Monday, September 28, 2015

Classroom Management: Tip #1-Classroom Space

It is almost October and you are getting a little frustrated with some of your students.
Matter of fact, you are fretting going to that one class.

There are many roads to take to discover what the issue is and address it.

Keep in mind, You Can Do This!

One such avenue is taking a closer look at your classroom arrangement.

 Keep in mind that what you are trying to get good at is managing behavior so that you don’t have to revert to trying to discipline the class into doing what you want them to. 

(By the way, this never works. Have you ever seen the pirate flags and bumper stickers found in popular tourist spots that say something like, “The beatings will continue until morale improves?” This type of adult focus will fail as you might guess, so it is important to take a different path.)

I have visited many classes over the years and found numerous positive and supportive room arrangements just as I have found others that make you wonder where the kids are supposed to work.

Kids need space to move, work, and interact that doesn’t put them on top of each other. Here are three suggestions:

1.     On a Friday after school has let out, stop and look at your classroom. Is there too much furniture? Come on now, I was a teacher. Many of us are very good at finding that extra piece of furniture that we just can’t live without:  a lab table, a couple of filing cabinets, a rocking chair, antique book cases, one more puppet stage, an extra table and chairs, a large couch, etc. Too much furniture reduces the space that the kids and you have to move around. This can create a cramped feeling that makes kids on edge with each other. (This doesn’t mean that you can’t have that cool furniture, it just means that you should get rid of something when you add.)

2.     How about the actual arrangement of seats? Does it create deep rows that mean some of the kids are so far from you that they feel safe from being discovered for their off task behaviors? Have you placed the seats so that you can’t walk among the kids? Set-ups like these encourage misbehavior because there is a feeling of safety with so much (other kids, desks, and distance) between the teacher and the students at the furthest edge of the classroom.

3.     Think about where kid sits who is most likely to be off task and where you have the kids focus their attention most of the time. For example, do you talk from behind a podium at the front right of the room and your number one fidgety, off-task kid sits right near that podium. In other words, all eyes are on him? Maybe you placed the most unfocused student near the lab materials, tables, and equipment where the temptation is too much not to mess with stuff while he should be doing something else? If this is the case, it is time to change seat placement.

Classroom space can be a killer. The more students you have the more you should work to reduce the furniture that gets in the way of easy movement in the room.
As always, the number one key to classroom management is you.

You must understand that your behaviors have the greatest impact. So take a moment to analyze the use of the physical space in your classroom and make some adjustments.
You will be amazed how much it will help.

Here are some additional resources that can provide further suggestions.
Remember, you can do this!