I was asked this the other day by @memneon as I was musing about the fact I had so few lessons less to teach. It really got me thinking and I completely failed to give him any adequate response.
Here are my thoughts on classroom management:
- Establish really strong routines right from day one. Don’t take any nonsense. Don’t give an inch. Be relentlessly consistent.
- Learn back to front the school behaviour policy. Test it out on colleagues. Roll play different scenarios to learn how to handle them calmly and with authority.
- Shout less (stopped doing this a few years ago but did far too much earlier in my career).
- Pause more. Give students time to think and process, then test their understanding with good quality whole class feedback.
- Say what is needed. Don’t be afraid of talking for longer than you planned to ensure a class understands what you are teaching.
- Talk more slowly. Teachers who talk too fast will never get the whole class to understand a concept.
- Equally don’t waffle. Keep it concise. Pause. Repeat key points where needed.
- Talk with authority. You are the expert in the room. Students need to listen to you to get better.
- Don’t be afraid to throw out the lesson plan if the class just aren’t getting it.
- Go and see others teach, then talk to them afterwards about the what they did. Do this often. It is one of the best ways to learn your craft.
- Don’t change routines to try and get a class on your side. This rarely works and smudges the boundaries.
- Focus relentlessly on good modelling in the classroom. Model good behaviour. Model good written maths. Model how to set out their work. Model respectful discussions. Model good use of language. Model good use of subject specific vocabulary. Model everything.
- Always meet and greet at the door (if you can). Learn their names and welcome them.
- Be the same every day. If children know what to expect then they will feel safe in your classroom.
- Make friends with the cleaner, site team, reprographics team, and all members of the admin team. Without them the school falls apart. They are the glue that holds the school together.
- Make friends with the rest of your department/team. Working as part of a great supportive team can make the difference between a bad and a good day.
- Do your best to follow the systems in school. Systems help to keep the school moving forwards. Equally don’t worry if sometimes this slips. It happens.
- You are entitled contractually to a work life balance, and Heads are mandated to provide one in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document. Make sure you have one.
- Try not to take work home every night. Having some down time each week is important.
- Don’t feel guilty about having down time. Ever.
- Keep at least one day at the weekend work free.
- If you are struggling TELL SOMEONE. You are entitled to support when life throws a few hurdles at you.
- Work to live. Don’t live to work. This is not healthy. It only leads to one thing in my experience.
And finally, some sage advice:
- Not everyone on staff have the motivation that it is all about the students. Some are all about themselves. Watch out for them. They will trample on you if they need to.
- Watch out for the ambitious ones. They too will trample on you if they need to. Be careful what you say around them as it will get back to the boss and will be twisted on the way like a game of chinese whispers.
- Join a union. Make sure you know who your union rep is, and don’t be afraid of seeking them out for advice.
- Look out for hypocritical leadership. Leaders who implement policies then don’t follow them in their own practice need to be called out for it.
- Be cautious about how strongly you argue your point. There are people who will use this against you. These people are snakes and cannot be trusted.
- It is not a badge of honour to never have a day off.
- It is not a badge of honour to do more hours than anyone else.
- Your health matters. Don’t put off seeing a Doctor because you don’t want to leave cover for a class.
- You must look after yourself. Better to take one day off to beat the illness than have to take a week off because you pushed yourself too far.