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December 19, 2023

Reducing Challenging Behavior: Simple Yet Effective Strategies to Restore Classroom Calm

Classroom management has become particularly challenging in a post-pandemic world. Fortunately, these three evidence-based strategies can reduce problems and form habits that will help you, and your students, thrive. 

Keep a Consistent Class Routine

A “Do Now” to start, homework written on the board, an exit ticket at the end. While consistency can feel unnecessary to some it is absolutely essential for others, especially our students with weaker executive functions, memory, or struggling to understand. Routine provides a sense of security and self-confidence – knowing what to do and how and when to do it. Once routine is standard, you’ll see more students following expected behaviors, fewer asking process questions, and overall better behavior. And, of course, routines don’t need to be boring. You can still be as creative as you want during activities, but having students know when to expect to start and finish the activity can make all the difference. 

Chunk It Up

Breaking up lessons into discrete sections helps in so many ways. It prevents cognitive overload, particularly helpful for students with weaker executive functions. When you introduce new information in discrete chunks, students know how to study later — review one chunk, make sure you know that, and then move on to the next which is essential for students with weaker memory. Chunking also provides time to reflect and check-in and helps ensure they understand before moving on and leaving some kids behind. And we know it is when students feel left behind that they disengage and misbehave. 

Take Regular, Short Breaks

The average teenager will find it difficult to sustain focus in the same seat and listen for more than 20 minutes. Younger students can focus for even less time. A quick “stand and stretch”, water break, or “turn and talk” will make everyone, including you, feel better. 

Neuroscience shows that these small tweaks to your class routine can have an outsized impact. 

If you’re looking for more strategies like the ones above, check out our new course “Science of Learning: A Practical Approach to Engaging Every Learner.”


About the Author

Nancy Weinstein is the Co-Founder and CEO of Mindprint Learning, an educational technology company that specializes in helping children develop a growth mindset through research-backed cognitive assessments.

Learn more about MindPrint and explore strategies that your students can use to achieve their highest potential.

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