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news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Keep Students Focused with these 5 Tips for Classroom Management

Classrooms today are full of distractions, especially when students carry cell phones, iPods, or other digital devices, and surreptitiously use them in class. In other cases, students enjoy socializing a bit too much or they have legitimate learning or developmental disabilities that make it difficult to stay focused in class. In order to have the upper hand in classroom management and to ensure students are in fact learning what they need to know, teachers need to implement an effective strategy to keep students engaged and focused from the beginning to the end of the class period.

5 Tips for Effective Classroom Management to Keep Students Focused

As an initial preparatory step, as soon as students settle into class, the teacher should remind students to put away all the digital distractions and keep them stashed until class is over. After that, the teacher can engage students immediately and maintain their focus throughout the class period, by following these five tips:

  1. Create a “self-running” classroom. Yes, you read that correctly. Angela Watson, a former teacher and current educational consultant specializing in classroom management, emphasizes that the importance and benefit of a self-running classroom is it gives teachers more time to actually TEACH. When a teacher establishes expectations through structured routines, activities, and procedures, the students know exactly what they need to do and have little time to become distracted.
  2. Communicate authority. Rebecca Alber, a literacy specialist and teacher education instructor, suggests that it’s all about how the teacher communicates in the classroom. Alber recommends teachers use normal, natural voices (no yelling); don’t even begin speaking until students are quiet; and combine speaking with non-verbal communication, such as eye contact, hand signals, and flipping light switches on and off to quickly get students’ attention back on track.
  3. Address behavior issues IMMEDIATELY. Alber further emphasizes the importance of dealing with behavior issues quickly, with wisdom. Rather than making a scene if a student is belligerent with you, as the teacher, or with another student, Alber states it’s best to take the student off to the side of the classroom or in the doorway, and ask questions rather than make accusations about what is bothering the student. If two or more students are in conflict, Alber suggests meeting with them during a break or after school, acting as a mediator using calm, neutral language and tone of voice to strive toward a peaceful resolution.
  4. Implement interactive learning activities. A self-proclaimed “tech geek” and technology teacher, Heather Edick emphatically tells teachers not to fight all those digital devices, but embrace and implement the technology to their benefit in the classroom. Students are accustomed to the fast and stimulating pace of technology via texting, touch pads on iPads and iPods, and the dynamic nature of the Internet. Teachers would be wise to take advantage of this interest and design activities that incorporate appealing, interactive learning components that are certain to keep students focused.
  5. Be consistent. Sounds like simple common sense, but primary school teacher Jim Maloney–also known as “Mister Jim”–emphasizes it is essential to effective classroom management. Maloney says teachers must establish rules, define consequences for breaking the rules, and then consistently implement and enforce both. He also states that praise and encouragement, when deserved, is something else teachers should consistently offer to their students.

Effective Classroom Management is Possible In summary, based on the advice of experienced educators, effective classroom management and keeping students focused is possible through creating a “self-running” classroom, communicating authority, addressing behavior issues immediately, implementing interactive learning activities, and being consistent in their actions in the classroom with students.

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