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Surprising Classroom Management Strategies that Work
posted by: Melissa | October 11, 2018, 09:35 PM   

Every teacher knows the feeling of trying to get 20 – 30 students all focused and productive. Often, classroom management feels like herding cats - with students being pulled in every direction by the most minor of distractions. It’s no wonder some of the most widely read books for educators are on this topic. Over time, teachers have learned a gazillion deft ways to help students stay focused and on task. While many are common sense, there are also those that seem as though they shouldn’t work, and yet they do!


One might be forgiven for thinking that problem students would be less than honest when asked to assess their own behavior, however quite often the opposite is true. Students respond well when they’re treated seriously and given responsibility. Students who are asked to evaluate their behavior and work tend to take the task seriously. Research shows that asking students to monitor their own behavior can lead to greater productivity and time on task.

That’s not to suggest that all students are innately skilled at discussing and thinking deeply about their own performance and behavior. Like most skills, this needs to be taught. You can find a toolkit at to help you teach these skills.

Being Quieter

When classroom noise starts to rise, the natural inclination is to speak louder, but that’s not always the best strategy. Becoming louder yourself will only add to the chaos and noise. A better strategy is to lower your tone down. This may seem counterintuitive but by lowering your voice to a whisper, or just above it, while you continue speaking, you force your students to be quiet in order to hear what you’re saying. It might take a few seconds for your students to realize that you’re talking, but when they do, not only will they be quieter, but they’ll also encourage their classmates to be quieter as well. With some classes, you can use this strategy while employing a ‘call and response’ technique with your students. You whisper a phrase, such as, “Whisper yes if you can hear this,” and the students who hear, will respond. Other students quickly pick up on what’s happening and pause to listen before joining in. Eventually, the whole class will be listening to your instructions.

Giving Harder Assignments

A common cause of disruption in the classroom is lack of engagement. There’s a myth that says a class must be entertaining in order to be engaging, but that’s just not true. In many cases, students are bored not because of the lack of a dog and pony show, but because the teacher just isn’t asking enough of them. A recent report found that the vast majority of students in the US are being given assignments that are below grade level. If this is the case, getting more out of your students is as simple as challenging them to think and do more. When students engage with the material on a deeper level, they’re more likely to find it interesting and less likely to cause disruptions in your class. While this strategy is particularly effective, it’s also important to balance the workload and provide sufficient scaffolding so students don’t feel as though they are being asked to do the impossible, which can also lead to discipline issues.

Is there a classroom management strategy you tried and were surprised that it worked?

Share below!

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