Smiling teacher at the front of a classroom raising hands with his students

Your Guide to Understanding K-12 Classroom Management

Teaching is a highly demanding profession — and not just because it comes with high stakes. Learning how to teach requires developing not only subject matter expertise, but skills spanning technology, administration, conflict resolution, child development, and many more competencies. 

Teachers spend a median of 54 hours per week on the job. However, non-teachers may be surprised to learn that less than half of that time is spent on actual instruction. 

EdWeek Research found that today’s teachers spend only 46 percent of their time on instruction. The other portion is divided among grading papers and providing feedback (5 hours/week), general administrative work (3 hours), planning and preparation (5 hours), non-teaching interaction with students (3 hours) and a number of other tasks.

That’s why classroom management is one of the most important skillsets teachers can develop. 

Good classroom management significantly reduces distractions, improves student engagement, and saves time throughout the school day. Without classroom management, teachers are forced to spend more time getting kids back on track, handling disciplinary issues, and answering redundant questions — cutting into their already-limited teaching time.  

So what is classroom management? How can teachers utilize a combination of strategy and technology to manage their classroom most effectively? 

In this guide, we’ll answer eight key questions, including: 

Classroom Management

What is classroom management? 

Classroom management refers to the techniques and skills teachers use to create and maintain appropriate student behavior, optimize student engagement, and ensure their classes run smoothly.  

In the same way that any manager is expected to establish and enforce rules of engagement to ensure workers remain productive, teachers should pro-actively manage their students to keep instruction and learning on track.  

With good classroom management, students are clear on the hierarchy of the classroom and its rules and expectations, regarding both their behavior and their completion of individual tasks throughout the day. They are also clear on the consequences for violating those rules and expectations, and the teacher is consistent in enforcing those consequences when needed.

Often, teachers do not learn classroom management as part of their undergraduate training, which means they work to understand and acquire these skills independently — usually on the job. 

Smiling teacher at the front of a classroom raising hands with his students

Why is classroom management important? 

A teacher’s classroom management approach is just as important as that teacher’s grasp of their subject material. Learning can only happen when there’s effective classroom management because the classroom environment is otherwise prone to creating disruptions, distractions, and misunderstandings that can derail even the most dedicated students.

First and foremost, classroom management creates an environment that’s conducive to learning. Students feel engaged, accepted, in command of their own work, and able to focus on the tasks the teacher assigns.

It also makes daily life easier for the teacher. Having a pro-active plan for managing student behavior reduces the stress of responding to interruptions when they happen. Teachers who practice good classroom management set themselves up to not only get the best out of their students but to get more satisfaction from their job.

Good classroom management increases instruction time by reducing disruptions and creating smoother, quicker transitions between activities.

Students in a well-managed classroom understand what’s expected of them, making it easier for them to set and attain goals throughout the year.

Finally, good classroom management reduces the amount of time administrators and parents must spend addressing student behavior — and keeps students in the classroom, rather than the principal’s office, so they can continue learning.

What are the five components of management important? 

1. Rules

The rules of the classroom establish boundaries that students are not allowed to cross without consequence. Rules can be framed in a positive nature to instruct students on certain expectations or they can also instruct students on what not to do— e.g. Do not interrupt when someone else is speaking.

Because rules can differ among classes, it’s important for teachers to set and share a clear set of rules for their classroom, ideally on the first day of class. Those rules should also be posted on the wall or white board as a reminder for students throughout the year.

2. Consequences

Rules lose their meaning unless they are paired with consequences that are appropriate and consistently enforced. Teachers should explicitly state the consequences for breaking each rule. The first consequence may be a verbal warning with consequences escalating as the offense is repeated.

One of the most challenging aspects of setting clear consequences is consistency in applying them, across situations and students. Students will always test the teacher’s boundaries, so it’s advisable for teachers to give careful up-front thought to creating consequences that will be easy to reiterate and enforce on an ongoing basis.

3. Expectations

Constant communication is a key element of good classroom management, especially the communication of a teacher’s expectations for the task at hand. Teachers can set expectations for a student’s learning outcomes on a task, but also their behavior.

For example, before starting a math activity, a teacher may say, “For this activity, you’ll work quietly at your desk. Please be sure to apply the concepts we discussed this morning and to complete this activity within 30 minutes. If you have any questions, please send me a message, so we can discuss.” The specificity kids need may vary, but in general, the more information teachers can include about their expectations for any given activity, the more likely kids are to meet those expectations.

4. Goals

Giving students clear academic goals is another key component of classroom management. Students need both micro- and macro-level goals and regular check-ins to reiterate those goals and give feedback on how they’re progressing.

This gives students a narrative to focus on that’s larger than the events of any one day. When kids understand what they’re working toward, they will often be more motivated to engage in the process.

5. Personal Relationships

One of the most important elements of classroom management is developing a personal relationship with each student. Students can tell when a teacher is bought in to their growth and achievement and will often behave and perform better for those teachers who they know truly care about them.

