Dealing with discipline problems is part of effective classroom management. Every new teacher needs a classroom management plan that will lead to a positive learning atmosphere. An effective management plan should be in place before any teaching can take place. Often, discipline problems happen because a new teacher lacks confidence in one or more areas of his/her ability to successfully manage a classroom.
While there is no single best practice or method for managing a classroom, experts agree on a handful of guidelines: teachers must be consistent in their message and consequences, lay a strong foundation of expectations early in the school year, follow through with promised punishments when students misbehave and stay on track without giving into distractions.
Have a Consistent Message and Consequences
Students must understand first that teachers care about them, but that teachers mean what they say. For example, if teachers say the next person who talks in class will be required to do an extra homework assignment, teachers can find themselves in trouble if someone talks and they don’t give them an extra homework assignment.
When teachers communicate the consequences clearly, students know how their classroom is run and therefore, they feel safe. Simply put, students won’t challenge a new teacher’s authority because they won’t need to.
Have a Strong Foundation of Expectations
An effective classroom management plan needs simple systems to help students become more self-directed in their learning and behavior. Teachers should set up expectations for success so students always know exactly what to do for every task, rule and procedure. All throughout the year, teachers should teach and reinforce those rules and procedures consistently.
Students learn better when they know what is expected of them. In the beginning of the school year, teachers should spend much more time reinforcing rules and procedures than on actual teaching. This also means teaching rules and procedures as deliberately and thoroughly as academic content for the remainder of the school year.
Have a Plan to Follow Through With Promised Punishments
If teachers don’t follow through with promised punishments, larger problems will arise. So from day one, misbehavior should be deal with quickly. Teachers should determine a range of consequences (maximum of five) and always begin with a warning. Teachers should state the consequences in clear and specific terms so that students will know what type of punishment they can expect if they break a rule. Teachers should relate the consequences to the rule as directly as possible.
For new teachers, the challenge is always how to implement all three systems so that classroom management runs most effectively. Controlling a classroom isn’t easy, but with simple systems, new teachers will have an easier time managing student behavior while promoting a more cooperative learning environment.