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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

From Chaos to Calm: The Art of Classroom Management

[#facilitation + #classroommanagement] Can you guess what one of the top questions we receive from teachers here in #cambridgeMENA is about? Drumroll please…

It’s Classroom Management! (Did the tag at the beginning give it away?!🤣).

It’s a good question: how DO you control a chaotic class?

And whenever I hear it, I am transported back to my earliest, most chaotic teaching experiences…

I remember being in China, ~2008, where I stood, my head swirling, looking at an apocalyptic classroom. A terrible scenario I wish upon no teacher ever.

The reality is, my lessons in that school were often spiralling quickly. I found it hard to enforce rules. It was made worse when my bilingual TA wasn’t there (I had barely started to learn Chinese). Chaos was usually halted momentarily only by more shouting and yelling.


Those early teaching experiences set me on a trajectory of learning, determined to figure out how to never let chaos take over in my lessons.

I think that for every teacher, your route to overcome this will be slightly different. There isn’t a one size fits all. Even the ethos of the school affects it, among many things. So I share here some of the tactics that helped my chaos management strategy, over time:

1️⃣ Being observed by experienced teachers *and* being open (not defensive) to their feedback

2️⃣ Recording my teaching - a full lesson's worth, and cringing through a self review of the videos. Then making tweaks based on my own critical evaluation

3️⃣ Attending training with facilitators I enjoyed, respected and felt inspired by. Seeing them model strategies. Experiencing those strategies, and trying them out (I later learned from the legend #PeterLucantoni that this is often called 'loop learning'.)

I didn’t do these all at once. Most of the above was also challenging when I already felt drained from the chaos. So I did them in small doses here & there. But these were some of the most potent cures for me to slowly overcome chaos.

💬 So, now I’m wondering: reading this, have you ever experienced something similar? What did you do to overcome it? What helped you the most? What didn't help you? What would you recommend to that version of you, now you know better? If you’re able to, I welcome you to share. Maybe another teacher will find that what you have to say is just what they need to hear. 💛

P.S. Photos are from the vault - 2008 (!). Not my most chaotic bunch. But, still: 2008. Does this mean I’m very grown up now? Gulp. 👀

P.P.S. Know a teacher who has a magic way of dispelling chaos? Let’s get them nominated for the Global Dedicated Teacher Awards! Submissions are open - yalla! challo! Go go goo...

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