A classroom full of well-behaved, attentive students is an environment conducive to learning. At times, the disruptive behavior of a few students can impede the learning of the rest of the class. Fortunately, there are several suggestions and tactics that a teacher may want to consider in order to create a positive classroom atmosphere.
In order to teach a classroom of students with success, an instructor must first become the focus of the group. In other words, a teacher needs to get the students' attention before the lesson can begin. If some of the students are talking or are otherwise distracted there is little chance that they will absorb the information that the teacher is sharing with them.
Direct Instruction of Students
The approach of direct instruction simply means that the instructor lays out what the students will be working on during the period of the class. Instead of giving the class a loose idea of what to work on, the teacher is specific concerning the assignment. This type of instruction helps maintain the focus of the students and relays teacher expectations.
The act of monitoring students helps a teacher to be aware of their work. As a teacher moves about the room, their presence will prompt students who are lagging to refocus on their work. In addition, the teacher is better able to determine if the class is on the right track with the assignment.
Modeling positive behavior is important because most students quickly pick-up on the attitudes of the instructor. For instance, if a teacher seems lackluster about a particular subject of study the students may get the impression that it isn't important material. Alternatively, if a teacher displays an excited attitude about a particular chapter or piece of material the students are likely to echo the teacher's attitude.
Non-verbal cueing can be helpful to teachers in many ways. Students are quick to learn what certain non-verbal cues mean. Furthermore, they can serve as a tremendous time saver in the classroom. For example, a teacher may close his or her classroom door as a non-verbal signal to the students that it's time to get a sheet of paper out for a quiz. Another teacher may turn off the classroom lights as a signal that he or she wants all students to stop talking.
A teacher has the unique opportunity to control the environment of their classroom. Interesting posters, pieces of student work, or even a set up for a classroom pet all serve to communicate a teacher's dedication and enthusiasm to students. Colorful decorations hanging from the ceiling or a soft rug for the quiet reading area are just two examples of a teacher's efforts to create a welcoming classroom environment.
A teacher can avoid bringing a student's misbehavior to the attention of the entire class by subtly letting the student know that they are aware of the behavior. For instance, if a teacher is circulating through the classroom during a lesson he or she has the opportunity to tap a student on the shoulder if they are whispering to a classmate. This tactic helps to redirect the talkative student while avoiding a disruption in the classroom.
When a teacher uses assertive discipline, he or she makes clear to a disruptive student that they have broken a stated classroom rule. Every student is aware of the classroom rules and knows that the teacher is serious about enforcing them.
Assertive "I" Messages
One example of an assertive "I" message is when a teacher says to a student who is passing notes in class, "I need you to open your book to page five and begin reading to yourself." The teacher's concentration is not on the disruption, but instead is on refocusing the student's attention to the task-at-hand.
Humanistic "I" Messages
When a teacher expresses a humanistic "I" message to a student, he or she is expressing the difficulty that the student is creating for them and their emotions about it. For instance, if a student is loudly tapping a pen on their desk during a lesson the teacher pauses to point out the disruptive action to the student, explains how it affects the whole class, and then relates his or her feelings about the disruption. This tactic gives a student some insight into a teacher's point-of-view on the situation.
A teacher's use of positive discipline entails letting their students know the types of behavior that are acceptable in the classroom. A teacher who practices positive discipline would likely have a poster in their room displaying statements such as: treat your classmates respectfully, walk in the school hallway on the way to recess, and raise your hand when you have a question. Furthermore, a teacher who is practicing positive discipline will often be seen complimenting students on their good behavior.
A patient, dedicated teacher must be persistent in their efforts to ensure that all students receive the opportunity to learn in a peaceful, engaging environment.