11 Powerful Strategies You Can Use Right Now
Chaotic classrooms are a growing challenge for educators across every state in America. Fortunately, however, teachers do not have to suffer from overbearing classrooms once they know how to implement effective structure in the first few weeks of the school year.
That is what you will learn about in this article. You’ll find out several successful strategies for transforming your classroom into an outstanding learning environment.
So, without further introduction, let’s jump in with a discussion of chaotic classrooms.
An Educator’s Nightmare
Nothing can drain a teacher’s energy and motivation as quickly as dealing with a room of chaotic students. Such classrooms are filled with disruptive behaviors such as:
- Threatening and Arguing
- Defiant Behavior against Redirection
- Wrecking the Room
- Toxic Language
- Leaving Room without Permission
- Deliberate Disruption of Instruction
- Attacking Teachers
In middle school, high school, and in some lower grades, teachers face intimidation daily by these disruptive behavers and consider quitting the profession in the first week.
This almost happened to me. When I first started my teaching career in one of the biggest charter schools in Milwaukee, many parents had already taken their children out of public schools. But their hope for greener pastors in the charter schools were dashed by the rampant, defiant behavior displayed even in nonpublic schools.
An Intense Classroom Atmosphere
I broke up daily fights between students in my class. Each day the atmosphere was so intense that security was always at the ready.
I was exhausted the first week and started to return to the career had given up to for teaching. However, because of my love for the students I had enough passion to endure the classroom difficulties instigated by challenging students.
However, the knowledge of implementing structure wasn’t on my agenda until I realized that I had made one of the biggest mistakes when it comes to effective classroom management.
Although Classrooms were chaotic two decades ago, the post pandemic challenges presented by students are on the brink of a crisis.
Fortunately, a structured classroom is the key to effectively discouraging the opportunity for overwhelming chaos in today’s classroom.
You’ll Discover 10 Effective Strategies for Creating Character-Driven Classroom Performance
Class Rules Reign
Establishing class rules on the first day of class is the difference between chaotic classrooms and pleasant learning environments.
Students must know what is expected of them when they leave school the first day of school so that these expectations can sink in before he or she returns to school the next day.
But when establishing rules, a teachers must be firm and consistent in enforcing these rules in the beginning.
One mistake beginning teachers make is letting the first day go by for the sake of just getting to know students. Don’t do this. Challenging students will find a way to exploit this perceived weakness. They will consider you NICE!
Nothing is wrong with being a nice teacher, but a teacher must establish themselves as the authority in the classroom. This means that display a strong degree of firmness and consistency in implementing and enforcing class rules.
One of the most impactful strategies I was taught to implement structure t was a character checklist. I first learned about this godsend as a paraprofessional. This is how it works.
Each student is given a character checklist on the first day of class, regardless of behavioral history. The list includes daily behavior benchmarks that students are required to meet. Every student is responsible for fulfilling the expectations of this list and is held accountable by peers.
The first part of the character checklist consists of established class rules. The second part consists of topics dealing with morning routines, transitions, seatwork, language positivity, peer motivation and encouragement etc.
Students check off every fullfed expectation as the school day progresses. At the end of the day, the list is returned to the teacher.
The list is used for the sake of correcting off task behavior, determining who gets incentives, and informing parents of a student’s behavior status.
The most ingenious thing is that parents know about these character-behavior checklist and often collaborate along with the teacher to inspire good character and academic productivity.
Let’s examine some of the particulars of this Character Checklist.
If you control the mornings, you will most likely control the entire day. It’s about how students begin their day when they enter the classroom. When you students step into the classroom, do they immediately know what to do or do you allow them to roam around the room and visit their peers because there is nothing to do.
For respectable students this may be an incentive, but for challenging students, the beginning of the day should be guided by some form of morning duties.
Successful teachers require students to complete some type of morning work with accountability attached. Completing morning work should be a prerequisite for receiving various incentives, such as individual awards including free time.
Morning routines drive student focus at the start of the day. There is less time for clowning around and getting into trouble with off task behavior.
