Working with kids is the greatest task in the world, but it is also exhausting! Anytime you are in a room with children, you can be a minute away from chaos. There are no magic answers, but there are certainly some tricks that can help you keep control of the classroom.
1. Be over-prepared. The more ready you are, the more in control you will be. Know your lesson inside and out so that your face is not behind a book. Have all of your supplies. If you have to stop to look for crayons, your kiddos might turn on you! When you are prepared for your lesson, you will have more brain space to help keep kids on track.
2.Move around while you teach and vary your way of talking. You will lose kids attention quickly if you sit in a chair and talk to them in a monotone voice. Move around and talk like you are excited about what you are teaching.
4. Make lessons interactive. Get kids moving. If you expect kids to sit in a chair for an hour, you are setting your expectations too high. Design your lessons so that kids get to move, talk, laugh, and play while they learn. Kids will find a way to have fun. Create lessons that let them have fun your way.
5. Teach to multiple learning styles. Kids learn lots of different ways. We tend to teach to the way we like to learn or the way that we were taught growing up. Recognize that some kids learn by working with others. Some learn by being creative. Some learn by quiet activities. Some learn by active games. The more of a variety of these activities that you can incorporate, the more likely you will hit everyone’s learning style.
6. Be a name dropper. When I am teaching and Sammy interrupts, I will gently insert Sammy’s name into what I’m saying. I will generally not stop and distract everyone, but might say, “And then, Sammy, you know what happened next?”
7. Move close to kids who are causing distractions. Again, without interrupting the flow of your lesson, move closer to kids who are having a hard time paying attention. Put a hand on their shoulder. Usually your proximity will help regain their attention.
8. Keep the lesson moving. The rate of your lesson is important too. Keep activities moving. It is better to end an activity before everyone is bored with it than to wait until kids find new ways to entertain themselves. Make transitions between activity quick and smooth. Downtime can be your greatest enemy in managing behavior.
9. Avoid power struggles. Remember that you are the grown up. Arguing with an eight year old is just silly. But sometimes we get so aggravated by the disrespect or the misbehavior that we choose to prove our point and prove our authority. And usually it ends in a standoff that is pointless. Choose your battles and resolve conflict quickly. Remember, you are the grown up.
10. Choose which behaviors to ignore and behaviors to stop. Sometimes we disrupt the class more by jumping on behaviors that really don’t matter. Some kids want the attention, even if it is negative. Ignore behaviors that you can, but don’t hesitate to stop the behaviors that are keeping others from learning.
These tricks are just a starting point and ever master teacher will learn what works by experience. Please leave a comment to share your best ideas for managing children’s behavior in a learning environment.