Classroom Management: Tips and Tricks

By Tina Ye

The woes for both first time teachers and experienced teachers: how to properly control an uncontrollable class. Sometimes it might just be one troublemaker who seemed to know exactly where to poke your nerves, sometimes it’s the entire class, most of the times it’s just one bad bad day that leaves you worn and exhausted and regretting all your life choices.

I have taught all ages from 4 year old pre-schoolers to 17 year old high-schoolers, and this is what I’ve concluded: no matter how well-behaved a class is, there is always going to be a day where you want to pull your hair out. But teaching is also a learning experience, below I have collected some of the ways I handle disruptive behaviors.

Here are some strategies to combat disruptive behaviors:

CategoryBehaviorStrategy
Seeks attention from teacher-Speaking out of turn
-Talking over other students
-Taking up a bulk of the teacher’s time
-Acknowledge the student but do not let them control the flow of the class. Tell them “Very good point, we can discuss more after class!”. Eagerness to learn should not be dissuaded, but teacher must also take in consideration of the learning of other students.
Trying to elicit a reaction-Using inappropriate language
-Verbally express their dissatisfaction (“This is boring” “I don’t like this class”)
-Get into physical fights
-Address the student directly (“This sort of language should not be used in the class”).
-Be firm and confident. Do not let the student walk all over you.
-If physical fights do happen, teacher must react quickly to separate the altercation and talk with each student separately.
-I don’t believe in scolding. Rather than a tirade, why not have a proper conversation with the student? “Why don’t you like this class? What can I do to make this class better?” Of course, this conversation should be after class.
Bored of the class-Not paying attention
-Fidgeting, playing on gadgets
-Sleeping in class
-Alter lesson plan so the pace goes “fast-slow-fast-slow”. This include starting the class with a mid-energy level activity. Bulk of class content should be concise and not dragged out. For younger student, consolidate learning with fun physical activities spread throughout.
-If you notice a student on their cellphone, do not throw a fit. Instead just walk up to their desk, maybe tap on their desk lightly, to show that you know what they’re doing. If they still don’t get the message after the third time, it’s time to take away their device.

BONUS: How to redirect the class’ attention back to you

The Clap
Somehow this method ALWAYS works. You would clap a rhythmic pattern, wait for heads to turn, and repeat. It works for all age groups: from kindergarteners to college students. It saves you from yelling or standing there and silently fuming.
The Light Switcher
You would simply flick the light on and off. This method is a double-edged sword: it can startle the student and redirect all their attention back on you, or you can have younger students become more disruptive because of it. Also this doesn’t work well in a lecture hall, unless you have absolute confidence that shutting the lights won’t lead to facilities complaints.
The Glare
If you have established your status as a “serious scary teacher”, this method is your best bet. Simply stand in the front of classroom and quietly stare until you have all your students’ attention. Cross your arm if you must.Younger students also take cue if you put your finger in a “shushing” pose.
Louder is Better
As a student, I’ve always hated when a teacher yells. But sometimes you just gotta. At the end of the day, a strained vocal cord is still better than letting a class run wild.

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