Not all teachers have a nurturing personality, and that’s OK. However, understanding each kid’s background, circumstances, and personalities will help teachers make better decisions about how to set and enforce rules and expectations in a way that makes sense for their classroom and individual students.

What are some examples of classroom management tactics? 

1. Letting students help set the rules and consequences 

One easy way to get kids to buy in to classroom rules is to help them determine what those rules are. Teachers and students can start the year with a brainstorming session to determine the rules of the classroom and consequences for breaking those rules.

Keep in mind that the goal of rules should be to work toward a peaceful and engaging learning environment, and that may look vastly different for different groups of students.

2. Smoothing transitions through clear directions

Transitioning between activities can sometimes be a classroom management challenge, as noise levels soar and kids get off track. Teachers can tackle this by setting pro-active expectations before transitioning.

For example, a teacher might say, “Right now, I need everyone to listen to me carefully. When I tell you it’s time, I want you to — without talking — put your binders away in your backpacks and take out your laptops. Do not open or turn on your laptops. Without talking, please put your binders away and take out your laptops now.”

3. Greeting students at the door

Many teachers swear by this simple classroom management skill. By greeting students as they enter the classroom, teachers help kids leave their mental and emotional baggage at the door and transition into a learning mindset.

When possible, it’s ideal to give kids a moment to talk about their day as they’re coming in. That helps strengthen the teacher-student relationship and gets everyone on the same page, rather than feeling distracted by unaired anxieties or frustrations.

4. Teaching and enforcing digital citizenship

Many of students’ interactions throughout the day take place on their digital devices. That’s a great reason why, in addition to teaching kids how to be respectful in the classroom, teachers should consider providing lessons, feedback, and consequences surrounding students’ digital citizenship.

That means setting rules of engagement for the digital space, but also taking the time to pro-actively model and talk about what makes a good digital citizen.

Classroom Management Software

What is classroom management software? 

Classroom management software is a type of software that helps teachers guide digital learning, promote collaboration, and make the most of teaching time.

One goal of classroom management software is to reduce the amount of time teachers spend walking around the classroom (or in the event of distance learning, emailing students) in order to gauge student progress. With all student screens visible on the teacher’s dashboard, it’s much easier for teachers to recognize when a student is off track and to reach out to those students discreetly.

Another goal is to ease transitions by enabling teachers to freeze student screens or push the same website to all student devices at the same time. Depending on the software, teachers may also be able to avoid unwanted distractions by limiting which websites students can access and monitoring students’ device battery life to get ahead of unexpected device shutdowns.

Who uses classroom management software? 

Today, schools of all kinds use classroom management software to help teachers and students stay in lock step as they work on digital devices, reducing distractions and enriching online learning for kids. 

Classroom management software was developed in the 1980s to provide a way for instructors in computer labs to oversee and interact with a lab full of students using computers. As digital devices became more common in schools, the utility of classroom management software spread to the classroom as a way to give teachers oversight and guidance while students learned on their devices. 

As cloud-based classroom management software became available, schools affected by inclement weather began using it to support distance learning — a use that grew exponentially during Covid-related school closures.  

How does classroom management software work? 

Typically, classroom management software is installed on teacher and student devices and enables teachers to view students’ screens during class time, message with students, blank out student screens to redirect attention to the teacher, broadcast teacher or student screens to the rest of the class, push the same website to all student devices, and may even enable teachers to administer polls and quizzes.

Classroom management software may be delivered as a cloud-based application, accessible from users’ browsers. Alternatively, it may be installed on schools’ on-site servers. Cloud-based versions support distance learning over any network and are supported by the software vendor, while self-hosted versions may offer more robust functionality.

What is LanSchool classroom management software? 

LanSchool was one of the pioneers of classroom management software and is now used by schools all over the world. Owned by leading global edtech provider Lenovo, LanSchool offers an ever-evolving suite of classroom management features and supports learning in dozens of languages.

LanSchool is available in two versions: self-hosted LanSchool Classic and cloud-based LanSchool Air. Both versions enable teachers to monitor students’ screens while in class, limit the websites students may visit, “push” a website to open on all classroom devices, and message the class, along with other functionality.

The software is compatible with Windows, Mac and ChromeOS operating systems. It also integrates with Google Classroom for easy deployment and updates.

Video: How Lanschool Works

Getting started with classroom management software

Classroom management software is only one component of classroom management, but it can enable greater success by helping teachers oversee student work, increasing engagement and focus.

Not sure which feature set you’re looking for? It’s a great idea to start with a pilot program to increase teachers’ comfort level and build ambassadors before launching to the faculty as a whole. Taking advantage of cloud-based software free trials will help you determine which solution is the right fit for your school or district.

Whether you’re trying classroom management software for the first time or thinking of switching, it’s important to understand the underlying concepts of classroom management and how technology helps teachers build a more unified learning environment. Ultimately, good classroom management is a function of a skilled and confident teacher — but the right edtech can go a long way in setting them up for success.

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