Catherine Ross is here today to share practical ways to bring fun into the learning process! Catherine is a former elementary school teacher (now a stay-at-home mom) who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. She loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily, and believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding. Check out her blog at Kids Learning Games.
A fun, vibrant and positive atmosphere will always make your students excited about coming to class every day. And THAT (not begging, not bribery, not cajoling, not threatening) is what effective classroom management is all about. Surprisingly, it’s not as complicated as you might think. Today, many teachers use a variety of interactive online and mobile learning games to keep the class on its collective toes, and find them very effective. But if you need extra help, here are five tips that will make students look forward to your class and give you leverage to influence their behavior like almost nothing else.
1. Have the right attitude
Creating an enjoyable classroom requires the right attitude and you, the teacher, must show how it’s done. The right attitude stems from your enthusiasm for your job; the desire to build strong, no-strings-attached relationships with your students; genuine concern for their welfare and a great urge to make your classroom a unique and special experience for everyone in it. Stressed-out teachers who find their job a burden create excitable, negative and undisciplined classrooms. A simple smile, a deep breath and a warm greeting each day will go a long way towards establishing a good rapport with your students. The right attitude will make you a calmer, more relaxed teacher who knows what he or she is doing.
2. Be yourself
Fear of encouraging bad behavior leads many teachers to hide their real personality under the cloak of humorless, no-nonsense attitudes that alienate students and usually inspire fear and dislike. You also end up making the classroom a dull, boring and repressive place that repels students and makes them dread your classes. It is important to express your sense of humor, enjoy the class and share laughs with students – it makes you more likeable, more approachable and in the end, gives you more control over classroom behavior. Throw off your inhibitions and give full expression to the passion and enthusiasm that you feel for your calling and watch how eagerly students respond to it!
3. Be a storyteller
Stories are motivating and inspiring tools that can transform a humdrum class into a magical land with endless possibilities. A teacher who can tell a riveting tale will soon have students eating out of his or her hand. You can use this leverage to encourage good behavior and to inculcate desirable classroom values. And you don’t have to be another Scheherazade – start off with short anecdotes about embarrassing or funny or touching experiences; as you get more comfortable, use stories to introduce lesson units or to make a point. As long as the narrative is interesting and relevant, it will generate a stronger response than the usual classroom drill. Teachers who are good storytellers can always build a strong behavior-influencing bond with their students.
4. Be a communicator
If you aren’t one already or if you think there’s scope for improvement, change the way you interact and communicate with your class. Your tone of voice and body language make up a large part of your communication style, so make sure it’s positive, confident and inspires confidence in turn. Demonstrate that you have complete faith in each student’s capabilities and potential for success. Have a smile, a warm greeting and an encouraging word for all students and maintain frequent eye contact. You will leave them basking in the warmth of your belief in their abilities and this is usually enough to inspire them to do their best, simply to justify your confidence.
5. Set a limited number of class rules
Having too many rules will make your classroom resemble an army boot camp, and you a drill sergeant. If you want students to remember and abide by your rules, do not set more than four or five at a time. Replace rules once they have been internalized by the class; students must still follow this rule, but it will now be an unwritten rule. For a more positive classroom environment, make your rules “Do’s” rather than “Don’ts” such as “Respect everyone around you” instead of “Do not be rude to others.” Make up a few sensible rules and stick to them to make your classroom a disciplined but not intimidating place.
Catherine and I would love hear your classroom management experiences and tips. How do you make your classroom a fun place to learn without creating chaos? Please share your ideas and questions in the comments.