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5 Characteristics of a Well-Managed 21st Century Classroom

5 Characteristics of a Well-Managed 21st Century Classroom

Julia G. Thompson | Teaching

Should teachers still worry about students who chew gum? What should we do about those students whose cell phones ring in class? How should we react when we hear students using offensive language?

As teachers, we wonder what to do about these and the countless other behaviors that we witness each school day. Are these the issues that should concern us or should we focus exclusively on the more serious problems confronting our students? After all, dealing with gum and cell phones seems rather silly when weapons at school are a real concern for many teachers.

Many educators are unsure of how to define a class that is well-disciplined because today’s discipline issues are neither simple nor self-evident. For example, we may want our students to be engaged in active learning, but those classroom activities can appear chaotic and noisy. We also struggle with thorny new issues such as cyber bullies, sexting, and online cheating.

Even though we may not always be in agreement about the exact definition of a well-disciplined classroom, most educators certainly know when things are not going well. Misconduct referral notices are remarkably uniform in the types of behaviors that teachers and administrators do not find acceptable in schools. A quick survey of these reveals just a few of the serious misbehaviors that we do not want our students to engage in:

• Violence
• Disrespect for authority
• Failure to complete work
• Bullying
• Dishonesty
• Tardiness
• Truancy

No sensible teacher wants to deal with these and their unpleasant aftermath because we know that these behaviors signal significant disruptions in the learning process and in the success of all of the students in our care.

Since we know what a disorderly classroom is, what then are the characteristics of an orderly classroom? Although there are as many hallmarks of a well-disciplined class as there are teachers and classes, a few of the most significant ones fall under the following broad categories.

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