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Helping Teachers to Develop
Classroom Management Skills


A teacher who has poor classroom management skills needs to be paired with a teacher who is a strong manager. He needs to be granted time to observe such a mentor in action. "A mentor can help [him] with curriculum issues, classroom arrangement, schedules, and discipline -- all of which are elements of classroom management." (Michael Miller)

"Oftentimes, new teachers are so involved in keeping a lid on things that they don't see the bigger picture. It would even help to videotape a class or two so that the teacher can have an opportunity to watch his classroom." (Patricia Green)

Observe the teacher with classroom management challenges and ask him to reflect on the atmosphere in his classroom. What is working well? What needs some attention? Agree that classroom management will be a focus of growth in the weeks and months ahead. (Be sure he understands that he is, in many ways, a very good teacher. Focusing on classroom management is going to help him live up to his full potential.) Have him read the chapters on classroom management in The First Days of School by Harry and Rosemary Wong, Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones, or The Skillful Teacher by Jon Saphier and Robert Gower. Based on his training, reading, and observations, have the teacher draw up a plan that lists three classroom management "best practices" that he will implement to improve the atmosphere in his classroom. Three is a good start. The teacher can work on one goal at a time. (Clora Johnston and Tracy Berry-Lazo)

Special education teachers usually have special skills in behavior and classroom management. "I would have the teacher shadow the special education teachers in my school. They have extra training. They are always masters of discipline." (Michael Miller)

Principal Clora Johnston offers examples of classroom management tricks many master teachers use.

  • Tell students they have a set amount of time to complete an activity -- and watch them focus. (You might even use one of those clocks that can be set on an overhead projector; the actual time countdown displays on the wall. Many teacher stores sell them.)
  • When students come in from recess, always have an activity on a chart, an overhead transparency, or the board so they will get right to work.
  • Keep transition time to a minimum. Time between activities is an open invitation for students to get out of hand.
  • Review class rules on a regular basis (at least every six weeks).
  • Be consistent when applying the rules and following through with the rules.

Take Five more to read this entire article from Education World's "Principal Files" series:
"Classroom Management: Principals Help Teachers Develop Essential Skills"
(Education World -- February 18, 2003)