To maintain an appropriate setting for learning, teachers must clearly communicate what they expect of students, personally exemplify those expectations, and consistently hold students accountable to meet them.
Teaching is more than being an expert in your discipline; you must also lead a group of students through the learning experience. This includes ensuring that classroom interactions run smoothly despite inevitable disruption. By employing techniques that lead to the creation of a positive learning atmosphere, you can encourage student citizenship and be prepared for the occasional need to handle disruptive events or behaviors.
Establishing an Effective Learning Environment
From the student’s perspective, effective classroom management involves clear communication of behavioral and academic expectations, as well as establishing a cooperative learning environment (Davis, 2009). Listed below are some helpful strategies. If you would like to explore them in more detail, please see the recommended readings at the bottom of the page.
Define and distribute policies at the start of the term.
- Have fair policies that are stated clearly in your syllabus.
- Enforce policies consistently.
Emphasize the value of civility.
Set a good example.
- Treat students respectfully.
- Arrive on time, end on time.
- Come to class prepared.
- Pace the class appropriately—not too fast, not too slow.
- Provide constructive feedback and help.
Handling Inappropriate Classroom Behavior
Classroom incivility is any action that interferes with a harmonious and cooperative learning atmosphere in the classroom (Davis, 2009). Below are some strategies for establishing an effective learning environment and for handling disruptive student behavior. Again, for more detail, see the recommended readings below.
- Deal with incivilities promptly and consistently.
- Anticipate problems at the back of the room.
- Make disruptive students aware of the problem.
- Acknowledge negative emotions, but do not explore them in class.
- Speak with the student in private.
- Expect some cyber-complaining, but establish limits.
- Explain the student grievance process - Resolving Academic Grievances found in the Undergraduate (p. 51) and Graduate (p. 25 catalogs).
The articles listed below describe types of classroom incivility and ways to manage disruptive behavior in the college classroom.
Classroom Conduct and Decorum. Tools for Teaching. Barbara Gross Davis (2009).
Dealing with Student problems and Problem Students. Teaching Tips. Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie (2006).
Addressing Faculty and Student Classroom Improprieties. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, (99). John M. Braxton, Alan E. Bayer (2004).
Reducing Incivility in the University/College Classroom. International Electronic Journal for Leadership in Learning, 5(4). Patrick J. Morrissette (2001).
Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom. Lee Warren (2002).
Managing the Classroom and Relating to Students Penn State (Appendix A– scroll down to pg. 138).
Managing Classroom Conflict. For Your Consideration. Center for Faculty Excellence, University of North Carolina (2004).