Having good control of the class certainly increases the learning possibilities of the students. A difficult, potentially chaotic or “saturated” class is, on the contrary, an invitation to a series of problems that can hinder the educational process. For this reason, one of the concerns of educational psychologists is the need to establish a positive environment in the classroom.
An important aspect, from this point of view, is the ability to understand the dynamics of the class; knowing how to isolate and prevent the elements that can disturb this space. Before talking about good management and control of the class, therefore, we need to understand how it works.
The six dimensions of the class proposed by Walter Doyle
Psychologist Walter Doyle has identified six dimensions that may or may not favor the onset of problems in the classroom. Knowing them will help us to understand the classroom better and, above all, to deal with its difficulties effectively.
- The classes are multi-dimensional. They are the scene of numerous activities of different nature; they range from school activities in the strict sense (reading, writing, mathematics, etc) to social ones (games, dialogue with friends, etc).
- The activities can be carried out simultaneously. One group of students may be busy writing, while another discusses the assignment with the teacher. There may even be a pupil who is annoying or others chatting to each other.
- The events are immediate. In the classroom, events follow one another quickly and often require an immediate response. Multiple conflicts can arise spontaneously and without warning; for example, a discussion may arise for the possession of an object.
- Events are often unpredictable. As much as you try to plan your daily activities in detail, the unexpected is just around the corner. It can be an alarm that sounds, a computer that doesn’t turn on, the heating doesn’t work, etc. Even these external factors can generate many conflicts if you do not have a flexible and dynamic attitude.
- Poor intimacy. The classroom is a public square and everything happens under the eyes of the students. The way in which the teacher exercises control of the class is continually judged by the children. The evaluation of the teacher’s work, in terms of justice or injustice, conditions the progress and the school environment.
- The class has memory. Pupils remember the events that occurred in the classroom. Understanding how the past affects the future is important for a good understanding of the class. The teacher must “control today to condition the learning of tomorrow”.
Get control of the class
The first few days or weeks of school are crucial to establishing good classroom control. In fact, in this period of time, the teacher must pursue two objectives of great importance:
- Talk about the rules and how the class works; also allow students to collaborate in the elaboration of the same;
- Make sure that all learners participate actively in activities and learning. Only in this way can an unproblematic class and a positive environment be created.
Starting well is not enough
During the school year the teacher must be able to respond to the requests that gradually arise within the class. If this is not done, disciplinary problems may arise that hinder students’ learning. To meet these needs, the teacher must not lose sight of two important objectives:
- Help students spend more time on learning and less time on aimless activities. Time management in school is essential, both for the teacher and for the class. As we all know, there are many distracting elements capable of dispersing and worsening the quality of learning. The teacher must help the pupils to maintain the motivation and habit of learning.
- Prevent and stop problems in the bud. Students are exposed to scholastic and emotional problems. A cold and distant class can make them feel neglected. It is also necessary to consider that a single difficulty compromises individual, but also collective, performance. Maintaining control in the classroom means above all encouraging a positive environment, creating a space where students feel comfortable and motivated.
Finally, how to know if the method adopted by the teacher is well directed towards these objectives? It is important to have an evaluation system. A continuous and exhaustive evaluation, in fact, is necessary to identify possible errors and to correct, if necessary, the strategy.