111 Rethink Your Classroom Management Plan Now

June 29, 2022

Most often, we think of the back-to-school time as the best time to rethink your classroom management plan. However, it’s never a bad time to rethink your strategy in the classroom.

Navy writing on an irregular turquoise color shape. "We want you to rethink the way we've always thought about classroom management" - Erin Sadler
Many of the classroom management strategies we’ve used in the past are no longer considered best practices. We discuss how to rethink those practices in episode 111.

Arguably, this school year was the most difficult one for teachers. If you struggled with classroom management, you weren’t alone. In this episode, we discuss what traditional strategies to keep. Then, we discuss the classroom management practices best left in the past.

Why We Don’t Like the Idea of a Traditional Classroom Management Plan

There are some significant flaws in traditional classroom management plans. And, post COVID-19 pandemic, these strategies don’t work as well as they used to.

The pandemic fundamentally changed many aspects of education. Now, our students need different support in the classroom. Also, we want them to take a more active role in the classroom. Here are a few reasons why we don’t like the traditional approach.

The Term “Management” Implies a Top-Down Approach

We find the term “management” a bit cringy in the current classroom. Why? Classroom management implies that you need to manage or control students. This doesn’t assume positive intent on behalf of your students. And, it implies that a top-down approach is necessary.

Instead, we prefer to create a classroom that assumes positive intent. And, when students don’t behave as expected, we use a collaborative approach to address the issue.

Saying Goodbye to the Teacher-Centered Classroom

In a 3-dimensional classroom, we empower students to take the lead whenever possible. We do this by using a discovery-based approach to teaching science. When this occurs, we authentically engage students. And, negative classroom behaviors decrease.

To learn more about teaching for student discovery, here are a few episodes to check out:

Bringing Wonder Back

If you are interested in getting more support in your classroom, Nicole has created an on-demand series to get you ready to bring the wonder back into your science classroom. In this series you will:

  • understand why “teaching topics” is killing curiosity and what to do instead
  • redefine your role as an educator and shift the work of learning where it belongs which means less work for you
  • transform your students into scientists which means creating a generation of creative, critical-thinkers
  • get a grip on the Next Generation Science Standards and what *three dimensional teaching* is really all about

Traditional Classroom Management Practices to Keep

Set Your Expectations

Just because we’d like you to empower your students, that doesn’t mean you won’t set the overall tone for your classroom. Start with a vision of what you’d like your classroom to look like. Then, involve your students in creating this vision.

For example, respect is likely something you want to foster in your classroom. Also, it’s important to teach students what safety looks like in the science classroom.

Once you’ve created a vision for your classroom, it’s your job to communicate this to your students. And, you are responsible for ensuring that students understand what your vision means. Below, we discuss how to reframe these practices to involve your students in developing a classroom culture.

Procedures are still important

It is imperative that you teach your students procedures. And, it’s equally important that these procedures be explicitly taught.

Often, classroom behaviors break down because a teacher assumes their students know what to do. But, students come into your classroom with different experiences. So, if you want them to do something in a certain way, you need to teach them what to do.

As Nicole explains in this blog post, procedures = prevention. Explicitly teaching students how you want them to do things prevents misbehavior and miscommunication. Still, giving them too many procedures is confusing. And, teaching unnecessary procedures may lead to students feeling controlled. So, we suggest listing your procedures and teaching the ones that are most important first.

Which procedures should you teach?

There are some procedures that every teacher needs to teach. Nicole outlines the big ones here. Teach students what to do when they enter and leave the classroom. And, teach them how to work in a group. Finally, make sure students know what to do when they are absent.

Erin suggests teaching procedures for things that tend to bug you in your classroom. She admits there are a few student behaviors that make her unreasonably irritating in her classroom. For example, she hates being interrupted by the pencil sharpener. By teaching students when to sharpen their pencils or by providing students with pencils she alleviates this irritation.

Post the Common Procedures

Once you determined what the most common procedures are, create posters to remind students about the procedure. And, post them in the locations where they are most likely to be used. For example, if you have a procedure for leaving the classroom, post it by the door.

How to Reframe Classroom Management Practices to Empower Students

Take a Collaborative Approach

In many classrooms, teachers create the classroom expectations on their own. However, this is an excellent opportunity to involve your students.

Quote "I really believe that learning is more like a partnership ... and aside from the academic piece of it, our students need to be developing their voices and their independence." - Nicole VanTassel
We believe that involving students in developing a classroom culture is vital.

As previously mentioned, teaching expectations are super important. But, you can’t simply say that you want the classroom to be a respectful environment. Respect likely means something different to students in your classroom.

What does it look like, sound like, and feel like?

We like using a “what does it look like, what does it sound like, what does it feel like” approach. To do this, tell students what you expect. In this case, tell students you expect that all people in the classroom will behave respectfully. Then ask what that looks like, sounds like, and feels like to them. Write it on a piece of poster paper and post it in your classroom.

Taking Collaboration to a Whole New Level with Class Jobs

Students love to have a job in their classroom. And, it alleviates the stress of having to do everything yourself. Elementary teachers often create classroom jobs. However, their secondary counterparts often forget this is an option.

For example, one school that Erin observed has a bathroom monitor in each class. This person is responsible for making sure that one person at a time is out of the classroom. Students seek out the person with this job if they’d like to leave the room for water or the bathroom. So, they don’t have to ask the teacher and interrupt the classroom.

Other jobs include paper passers, clean-up monitors, substitute helpers, and more.

Let it Go

It is possible to have too many classrooms. Most experts suggest having about three all-encompassing rules. Creating too many rules can make students feel hyper-criticized.

In order to create a positive classroom culture, its also important to determine what you can let go of. Eliminating rules that aren’t necessary for your classroom creates a more positive and relaxed feeling.

For example, many schools don’t allow students to wear hats or hoods in the classroom. However, removing head coverings inside of the classroom is a culturally specific sign of respect. So, it might not be the best practice to enforce this in your classroom.

Many teachers ask students to remove hoods to prevent them from listening to music in the classroom. This is because many students wear headphones under their hoods. However, it may be a better practice to teach students when it is appropriate to listen to music in your classroom. And, this is a great way to start a conversation in your classroom and involve them in deciding when it’s appropriate.

We know this isn’t possible in all school settings. Some administrators require that teachers enforce these types of rules. However, it is no longer considered best practice. If possible, speak to your administrator if you feel these practices aren’t right for your classroom.

Rules vs. Procedures

Sometimes, students won’t behave the way you’d like them to. In this case, it’s important to determine if they have broken a rule or if they failed to follow a procedure. If they didn’t follow a procedure, no consequence is necessary. Instead, reteach the procedure. Consequences should only occur when a rule is broken.

Therefore, it’s important to determine what is a rule and what is a procedure.

Other Classroom Management Resources

When you are thinking about creating your classroom environment, it’s important to consider classroom relationships, culture, and engagement strategies.

Quote: The best classroom management strategy is creating positive relationships. -Erin Sadler
Teaching Science in 3d Podcast
The best classroom management strategy is creating positive relationships.

Therefore, we recommend that you check out these episodes to learn more about creating a positive classroom environment.