Classroom management — the actions educators take to create and maintain an environment that’s conducive to learning — is important for students and teachers alike.
For students, well-managed classrooms can lead to fewer behavioral problems, stronger engagement and better academic performance. For educators, successful classroom management can make their lessons more effective and keep stress at bay. As the nation grapples with teacher shortages, lower levels of stress among educators is critical for all education stakeholders, including instructors, schools, students, families and communities.
A 2021 study of public school teachers, published by the RAND Corp., a public policy research organization, revealed that 40 percent of educators who quit did so because of stress.
Instruction-focused Master of Education (MEd) programs that equip teachers for strong classroom management can set them up for success in the classroom and in their careers.
Why Classroom Management Is Important
Whether educators are working with students in person or remotely, classroom management refers to any practices that educators use to encourage learning. These actions focus on preventing and addressing disruptive behavior and concentrating on the day’s lessons. Exactly why is classroom management important?
A host of reasons exist for classroom management’s value, and together they strengthen students’ ability to learn.
These positive learning experiences and outcomes have implications for not only students and teachers but also society at large. High levels of teacher effectiveness and student achievement are critical in preparing future employees, promoting equitable opportunities and encouraging community involvement.
Benefits of Effective Classroom Management
In the classroom, fostering an environment that helps with learning offers many benefits for students and teachers. Below are some of the reasons to practice good classroom management.
Correcting Behavioral Problems
Managing classroom activity effectively can not only curb major disruptions but also address low-level behavioral problems before they escalate. Less serious issues, such as talking during lessons, can be distracting, but they can also lead to more serious issues that make it difficult for students to learn.
Establishing a Learning Culture
Effective classroom management helps students stay on task. When students are focused on learning, educators can devote their attention to teaching their planned lessons, providing individualized attention as needed without behavioral interruptions.
Students who are in a well-managed classroom are more likely to feel comfortable and connected to activities occurring in class and elsewhere in the school. Students can more easily connect with their peers, building relationships and strengthening social and emotional learning in addition to academic achievement.
Promoting Health and Safety
Well-managed classrooms help protect students’ and teachers’ health and safety. By following established policies and procedures, students are less likely to act in ways that can hurt others or damage property. Students’ and teachers’ mental health benefits from effective classroom management, helping prevent the chaotic environment that can create stress — and damage educators’ confidence in their work.
An important part of successful classroom management is clearly setting rules and expectations and establishing routines for student work. By identifying and enforcing the procedures for classroom order, teachers help students — and themselves — establish a rhythm for how classroom activities will take place.
Good classroom management encourages students to take accountability for following established policies and processes. It also fosters an environment in which students hold each other accountable for exhibiting strong engagement and good behavior.
Accommodating Diversity and Inclusion
Successful classroom management encourages feelings of belonging among all students, embracing differences in cultures, ethnicities, backgrounds and abilities. It allows for a collaborative environment in which students can learn from each other as well as from instructors.
How Classroom Management Has Evolved
The reasons why classroom management is important today are clear, but the focus of the practices that educators use to promote learning among their students has evolved through the years.
The last 50 years, for example, have brought debate about the most effective structure for managing a classroom. Emerging from these discussions is today’s trend, which includes a focus on encouraging mental well-being, empowering students and promoting inclusion, as well as preventing behavioral issues.
Traditional Classroom Management
Traditionalists argue that a more heavily structured approach to classroom management is most effective. This type of classroom management emphasizes strict adherence to behavioral and performance standards and memorization of key learning concepts. Entering the 21st century, many instructors continued to lead their classrooms through efforts that emphasized teacher-centered learning, with educators standing in front of students to lead and teach.
Today’s Classroom Management
Recent years have seen an increase in classroom management that features a less-formal structure and student-centered learning. This approach encourages relationship building and learning through participation in hands-on activities and discussion. Classroom management techniques have also evolved to incorporate a greater emphasis on strengthening mental well-being to ensure that students can focus on their learning. This type of classroom management can foster collaboration, inclusion and innovative thinking.
Key Strategies for Classroom Management
Along with understanding the importance of classroom management, educators should know some key strategies that can help ensure that these practices most effectively promote student learning.
They must also understand what strategies can help them best manage classroom work when learning occurs online. Teachers can take note of who is engaging in class, for example, or encourage participation from all students through online breakout rooms or shared documents.
Below are some of the strategies for successful classroom management.
Observing Student Behavior
Teachers can address — and help stave off — problems, such as bad behavior and academic and emotional concerns, by being observant. To note these issues, educators should learn about which classmates are friends and watch for bullying, for example. They should also be mindful of potential causes of misbehavior and address the root issues, not just the behavior. Students may be experiencing challenging situations or emotional problems, for example, or they may be bored or struggling with class material.
To effectively manage a class, educators should work to build trust with students by establishing positive relationships. Instructors should take an active interest in students, for example, encouraging them to discuss topics that interest them.
Making Learning Fun
Another approach for effective classroom management is to incorporate fun into lessons. Inviting discussion through asking questions, for example, can keep students engaged and on task. Another tactic is planning group activities or projects that call for — and accommodate — participation from all students.
Good classroom management requires establishing clear expectations about behavior, but enforcing those expectations doesn’t necessarily require addressing each minor infraction. Reinforcing good behavior whenever possible can help encourage students to stay on task. Teachers can also allow students to play a role in developing classroom rules and adjust accordingly.
Teachers can help ensure that students feel a sense of fairness and belonging by carefully avoiding biases in instruction or discipline. They should be mindful of any biases they have and how they’re affecting their classroom management.
Build Classroom Management Skills for the 21st Century
Effective classroom management has implications for students, teachers and society at large. Teachers who want to explore how to provide a learning environment that encourages student and career success should explore Augusta University Online’s MEd in Instruction.
The flexible program offers the opportunity to continue your teaching careers while pursuing an advanced degree. Also, because you learn online, you can take part in the program regardless of where you live and work. Explore how AU Online can help you become an educational leader prepared for the future of teaching.
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