Classroom Management: The Key Ingredient You Might be Missing

Laquanta Murray NelsonBlog, Class Management

Classroom Management: The Key Ingredient You Might be Missing

Guest Post by: Dr. LaQuanta M. Nelson of

It’s February, the month known for hearts, cupid’s arrow, and all things LOVE! Our local stores will be filled with cards that express affection, while there will be plenty of online orders for flower deliveries. And though many of us won’t say such, most people would like to be shown some type of affirmation during this season of love. Our students are no different!

As educators, love is not a word that we are formally “trained” to use, but it is one that we must daily demonstrate in order to prepare students to be successful. We take classes in reading, testing measurements, and statistics, all of which are necessary to ensure learning.

If I were queen of education, however, we would also have a course titled WITH LOVE. This class would teach us about the great impact of having true concern for others, the positive effect of demonstrating compassion, and the reciprocal benefits of spreading positive energy to those around you. It doesn’t matter if you are a teacher in the 3rd grade, a biology instructor in high school, or an assistant dean at a community college, love is like that “special” ingredient that chefs never really tell you about that makes the dish the most delectable you’ve ever had! You see, everything is better WITH LOVE, including classroom management!

Even on your worst day, you may be their only light! Click To Tweet

I’ve had the privilege to work in middle schools that were labeled as having some of the “toughest” kids in our state. Reputations of drug abuse, violence, and extreme disregard for authority plagued them. Experience is one of life’s greatest teachers.

The most important lesson I learned from students in these settings was simple, yet more powerful than any education course I’ve experienced. No matter how unruly at appearance, these students all craved this thing called love.

I want to encourage each of us to keep these few things in mind when talking about classroom management:

“Consistency, alone, is not the cure!”

So many times, the first word that we use when sharing classroom management strategies is “consistency.” While no one in education will argue the importance of such, I must say that consistency alone will not yield the most well managed classroom.

At times, we are consistent with the wrong practices for student growth and self-reflection. The goal in classroom management is to empower students to self-regulate themselves for optimal learning experiences. As educators, however, we don’t always model such practices. Instead we stick with “what we’ve always done” and expect our diverse students to adjust.

Let’s ask ourselves, in what practices are we being consistent? Are these practices that are increasing student’s abilities to express their individuality or suppressing creativity by way of compliance? Always expecting the best in your students and intentionally looking for the good in them is a practice that we must employ!

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“The students who need love the most express it in the most unloving ways!”

You’ve heard quotes like this before, but oh how true it is! Students who are used to being abandoned, neglected, and written off as “damaged” will try everything in their ability to show you how much power than can have in a classroom and school setting. Unfortunately, the truth is that these students only get attention when they play tug of war with adults.

In our age of high-stakes tests and crucial accountability models, educators often are faced with the question of, “Do I sacrifice my entire class for this one child who ALWAYS disrupts the learning environment?” While that is not the heart of who we are as educators, we are placed between a rock and a hard place to produce success, based on test scores.

I want to encourage you to find ways to love those students harder than they think they deserve. Look beyond their seemingly harsh exterior and know that, deep within, they need more love, more care, more grace than any other child you’ve previously worked with.

Traditional classroom management says to follow the steps of your policy and then send them out of your room. I encourage you to follow the steps of their past and then bring them in to your heart!

I encourage you to follow the steps of their past and then bring them in to your heart! Click To Tweet

“Even on your worst day, you may be their only light!”

The world, at times, is really dark, unforgiving, and seemingly filled with negativity. I want to take the opportunity to encourage, not only educators, but everyone to start intentionally doing things WITH LOVE!

One of the greatest activist of all times, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, noted,” Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Life happens to us all. Parents are sending us the best they have and many are doing all they can with what they don’t have. Even with that, many of our students are living in homes pained with depression, poverty, or abuse.

When they come to school, they are often simply reflecting what they have lived. Classroom management, when implemented ineffectively, can aid to the darkness and self helplessness that our kids experience.

Let’s ensure that our classroom management is part of our SHINE! Ask yourself, “Will this approach to classroom management aid my students in developing skills that will help them to experience the joys of being self-disciplined?”

Beyond the textbook….

I’m sure you are wondering why this educator is speaking of love stuff instead of more traditional classroom management strategies. Well, I must confess that it is my belief that educators are some of the individuals that can have the greatest impact in our world today and tomorrow! And since our world needs more light, educators must step up to the plate to deliver. A core part of our effectiveness is directly tied to our ability to manage students in any setting. Classroom management ultimately can be part of how we make a positive, lasting impact in our world.

There is a well-known saying that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. John Maxwell said it more generally, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

We all have many differences, but we have even more similarities. One of the greatest similarities that we have as human beings is the need to be loved, the need to know that someone in the universe cares about us.

Some of my students who were considered too tough to teach ended up being leaders who have made a lasting impact in their community. Fast forward many years later, some of them now are even educators!

These life-changing transformations happened for my students because they were LOVED, unconditionally, beyond their mistakes!

So, how do we start to show love to our students through classroom management? We begin with a clean slate each day, a big smile, and a simple, “Good morning!”

About Dr. LaQuanta M. Nelson

Dr. LaQuanta Nelson - Guest PostsHello! I am Dr. LaQuanta M. Nelson and I have a confession….. This is a total, TOTAL leap of faith! You probably can guess that my #oneword2018 is FEARLESS. What better place to start than with one of my greatest desires, which is to empower others through writing!

It was in the second grade, around the month of October, that I decided I wanted to be a teacher. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Nancy Jones, by that point had made me feel that I could totally conquer the world. It wasn’t long after that I knew I wanted to inspire everyone else feel the same. Of course, my story is no different than many educators. I, too, tried to run from this amazing calling, but quickly found that it was truly my purpose in life to fulfill! What a roller coaster ride it has been and I have been giving it a country girl, “YAAHOOOOO!”, all along the way!

As first generation college graduate, it has been through education that I have been afforded the opportunity to see the world beyond what “statistics” say I should have been able to experience. It’s for this reason that I am committed to teaching, leading, and inspiring WITH those who have also taken on this career to totally transform lives! I believe in the concept of to whom is given, much is required!! Did I mention that I believe that educators are ROCK STARS??

I am a proud alumna of Tougaloo College, where I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree. Both master’s and specialist degrees were acquired from Mississippi College in the areas of Elementary Education and Educational Leadership. In 2012, I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Ph.D. in Education and Educational Administration. I am currently in my 13th year as an educator and have had the privilege of being a teacher, mentor teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Currently as Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of Middle Level Education, I also have the privilege of working with great middle school educators from across the state. I TOTALLY believe in the power of TEAM and the power of POSITIVE ENERGY! My other “babies” are school culture, student engagement, and leadership development, both student and teacher. It is my desire, through this platform, to inspire, share, learn, and grow as a #BOSSEDUCATOR!!!

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