Classroom Management

“Classroom Management” includes the management of both the face-to-face and the online learning environments. One semester an educator might need management pointers for managing the number of late comers to face-to-face classes, but the next semester want to investigate different tools and tips for keeping their online learning environment up-to-date and on track. Classroom management incorporates both these desires for improvement.

CATL can provide input on instructional strategies and educational technology tools, respectively to boost your classroom management skills. Colleagues in your program are another great resource. You are all supporting and facilitating the learning of the same students. You could collaborate on strategies and share tools to send a consistent message across the entire program.

In addition, CATL workshop offerings often target this concern. Our offerings include Course/Classroom Management as well as Communication and Assessment. These workshops may showcase a specific technology tool to assist or introduce a new instructional strategy to support classroom management.

New and experienced faculty often worry about classroom management. We wonder why students are not listening to our words of wisdom, our wealth of experience, our excellent lesson plan. How can we get them back on track? Below are helpful resources premised on the principles of prevention and being proactive. 

Investing Time Up Front 

Investing time up front, specifically detailing essential aspects of your course will reduce the need for follow-up and will provide students with a sense of security and a set of clear expectations regarding the course which will then reduce anxiety.

One of the ways to manage the remote classroom involves the course set up in Blackboard. However all of these areas should be addressed in a face to face classroom as well.

Expectations

  • Learning objectives
  • Assessments – submissions, notifications, turn around time
  • What do you expect from the students – deadlines, professionalism, participation
  • What can the students expect from you – grading, feedback, responding to questions

 

Forms of Communication

  • Email
  • Discussion board
  • Social media
  • Whole class/individuals/small groups

 

Office Hours

  • When will you be available and how do you want students to contact you?

 

Emergency Action Plan 

Have an emergency action plan or back up plan for when things do not go as planned. Expect the unexpected such as emergency lockdowns, fire alarms, inclement weather, power outages, medical situations, violent or aggressive behaviours. Any of these can take place at anytime during a class while there may be a test, labs, experiential learning activities or guest speaker. Review Loyalist College’s Emergency Response Plan.

Critical Elements

Think about your First Day of Class – What do you cover?

  • Welcome
  • Introductions: Self (Bio), Course (Outline / Distribution of Marks / Sequence of Instruction), Students (Meet & Greet / Ice Breakers)

 

In face-to-face delivery, the importance of the first day of class is often underestimated; however, the elements that are covered during the first class are absolutely critical in online learning.

Classroom Policies

Having up front conversations are critical in establishing expectations that are transparent for faculty and for students. This can be done on the first day in a face to face class or through, discussion, syllabus or virtual session in an online environment. Area of discussion may include any or all of the following:

Electronics

  • Smartphones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Smartwatches 
  • Headphones

 

Logistics

  • Breaks
  • Starting and ending class

 

Disruptive Behaviour

  • What is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour? (ask the class)
  • How should unacceptable behaviour be handled? (ask the class)
  • As a group, establish guidelines for respectful and professional classroom (in-person or online) conduct 

 

You might want to check with other program faculty and program manual for policies and expectations regarding classroom behaviour. In addition, review and remind students about Loyalist College’s Student Code of Conduct – Positive Learning and Living Environment policy (AOP 209). 

Preparing the Classroom Environment

  • Review your classroom set up. What is the physical structure of your classroom? What does this communicate to students? Can you move desks around?
  • Use an ice-breaker or connection activity to support learning your students’ names. Ask for clarification on pronunciation to ensure you are correct. It will communicate to the students you are willing to learn and will go a long way to establishing trust.
  • Use an activity to get to know your students (for instance, the Interest Inventory). Providing students with an opportunity to respond to a set of questions anonymously may support them to communicate information they may feel uncomfortable to do in the large group or face-to-face.
  • Indicate how students can reach and communicate with you. Include your contact information in Blackboard.
  • Become familiar with the college, School, and program policy or guidelines on student conduct and review the program manual for program specific guidelines.
  • Have confidence and be as prepared as possible.

