Lauren Hodson | September 2016

Classroom Management: How to Value Our Students

Classroom management plan and culture is a tricky thing to pin down for any teacher.

  • How do you want your classroom to feel for students?
  • What procedures make sense for your classroom?
  • What are the general rules going to be?

Create a Classroom Management Plan

These are all questions that we ask ourselves before we have students participate actively in the learning space.

For students who migrate from room to room throughout the day, it can be overwhelming and confusing at first.  Each classroom can be dramatically different.

I believe that all classroom management tips and tricks begin with having students feel like valued members of the classroom. Students are the most important components to our jobs as teachers, and they need to feel that way. Here are 3 ways we can show our students that we value them.

Value Their Opinions: “Do Your Job”

I have a rule that I introduce on my first day of middle school art. “Do Your Job.” This is a mantra for them as students and for me as a teacher. By this age, they have heard many classroom rules and they know “how to act in school.”

I ask my classes for these questions and I listen to their answers.

  • “What is your job as a student?” “What does that look like?”
  • “What is my job as a teacher?” “What does that look like?”
  • “What do you need from me in order to do your job better?”
  • “What do I need to remember in order to do my job better?”

When students stray a bit from what is expected behavior, I say to them, “is that doing your job as a student?”

When I make a mistake as a teacher, I say, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t doing my job when I explained that in a confusing way.”

Value Their Learning: Student Learning Survey

Differentiation and setting students up for individual success is important. It is also important to remember that we might learn differently from some of our students. What works for one, does not necessarily work for all.

At the beginning of our time together, I have students take a short student learning survey. In that survey, I ask them about their personal learning style. This provides me with valuable information about my students and directs my instruction. Students can be their own best advocates and they will get a sense that you care about their education.

Value Their Accomplishments: Personal Acknowledgement

As much as those students who cause a ruckus in our classroom, need our attention, so do the students who are actively participating in appropriate ways. It does not need to be a public acknowledgment. Some students are uncomfortable with public praise. It can come in many forms, but it is just as important to notice and reinforce.

Ideas for Positive Reinforcement:

  • Write a personal note to a student about an act of kindness that you saw them do or how impressed you are that they never gave up on a problem.
  • Draw a smiley face on a post-it and place it on their desk as you walk by.
  • Mix it up by making compliments personal and full of detail. Highlight specific actions that you admire and celebrate those instead of always addressing the entire group.
  • Send an email or note home. Every student has positive attributes and those parents who are used to receiving negative notes about behavioral issues, a positive email or note could really uplift both parents and students.

How do you show students that they are valuable? Do you have a classroom management plan already?

About the Author

Lauren Hodson is a middle school visual and computer art educator in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a mentor teacher and professional development presenter, Lauren is passionate about creativity and making art accessible for everyone. Her passions in STEAM and Arts Integration are at the root of her goal to collaborate with classroom teachers everywhere.