Whether or not you’re already aware of it, one of the most valuable tools at your disposal when it comes to classroom management is your student body. Though they may be one of the sources of the different issues that arise on a daily basis, they also have the power to be integral in solving many of these problems. More clearly, if you establish a classroom culture in which your students feel not only welcome but also wanted, then you will have an environment far more conducive to facilitating learning. Still, learning how to go about facilitating this sort of learning environment can be somewhat difficult. More often than not, however, making students feel as though they are truly a part of something larger than themselves is contingent upon your ability to celebrate them as individuals. Curious about how to make this work? No worries, try these few tips:
Find Moments for Individual Attention
According to TeachThought, many of the most effective methods and styles of instruction rely heavily on true one-on-one instruction. While we can all almost certainly agree that this is an incredibly beneficial practice to engage in, it’s worth noting that it can seem impossible to find enough time. This makes sense, after all, as there’s only one of you and you may have as many as 30 students, perhaps even more. You’ll find that with the proper time budgeting and organizational methods that you’re actually fully capable of providing all of your pupils with individual attention somewhat regularly. One of the best pieces of advice for ensuring this is removing the mindset that this attention has to come in the form of a correction or piece of advice. Too often, as teachers, we only speak to our students individually when we need to correct or guide them. This is helpful, but can be somewhat limiting. Try providing attention to your students by simply telling them they’re doing well on a given assignment or activity. This will take ten seconds of your time in transition and can make a world of difference. A suggestion to create a more impactful moment with students is to practice sharing targeted and meaningful feedback. Rather than using vague terms such as “Good job“, use Feedback That Strengthens Student Engagement like, “Your comments to your group were right on target! I heard you say ‘our idea choice might not work but let’s give it a try.'”
Bridging Home and School
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development acknowledges that differences in the home environment and cultural background that a student hails from versus their academic setting can breed difficulties for teachers. For example, schools in the U.S. tend to reward individual performance over group achievement. For many students, particularly those who hail from families where the mentality centers on the accomplishments of the entire lineage or community, this can be somewhat disarming. While there is no perfect method for compensating for these differences, it’s pivotal that we, as educators, find ways to adjust our teaching style to be cognizant of a student’s upbringing and cultural heritage. The more you’re able to cater your individual attentions to the needs of specific students, the more responsive they should be to your behavior. Read more about bridging home and school as Angela Singer tells the story of How Pancakes Flipped the Flavor of [Her] Classroom.
Just as we can use individual attention to bolster our classroom management practices and make students feel more welcome, we can also make it a vital tool when teaching or facilitating independence. If you’re aware of a student in your class whom you haven’t been giving very much personalized attention, but who’s still been doing well, you can make a world of difference by simply letting the student know. Writing a short note on their latest assignment or paper or just pulling students aside at the end of class to tell them that you’re proud can be incredibly beneficial to their happiness in your classroom. Also, students will receive the message as positive reinforcement of their efforts while working independently, encouraging them to be more self-reliant. Another way to facilitate independence is when students take an active role in their own Goal Setting. This exercise increases student engagement by helping students navigate their own learning journeys. It also increases student buy in and motivation.