The Six-Step Formula for Making Successful Changes to Your Classroom
Many teachers feel that if they don’t start the school year with a clearly defined approach to classroom management, they’re doomed for the rest of the year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any time you want or need to make changes to your classroom management plan, you can (and probably should). One of the best times of the year to implement these changes is at the beginning of the New Year when students get back from the holiday break.
However, making mid-year changes to your classroom system can present a few challenges that you should be aware of. To begin with, it may take longer than expected to know if the changes are working. Previous procedures or policies have to be unlearned and replaced by new ones. Also, when you introduce a change to your class, you may experience a lull after the first couple days as the newness of the change starts to wear off and student resistance begins to increase. In fact, the point at which a new classroom management system is most likely to create chaos is typically three to four days after implementation.
To be safe, you should give any significant policy changes two weeks of trial before deciding whether they are working. Over that time period, be sure to consistently reinforce new policies or procedures. Remember, it will take time for you to adjust to change and even more time for your students to make the shift.
The following formula, taken from Rick Smith’s second edition of Conscious Classroom Management, outlines six best practices that can help any change go more smoothly and be more effective.
- Make a list of changes that you want to see, put them in order of priority, and number each.
- Make sure that number one is doable. If it’s too complicated, break it up into smaller steps and assign each a number.
- Start implementing your list, always working on the highest priority items first.
- Begin with your favorite class (for secondary teachers) or your favorite hour of the day (for elementary teachers). These represent the class that’s most forgiving or the time of day when students are most calm and relaxed.
- After the change starts working, introduce it to the rest of your classes or the rest of the day.
- Once the change is solid in all classes or throughout the day, start the process over with the next number in your prioritized list.
The secret to this approach lies in its focus. Teachers are so busy that making wholesale changes can seem overwhelming or intimidating. Instead, implement change one step at a time. Remember that you are like a scientist and your classroom is like a miniature lab. By starting small, you have more control over the experiment and are more likely to follow through and have success.
If you’re looking for an excellent resource on classroom management ideas and best practices, check out Rick Smith’s new edition of Conscious Classroom Management by clicking here.
Establishing Expectations in an Elementary School Classroom
An effective classroom management plan includes setting high expectations for students. When students learn clear and simple expectations, they can feel confident that their actions are setting them on the path for success.
Here are three essential elements for establishing expectations:
- State expectations clearly and frequently
- Post expectations prominently
- Align classroom expectations with school-wide expectations
- Fewer student infractions
- Empowerment and accountability for students to monitor their own behavior
You can watch a video on Edivation (formerly known as PD 360) to see more about establishing expectations from the first day of school. This video also comes with additional resources that show how to establish classroom procedures and expectations.
This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.
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