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How do I handle classroom management?

I am currently a third year college student and I will be student teaching next winter semester. Whenever I work with children, I feel like they see me as a friend and not someone who they should actively listen to during learning. I work with preschoolers, aging from 2 to 5. How do I get my students to listen to me and how do I calm down my classroom when things get too chaotic?

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Emily’s Answer

Hi,

I was also a preschool teacher in the summer and the way that I calm my students down when the environment is a bit chaotic is to use a system. For example, "1,2, 3, eyes on me" or use the clapping system where they follow your claps back to get their attention.
It's also important to balance being a friend and being respected in the classroom. Your students need to learn what your boundaries are, so it's important to set them before you begin your class.
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Anjali’s Answer

This is a really difficult at times. I teach middle schoolers and I look their age so it's very easy for them to talk as if I'm just a classmate. I would recommend really reflecting on classroom procedures that you want, early on, and take advice from your teacher mentors. Also, think back to what techniques YOUR teachers used when you were a kid.

From the start, address what is and is not acceptable. You're working with much younger kids so you may need to be even more explicit and more repetitive than me, but constantly showing them where you draw the line will help them understand how they should interact with you. To make it feel less repetitive, have a poster or some icons on the wall that you can point to if a kid is crossing the boundaries and becoming too friendly.

Another tip I learned is openly calling out behaviors you want to see. Example "I see that [name] is settled down and pulling out his notebook. I see that [name] is already writing the date at the top...". This seems minor, but kids love to be the focus of the teacher's good attention. Good luck in your first years! It will be a lot of little tweaks.
Thank you so much for the advice! Diara B.
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Ryan’s Answer

Classroom management is a key concern of most new teachers. It is important to understand that classroom decorum is less about teacher control & more about student engagement. Active lessons that capitalize on your students’ interests and are relevant to what they know will circumvent the need for a heavy hand of the teacher to maintain order. Lesson design & execution are the key. Your own exhibition of care will capture your students desire to work with you rather than challenge you. Clear expectations accompanied by clear directions anchored in your students’ interests will minimize the need to focus on discipline specifically.
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Sheanel’s Answer

First impression makes a lasting impression. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being friendly with your students but setting boundaries is key. People in general. especially children can read you within the first five minutes of meeting you. I would suggest being a bit more firmer (not mean) on contact.
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Jessica’s Answer

Hi! Classroom management is key. It is tricky to master. You have to figure out what systems work for you and your students. Build relationships, let them know what is expected, and set them up for success.
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Paige’s Answer

Hi Diara! I am a 4th grade teacher and classroom management is always something I am working on. I have definitely been in your shoes of feeling too "friend-like" with students. One thing that helps me most is building relationships with students (which can sometimes take months) and setting very clear boundaries and expectations, and being consistent with them. From the first day of school, envision every procedure you want to have in your classroom and explicitly teach them to students.

When things get too chaotic, I always make sure to have an "attention getter." I use a plug in doorbell and ring it when my students are getting too noisy or off task. This tells students that it's time to pay attention and refocus. Some students may ignore this at first (especially older ones), so I always reward students who follow directions quickly.
Thank you for taking time to answer my question. Sometimes I feel as though I have a hard time setting boundaries with the students, but I will definitely start to work on it more before going into student teaching. Diara B.
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