Running a classroom is one of life’s greatest challenges. Organizing dozens of kids who aren’t being paid to be there and who fully believe they have better things to do puts most management jobs to shame. But as a teacher, it’s your work environment, and you have to make the best of it.
Here are some essential tricks and techniques to help you run your classroom as smoothly as possible.
1. Visual Learning
If your kids aren’t listening to you, that’s a problem. But if all you do is talk, they’ll get bored. How do we solve this?
Introducing visual stimuli to go along with your explanations is a great way to hold their attention. There’s no better way to do this than with smart interactive boards.
You can break up your explanations with videos that illustrate your points. You can put bullet points on the screen in case someone’s attention was wandering – the more opportunities you give your kids to take the lesson in, the better.
Interactive whiteboards are a godsend to teachers. Make full use of them.
2. Group Discussions
Putting your students into groups to discuss a subject gives you a break and helps them come up with their own ideas.
The big question is – do you put them into random groups or let them choose their partners? Groups of friends are more likely to get sidetracked, but while random groups can give kids a chance to speak to people they usually wouldn’t, they can also be isolating if one individual is left to do all the work.
If you’re going to split kids up into groups yourself, you should plan in advance. Think about who would work well together and ensure you’re not partnering kids who you know don’t get along. This fosters balanced, productive discussions and means that nobody feels uncomfortable.
3. Warm-Up Discussions
When teaching older students, it can help to begin the lesson with a short, informal period where people are given the chance to speak about relevant ideas or stories they’ve heard recently.
For example, in a politics class, why not ask your students to bring up political stories they’ve seen on the news this week? It’s a helpful warm-up and gives everyone a chance to participate, especially students who are less confident speaking up about strictly academic questions.
4. The “Teacher” Voice
This is daunting for new teachers, but you’ll find it eventually! Every teacher needs to establish a tone that tells the class that enough is enough.
Don’t wheel it out too often – kids lose respect for adults who are constantly yelling. But an organized classroom depends on you being in charge, and you need to be able to establish that with a few words and a strong tone.
5. …and Silence
In the Harry Potter books, it’s noted that Professors Snape and McGonagall both possess the ability to hold a class’s silent attention without raising their voices. This is just as useful as your “teacher voice.”
Speaking softly with emphasis and deliberate pauses lets your students know that you don’t have to fight to make yourself heard over their noise. It also makes anyone whispering at the back painfully aware that everyone else can hear them.
If a student is whispering while you’re talking, all you need to do is stop and look at them. All eyes in the room will immediately swivel to the chatty student. They will stop.
Silence is golden – know how to use it to your advantage!
From useful hardware to good discussion practices to tricks handed down from teacher to teacher, you need every tool at your disposal to maintain an orderly classroom. Put these tips into action, and you’ll create a healthier, more respectful learning environment!