One of the biggest sources of anxiety for new teachers is dealing with student behaviour. How will I manage a class of 20-30 students effectively? Will I be in control? What if they don’t like me? How do I manage students who consistently misbehave? The answers to these questions shape how you approach teaching as a whole and your role within the classroom.
Staying aligned with your own code of conduct in the classroom can be difficult if you’re not entirely certain what that code consists of. That’s why it can be helpful to create a classroom management philosophy; guidelines to help you deal with student behaviour in different scenarios and still maintain a consistent presence as a teacher.
What is classroom management philosophy?
Classroom management philosophy centres around questions teachers ask of themselves and of their students. Your answers to these questions dictate how you will present yourself as an educator and a leader, how you will deal with bad behaviour and praise good behaviour, and what kind of environment you’ll try to foster.
It also looks at the teacher’s attitude towards students, how independent you want learners to be, how you want them to approach the work you set and how you want them to view you as a teacher. This will make it easier to explore different classroom management techniques, to help create your desired learning environment and make creating a classroom management plan much easier.
How to create your classroom management philosophy
The most effective way to create an effective classroom management philosophy, is by understanding your management style. The easiest way to do this is to ask yourself a number of questions about your ideal classroom:
Your role as a teacher
- Are you the captain of the classroom, a gentle persuader or more of a laid back leader? State the kind of teaching persona you’re trying to create and how that persona might manifest itself in different scenarios.
- Do you consider your views as more important or equal to that of your students? Do you make the decisions or will you allow the students to have a say in how they learn?
- Do you run a tight ship? Will students have a say in how behaviour is managed? And will you use reason or discipline to resolve behavioural incidents?
- Do you want to manage student behaviour through your own actions, focus on rewarding positive behaviour or rely on punishing bad behaviour?
- Do you want to guide your students through material single-handedly or delegate roles to members of the class to help with the process?
What you expect from students
- Do students need to be disciplined or should they be taught to self-regulate their behaviour? How could you create an environment where this is possible?
- Should students be carefully guided through material or left to learn independently?
- How will you deal with students’ mistakes? Should they be warned of potential errors they might make or encouraged learn from them?
- Does allowing students to have a democratic classroom result in them having complete control of the classroom or do you want to maintain overarching control of this democracy?
Your place within the school’s wider classroom management policy
- What is your school’s policy on classroom management? Is it flexible or strict?
- How does school policy deal with behavioural incidents? Are you able to have a say? Is it flexible enough for you to apply your own philosophy in class?
- Should classroom management simply manage student behaviour or should it give them the freedom to learn from mistakes and practice self-discipline.
- Is your classroom student centred or teacher centred? Who decides on topics, assessments and assignments?
This philosophy should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of environment you want to create, as well as some more ideas about classroom management techniques that you’ll be able to put into your classroom management plan, when you come to create it.
But beyond planning, these philosophical guidelines that you set for yourself should act as your teaching code. One that you revise and rewrite throughout your career. You’ll realise that some of your ideas that didn’t work at one school might be a perfect fit at another.
You’ll likely realise that the first version of your philosophy is a little idealistic and after your first few lessons you might need to make a few revisions! This is completely fine, in fact it shows that you’re developing as a teacher and learning more about the sort of teacher that you want to be. You can then use this knowledge to adapt your plan and create a more effective plan for your classroom.