Good Transitions: A Priority for Classroom Structure
All hell can break loose in the classroom if transitions are ignored. Moving from one lesson to another, one location to another, or one project to another can wreak havoc on classroom management if not guided by rules and regulations.
Students should be taught to make smooth transitions and why it is important to do so. Keeping focus and order are the two biggest rewards of guided transitions.
When students know what to do during various changes throughout the day and why it is important, they will strive to get it right the first time.
Bad transitions can leave a class is total mess. Books are scattered on the desk, chrome books are left unplugged, chairs and desk are in disarray, lining up becomes supper chaotic with yelling, screaming, pushing, and fighting in line.
Establishing good transition must become a priority.
What is Good Seatwork Performance?
Unless a project requires two or more students, seatwork performance should be a silent activity, allowing for maximum focus. In fact, silence and focus go together like a flower in the meadows.
When a student isn’t distracted by off-topic conversations, toys, or gadgets, he or she can absorb ideas more effectively.
Allowing students to listen to hip hop music or play on cellphones while doing seatwork will disparage the quality and value of learning.
The significance of seatwork revolves around this activity: the student engages the lesson, resulting in comprehension and greater proficiency. The more silent study, focused engagement, the more knowledge is acquired.
Monitoring Language for Positivity
Educators should monitor the language of their students. One of the most disruptive factors in causing chaos in a classroom is negative language. I have scene classrooms turned upside down due to the rampant use of vulgar words.
Teachers who allow students to use swear words will regret this when emotions boil over and children start getting attitudes and fighting among themselves.
Positive language empowers a classroom and creates a highly favorable learning environment for both students and teachers.
Our duty, as educators, is to establish a positive atmosphere in the place we spend most of our lives with our students. Make this one of your priorities in the first few days of school.
Peer Redirection as Structure
During my 23 years as an educator, I have discovered that peer redirection is my powerful than the commands that teachers often give redirect students. The sense of belonging that is created among students also provides an intense sense of trust among them.
Have you ever been aware of this behavior? In not, let me create a scenario. Let’s say you redirect a student’s several times, and he doesn’t respond to your attempts to redirect them. However, when other students get involve in the redirection process, then the student responds and does whatever you were trying to get them to do.
This is incredibly significant because it is a sign that a learning environment is trying to emerge. If 70% of the class is redirecting an idling student, then you, as an educator, is fortunate that half the class is on your side.
The student will realize that the attention that he or she is trying to get isn’t appreciated by fellow classroom peers.
So, if the opportunity is there to allow peer redirection, take full advantage of this tool for establishing structure.
Safe and Empowered Teacher-Student Engagement
Educators need to foster a classroom structure where students fill safe and empowered when engaging with the teacher. In fact, teacher-student engagement must be fully encouraged if your classroom is going to be excited about learning.
Students who are disengaged and rumpling through their desks or around the room, weakens the academic unity that should be a part of every classroom. So, enforce engagement.
According to studies at CSUSB, engagement creates a deeper learning experience and has multiple benefits, including:
- Learning with peers
- Developing leadership skills
- Making friends
- Learning life skills
- Higher grade point averages
- Learning inclusive practices
- Interpersonal skills
- Having fun
- Enhancing ‘their Academic’ experience
You must find a way to motivate and empower these students. One of the best things to do is use a powerful incentive system to keep potentially wayward students inspired to become a part of the classroom learning process.
Extras for Early Finishers
All students don’t complete work at the same pace. In any giving classroom, there will be students who finish early and those who finish at the last minute.
In order to discourage chaos, teachers should have extra work for students at all times. The intention is to keep students engaged with something.
Good classroom structure can go up in smoke if idle students do not have anything to do. Therefore, by having a wide range of topics for early finishers to consider, you can prevent students from becoming bored and roaming around the room bothering other students who are focused on completing seatwork assignments.
Extras can include student workbook assignments, reading and responding to topics, fun writing assignments, coloring sheet choices, Chromebook work, make up assignments, and word search challenges.
