Classroom management was by far one of the most practical and beneficial classes of my teacher preparation program. As a principal, I continue to use what I learned every day. Here are five classroom management strategies you can use in your work as a principal:
1. Greet everyone positively
Engagement in the classroom is shown to increase significantly with the simple act of greeting students at the door each morning. Not only does it set a positive and welcoming tone for the day, but it sends a message to students that they matter. The same applies for principals welcoming staff back to a new school year. While it may not be practical to greet every staff member at the front door, it’s important to make a point of welcoming each member of the school staff, individually, to a new year. It conveys a strong message that they are a valued part of the team, fosters important relationships, and sets the tone for a positive year.
2. Develop a community of learners
Each student at my school deserves to find a sense of belonging, to have their individual strengths embraced and celebrated, to find friendships, and to have deep learning experiences. None of these things happens by chance. They are the result of careful and intentional planning by a skilled educator. I maintain the same hopes and dreams for the members of my staff, and they don’t happen by chance either. Team building activities are one of the critical components of our back-to-school planning meetings each year. Learning communities also develop, but only after trust is established. I also know that collaboration must be a norm and that all perspectives and opinions must be listened to and valued throughout the year.
3. Make expectations clear
Any seasoned teacher will tell you that devoting the first days of the school year to establishing classroom expectations and practicing procedures until they become routine will pay off in dividends for the rest of the year. Not only is this the foundation of preventive discipline, but clear communication and consistent expectations help students feel safe in the classroom. Ultimately, it allows teachers to spend less time reacting to disruptions and more time teaching.
It’s important to remember that teachers need clear expectations. Even though they may not like or agree with every rule, most teachers will respect and appreciate clear communication and consistent enforcement. No one looks forward to a review of staff and student handbooks during beginning of the year meetings, but communicating these policies and procedures will make the school year flow more efficiently.
4. Monitor on your feet, not from your seat!
A teacher trapped behind their desk is a recipe for sub-par learning at best. Similarly, a principal cannot lead a highly-effective, thriving school from behind their desk in an office all day long. Sure, management can happen in the office but leadership happens on the front lines. Visibility sends a clear message about the priority of student learning in your school. It also helps establish trust and rapport with staff, students, and parents.
5. Have fun
Start the year with a strong plan for classroom management and building rapport with everyone. While the business of being a school administrator is undoubtedly serious at times, there is certainly a place for fun. In his book, A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink cites research that found that the most effective leaders kept their constituents laughing. Finding joyful opportunities throughout the year will promote strong relationships and foster positive school culture.
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