20 Ways To Manage Your Classroom

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James Manwaring

James Manwaring is Director of Music for Windsor Learning Partnership, a Multi-Academy Trust in Windsor, Berkshire. He oversees music for the 4 schools in the trust and has been working in music education for 16 years. James has been nominated for a National Music Education...
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What strategies can you employ to manage your classroom?

Managing a classroom is an important part of what we do as teachers. When we walk in to that room we need to know it is all ready and that we are in control. So here are 20 ways to manage the most precious part of your working day. Some of them are practical and physical things and some are more to do with the classroom as a teaching resource or space of learning.

  1. Make sure it looks nice and is tidy, that way students will appreciate it.
  2. Stay late one day and chat to the cleaner, that way they are likely to do a better job of cleaning – always good to be nice to people as well!
  3. Work on the walls should be up to date and relevant. I personally don’t have any work on the walls at all, but I will come on to that.
  4. Whatever you do have on the walls needs to be relevant, topical and eye-catching.
  5. Students will respect you more when they have clear boundaries that you set out on Day 1 – rules basically.
  6. You should stick to the boundaries as well. If they see you eating lunch in there then you can’t really tell them that they can’t.
  7. Make sure you leave the classroom neat and tidy at the end of the day and ready for the cleaners. Chairs on desks, if you have them, and nothing in the way of them going round with the hoover.
  8. Find out where the hoover is kept just in case you need to hoover it yourself. Now I thought I would get that reaction! Yes I have hoovered my own classroom, several times, but I just like it to look nice. Get students to get the dustpan and brush out too. O-soji is what some students do to keep their classrooms tidy everyday in Japan and elsewhere.
  9. Make sure you have a really big bin that will not get full during the day and then overflow onto the floor.
  10. If you work in a practical space them have clear areas for instruments, tools, bags and any other objects that are part of your room.
  11. Stick pictures on the wall, loads of them. That is why I don’t have any work on my wall. My Music Room is a visual explosion of events, concerts, gigs and various other things. I like to think it is quite an inspiring room and when you walk in you know that you are in a music room 100%.
  12. Very practical thing I know, but work out what Blu-tack you are allowed to use and always warm it up before you put it on the poster. You might laugh, but my pictures rarely fall down. And you don’t need to use a lot. But your school might have just decorated, so you may not be allowed to stick things all over the wall!
  13. Make sure that you keep hold of your own chairs so that the furniture matches. It is really important that you have enough chairs and that they are all the same.
  14. Never, and I mean NEVER, have a rogue “comfy” chair that students fight over. It is the worse thing to find in a classroom and I always remove that “stray chair from the common room” as soon as I see it.
  15. You might like to allow a core of students to use your room at break or lunchtime. I allow my musicians to use the space and I find that they then take pride in it and help you to keep it tidy.
  16. Invite people into your classroom. You have spent time making it look nice so make sure that you show it off. That way students see that you are proud and also take pride in the space themselves.
  17. Work closely with your site team, caretaker or what ever name you use. They are the most important people in the school and they will help you if you are nice and make sure all your windows are shut at the end of the day. Get your site team on board and they will help you with things around your classroom.
  18. Make sure that you have you use some kind of seating plan or clear seating arrangement in your space so that students know where to sit and what to expect.
  19. Make sure in your classroom you have space for students to put bags at the start of a lesson. You need the environment clear and ready should you wish to embark on something more kinaesthetic.
  20. And finally, a little bit of effort goes a long way. You need to see your classroom as the main tool in your career. Give it attention, make it work for you and think about where you put your desk and how the space looks from the point of view of the learner. It isn’t an office, it is a classroom, so put time into thinking about it.

I hope some of these have been helpful or at least got you thinking! Now go rearrange your classroom and maybe buy your care-taker and cleaner a box of chocolates!

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