How to Prevent and Address Classroom Disruptions

How to Prevent and Address Classroom Disruptions
The Editorial Team January 24, 2013

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There is nothing quite so distracting for a teacher than a student disrupting the classroom. Classroom disruptions waste valuable instruction time and can also lead to ongoing behavioral problems for students. Some teachers choose a reactive approach to classroom disruptions; however, the most effective approach is to be proactive and take steps toward preventing disruptions before they occur. Though you will probably still have occasional classroom disruptions, you can greatly reduce occurrences through some focused classroom management strategies.

Teachers use classroom management to help keep students engaged and learning. Over the years teachers have determined the importance of being prepared, having classroom arrangement strategies, rules of conduct, disruption prevention strategies and making classroom connections with students, among others. Classroom management practices reduce occurrences of students disrupting the classroom, and the result is a classroom more conducive to learning. Here are six ways to prevent and address classroom disruptions:

1. Be Prepared

If you don’t know the material or aren’t sure about how your lesson will progress, you’ll create an uncertain atmosphere during instruction time. The students will pick up on it, and it could lead to disruptions such as distractions, unwanted student activity and general misbehavior. Know how the day and each lesson will flow ahead of time. This will help students to stay focused, and you’ll reduce incidents of student disruptions.

2. Foster Classroom Connections

Teachers are most effective when they know their students and their students know and like them. Take some time to make genuine connections with your students. You’ll create trust, and the students will become easier to teach. Create monthly birthday celebrations to let them know you care. Set aside weekly talk times that allow you to get to know students more personally, and they can learn a bit more about you. Share your hobbies, perhaps a bit about your family life, future hopes and plans — and ask students to do the same.

3. Classroom Arrangement Strategies

One theory states that teacher mobility should be the top objective for classroom arrangement. The seating arrangement should provide easy discipline and focus the student’s attention toward the teacher. Students likely won’t see the seating arrangement as a classroom management tool, but distractions will be minimized. Allow for each student to clearly view the front of the room. The classroom seating arrangement should be fluid, flexible and organized.

4. State Clear Rules

Try and compress your main classroom rules into 3 to 5 simple, concise guidelines for student behavior. Post them in the classroom and refer to them occasionally. A small number of simple classroom rules can help students remember and focus on what’s expected of them. However, too many complicated rules will just confuse them. Keep it simple, concise and to the point. Let students know the consequences of breaking the rules as well.

5. Enforce the Rules

It’s not enough just to have rules; make sure you enforce your rules consistently and fairly. Students should know and be able to predict reliably what consequence will occur if they break the rules. Practice common and consistent procedures. If students know what is expected for daily routines such as filing out for recess, unpacking books, lining up or taking a bathroom break, there will be far less chaos, confusion and disruption. It’s also a great idea to offer rewards, praise and incentives too if students consistently follow the class rules.

6. Minimize Distractions

Take steps to prevent both yourself and your students from becoming distracted. Remove distracting items such as sporting equipment, games and art materials during classroom instruction. Turn off your cellphone and avoid using your computer during class time. Post a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your classroom door during important activities such as tests or exercises that require a great deal of concentration. Make sure other teachers and school staff honor your classroom rules and boundaries.

Disruptions waste valuable teaching time within a classroom. When a disruption happens, it may take quite some time to get the class back on track. Teachers can be very effective classroom managers if they know how to be proactive. Following these six steps will help keep disrupting the classroom to a minimum, allowing much more quality work to be done.

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