Classroom management: how to get students engaged and on track

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Teaching is a pretty complex job

Classroom management is an important part of any teacher's job. You must be creative and resourceful and you have to manage a lot of different things at once: meeting the needs and desires of dozens of students, each with their own personality and learning style; managing content, progress, and grades; promoting learning and maintaining good classroom structure; and helping students succeed on tests and quizzes.

That's a lot to juggle, so here are some tried-and-tested tips for effectively engaging students in your classroom.

Classroom management is the act of controlling the classroom environment to help students learn effectively.

Classroom management is not a single skill or a single activity. It is a collection of activities and skills that teachers must use to keep the classroom environment calm and teachable. A teacher needs a wide range of classroom management skills in order to do his or her job effectively.

You have to have the right attitude. This is an important part of classroom management. It is very important that you are positive and confident so you can effectively keep control of your classroom.

You should be firm about the rules of your classroom, but also understanding. Be aware of the different cultures in your classroom so you know how to manage each student's needs individually.

It's also important to teach students the skills they need to follow your instructions and stay on task, because if students can't follow directions, how can you expect them to behave?

It is very important for students to feel safe and comfortable in the classroom. If they don't, then they may act out or not pay attention.

Classroom management is often a difficult task for teachers, especially those teaching in urban or public school settings. One of the most challenging aspects is classroom behavior. Students may have a variety of reasons for misbehaving.

Some students may be having a bad day and are not acting out for any reason other than they simply need a break from the daily routine. Other students may be acting out because they are bored or want attention.

Still, the teacher needs to make sure that students are on task, engaged in learning, and working together for the good of the class. To maintain order, you must be able to assess the learning level of students, identify areas that need more work for some students, and then teach those lessons.

teachDuring class, it is important for teachers to have an organized system in place for checking student work often throughout the lesson. This will allow you to identify quickly any lessons that need more work and spend time teaching them right then and there before moving on with the rest of the lesson plan.

One of the most important tools a teacher has for classroom management is one that is often overlooked: a seating chart.

By being able to organize students in a way where they can easily see and hear everything, teachers can eliminate distractions and maintain control of their classrooms. If you have a seating chart with assigned seats, it will be easier for you to identify where trouble spots may be occurring.

In addition, if your seating chart is organized by groups, you can allow students to work before or after class on tasks that will help them learn the material better.

Another important tool for classroom management is a timer or stopwatch. A timer allows you to keep track of how much time has passed and how much time remains in the lesson. This information is essential in helping teachers manage their pacing and make adjustments where necessary.

Being able to set your timer for an exact amount of time also helps with the organization of class periods. You can give each student an equal amount of time to respond to questions or take part in an activity, and then move on to the next group. This helps reduce confusion among students about when they will get another chance to participate in class.

Classroom management is a key component in a teacher's daily routine.

You want to maintain a positive learning environment in which students are encouraged to learn and grow academically.

There are several strategies you can use to ensure classroom management runs smoothly.

Some of these include:

1. Create a classroom management plan

Strategies for classroom management that work involve having a plan for responding to disruptive behavior. We can expect some students to have problems with authority figures at some point in the school year, and teachers need to know how they will respond when this occurs.

Teachers should also consider what kind of behavior they will tolerate from a student before a response is required.

So, what are some possible responses?

The best option is prevention. Many of the most common behavior problems can be prevented by setting up procedures at the beginning of the school year for addressing disruptions caused by various types of behavior. Teachers need to establish procedures for dealing with disrespectful behavior, cell phone use, off-task behavior, lateness, and so on.

With these procedures in place, it will be clear to students what is expected of them and what will happen if they do not follow the rules. When these rules are explained in ways that students can understand and relate to, it is more likely that they will follow them.

2. Set up rules for positive interaction

Teachers are always looking for ways to minimize the amount of time they spend on discipline. But most approaches I've seen focus simply on reducing the disruption in the classroom. They don't address why that disruption occurs in the first place, or whether it's possible to design a classroom where disruptive behavior is not an issue.

