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Some students engage in behavior that is not productive to the learning environment. In this podcast, Maria Yon will help you determine how to prevent problems from occurring and deal with them when they do occur in the college classroom.
Welcome to this episode of “Teaching and Learning Matters.” I’m Maria Yon, faculty member at UNC Charlotte. In this episode we are going to be talking about classroom management in the university classroom.
Classroom management is not generally a major problem at the university level. Yet, most of us from time to time, do experience student behaviors that are disruptive to the classroom—behaviors that break our concentration and interrupt learning for the other students.
Some common behaviors are: talking in class, arriving late or leaving early, showing general disrespect and poor manners toward the instructor and other students, use of cell-phones or other devices, and being unprepared. The purpose of this Teaching and Learning Matters segment is to share some guidance for minimizing such behaviors.
First of all, it's essential to set ground rules. There are a couple of ways you can do this. One way is to announce on the first day exactly what disruptive behaviors you can’t tolerate in the course and why. Tell students that those behaviors annoy other students, disrupt their learning, and breaks your concentration. Some rules belong on your syllabus as well --use of cell phones, expectations for tardiness, class participation, regular attendance, and preparation for class.
Another way to set ground rules on the first day is to have a class discussion on the behaviors of classmates that genuinely bother them and are counterproductive to learning. From the discussion, you can write up a contract that students sign at the next class meeting promising not to engage in the disruptive behaviors listed.
This process gives students ownership in how the classroom environment develops. Furthermore, expectations set by peers is sometimes more powerful than those coming from the instructor.
Second, from psychological studies, we know that modeling is very powerful. Your efforts to model the behavior that you expect from your students will pay off. Setting ground rules on the first day are of no consequence if you don't practice those behaviors yourself.
For instance, if students are expected to arrive on time for class, you need to arrive on time. If students are to be respectful of you and of each other, you must show the same respect. If you expect them to be prepared for class, you need to have a well-planned class session and give timely feedback on their work.
Finally, not enough can be said about gaining and keeping students’ attention. The key here is to motivate the students about the course in general on the first day and then for each class session. Help them to understand the purpose of the class session and how the activities in which they will be involved will help them learn.
Your careful preparation for introducing the class session accompanied by your enthusiasm for the topic can go a long way in keeping their attention. If you're lecturing, effective uses of the voice, body language, and the use of visual aids, and elimination of distracting behaviors that you might exhibit are all important in gaining and keeping students’ attention. Also, asking questions throughout the class session stimulates attention and holds students accountable for their learning.
Good classroom management involves more than these three guidelines provided. But these three - setting ground rules, modeling appropriate behavior, and keeping students’ attention - are essential for providing an environment that is orderly so that learning can take place.
Thanks for listening. And remember, teaching and learning matters.
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