There is a description I hear from time to time about teachers. It is said, “Those who can, do. And those who can’t, teach.” I can assure you that teaching is an art not easily mastered by all who attempt it. Managing a room full of energetic kids with diverse minds presents a challenge. A high school teacher, like myself, will manage well over 150 students per day.
Daily management of a classroom doesn’t have to be a difficult enterprise if you take an organized and thoughtful approach. But if you properly manage yourself, you can succeed in a very rewarding career field. I would like to impart on you some of the knowledge I have absorbed over the years.
Learn the names of your students as soon as you can. I will stand at the classroom door before class for the first few weeks and try to greet each student by name.
Take an interest in your students personally in order to build working relationships. I try to make as many personal contacts with the students as I can. If they know I care about them and what their outside interests are, they are much more likely to produce great things for me in my class. They will try harder and want to do well.
I do, however, strike an important balance to establish with students that I mean what I say in regard to discipline and following class rules and procedures while still maintaining a nurturing rapport with them.
Classroom Management System
I use a management system that makes the students responsible for their own choices. I don’t need to be the disciplinarian that walks around the room enforcing rules. When students are performing, they are being rewarded.
In my economics class, I use a time sheet system that is financially based. Students can earn a minimum wage each class period. They earn or lose money based on completing assignments and being on task. They have imaginary bills and expenses, such as classroom rental, electricity, computer use, and free time on Fridays. If they do not have enough money after expenses, they lose the free time. It uses real world lessons of budgeting and gives them incentive.
Teach to Engage and Build Confidence
I break lesson content into chunks that can be delivered in no more than 10 minutes. In between the chunks I continually check for understanding. I will ask them direct questions to help them build confidence they are learning the new content. This also helps students maintain their focus and remain engaged in the lesson. Many teachers (newer and experienced) present far too much content before stopping and checking for understanding in a meaningful way, not just saying “any questions?”
I give myself a curfew because the work is never done. I plan the absolute minimum that will get me through the next day, and then I flesh it out into a workable plan. I make time to grade papers and work on unit and individual lesson plans as time allows. If I have completed the minimum for the day and it’s curfew, I GO HOME!
Maintain Your Lesson Documents
When I save new documents, I include the year created within the “saved title.” I attach sticky notes to assignments that need modification or improvement. I keep a running daily agenda and lesson reflections for the entire school year to use as a reference for planning the next year.