(Get it? “Management”? <groan>)

The question recently came up on a teaching page:

How do I manage my TPRS classroom?

My answer will probably be disappointing. You manage it the same way you manage any classroom.

Management precedes instruction. You can’t teach anything, using any method, if you can’t manage your classroom.

All of the devices that look TPRS-specific, like using págames, enforcing TPRS rules, giving students thinking sheets, or whatever — they are not “just” for TPRS. They might be dressed up that way, presented in Spanish or German or whatever. But at the bottom of it all, they are all just different kinds of rewards or consequences for (not) behaving the way the teacher wants the students to behave while in the classroom.

For the majority of students, there are lots of ways to do this. I used to hang out in the best-managed TPRS classroom I’ve ever seen, and finally asked the teacher, Jeff Klamka (a longtime and excellent TPRSer), how he did it. He told me it was all Fred Jones (Tools for Teachers). A very worthwhile read (and thus far sufficient for everything I’ve needed in the line of classroom management).

TPRS helps with management, because kids are like puppies, in a way. You know the saying “a tired puppy is a good puppy”? We can say “A kid who gets it is a good kid.” Kids don’t want to be irritating or ‘bad’, by and large, but they don’t always have the maturity to sit quietly and be totally confused. They feel badly when they don’t get it, and they don’t realize it’s on us, in the TPRS classroom, to make sure they “get it”. And when you’re going through school, it’s better to be the bad kid than the dumb kid, many times.

TPRS helps by hooking the students on things that truly interest them. It helps by ensuring that all the students succeed. It helps by engendering a good relationship between teacher and students.

But TPRS isn’t the management. TPRS is the conditions that make the management less necessary. There still has to be management, and that doesn’t come from TPRS.

So although TPRS classrooms typically have far fewer management issues than legacy method classrooms, because kids are able to engage fully in what’s going on, the management that underlies that classroom will be just the same as the management principles of any well-run classroom.

  • Have clear expectations.
  • Have a plan for diversity and exceptions.
  • Know your administration and what kind of backup you can expect.
  • Know what consequences you can impose.
  • Call every parent the first week of school and say something nice about their kid, so that when you have to call one of those parents the fourth week of school, you’re a friend trying to solve a problem, not an opposing force trying to prove their kid did something wrong.

And even though I don’t get a commission on the Fred Jones book, check it out. Really worth it. I’m so managed, I have a hard copy AND the Kindle version!