One approach that is more effective than many of these is to create classroom procedures that promote positive interaction among students. These procedures can't eliminate all behavior problems, but they can significantly reduce them. And, with the right procedures in place, discipline will rarely rise to the level of full-blown disruption; it will remain at a low background hum.

3. Set up procedures for responding to disruptive behavior

Disruptive behavior in the classroom is a problem for many teachers. No matter how good you are at instructional strategies, students who are constantly distracting others are limit your ability to teach effectively.

Some students are habitually disruptive, while others sometimes become disruptive when they get frustrated or upset. Regardless of the cause, your goal should be to address disruption promptly when it occurs.

To address disruptions quickly and effectively, develop a specific procedure that will work in all situations. This is something that you should practice so that it becomes natural and automatic.

4. Use effective instructional techniques

There are strategies you can use to make sure classroom management is intact. Use effective instruction techniques to gain and maintain student attention.

  • Give clear directions.

  • Break down the steps of the lesson into manageable parts that students can comprehend.

  • Set up a schedule, and adhere to it.

  • Report progress, review, and develop lessons that are appropriate for the students' learning level.

To ensure classroom management runs smoothly, plan your lessons using instructional strategies that are aligned to the standards that you want the students to achieve. This will ensure that your lesson will be high-quality and also relevant to what you are trying to teach the students.

You should also try to be cognizant of the things that students need in order to learn effectively.

5. Provide options for different types of learners

We like to think that education is about passing on knowledge, but it's more accurate to say that it's about providing opportunities for learning.

Let's assume you've already provided the essential tools of study: a safe place to work, quality teaching materials (textbooks, tests, handouts), and plenty of time to use them.

What else can you do to make sure everyone learns?

One way is to give students as many options as possible for how they learn best. I'm not talking so much about teaching styles as teaching formats — how information can be presented. Students have different learning styles, but the most important distinction is between those who learn from listening and those who learn from doing.

Especially in a classroom where students have a lot of choice in what they learn, it's essential to provide both kinds of format. If all your students are visual learners, it will be frustrating for them if you present everything verbally. And vice versa: If all your students are verbal learners, it will be frustrating for them if you force them to memorize formulas rather than showing them their application through examples.

6. Know how to respond to various situations that may arise in the classroom

Some teachers find that they experience more problems in their classroom than they would like. Many of these issues stem from a lack of planning and preparation. Teachers must be prepared to handle any situation that may arise so they can maintain a safe and productive learning environment for all the students in the classroom.

It is easier to manage a classroom if you have a plan for different situations that may arise.

Some examples of these situations are:

  • If a student hasn't done their homework, what do you do?

  • If a student is not following the class rules, what do you do?

  • How do you respond to a student who has an outburst in the classroom?

  • What is the best way to handle interruptions during work time?

  • How do you handle students who arrive late or leave early from your class?

  • How do you handle students who continuously disrupt the class with noise and talking?

All teachers should have a plan for each day's lesson, so give some thought to how you will handle unforeseen events and unexpected disruptions.

Classroom management is difficult work.

To manage a classroom well, it takes practice, patience, recognition of each student's individuality, and a commitment to success. Effective classroom management will ensure that all students are learning the content you have planned.

You're probably used to thinking of classroom management as a set of detailed techniques. Techniques are important. But just as important is your attitude toward the people you teach. You need to see them as human beings.

This doesn't mean you should let them off the hook when they screw up. It means you should consider yourself responsible for setting them up to succeed. If a student doesn't know something, the problem might be with the student, it might be with you, or it might be with the material.

If it's with the material, then figuring out how to fix that is your job.

If it's with the student, then either working with them will help or it won't, but in either case, that's your job.

And if it's with you, then you need to fix it — and again, either way is your responsibility.

Classroom management is a skill. But it's also an attitude, a way of thinking about other people. The attitude you need is simple: you should want to help the other person. And if you understand this, you can figure out what to do in almost any situation.