As an elementary teacher, you understand the importance of classroom management. It’s the difference between a productive day of learning and your classroom devolving into fire drill after fire drill until the final bell rings.
Effective management not only creates a positive learning environment but also encourages student engagement and success. However, identifying and implementing a management style that works for you and your students can be a daunting task. In this guide we’ll look at why classroom management is so important, and help you pick the right management tactics for your teaching style. Let’s dive in!
Understanding Classroom Management
What is Classroom Management?
Classroom management is the foundation of any successful learning environment. It involves creating a positive atmosphere, setting clear expectations, and using a behavior management system. Classroom management techniques can vary depending on the age and developmental level of your students, but generally these guiding principles will help you get started with any K-5 classroom.
One important aspect of classroom management is establishing a positive classroom culture. This means creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where all of your students feel valued and respected. You can achieve this a number of different ways but a great way to get started is by getting to know your students better. Knowing your students on a personal level, incorporating their interests into lessons, and encouraging collaboration and teamwork can help foster a strong sense of trust between you and your students which can go a long way in creating a positive learning environment.
If you're a new teacher, check out our guide on classroom management for new teachers to get a crash course on the subject!
Why is Classroom Management Important?
Classroom management is important because when students feel safe and respected, they are more likely to engage in the learning process, which leads to improved learning outcomes and increased student success.
Effective classroom management allows you to focus on teaching, rather than constantly addressing misbehavior. This means more learning time and less time trying to get everyone back on track. By establishing clear expectations and consequences, you can help prevent disruptive behavior and maintain a productive learning environment.
Creating a positive and structured learning environment allows you to support student success and promote a love of learning in your classroom.
Identifying Your Teaching Style
Your teaching style is your unique approach and methodology to delivering instruction to your students. It encompasses your techniques and strategies to engage students, facilitate learning, and create your own positive learning environment.
No two teaching styles are exactly alike, just like no two teachers or classrooms are exactly alike. However there are several common teaching methods that we will use to help you decide which style you identify most with. The five different, and most popular, teaching styles are lecture, demonstrator, facilitator, delegator, and hybrid style.
The lecture style, also known as the authority mode, is a teaching style based on one-way presentations where students take notes or absorb information. In your elementary classroom this could look like you showing students how to write different letters of the alphabet while students follow along at their seats.
The demonstration style, also known as the coach style, is very similar to the lecture style but it typically involves more activities and multimedia presentations. In your classroom this could look like you showing students how to write different letters of the alphabet on the board while students use Play-Doh to create letters.
The facilitator, or activity style, teaching style focuses on more inquiry-based learning for your students. This means creating learning opportunities, asking questions of your students, and supporting them in getting to the answer. In your classroom this could look like student groups working together sharing ideas on a project while you roam around the room providing support when needed.
The delegator, or group, teaching style is one of the most hands off teaching approaches where you operate as an observer while groups or individual students do all the work. This style works best with activities where peer support and peer reviews can help the majority of students accomplish the learning objective. Kodable, for example, is an educational app that many teachers use in groups and allow fellow students to help each other through levels and lessons while the teacher observes and intervenes only when necessary.
The hybrid, or blended, teaching style is (as you might expect) an integration of other teaching styles. This flexible and adaptable approach might begin with you starting a lesson with a lecture style on how to draw the different letters of the alphabet before handing out Play-Doh for students to try to create letters in small groups while you observe.
Compared to other styles, the hybrid approach is the most beneficial to support differentiated instruction strategies to ensure that you are meeting the needs of all of your students. However, be sure to be aware that too much day to day classroom variation can cause students to not know what to expect. Routines and consistency are key to any classroom management plan.
Choosing the right teaching style for you
After going through the list above, you may feel yourself identifying with one or more teaching styles more than other choices. The good news is that your teaching style, just like your classroom, is not set in stone and is constantly evolving. It’s important to be cognizant of your approach to teaching so that when you reflect after a lesson or unit you can determine whether your style was best suited for your students and the learning objectives. Going through this process on a regular basis can help fine tune your teaching senses to be aware when you need to be flexible with your teaching style to help your students succeed.
