Classroom Management Suggestions
¨ Have a small package of tissues with you at all times. (If a student needs one and there are none in the classroom, you can offer one. You keep the student in the classroom and demonstrate consideration for the student.)
¨ Have several pencils and pens which students can borrow. (It lessens the amount of disturbance from the unprepared student.)
¨ Stand at the door and greet each student with a smile as he/she enters the room. (The direct, personal contact helps establish rapport before class even begins.)
¨ If the lesson plan requires students to have certain materials with them, ask them if they have those few materials as they enter the room. If not, send them to their lockers to get them. You may need to tell the last few to arrive that you will wait a minute or two to take roll so that they can get to their lockers and back. Explain that you will expect to see the appropriate materials in their hands when they return and that they will be counted as tardy if they are not back in two minutes. Those who show right before the bell rings without materials should have to wait until you have explained the assignment and then be sent to their lockers on individual passes to get the necessary materials. (If you do not do this, you run the risk of having half the class with nothing to do because they do not have the right materials or having to send the entire class into the halls to get the materials after other classes have begun.)
¨ If you think the teacher has accurate seating charts, announce to the class before the bell rings that students should sit in their assigned seats because you will be taking attendance from the seating chart.
¨ If your best guess is that the seating charts are not accurate, or if you find out in the first hour that they are not accurate, then do not even mention the seating chart. Instead, just call roll. (Trying to use a seating chart, which is not accurate, causes delays and confusion, which are not good for your first impression.)
¨ Write your name and the date on the board. (It helps identify you as a ‘person’ to the students. It also helps them know you, which will make your job easier the next time you have the same class.)
¨ Whenever possible, write the basics of the lesson plan on the board. (In most classes, students are used to referring to the board for assignments. You will be less likely to be interrupted as you are explaining the assignment. You will be less likely to forget any part of what the teacher wants you to announce.)
¨ Ask the students to be quiet while you are taking attendance and ask them to excuse you if you mispronounce a name.
¨ If you are able to take attendance by seating chart, you might tell them that you don’t mind if they talk quietly while you check attendance. (Sometimes, giving them a few minutes to talk to each other while you take care of details helps them be ready to settle down when you do ask for their attention.)
¨ After marking absences on the attendance sheet, count heads. The number of students in class plus the number you have marked absent should equal the total number of students in the class. If your count does not equal the total number of students in the class, walk around the room with a sign-in sheet. Watch each student sign his/her name. Count signatures. The number of signatures should equal the number of heads. You can leave that for the teacher in case there are any questions about who was in class.
¨ If your class is interrupted by lunch, make a note to yourself of the number of students you have in class before lunch. Count heads after lunch. If you do not have the same number of students after lunch as you did before lunch, use the same sign in procedures just described. Leave the sign-in sheet for the teacher to determine who was missing after lunch.
¨ When you are ready to explain the assignment, ask for their attention. Then do not proceed to explain the assignment until you have their undivided attention. Just stand in front of them patiently, quietly, waiting. Once they are quiet, begin but stop in mid-sentence, or better yet in mid-word, the first time someone talks out and wait once again until all are attentive. (This quietly but firmly lets them know that you are in charge, that you expect to be treated respectfully, and that class will not continue until all behave appropriately. Within a few moments, the students will usually ‘police’ each other and you are not setting yourself up for a confrontation with any student.)
¨ If the lesson plan allows for students to talk to each other during the hour, it helps a great deal to explain to them that you need their attention for a few minutes while you explain the assignment and that they will not need to be quiet after that.
¨ If you allow a student to leave the room, either have a copy of the pass you wrote or have the student write down his/her name before leaving the room. (In the event the office calls looking for that student or the student doesn’t return to class, you will know who you sent out of the room.)
¨ Only allow one student out of the class at a time, if you allow them out at all. If you know your classes will be untrustworthy, tell them as you greet them at the door that they should use the restroom now because no one will be leaving during class. (If you still have a student who insists he/she must leave during the hour, tell the student you can write a pass to the nurse and call the office to let someone know the student is on the way. Most students who are just trying to get out of class will say to forget it after you explain all that. You can explain that you are really sorry but that subs are not allowed to write passes.)
¨ After you explain the assignment, tell the students you will let them talk for a couple of minutes while they are getting out their materials, but after a few minutes you expect them to work quietly. (There will be noise and talking while they get ready to work anyway, so you might as well give permission for the noise. You put yourself in a weak position if you expect complete silence at that time. The same is true if you are collecting papers from the class. There will be noise and talking. Be comfortable with it at that time.)
¨ After making the assignment, walk around the room to encourage slow starters to get busy and to answer any specific questions.
¨ If one or two students are off task, move to that part of the room and just stand by them. (They will not want to continue their conversation if you are listening. They will soon figure out that the only way to get you to move away is for them to start working.)
¨ If you are showing a video, the students will often ask to have the lights out. They will tell you that the ceiling lights reflect off the television screen. At times you will not be able to turn the lights off either because the students have something to write as they watch or because you are not comfortable having that particular group in the dark. Many classrooms have a desk lamp, overhead projector, or window which will allow enough light for student writing or supervision with the ceiling lights off.
¨ If students are working on computers, let them know when there are about five minutes left in the hour so they can save or print out as needed.
¨ If students are using a class set of books, calculators, handouts, etc., count them before your first class and after each class. If any are missing, you can at least tell the teacher, which hour is responsible.
¨ If a class is very cooperative, tell them that they can talk the last five minutes because they have been so good.
¨ Just before the bell rings, thank them for their cooperation. (That shows respect for the students and establishes a positive rapport for the next time you have that class.)