Establishing extras as a part of structure will go a long way in stopping those early finishers from become classroom distractors.
Establish a Powerful Incentive System
Imagine working at a job where you got no recognition or reward at all. Will you feel highly motivated by going their everyday? If you are honest, I don’t think you would.
We all want incentives. As teachers, although we intrinsically enjoy our jobs, we want to get paid too. We want bun uses and we want recognition. (Teacher of the Year Award).
Our students are no difference. They have some desires when it comes to receiving recognition for the work.
Of course, they do not get paid like we do, but they do crave to be rewarded for engagement and academic achievements.
Therefore, a highly effective part of establishing classroom structure is a powerful incentive system that will motivate students to achieve beyond expectation.
Intrinsic values are solicited when teachers give students recognition for their behavior as well as their academic milestones.
However, students should have opportunity to a wide range of tangible incentives as well. According to studies, “Incentives, because of their objectivity and concreteness, command attention and interest. The highest types of incentive that will produce the desired reaction should be selected. Incentives, must be used as a means to stimulate interest.”
What type of incentives will stimulate strong interest: Here are a few?
- Character Behavior Checklist
- Point Systems
- Punch Cards
- Gum Balls Jar
- Morning Meetings Shout Outs
- End of the Day Academic Appreciation Tickets
- Integrity Tickets
- Supper Friday Classroom
- Guest Speaker
- School Shootout
- Walking Field Trip
- Extra Recess
- Movie Afternoon with Popcorn and Cookies
- Positive Home Phone Call
- Computer Games for Fun
- Virtual Reality Adventures
The list could go on and on. The idea is to make achieving educational goals fun and exciting. Many students will not have high interest in a lesson without the pleasure of incentives dancing through their minds.
Besides establishing classroom rules, creating strong incentives is the next best initiative for educators who want to foster a dynamic learning environment in which students prefer to come to school over time out for Spring Break.
Exit Routines: End of the Day Structure
If you think you have made it through the day and school is almost out, you are making a misconception. Some of the most disruptive times happen at the end of a school day when students are about to go home.
You see, students are overly excited at this time. So, it is easy, because of anxiousness, for them to lose control.
I have experience times when students wrecked havoc at the end of the day, leaving the classroom in a total mess. Floors filled with paper, pencils, spilled milk, food particles in seats, chairs turned over, scattered paper on desks, and chrome books left opened.
Therefore, you should have an exit routine. Remember, incentives can play a big part at the end of the day. For example, you have a mystery person in mind as you guide students into end-of-the-day classroom organization. In fact, you can reward two or three students for their participation.
Using this strategy, you simply reward the mystery students for organizing the mess you had in mind when you told them to clean up the class. Each day you can reward different students so that everybody gets an opportunity to get an incentive.
This method works well. Students look forward to cleaning up, stacking chairs, and making the floor nice and clean.
Advantages of a Well-Structured Classroom Environment
I have tried to convince you of the significance of a well-structured classroom. The benefits of such learning environment offer:
- Quality teaching and learning
- Character driven classrooms
- Peaceful and Safe Learning Environments
- Peer Encouragement and Motivation
- Accelerated Comprehension
- Positive Bonding Among students
- Opportunity for achieving academic excellence
Consequences of Ignoring Structure
However, if we ignore the significance of using structure to eliminate classroom chaos and create a highly favorable learning environment, we are depriving our students of the preparedness they will need to successful prosper as the next generation.
We must care about how our students learn. We must try in all our wisdom and knowledge to equip children for excellence.
Today’s classrooms are incredibly challenging indeed. But if we ignore the significance of structure, the consequences will be evident, which will include:
- Low Academic Achievement
- Lack of Motivation
- Continual teaching and Learning Frustrations
- Excessive exhaustion and burn out, and
- Untimely Exits from the Education profession
Therefore, we as teachers, must not minimize the quality of education by giving up on our students or the challenging times in which we are teaching them. The pandemic has taken its toll on the field of education, but we will emerge stronger than ever if we keep the love of our students and their need and dependency on us.