5 Characteristics of a Well-Managed 21st Century Classroom
Julia G. Thompson | Teaching
1. The Physical Environment Is Invitational
In a well-disciplined classroom, the room itself is appealing. Many of us teach in cramped and overcrowded rooms without enough basic materials and certainly not expensive equipment such as interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors. Despite these restrictions, effective secondary teachers can manage to create an environment where students focus on learning. We can arrange desks to encourage collaboration as well as independent work, minimize traffic-flow problems, and make sure materials are readily available. The walls can be used to stimulate student engagement with displays of student work.
2. Students Understand the Rules and Procedures They Are Expected to Follow
The teacher has obviously given much thought to planning and establishing a well-organized learning climate. Class rules, procedures, and notices of upcoming activities are posted in convenient places to help students stay on track. Encouraging mottoes remind students of their goals and responsibilities. Students follow class routines for daily chores without nagging. In a well-disciplined class, students understand what they are expected to achieve each day and how they are to go about it.
3. Students Are Actively Engaged in the Pursuit of Knowledge
There is movement and laughter and noise. Active learning generates a much higher noise level than the silent classrooms of the past. Students are up and out of their seats while engaged in a variety of interesting activities that encourage thought and discovery. They do more talking than the teacher does on most days. A well-disciplined class is a place where no student sleeps or sits idly waiting for dismissal.
4. There Is a Persistent Tone of Mutual Respect
Teachers and students treat each other with obvious respect. This is evident in such nonverbal interactions as body language and tone of voice as well as in what students and teachers say to each other. Students speak with confidence because they feel their opinions are valued. Students in a well-disciplined class also respect their classmates. They have been taught to appreciate each other’s unique contributions to the class as well as appropriate ways to resolve conflicts. There is a general sense of togetherness and steadfast courtesy.
5. Students Take Responsibility for Their Learning
In a well-disciplined class, students may be led by their teachers, but they are not coerced into good behavior through threats of dire punishment. Instead, they are encouraged to understand the importance of choosing good behavior and its lasting rewards over the short-term thrills of bad behavior. In an orderly class self-directed students not only encourage each other, but they also work with their teacher to achieve academic and behavioral goals that they themselves have helped establish. Successful teachers employ a variety of strategies to promote responsible decision-making and create self-reliant students.