Assessing Your Classroom Management Needs
Now that you have a better understanding of different teaching styles, it's time to assess your classroom management needs.
Evaluating Your Classroom Environment
Take a step back and evaluate your classroom environment. Your classroom setup should mirror and support your teaching style and visa versa. For example, if you want to have a lot of group activities, consider setting up your desks in groups to allow for easy flexible grouping. Or, if you are planning to have a lot of hands-on activities and demonstrations, make sure your classroom is organized in a way that setting up and taking down these activities won’t take up too much of your time or be too big of a learning distraction. In this way you can start to see how your classroom is an extension of your teaching style and needs to support what you plan to do.
Recognizing Student Behavior Patterns
Enough about you and your classroom, let’s talk about your students! Identifying common student behavior patterns can help pinpoint areas that may require extra attention or support. This includes student patterns of misbehavior, disengagement, and difficulty completing tasks. Take note of any recurring behavioral issues and consider the root causes. Are students struggling with the material? Are they bored or disengaged? Are there external factors contributing to their behavior?
It's important to approach student behavior with empathy and understanding. Your students may be dealing with personal challenges that impact their behavior in the classroom. Recognizing patterns can help you provide targeted support to help these students overcome these challenges and succeed academically.
If behavior continues to be an issue, consider altering your behavior management system to help address it and to get your class back on track.
Identifying Areas for Improvement
Based on your evaluation of the classroom environment and student behavior patterns, identify areas for improvement. Do you need to establish clearer rules and consequences? Is there a need to focus on building a positive classroom culture? Consider implementing strategies to address any identified issues.
For example, if you notice that students are struggling to stay on task, consider implementing a reward system to incentivize good behavior. If you notice that students are disengaged, consider incorporating more hands-on or interactive activities into your lessons.
Remember, effective classroom management is an ongoing process. It's important to regularly assess your classroom environment and adjust your strategies as needed to ensure a positive and productive learning experience for all students.
Choosing Your Classroom Management Style
Now that we’ve discussed your teaching style and your classroom needs, let’s put it altogether into a classroom management style. The four different types of classroom management are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and indulgent.
The authoritarian style of classroom management is characterized by strict rules and high expectations for student behavior. This approach has you in complete control and authority over your classroom, and discipline is enforced through a top-down approach. If you had an effective authoritarian teacher growing up you likely still remember them.
The authoritative style combines structure and clear expectations with warmth and support. Teachers using this style set clear boundaries and rules but also involve students in decision-making and problem-solving. Discipline is focused on teaching self-discipline and responsibility rather than simply imposing punishments. This style promotes a positive classroom climate and fosters student autonomy and growth. If this style appeals to you, you may be interested in incorporating learning contracts into your classroom as well.
The permissive style of classroom management is characterized by a relaxed and lenient approach. Teachers using this style have few rules or expectations and may give students a significant amount of freedom and autonomy. Discipline is minimal, and there may be a lack of structure or clear consequences for misbehavior.
The indulgent style is similar to the permissive style, where teachers have few rules and provide little structure or discipline. They are highly tolerant of student behavior and may prioritize maintaining a positive relationship with students over enforcing rules. This style can lead to a lack of accountability and may result in disruptions or a loss of instructional time.
Just like with teaching styles, there is not one size fits all with your classroom management style. Instead, you’ll likely need to wear different hats in different situations based on your class and your students' needs. Take note of what style works best for different situations so you know when you need to be more authoritative and when indulging your students is appropriate instead.
Finding your classroom management style is a process that involves understanding your teaching style, assessing your classroom needs, and implementing effective strategies to meet the needs of your students. By creating a positive and engaging learning environment, you can support student success and foster a love of learning in your classroom. Happy teaching!
No matter your teaching or classroom management style, having engaging activities for your students is a surefire way to help motivate them and get them to buy into your teaching style. Kodable is a free game for K-5 students to learn the basics of computer science with self-paced lessons and helpful hints to keep students learning. Used by in more than 50% of US elementary schools, Kodable is great addition for every classroom style.