Even the most skilled teachers will have days when they lose control of their classroom. All it takes is a single rowdy kid and before you know it, you're sitting at your desk unsure of how to regain the control you had ten minutes ago. How do you take control of your class back from this kid? Here are a few suggestions to help you out:
1. Use your voice.
This doesn't mean that you have to yell. There are a great many teachers who think that the best way to control a class is to make sure that their voice is always the loudest. In many cases, however, it is the quietest voice that gets the most respect. This doesn't mean whispering, it means that you tell your class simply, in a calm voice or even a lowered pitch, that you will not tolerate the continued misbehavior. No matter what age your students might be, they still need to hear that what they are doing is unacceptable.
2. Take action.
The idle threat is useless. It is the threat that they know you will carry out that carries the most weight. Younger kids react strongly to public discipline—names being put on the board, having to sit outside of the class during story time. The punishment itself does not have to be harsh—having them sit on a chair next to your desk at the front of the room for ten minutes is hardly corporal punishment—but it is public. Older students, however, sometimes need the larger punishments—detention, sent to the office, disciplinary meetings with parents. Asking a senior to sit outside of the classroom won't carry the same weight that it will with a child in the second grade.
3. Resist the urge to react.
Students, no matter how old they are, act out because they want to see your reaction. When you react to what they are doing, they feel rewarded. Instead, continue with your class's lesson as you planned. Eventually even the positive attention the student has been receiving from his/her peers will go away when they see that you aren't going to do anything about it and they will want to get back to work. If you allow yourself to show anger or frustration then the behavior could grow worse. Take deep breaths and keep your cool.
These might seem like very basic ideas for class control, but many teachers forget about them when faced with a classroom full of unruly students who refuse to give the teacher the respect that she/he deserves. Sometimes all you need is to take a moment to let the class act out and they'll calm themselves down. Other times you'll have to put every student's name on the board. Every class is different! Take your time. You'll figure out which methods work best for you and your class.
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