The Most Effective Classroom Management Strategy for Teachers

The power of student connection cannot be overstated.  It is the most effective classroom management strategy a teacher can implement and has benefits far beyond classroom management for both the teacher and the students.

Effective classroom management skills are essential for all educators.  As a teacher, I’ve tried various strategies over the years with varying degrees of success.  As a new teacher, I remember thinking that I had to have some big, fancy classroom management system in place.  But here's what I've learned!


The Power of Student Connection


After 25 years as a teacher I've learned that the most effective classroom management strategy is student connection.

Having a genuine connection with each student, knowing each student personally, and caring about what they care about will out do any other classroom management tactic.  When you take the time to personally get to know each student and value them as individuals, they will follow your lead every time.

When students know that their teacher genuinely cares about them, they will go to great lengths to meet their expectations both academically and behaviourally.  The only classroom management strategy needed at that point is to set the bar high and remain consistent.


Student Affirmation


As a continuation of this student connection strategy it is important to “catch” students meeting your expectations and call it out for the rest of your students to hear.  This reaffirms your expectations with the students and also encourages them to do the same because, naturally, all students enjoy positive affirmations from their teacher.

It may be tempting at times to redirect the behaviour you do not want to see, however resisting that urge and calling out the students that ARE meeting your expectations at that moment is far more effective - with the only caveat being when it’s an immediate safety issue.


Connecting with Parents


You can take it one step further and also use this strategy to foster your relationship with parents by committing to writing one quick note each day to a parent letting them know something great their child did at school that day.  Anything from being kind to a friend or helping out around the classroom to doing amazing on an academic task and everything in between.  This simple act will further encourage your students to work hard to meet your expectations.  All kids love when their parents are proud of them and a note home from you will give them that moment.

And whether you realize it or not, parents also need that moment to feel like they are doing a good job as parents!


Tips for Getting Started 


1.  Allow your students to get to know you!  

  • Tell them stories about your pets
  • Update them daily on your favourite sports team
  • Share stories about your hobby or passion
  • Where funky socks or silly ties

The goal is to help them get to know things about you that make you human, and not just their teacher.


2.  Start each day off right!

  • Always be ready to greet students at the door
  • Say good morning, use their name, comment on something positive about them
  • Use this time to take each student’s “temperature” and look for those students that may not be “school ready” at the moment and determine what you need to do to help that student turn their morning around
  • Call out students that are meeting your morning expectations


3.  Make it a point throughout the day to connect personally with each student

  • Let them tell you a story they want to share, a joke, show you something that matters to them etc.
  • If you know of something happening in their non-school life ask about it; such as their new baby sibling, their sports practice last night, their sleepover at Grandma’s house etc.


4.  Know when to prioritize mental health and self-esteem over academic tasks

  • If a student is not “school ready”, no learning will happen until they are so always prioritize their personal needs over academics - by doing this you are once again communicating that you care


5.  End the day by giving the students a reason to be excited about coming to school tomorrow

  • Give them a sneak peek of something you will be doing tomorrow at school; such as a new game in the gym, a fun science experiment, a great book you’re going to read etc.
  • Tell them about something you’re doing after school and let them know you’ll tell them tomorrow how it turns out; such as taking your pet to the vet, getting a haircut, wearing your new socks, taking your child to the dentist etc.



There are many, many options for teachers in terms of classroom management strategies and each strategy varies along a continuum from low maintenance to fully involved and requiring lots of your time to implement and maintain.

A teacher’s time is valuable.  You have so many competing interests for your time.  Make classroom management simple and effective by using the power of student connection.  Your joy as an educator will grow and your students and parents will thank you for it!


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