Keep Organized: How an Effective Lesson Plan Improves Classroom Management

Classroom management is essential for ensuring that students are focused and well-behaved during lessons. Lessons that incorporate classroom rules and responsibilities keep students from acting out and allow teachers to become a stronger resource for students. 

While it’s important to include elements of classroom management in lesson plans, not all educators know how to do so. Here’s how teachers can improve classroom management through well-planned lessons that inspire and motivate.

Why an Effective Lesson Plan Matters

Effective lesson planning is at the core of a well-run classroom. Failing to plan your lessons or have a solid outline for the day can lead to disarray and disorganization on your part, which can in turn cause students to lose focus.

The strategies you use to create your lessons also play a role in how effective they are. Lessons that are planned efficiently can free up classroom time teachers can use to answer questions and address concerns.

According to Kelly Jackson at The Simply Organized Teacher, lessons should always be planned a week in advance. She warns against leaving the classroom on Friday without having everything in order for the upcoming week. By using all of her spare time to plan lessons on Thursday, she can spend Friday prepping materials. This allows her to take the weekend off from lesson planning, then walk into the classroom on Monday feeling prepared and ready.

Former teacher Lauren Salisbury agrees. ”In order to have a classroom where things run smoothly, it is essential to have prepared lessons in advance.” If you don’t think through all the details and steps of a lesson, you won’t be able to do so in the moment. The more effort put into planning lessons, the better the chances are of a successful lesson.

An additional benefit of good lesson planning is that it inspires teachers to do what they do best. In turn, students tend to respond to a well-prepared teachers by wanting to learn and remain focused, according to the team at Teachable Math.

Part of good lesson planning is filling any of your own knowledge gaps regarding the subject material. “This gives the teacher confidence when delivering the lesson in the classroom. A confident teacher inspires respect from students, which in turn reduces discipline problems.”

Lesson plans are also important for outlining your classroom objectives, which can help you evaluate whether or not students are on track. Outlining expectations also keeps you and your students focused and motivated throughout the lesson, says teacher Geri McClymont.

“What exactly do you want your students to be able to do by the end of the lesson? This should be clearly communicated to your students orally at the very beginning of the lesson and posted in a highly visible location in your classroom.”

These objectives should be the focus of the lesson. Using SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) can also maximize the effectiveness of your time throughout the lesson.

a classroom full of students with their hands raised, representing why it is important to have a good lesson plan

Merge Your Lesson Plan with Classroom Management

There are a number of classroom management practices that can keep students focused and engaged regardless of the lesson being taught. Planning a lesson is only half the battle, and teachers must include both strong delivery and effective classroom management if they want students to really engage, says principal Jemi Sudhakar.

“It is also important to realize that the best planned lesson is worthless if interesting delivery procedures, along with good classroom management techniques, are not in evidence.”

Teachers should research how they want to deliver their lessons in a way that engages students. Then, these techniques must be structured and implemented in a way that students can receive. Consistency is key in maintaining a well-behaved classroom through lesson plans, Sudhakar adds. 

Teaching students strategies and processes for learning can ensure that they stay on task throughout the day.

“This is more than just talking about your homework policy, late work, and absences. It is revealing to your students how you are going to create — with them — a highly effective, low-maintenance, learning team,” says educator Ben Johnson.

For example, Johnson explains to students how he uses a strategy like Cornell Notes, and tells them why: it’s a system that summarizes the main points of a lesson and makes for a good review. Teachers have strategies for teaching the way they do, and this is something that should be shared with students so that they know what they’re doing and why.

You might also choose to design a lesson plan around activities that keep students interested. “The more senses the students use, the more engaged they will be and less likely to disrupt,” writes Angie Torre on the blog Spanish Mama. She suggests interactive notebook activities, Google Drive activities and lessons that require students to listen, draw and follow directions. Other ideas include charades and competitions that require movement.

teaching engaging with a table of kindergarten students, representing why it is important to have a good lesson plan

Use Engagement to Manage Lessons

Physically taking part in lessons shows students you’re involved in their learning and reduces their inclination to act out. Let’s say students are working on a group exercise, for example. Sitting at your desk may give them more opportunities to misbehave and get off track, since you aren’t immediately at hand.

This is why education writer Janelle Cox suggests that teachers take the time to monitor students by walking around the classroom and being available for questions. Moving around provides teachers an opportunity to ask students critical thinking questions, which helps strengthen their comprehension of the task at hand.

It’s also important to change your pattern of moving around the room, suggests Dave Foley at The National Education Association. While you should always face your students when teaching, varying your routine as you move makes it difficult for students to anticipate where you’ll be next, and reduces disruption.

Maintaining active involvement in the classroom also provides opportunities for positive reinforcement. Be sure to praise students on what they’ve done well as you move around the classroom and note their behavior. Such actions improve academic and behavioral performance, says Marcus Guido at educational software company, Prodigy Game. 

Moreover, sincere praise inspires the class, boosts self-esteem and helps students understand which behaviors you’d like to see. Carving out time for praise in your lesson plan ensures that you make this beneficial practice a normal part of your school day.

Effective lesson plans also anticipate discussion and reflection by students. It isn’t enough to simply teach a lesson and expect students to absorb it; they need to engage with the material. According to Kelli Cedo and Lorena Kelly at Education Updated, it’s important to create space for thinking and discussion.

“Students must have an opportunity to apply their thinking independently. This should be part of the lesson and can be whole-group, mini-group, or individual work,” they write.

Having prompts in your lesson plan can ensure you’re always prepared to ask questions when students need a push to the next level. It’s essential that students have an opportunity to apply their thinking independently.

Tech Tools and Apps for Classroom Management

Today’s teachers have an abundance of technology tools and apps at their fingertips, many of which can help with classroom management. For example, an app called Stick Pick digitizes the idea of equity popsicle sticks, which is a game teachers play to maintain equal student participation. “Along with providing a random name generator, Stick Pick also provides differentiated question stems for each student’s level, says former teacher Nneka Bennett at classroom behavior management solutions provider Kickboard. 

You can promote participation in the classroom through GroupMaker too, which enables teachers to create groups based on different criteria. This tool is excellent for facilitating group participation and ensuring that no student feels left out during collaborative work, writes Bennett.

Socrative is another edtech tool that can be incorporated into lesson plans. This instant response system allows students to answer a question directly from their phones in real time. This provides teachers with the ability to make an instant evaluation as to how students are grasping new concepts, says educator Fahad Khan. It also prevents students from calling out answers, which allows teachers to better direct the lesson.

Still another tool that lets students respond digitally is Plickers. “This app allows teachers to generate a multiple choice question and students to scan laminated cards using devices to choose the correct answer,” says the team at the teachers blog, Really Good Stuff. This simple tool tracks student engagement and boosts focus, making test review, daily lessons and brain breaks fun and efficient.

Images by: ammentorp /©, dolgachov/©, Dmitriy Shironosov/©

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