Saturday, January 19, 2008

Classroom Management - How to Handle Minor Classroom Management Problems

As a full-time middle school teacher as well as a part-time adjunct education professor, I know quite well how important it is to have strong classroom management skills.

Personally, I am a big proponent of the using a "proactive" approach to classroom management. My goal is to stop classroom management problems BEFORE they start. I do this by using teaching strategies that increase student motivation, increase class participation and basically keep my students involved throughout the entire lesson.

However, regardless of how effective a teacher uses proactive classroom management strategies, minor disruptions will still occur in the classroom. Before we go any further let me make one thing perfectly clear here...this article is about stopping MINOR classroom management problems such as talking while the teacher is talking, writing or passing notes, and minor roughhousing.

There are two common ways in which teachers usually deal with these nagging classroom management issues...

In order to avoid being the known as the tough disciplinarian, some teachers choose to simply ignore minor misbehaviors altogether. The problem with this approach is that the misbehavior will most likely NOT go away. In fact, the misbehavior will most likely escalate and the teacher will be forced to deal with it anyway. Therefore, ignoring the misbehavior is just too risky.

On the other hand, some teachers use the strict approach and react to every minor disturbance regardless of the severity of the misbehavior.

The problem with this approach is that it presents the teacher as a negative role model, and it may lead to an overall negative feeling in the classroom and towards learning and school in general. Furthermore, the teacher's response may actual cause greater disruption to the lesson than the student's original misbehavior.

The problem is if the teacher stops the lesson to discipline 1 or 2 students for some minor misbehavior then the class went from 1 or 2 students being off task to 20 or 30 students being off task. While, the teacher may not have caused the original minor disruption, the teacher can certainly be blamed for the other 20 to 30 kids being off task.

So what's a teacher to do?

The key to handling these minor classroom management problems is to make sure the lesson itself does not stop.

Many experts call this the "Law of Least Intervention".

The basic concept is simple...the teacher uses a series of steps that require the least amount of teacher time and the least amount of disruption to the lesson. The teacher starts with the first step requiring the very least intervention and if that doesn't work quickly moves up the ladder to the next step which requires slightly more intervention and so on.

By using this approach the teacher can maintain a positive learning environment while at the same time maximize time on task. And, as I have stated time and time again, when students are on task they are much less likely to disrupt the class.

Remember, the intervention should take the least amount of time...the least amount of teacher effort...create the least unpleasant feeling for both teacher and student...and have the least disruption to the lesson.

Download your FREE report that shows you step-by-step how to handle minor classroom management problems:



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