Student Engagement and Classroom Management Routines
Managing and engaging a classroom full of students can seem daunting. Here are some general tips to creating your dream classroom.
A few semesters ago I took REL C 471 - Teaching Seminary. One day the teacher asked us a question about how to be a great teacher. People had some good things to say, but nothing was quite as profound as what he said. He told us a story about a seminary teacher that was soft spoken, bore strong testimony, and was often very serious as they taught the class. She came to him one day and worried about her impact on the class. She felt that because she didn't have the fun, bubbly, loud personality, she wasn't a "good seminary teacher." He told her that Heavenly Father places us in the path of students who need us. They need us being us, not trying to be someone else. I believe this applies to teaching in schools. We will have students that will connect well with our personalities, and maybe they haven't had that before in a teacher. As we stay true to ourselves and continue to develop our strengths and showcase them in our teaching, we will make an impact on our students.
Rules and Expectations
Before school starts, teachers can create rules and classroom expectations so that when their students enter their class, they know what is expected of them. It is helpful to post. these around the classroom and talk about them often so the class is aware of them and what they mean. Rules should always be written positively. For example, "I can respect those around me by keeping my hands to myself," rather than "Do not touch others." This help students understand why the rules are in place and create a kind environment in the classroom. When students are following the rules, teachers can reinforce good behavior by praising them or rewarding them.
Follow a Schedule
All students, no matter their abilities, can benefit from a classroom schedule.
Establishing a routine decreases anxiety about what will happen in the classroom throughout the day. In older grades the schedule might be written on the board each day for the students to read and follow along with. In younger grades, or in settings where students might be developing their reading skills, schedules can be presented in picture form so that the students can follow along.
Establish an Attention Grabber or Call-out
Another helpful tip is to use an attention grabber to help students transition from one activity to another. This can be done in the form of an echo clap or phrase such as,
Teacher: "One, two, three, eyes on me"
Students: "One, two, eyes on you"
This helps grab the attention of students and can become routine for them. Establishing these routines gives a classroom structure and helps the students engage with the teacher because their focus is on the teacher.
Developing Positive Relationships with Students
In a few of my classes this semester we have talked about the importance of getting to know your students. This can be done in a few different ways, but is generally something done in class or sent home to help the teacher get to know their students. Questions can be about students' likes and dislikes, what they prefer to be called, their birthday, their favorite activities, words that describe them, etc. From this information, teachers can adjust their teaching to include activities that are aligned with students interests to help them be more engaged. Also, it helps teachers to begin creating a relationship with the students so that the classroom can become a safe place for students to learn.
Change it up
If something you're trying isn't working, change it up. Maybe a tool or an activity used to engage students but no longer does. Change it up! Trying new things can be scary, but students will appreciate doing something new and different. It might just be the right thing that will engage your students and get them excited about their learning!
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