Depending on the average age of students, classrooms can be divided into these categories −
Pre-primary − 4 to 6 years
Primary − 6 to 11 years
Middle School − 11 to 14 years
High School − 14 to 18 years
Classroom challenges for each category is different. So classroom management plans should also be different. What works for a 5 year old will never hold true for 15 year olds because the problems they face are very different. Let’s discuss some of those class management challenges.
Managing a class of pre-primary students is interesting because they are just starting to understand the concept of a class. A place where they have to follow rules, show some semblance of order and obey their teacher. Here are some common challenges faced by teachers in handling pre-primary classes −
Age-appropriate development − In this age group, the degree of development varies in children that are aged just three or six months apart. So the teacher has to take into account varied abilities of the students while teaching basic language and arithmetic skills.
Involvement of parents − For pre-primary students, parents are either very involved with their studies or leave everything to the school. The first group doesn’t want its child to fail on a single parameter while the second group does not support learning at home for fear of overburdening the child. You need to talk patiently to both the sets of parents and share with them that the child needs to learn both at school and home though at her own pace.
School support − The backing provided by the school in terms of infrastructure as well as psychological support plays a very important part in successful handling of children, without causing much stress and burn out in teachers. Every teacher should find out from the authorities what support she is entitled to and utilize it to the hilt.
Students of primary school start real academic as well as socio-behavioral learning. They are also considered old enough to start taking responsibility for their actions. In such a mixed developmental phase, some of the challenges faced by the teacher are −
More subjects more teachers − Normally pre-primary students have one teacher for all subjects. As they move to primary class, they have to get used to the idea of different teacher for each subject. Each student responds to each teacher differently, so the class has to be managed dynamically depending on students’ reactions.
Lagging behind in studies − Now that the real teaching begins, some students might lag behind in some or all academic subjects. As a teacher you have to be alert to students that are not able to cope up and provide additional support.
Widening horizons − Depending on the school, activities of students in primary level increase manifold as compared to pre-primary classes. For example, they may be allowed to go out of the class unsupervised, visit library, do some class chores, etc. This might make them distracted and restless, making class management that much more challenging.
In middle school the problems of class management have to do more with students’ behavior than anything else because children are emotionally vulnerable in their tween years. Some of the challenges that middle school teachers have to manage include −
Academic pressure − In the middle school academics really start piling up due to increasing number of subjects as well as in-depth coverage of topics. These are also the formative years when teachers must lay emphasis on lying foundations of most of the subjects they have to deal with the rest of their lives. So, you should have enough room in your classroom management plan to spend more time on complex topics.
Onset of negative emotions − During middle school years, children start feeling negative emotions like disappointment, rejection, low self-esteem. As a teacher you must explain to them that one success or one failure does not define them. If you fail to handle this you might have a class of half euphoric and half sullen students to teach. Incorporate some time in your plan to talk to your students about these emotional issues and if the need be refer them to counselling.
Bullying − After pre-primary, this is the age where new bullies crop up in every class. Due to emotional vulnerability some children are prone to be bullied while others revel in bullying. Bullying must be stopped immediately. We will deal with this in detail in the next chapter.
As the level of the class increases, the classroom management skills required of a teacher increase as well. Here are some of the challenges that teachers need to handle in high school classes −
Academic excellence − In high school students are already planning for their future career and make the subject choices that will lead them up their chosen path. So they expect their teachers to provide them with highest level of education. Teachers, in turn, need to teach at the highest levels and also assist the students in making their choices.
Disobedience − Entering their teen years, students feel a new found independence that leads to disobedience in class. Teachers need to overcome disobedience from students without turning it into a confrontation.