Navigational Simplicity

Create a consistent, clear, and easy to navigate structure in the Blackboard course to reduce the amount of time and effort students spend trying to find content. Provide written/video direction and instructions in all course areas to help students work independently.

Connect with your faculty team to find out if they are using a specific program template when managing their course in Blackboard. It is recommended faculty teams use the same or similar templates within the program. From a student’s perspective, adapting and navigating ONE standardized template across the program is much easier and less stressful then having to adapt to two, three, four or more.  

Investing time up front, specifically detailing essential aspects of your Blackboard course will reduce the need for follow-up and will provide students with a sense of security and a set of clear expectations regarding the course which will then reduce anxiety.

Refer to our course templates page to learn more about setting up your course in Blackboard. For additional support or training a Learning Technologist is available. To book an appointment email catl@loyalistcollege.com

Disengagement or Lack of Attention

You’re presenting content and you notice students are not engaged. They may be distracted, sleeping, talking, or using their cell phones for off-task purposes.​

What to do:

  • Use an active learning strategies such as Think-Pair-Share to get students back on task. You may also consider Distract the Distractor as a strategy to redirect students.​
  • Invite the student to speak with you to discuss. If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion. 

 

What to avoid:

  • Calling out an individual student in front of the class.​
  • Making judgement and assumptions about the disengagement or lack of attention.

Disrespectful or Confrontational

You’re presenting content and a student uses disrespectful language towards you or a classmate.​

What to do:

  • Recognize the student’s comment and attempt to refocus the discussion: “I hear what you are saying and acknowledge your point of view.” Then redirect the student(s) to the topic at hand.​
  • Invite the student to speak with you to discuss. If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion.
  • Contact your Chair or Dean to inform and discuss mechanisms for support.​

 

What to avoid:

  • Escalating the confrontation by using accusatory or confrontational language or an anxious tone of voice. Try to remain calm.
  • Making judgements and assumptions. Lives are getting increasingly more complicated. Beginning with this premise can go a long way when approaching anyone.

Lateness 

A student is late every week, sometimes by 15 or 30 minutes.

What to do:

  • If you asked students to complete the Interest Inventory activity, review the responses from the student. Lateness could be attributed to other factors that could be addressed by reaching out to the student to discuss.
  • Invite the student to speak with you to discuss. If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion.
  • In some cases, it may be appropriate to remind students about the late policy or expectations outlined in the course outline or the set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct established by the group.

 

What to avoid:​

  • Calling out an individual student in front of the group.
  • Making judgements and assumptions. Lives are getting increasingly more complicated. Beginning with this premise can go a long way when approaching anyone.

Group Work

You asked students to work in groups, however, some members are doing things off task or student(s) is monopolizing the group discussion.

What to do:

  • Approach the group and redirect them to focus on the task. Consider asking for a status report or how much more time they require to complete the task.
  • Using group contracts to define the student’s role and responsibility could support the group members to remain on task and to feel confident they have completed the task appropriately.
  • Invite the students to speak with you to discuss.​ If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion.

 

What to avoid:

  • Calling attention to the disruptive students in front of the entire class. Asking them to share with the group what they were discussing.
  • Making judgements and assumptions. Lives are getting increasingly more complicated. Beginning with this premise can go a long way when approaching anyone.

 

Things to keep in mind:

  • Encourage and remind students to be respectful and professional on campus and in the classroom.
  • Gather feedback from students to inform your pedagogy and establish trust with the group.
  • If an unwarranted and disruptive behaviour continues, ask the student(s) to leave. If a student refuses to leave contact Campus Security. Inform the School office in either case.
  • Address minor disruptions immediately by using some of the strategies listed above or in the additional resources section below.
  • Speak privately with the student(s). Describe the disruptive behaviour and explain why it is challenging.

 

Have a teaching “problem”? This site Solve a Teaching Problem from Carnegie Mellon University has practical strategies, grounded in educational research and learning principles, to address many teaching problems. For additional support a Teaching and Learning facilitator is available. To book an appointment email catl@loyalistcollege.com.