Classroom management is the backbone of any classroom; it provides the structure necessary for all the other parts to work properly. Without classroom management, a substitute teacher’s goal for the day becomes less about actual teaching, and more about trying to keep students safe. That’s not a good feeling to have as an educator. Lesson objectives are thrown out the door if you can’t get every child seated and silent.
Any expert teacher will tell you, a controlled classroom is not always an incredible and productive learning environment, but an out-of-control classroom is never one. Many of the best classrooms are what you might call “controlled chaos” – students are talking and even arguing with each other, while the teacher works with multiple small groups and moves around the room – yet at any time, if the teacher deems it necessary, she is able to call the class to attention, sometimes without saying a word… and within seconds, every student has his eyes on the teacher, seated silently, ready to receive instruction.
This does not happen overnight. It can take one year… or five years! But there are some tried-and-true strategies that teachers use every day in order to master classroom management. And if you’re not sure where to find these strategies or simply want to add more to your repertoire, look no further than the list below. These best-selling titles, authored by world-renowned educators and leadership consultants, have a permanent place on practically every successful teacher’s shelf. Pick one up and you’ll see why.
The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong
If you flip past the first few pages, there’s a single page dedicated to answering the question, “Who are Harry and Rosemary Wong?” The answer reads simply, “They are teachers.” This duo has written many excellent books about teaching, but this specific one addresses the key characteristics that make up an excellent teacher, starting with mindset, then discussing management, and finally talking about those things we might first think of when we consider the teaching profession: lesson planning and so on. But from the get-go, these two writers are transparent about the fact that they have walked in your shoes, and thus they correctly prioritize the elements needed to be an excellent teacher, with classroom management right at the top of the list. And if you just can’t get enough of the Wongs, they also have a book specifically focusing on classroom management, titled “THE Classroom Management Book.”
Teaching With Love & Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom by Jim Fay and David Funk
Often seen on a syllabus for education majors, under “Required Reading,” this book delves more deeply into child development and the psychological impact that a teacher’s words and actions can have. Going beyond strategies and techniques, this quick read resonates with those of us who are emotive, who find it difficult to take action without understanding the “why” behind the action, and who consider mindset to be just as important as practice, for our mindset is often communicated in subtle, unconscious mannerisms. A must-read for all teachers (and even parents!), “Teaching With Love & Logic” allows educators to work hard, be smart, and teach from the heart – which is a truly important lesson.
Perhaps the most famous book on classroom management and teaching techniques, this classic deserves a re-read once every two or three years, simply because it is so comprehensive and so exacting that you are bound to come away having learnt a brand-new skill or method to bring into the classroom. These techniques are also relatively simple; you truly can begin using it the very next day. Part of the reason why this book is so well-loved by teachers, substitutes, principals, and deans alike is because of the author’s motivation behind writing it. Doug Lemov says, “Teachers do the most important work in society… They do it with little fanfare–often in the face of immense challenge. And though many of them do it with incredible skill they rarely get studied. That’s what I try to do: watch great teachers and describe what they do that makes them a little different.” It’s absolutely true, and because Lemov has done the work of studying master teachers and then packaged it in an incredibly digestible form, one read of this book is guaranteed to improve your classroom management… as well as, probably a whole lot more! Note: Lemov has since come out with a follow-up to this book, which you can find here.
For a substitute teacher looking to gain confidence in classroom management, these recommended reads will undoubtedly do the trick! And if you’re interested in more ways to strengthen your career as a substitute teacher, feel free to contact us any time! We’re serious when it comes to strategizing.