Chaos in the Classroom
It’s business as usual as Mr. Array’s students file into his classroom. The students go directly to their seats and prepare for class to begin. As the bell sounds, Mr. Array conducts his class in an orderly fashion. One passing by his classroom would notice how well managed his classes are just by the attentive look on the faces of his students. However, if one were to follow the same class leaving Mr. Array’s classroom into Mr. Bedlam’s classroom he would view something quite different. In fact, he might even think that he followed a different class amidst the clutter of the high school halls. The bell has rung and the students that seemed so angelic only moments before are now ruling the classroom in a fashion behooving anarchists in the street—all while Mr. Bedlam attempts to begin his class albeit late. How is this possible? What causes the appearance of multiple personality disorders among these students? Is it the teacher or the students?
Classroom management can be the most difficult obstacle to overcome for a new teacher. Why students behave the way that they do from class to class or teacher to teacher is not always clear, but most researchers agree on key elements that should be present in an orderly classroom. Here are a few tips to help you prevent the unforeseen of having your students run amuck in your classroom.
Think for a moment. Do you know why you teach what you teach? What is your purpose for teaching history or science? Most teachers that struggle with classroom control do not really have purpose to what they are doing; they don’t understand the concepts that they teach. Students see right through that. If they can see that the teacher is unaware of the purpose of the lesson then they will be blind to it as well. Without purpose the students do not understand the importance of the lesson and will do their own thing. I am not condoning what the students do but I understand why they do it. When class begins, your students should know that your purpose of each lesson is to better prepare them for life. They should see that in your teaching.
Let’s say for a moment that your students understand that the lesson you are presenting has purpose. That alone will not guarantee their undivided attention. They know that a lesson presented from the Word of God is important, but if you present it in a lackluster fashion they’ll lose interest quickly. Passion must be present in your teaching. Purpose presented without passion is dull, and passion without purpose is chaotic. This does not mean that you need to amp up on caffeine to teach, but your teaching should not be empty or flat either. You should be excited about presenting the material to your students. You must be passionate about your subject.
Don’t assume that you can just wing your classes regardless how elementary they may be, and don’t only rely on what the curriculum has to offer. If you’re going to just follow the curriculum like a wandering drone then you might as well request that your job title be changed to babysitter. Make the lessons yours; add your personal touch to each lesson. Browse the Internet for reliable and interesting supplemental material. Implement personal illustrations into your lessons. Additionally, know what’s on the test. Nothing is more frustrating to a student than finding questions on the test that you’ve never discussed or heard mentioned by the teacher. Take the time to find your test answers throughout your textbooks. Adequately cover quiz and test-related questions in class but don’t make passing the test the sole purpose of your class.
Students always work harder for someone that they know truly cares for them. Take the time to get to know your students in the classroom by discovering their strengths and weaknesses. Speak to your student’s parents and former teachers to get a better understanding of how they learn. Also, get to know your students outside the classroom. What do they do in their spare time? What interests do they have outside of the classroom? It’s hard to prepare for something when you don’t know for whom you’re preparing.
In closing, if you are implementing the four tips listed above and are still struggling with your students then it’s time to bring the parents and administration into the loop. A longstanding policy here at our school has been, “If he can’t obey he can’t stay.” I understand the dilemma of grace and law when working with students, but Proverbs 22:10 clearly states, “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” Learning thrives in an orderly and caring environment. Undoubtedly you will need to discipline your students from time to time but do so in a respectful and consistent manner.