Classroom Management: It’s More Than a Bag of Tricks by Tracey Garrett

Classroom Management 101

In this NJEA Review article, Tracey Garrett (Rider University) refutes three common myths about classroom management: (a) that it can’t be taught and must be learned by experience; (b) that it’s a bag of tricks; and (c) that it depends on giving students extrinsic rewards. In fact, says Garrett, one of the major success stories of educational research in the 20th century was establishing a set of principles and strategies that can be taught, observed, and emulated. Here’s her take, with a major focus on preventing discipline problems from happening in the first place:

• Develop an organized physical layout for the classroom.

  • Purge the classroom of all unwanted clutter.
  • Personalize the classroom so it communicates information about the teacher and students.
  • Plan pathways to avoid congestion.
  • Plan adequate space for students to line up by the door.
  • Make it clear where materials belong.
  • Provide space for both academic and social tasks.
  • Display students’ work.
  • Involve students in the design of the classroom.
  • Locate the teacher’s desk in an appropriate place.

• Develop clear rules and routines.

  • Create 4-6 classroom rules that clearly specify appropriate behavior.
  • Consider involving the students in generating these rules.
  • Write the rules using positive language.
  • Post classroom rules and refer to them as necessary.
  • Develop routines to provide direction about how different classroom tasks are accomplished.
  • Teach and demonstrate classroom rules and routines as specifically as you do academic content.

• Establish caring relationships with and among students.

  • Get to know something personal about each student.
  • Be aware of students’ accomplishments and comment on them.
  • Send positive notes, phone calls, or e-mails home.
  • Be sensitive to students’ moods and concerns.
  • Praise more, criticize less.
  • Hold high expectations.
  • Be a “real person.”
  • Maintain a sense of humor.

• Plan and implement engaging instruction.

  • Match the physical layout of the classroom to the teacher’s style.
  • Have all materials organized and ready before the start of each lesson.
  • Establish an attention-getting signal.
  • Adapt content and activities to students’ interests.
  • Ensure students work at the appropriate level of challenge or difficulty.
  • Give students the chance to exercise autonomy and make choices. 
  • Give students the opportunity to finish and display their work products. 
  • Show enthusiasm for the curriculum

• Address discipline issues when they arise.

  • Use nonverbal interventions such as proximity, eye contact, hand signals, and facial expressions to redirect misbehavior.
  • Ignore minor misbehavior, if possible.
  • Use brief, concise, and specific verbal interventions to redirect misbehavior.
  • Use positive teacher language to tell the student what to do rather than what not to do.
  • Implement logical consequences to help students learn something about why that particular misbehavior was inappropriate. 

“Classroom Management: It’s More Than a Bag of Tricks” by Tracey Garrett in NJEA Review, Oct. 2012 (Vol. 86, p. 17-19), (spotted in Education Digest, May 2012) 

From the Marshall Memo #483


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