We've all been there. Sitting at the end of a Sabbath School class or a VBS meeting wondering...where did we go wrong? Whether it was a kid that had to be sent out or an entire class that was out of control, we've all struggled with classroom management on some level. So whether you just need a quick refresher or a full on intensive, here are a few tips to help you balance the deadly D's of:
These four issues are the leading causes of Classroom Management problems and dealing with them is the key to having a fun filled program that keeps the kids on point.
Banish Discomfort by Creating the Right Atmosphere: This seems like a simple enough concept. You may realize that 30 degrees is too cold for a classroom, but there are other ways that children can feel uncomfortable. If children don't know anyone or don't have any friends in the class they will have a hard time feeling relaxed. Concerns about other basic needs like getting a good breakfast and making sure that kids' home lives are going ok can go along way. You can't fix everything a child is facing but just knowing that you care will help them feel more comfortable.
Banish Disinterest by Mixing Things Up: Remember that kids can't really give you more than a few minutes of attention at a time. If your story lasts for 20 minutes, you lost the kids half way through. Think of ways to involve kids in active learning and make sure to switch activities often to keep them on their toes. If you notice that you are losing kids (lost eye contact, fidgeting in seats) don't be afraid to stop what you're doing and have a quick active song to get the wiggles out. Get to know your kids so that you can include things they like to do or talk about in the lesson. Even if you don't talk about football every week, football fans will pay attention each week just in case you do.
Minimize Distractions to Keep Kids Focused: Let's be honest, you can't control the entire universe so that distractions don't happen. If the local marching band wants to practice on the street right outside of your window there isn't much you can do to stop them. Kids get sick, parents leave early, and random events are bound to happen. The key is to minimize these distractions to keep kids on task. In room decoration less is more. Having a brightly painted room with a few key posters and items prominent is better for keeping kids focused than having a room with every craft the kids ever did hanging on the walls. Making sure that the space is clean and that there are clear procedures in place for things like picking up and dropping off kids goes a long way to help kids stay on task.
Banish Disturbances with Planning: Remember the time you thought you'd come to class and "wing it"? It didn't turn out well did it. Often times our classes are interupted because we failed to plan properly. It's true that some things can't be avoided. But that doesn't mean we should try. The longer it takes for you to find supplies, decide which songs to sing, or answer the question the Pastor popped in to ask you, the more likely you are to have issues with classroom management. So be organized. Show up early to lay out everything you'll need for the day. Have a clear plan typed out and handed to each of your teammates before kids arrive. Communicate policies to all stakeholders (parents, kids, church personnel) so that they know what you expect. By planning you can minimize the number of unneccessary
interruptions you have to face and the number of chances kids have to let loose.
Classroom management isn't easy. You may have 2 or 3 kids at home but very few of us are trying to parent 10-15 kids at a time. Don't beat yourself for times things don't work out but learn to do better next time. We can all grow and improve in making our classes a safe and happy place.