Monday, June 18, 2012

3 Strategies for Better Classroom Management by Guest Blogger, Denise Durkin

I am excited to have Denise here today to share her insights into better behaviour management strategies. 

Over to Denise...

3 Strategies For Better Classroom Managment 

By Denise Durkin, M.A., Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant
Classroom management, like most forms of management, has a lot to do with relationships.  There’s the obvious relationship between the teacher and the students, but it’s also important to think about the relationships going on within a child – how his different needs interrelate, and how the balance or imbalance of these needs affect his emotions, behavior and learning.
Here are 3 strategies for targeting some of these needs your students have to be sure they are in balance so they can happily focus on learning.

1.       Make Emotional Connections – Want more respect and compliance? Making emotional connections with your students creates bond that helps them feel cared for, liked, and validated.  Students need this to be more inclined to listen and work with you behaviorally in the classroom.  When you can, connect one-to-one with your students and ask about their interests or what they might be thinking and feeling about a particular activity or lesson.  Use warmth, humor and appropriate personal story telling to show students your more “human” side, and ask them to share their own stories.  Doing this in context with a lesson makes the lesson more relative to them so they’ll remember it better, and, deepens this connection between you.

Note: an important perk is that when you include self-reflective questions for students to answer as part of this process, it beefs up their social-emotional development. 

2.       Give Your Students Control When You Can, and Target Their Physical and Creative Needs – When all control is taken from them, when they are uninspired and fidgety, students can act out. Be sure to rotate activities to keep students feeling interested and balanced, and allow them to make decisions as often as you can.  A few  examples:

a)      Depending on your school’s structure, aim to alternate teacher-directed activities with student-directed activities (meaning the students choose them) throughout the day, and/or as related to learning pathways in a single lesson.

b)      Target students’ physical and creative needs by alternating “contractive”, focused, quiet, seated activities with “expansive”, creative arts-based, social, and/or gross motor activities whenever possible.

c)       Research and implement one or more Service-Learning Projects your students choose. Service Learning Projects make lessons fun, create vital connections between students and their community, and deepen their intellectual, creative and physical learning by putting new skills to actual real-world situations.  Community service learning projects are great for building empathy, compassion and social awareness.

 3.       Be The Balance You Wish For Your Students – As a teacher, you are shaping your students’ development on many levels.  If they do not have strong socially-emotionally balanced role models in their lives, they will often look to their teachers for this kind of role model.  Your students pick up on your attitudes and energy, and learn to emulate the way you perceive and relate to others/them. When you present yourself in the most balanced way as someone who likes them, shows them respect, and supports their holistic individuality while balancing kindness with clear, firm boundaries, your students will respond to you with respect and compliance because they feel emotionally safe. Their emotional safety and internal balance is at the heart of respectful relationships and good behavior.

For more information and to ask Denise a question regarding children’s self-regulation, please visit 
Thanks Denise!  I'm curious what our readers think about these strategies, and in particular - do you think they work in inner city schools in London?  What strategies do you use in the classroom?

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