classroom management strategies
In “Good Teaching as Vulnerable Teaching” (The Teaching Professor, December 2012), Rob Dornsife of Creighton University invites us to embrace the uncertainties teachers encounter. The article prompted me to invite colleagues also to embrace being strict when the conditions warrant it.
The first day of class is critical. What happens on the first day, even in the first moments, sets the tone for the entire course. The impression you make will last the entire semester, and today’s students are not shy about sharing their opinions. Most students will make up their minds about the course and the instructor during that first class period.
For quite some time now I’ve been interested in a widely held set of assumptions faculty make about the need to assert control at the beginning of a course. The argument goes something like this: When a course starts, the teacher needs to set the rules and clearly establish who’s in charge. If the course goes well, meaning students abide by the rules and do not challenge the teacher’s authority, then the teacher can gradually ease up and be a bit looser about the rules. The rationale behind this approach rests on the assumption that if a teacher loses control of a class, it is very hard to regain the upper hand. In these cases, student behaviors have compromised the climate for learning so seriously that the teacher has an ethical responsibility to intervene and reassert control.
It’s the first day of class. They shuffle in, spot similar life-forms, and slip in with that group. Hipsters sporting wild hair and tats, buttoned-up and serious young scholars, middle-aged moms and dads, maybe a couple of aging hippies. One or two sad souls choose spots isolated from the others; they don’t want to identify with them for reasons of insecurity, arrogance, or something else.
Losing control of the classroom can be one of the most frustrating and intimidating experiences for both new and experienced teachers. Losing control can happen in several different ways. The most common would be where the class is distracted. This could be from a situation outside the classroom such as noisy conversation in the hall, or from an event elsewhere that students find out about, such as a rumor of the football coach getting fired. Losing control can also happen within the classroom, such as when one student monopolizes the discussion, or where there is a general lack of interest in the lecture, and many students are obviously not paying attention. Here are nine possible ways to regain students’ attention.
Complaints about incivility in the classroom are not new, but most faculty believe incivility is on the rise. Couple that with our litigious society, and it’s no wonder that one of the most important skills faculty need today is classroom management.
Difficult students are a potential problem for every faculty member. This is why it’s important to learn ways to deal with inappropriate or disruptive student behavior. In an email interview with The Teaching Professor, Brian Van Brunt, director of the Counseling and Testing at Western Kentucky University, and Perry Francis, professor of counseling at Eastern Michigan University, addressed some of the key issues involving these types of students.
Students who display a passive-aggressive personality style may do so in a variety of ways … from chronic tardiness to sleeping in class. Let’s look at the student who’s always running late. As you know, some students are late to class on a regular basis, and in doing so are probably displaying a form of resistance or defiance—and it is wise to see it as such.
Most people, when they conceive of hell, conjure up an image of a subterranean inferno to which sinners are forever consigned to an afterlife of endless suffering and punishment. But according to Dr. Gerald Amada, author of Coping with the Disruptive College Student: A Practical Model, hell also can take many temporal forms, especially in the world of academia.
Congratulations! You’ve accepted a position as a professor, instructor, or lecturer. Now comes the hard part. Unless you have spent your professional career studying curriculum, instruction, assessment, online learning, classroom management, and the many other topics with which you now face, you have stepped into a whole new world. Your subject matter expertise or technical knowledge that got you the job is simply not enough.