Who’s in Charge?

Every seasoned teacher knows one of the key elements of running a classroom successfully and surviving the year, is firmly establishing that ‘you are in charge’. If students do not know this, deeply believe this and respect this, a teacher will be trying to navigate a sinking ship.

There always will be those students who have learned by this point in their lives; that adults in positions of authority are in charge.  However, as time goes on and and the family unit and society as a whole continue to change, there seems to be more and more students who really do not have a concept of this.

It is critical that any teacher of any age group firmly establish that they are in charge.  If this is not established, a teacher will find classroom control and management a challenge.

Some key ways to do this are as follows:

Still Talking!
1. Do not speak over students who are still talking. If you have asked the class to stop and listen, be forefront in the classroom and wait, looking at those who are still talking, without saying a word.

Do not begin until you have their attention. Use your body language to help you.  You may need to move closer to the students, change the expression on your face, and use body language cues.

Once they have complied, soften your expression and your body language and begin your lesson or instructions.

The Arguers and the Defiant

2. If a student attempts to challenge your authority by non compliance, arguing etc., ask them who is in charge and wait for their answer.  When they have established that you are in charge, then ask them again to comply.

If they refuse to comply, ask them if you need to let your authority figure know that they do not want to comply. Again, wait for their decision.  If they still will not comply, contact your superior.

Stop everything until this is finished!  It may take a while, but the next time it happens, your wait time will be less.

No Idea!

3. There also may be students who, for no fault of their own, have not learned their teacher is in charge and they need to do what they are asked while at school.

Taking a student like this aside, and explaining to them how this concept works and how they need to follow this concept while at school is a starting point.  They will probably require prompts from yourself along the way to help them learn this.

They may also need to understand that there may be consequences for them when they do not do what they are asked. These children will most likely slowly begin to change their ways when they realize there are consequences they don’t particularly like which prevent them from having fun, unlike their peers who are having fun.

The Fence Sitters

4. In every classroom, there will be those who ‘sit on the fence’.  They can go either way with compliance depending on who their friends are.

These students need to be quickly and surely readjusted in a firm, but gentle way. Using consequences for these students is usually a quick remedy.

You can these use body language and eye contact as prompts for these students and they will usually quickly comply.

You may need to determine if a standing position during a discussion is more appropriate as this is a more authoritative stance.

The Sweet Ones

5. There are then those poor soles who are forced to wait, and wait and wait for their fellow classmates to comply to enable the teacher to continue on with the day. These students need to be recognized for their good citizenship and respect for others.

Final Thoughts

If a teacher clearly and surely establishes that they are in charge, good classroom management will follow with firmly established routines and expectations.


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