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The Art of Keeping Students On-Task for Effective Classroom Management

written by: Margie • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/22/2012

If you keep your students engaged and focused on their tasks they'll have less time to act out, giving you an easier time managing your class. Get some tips on keeping your students on-task all day.

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    Teachers are less likely to have classroom management problems when their students are on-task and engaged. Students are more likely to remain on-task and engaged if they are interested in and challenged by their work. While it is not possible or necessary for students to always enjoy their assignments there are steps teachers can take to retain students’ interest and enthusiasm, thus decreasing behavior problems.

    Change activities frequently: Today’s students are accustomed to getting information instantly. With the click of a mouse they can see when their favorite television show is showing. They can be in touch with their a dozen of their friends instantly by logging on to MySpace. Knowing this, we cannot expect them to come into our classrooms and sit still for sixty minutes while we drone on about subject-verb agreement. It helps to remind ourselves of the world in which our students live and adapt our teaching to it. This means lessons should be broken into shorter segments and topics should be changed frequently. The more you keep students on their toes, the less likely they will be to get bored and act out. I try to keep lessons and activities to a maximum of twenty to thirty minutes.

    Use technology: Today, all students need to access the Internet is the right phone. Many of them downloaded songs to their iPods before they ever stepped foot on a school bus. And none of them can imagine a world without Facebook. How then, must they feel when they go to school and have no access to technology? While many school systems simply cannot afford it (and there is little any teacher can do about that) schools that have access must take full advantage. Find out what types of technology your school has, learn how to use what is available, and then use it. I know I am in for a smooth day every time I use the laptop lab in my room.

    Provide extra help for those who need it: There is nothing that will ruin your classroom management plan faster than a frustrated student. If there is a student that is struggling, help them. This may mean extra help in class, tutoring before or after school, or providing them with a peer helper (b sure to get the permission of both students to avoid embarrassing the struggler or boring the helper). If the class as a whole doesn’t seem to understand, go back and re-teach. You will save yourself time down the road if you stop as soon as you realize there is a problem.

    Make your assignments challenging: On the other hand, if your assignments are so simple that students barely have to think to complete them, you will probably end up with behavior problems. Make sure your assignments are challenging while not being overly difficult.

    Use group instruction: It may be impossible to make sure no one in the class is bored or frustrated if you only teach one lesson to the entire class. Sometimes, it may be beneficial to use small group instruction rather than whole class instruction. How you divide the groups depends on the needs of the class. It might be helpful to determine who is struggling with a particular concept and provide remediation for them while allowing the students who are progressing to take the concept a step farther.

    The most straightforward way to maintain good classroom management is to provide a stimulating environment that considers the needs of all students.If done consistently, you will find yourself with little need for behavior charts or phone calls home.

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