“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
These wise words are from Stephen Covey, educator and author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
They speak to the heart of every teacher’s daily mission: to be a mentor of minds with a primary goal to inspire results . . . while simultaneously being the organisational genius that can make this happen.
We all know the three Cs: cool, calm and collected. In teaching, can we suggest three more to get that leader-manager balance just right: considerate, committed and consistent?
This is about earning respect by showing it. Students feel valued when their ideas and feedback are listened to: this kind of cool creates a positive conversation and a collaborative approach to creating and implementing lesson plans that work for everyone. As managing director of this management team, you’ll find your class and classwork are easier to steer to success.
To manage a classroom it’s important first to manage emotions and create a calm environment. Of course, sometimes there will be a young Jedi who has the force but isn’t willing to go with the gameplan. This is where the When-Then intervention method can help. Its aim is to assist students make responsible decisions for themselves by adopting a calm, reassuring tone and asking for that same vibe in return: “When you can talk to me in a calm voice, then we will figure out what needs to be done.”
Taking time out to observe where your students may be struggling – both in the classroom and in their course work – allows you to collect your own thoughts on how to evolve your classroom management. Sometimes the sheer joy of teaching and being in the moment means we miss the minor details and, therefore, the ability to see the bigger picture. So take a step back now and then, take notes and allow these observations to evolve your classroom management style and long-term strategies.
This isn’t about being kind or praising students for a job well done, though both have huge importance, as you know. Just as in a business management environment, this is about upskilling through providing extra input where it’s most needed. When formulating your long-term, term-long strategy be sure to include pointers to yourself where you can offer extra assistance and be ready to recognise where these need to be strengthened. Remember: nothing is set in stone and your management plan should be allowed to change and evolve as the term progresses.
Effective classroom management takes time and dedication, because not every student will respond in the same way to your ideas. When challenges do pop up, it can be tempting to take short cuts, such as skipping through a difficult lesson to make progress to the next module. Stick with it, however, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Consistency is hugely important in any form of management. Right from the beginning of term, talk with your students about the programme and regularly refer to your expectations. When students know what you expect and where they stand, there’s a strong foundation for building success. What management strategies do you use in the classroom? Why not swap notes and share ideas with other teachers in the Teacheroo community?