February 14, 2019
Lora Randles

Multiple sources say a proactive classroom focuses on classroom organization and strategies that a teacher can implement to establish a positive environment and prevent problem behaviors. Teachers can establish a proactive classroom using these three steps:

1. Positive Teacher-Student Relationship

Like society, a classroom has a culture of its own. Teachers should model how to be responsible, trustworthy, and respectful citizens. They need to create a classroom environment that is safe for all students, so they feel comfortable no matter what their background, socio-economic status, gender, or race. Many students struggle with “fitting in” and gaining acceptance from peers, so cultivating a positive work environment is vital.

As the classroom teacher, building strong individual relationships with students will help with classroom management. Students need a teacher who is interested in their life, one who is honest and respectful, and one who genuinely cares about them. Get to know each student on a personal level. It’s not hard to make small connections with students each day. Start by greeting each student, by name, as they enter the classroom. Little gestures can go a long way!

Building this teacher-student relationship can be strengthened by having meaningful conversations and dialogue during class. In turn, students’ interpersonal skills should flourish. Never call out a student in front of the class. Students will “get their guard up” and it will be difficult to regain that trust. Instead, students should be encouraged to participate and reinforced with positive praise and feedback. PRAISE students. They crave it! Praise them for trying, for working harder than they thought possible, for doing what they believed they could not do themselves. Encourage students as they learn and make mistakes; it will promote self-confidence, self-esteem, and grit. Praise should be individual to the student. Avoid phrases such as “good job” or “nice work”. Instead, insert student’s name and make your response individual to their conversation. Watch your teacher-student relationship thrive!

2. Motivating Your Students

Being a proactive teacher will increase your student’s level of motivation because they start to see that their positive behavior yields positive results. By the teacher modeling good behavior and being encouraging, students become more proactive and become more intrinsically motivated, meaning being rewarded by internal rewards and learning simply to learn. External rewards, such as trinkets or food, don’t need to be off limits, but we, as educators, do not want to rely on this.

Simple individual and team challenges are also an excellent way to motivate students. There are many activities that stimulate the natural curiosity of students. Providing students with team and competition experiences, like learning games, can truly motivate students. But most importantly, be a positive role model and have a sense of humor! Let students see you as an individual that cares about THEM. This is the ultimate motivator.

3. Policies and Procedures

Be a teacher who is fair, reasonable, but at the same time, stern. Students need discipline and consistency in order for the class to be run smoothly. Developing reasonable policies and treating students fairly and with dignity and respect will help you get there. And, always follow through! Start by getting organized and running a rigorous and calculated classroom. Students need some predictability and routine in their lives.

In my years of teaching, one area in which I’ve remained consistent is classroom procedure. My students know exactly what to expect each day when they walk in the classroom. First, they pick up the “Daily Dose”, which is their bell work. This quick activity focuses on reviewing material from the previous day or introducing a new concept from the day’s goals. Students then take their seats and begin working. At this time, I take attendance, pass back papers, collect homework, or complete any “housekeeping” tasks. When all of these tasks are completed, I quickly go over the bell work and we begin class. This procedure allows me to get organized and maximize class time. Because of the consistency at the start of class, there is very little room for unwanted behaviors. In addition, I am very organized and structured. I teach students from day one how to organize their class materials. This is often an area where I see students struggle. I also create specific visual cues in the classroom as to where all the materials are placed upon the conclusion of a lesson.  

The combination of these three steps should result in a well-managed, thriving classroom.

Remember, you are your students’ greatest cheerleader!

Posted By Lora Randles | ELA Teacher

Lora Randles has been a seventh grade ELA teacher for nineteen years. She graduated from Fredonia State with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education in 1995 and from Buffalo State with a degree in Multidisciplinary Studies in 2001. Lora works in a middle school on beautiful Grand Island, NY—the largest freshwater island in New York State!

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