes and ears see together.
When a child looks away, the sounds of the /f/, /s/, /th/, and /v/ can be very similar or even the same, but they are formed with different parts of the mouth or voice, and it is crucial to learn them correctly.
Achieving eye contact from every student can sometimes be more of a challenge than you might think. Build a little extra time into your lesson for it. In the long run it will take less time to teach when everyone is focused on the teacher.
Move About the Room
It is good for a teacher to move about the room. In the role of mentor-teacher during observations I have noticed something. Many teachers are not viewing the classroom as a whole. Often they do not see the kids in the back or off to the sides that are discretely not paying attention in some way. When I point this out in my observations, most of the time, the teachers were not even aware of the situations.
Moving around the room allows the teacher to connect with students and to make closer eye contact and tap lightly on the desk to bring a child to attention without saying a word. Giving a personal wink and a nod in close proximity to a student helps to establish a more trusting relationship. The teacher may also call on students who don’t normally answer. Last but not least, the teacher can correct mistakes as they are happening.
Use Tunes, Rhymes, and Rhythmic Sayings
A more time consuming teaching strategy (only in the planning stage) for classroom control is to keep the day moving by using memorable techniques. The more lag time, the more time for trouble to occur. Come up with fun tunes, rhymes, or rhythmic sayings to make transitions from one subject to another. This cuts down on chatter and out of order behavior. Once they are established they become part of the routine.
Tunes, rhymes, and rhythmic sayings are also useful for learning important information, definitions, procedures, rules, or applications. Rhythm and song are highly effective tools as mnemonics to help students remember information that they may not understand completely at the time of introduction. With repetition students will enjoy recalling factual information that will help them with their homework, writing assignments, on a test, and future learning.
Putting it All Together
There is much more that can be understood about classroom management. The five techniques described in this essay will make any teacher more savvy and accessible to his or her students. Treating students as individuals, allowing for those wiggly worms to wiggle, establishing eye contact at every instance, and creating memorable tools to recall information will gain and keep the attention of your students.