Allow the Class to Be Part of the Solution
When confronted with issues of classroom management, you need to make allies of your students who are obviously an integral part of the solution. Don’t worry, your students will be all too eager to share their perspective and insight. While a class meeting is sometimes an appropriate forum, having them provide some feedback in writing is even better. To elicit more interesting and helpful input, give them questions to answer (What is the reason why people are misbehaving? Am I contributing to the problem? How does it feel to be a student in this class? How can the situation be improved?) and ensure they are specific with comments, criticisms and suggestions. Writing anonymously allows them to be more honest and upfront. Finally, when you have read through all of their statements, make sure to address the situation the following class. Sometimes reading out a few comments aloud can have a more profound impact (they care more what their peers think of them). It’s important to reiterate what you, the teacher have understood from the message they have relayed and check with them to make sure you are all on the same page. End off with what you are going to change about the way you teach and handle situations. This may not be the end of your problems but your goodwill and sincerity will not go unappreciated.
Hone In On the Real Troublemakers
While it may seem to be a larger issue, sometimes it actually comes down to reigning in just a few students. You may realize how the dynamic changes one day when one or two of them are absent (try not to look too excited in front of the rest of the class). After careful consideration so as not to overlook anyone, I’ve resorted to rounding up the selected individuals at the end of the day. After a particularly frank and open conversation devoid of animosity, they are made aware of how their actions are bothering myself and the rest of the class and the next steps I intend to take if the situation is not resolved. Make sure to have a well-defined plan in place and be prepared to follow through. Again, this may not solve the problem in one shot, but it does allow you to come to some sort of mutual understanding.
This is really the part about putting it all in perspective. First of all, be thankful that you are a rotary teacher and you only have to make it through 40 min intervals – they will soon be on their way! Also, focus on those students who want to be there to learn (even if you sometimes feel you are addressing 2 people). The more out of control you feel, the easier it is to resort to screaming, sarcasm and a host of other unpleasant behaviours on your part. Just imagine what it would be like to be a student in such a negative toxic atmosphere. Sometimes that is the key to turning it around – make your class a place where kids feel comfortable to enjoy themselves and feel good about being there.
Classroom management is the key to being an effective teacher. That being said, there are many different approaches and it is vital that whichever one(s) you decide to take, it’s a reflection of who you are as a person. When you are comfortable in your own skin, your confidence will grow will be projected to your students who can only respect you all the more for it.