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Classroom Management is an essential component to having successful sessions with your campers. When one has control of the classroom, it allows for an environment that is ready for learning. The same principle applies online.



Students entering our summer programs are often coming with mixed expectations and high energy.  Being housed in familiar, school-like settings, meeting in classrooms and then taking breaks outside and having fun creates a mix of activities between which there are (by design) blurred lines between camp and learning.  This makes our program memorable and our return-rate of campers over several summers, consistently high.  

But while Debate Camp is meant to be fun; there are moments where campers need to focus on a task, or listen to their peers or take direction from Program Staff.  As the energy of the week builds, so too does our need for effective classroom management strategies that ensures instructional time stays constructive and enjoyable for all.




To ensure effective classroom management; staff must plan ahead of any potential problems and ensure they have some techniques in mind for ensuring campers engage, participate and do not disrupt others.  Here are a couple techniques and reminders for both in-person and online instruction:


clear expectations; posted at front of room and / or at outset of each lesson

examples include, Debate Camp's DECORUM reminders:

  •   CALL & ANSWER:  Verbal cues and/or Call & Response - at key times when you need to  give instructions

Staff: “Eyes and ears on me” 

Staff: “One, Two, Three, Eyes on me;  - Campers response: “One, Two, Eyes on you!”


Know your campers names; and use them in directing instruction

Keep using names / direct questions & instruction - with camper's names throughout instruction

avoid anonymity; as campers know when you do not know who they are, so become less invested more easily


Order and organization make a classroom run smoothly - less conducive to chaos

ensure all tasks given have some perimeters, timed return / response - so students operate within guided limits

  •   MOVE

Working exclusively from the front of the classroom is less ideal at times, especially if you feel campers in the far reaches of the classroom are distracted.  You can move, and sometimes just proximity assists in redirecting camper classroom behavour.


Even something as simple as a think-pair-share [generate an idea with a partner before sharing it] can be the type of learning activity that builds interest and participation in a lesson. Know that you do not need to hold their attention for the whole time.  A 5 - 10 minute activity greatly enhances your lesson objectives and takes the pressure off the perceived need to hold their attention.



Plan for each day / Set your expectations at the beginning / Be consistent / Acknowledge the positive behaviors that you notice (Younger children tend to enjoy public verbal praise more than the older ones; Calling attention to the things your students are doing that meet your expectations reinforces the expectations for student behavior in a non-negative way.)


Realize that very little “misbehavior” is actually malicious. Most is actually age appropriate and to be expected in a healthy child.  Do not feel compelled to raise your voice to get their attention.  Be patient and with a challenging group, feel free to ensure your program coordinator and / or camp director assists if necessary.


REDIRECT: After 15 minutes of instruction on how to effectively refute an idea, or point made in a debate round, you notice that 2 or 3 campers are less engaged and distracted by each other and a side conversation they are having.  What might you try in order to re-direct the situation?

DEBATE PROTOCOL A debate is underway and points-of-information seem to be getting out of hand.  There are a lot of cross-floor comments and the camper speaking appears to have lost control of the debate. What do you to salvage the debate and ensure campers know this is not acceptable debate protocol?

DEBATE REPROCUSSIONS  The debate has adjourned and it is clear 1 camper has been update by another's comments during the round.  In spite of your initial efforts to correct the situation as you remind everyone the debate is over, how do you ensure no feelings were hurt and / or the campers have a negative experience that risks turning them off debating in the future?





What is an alternate way to quieten a room / get campers attention - as you start to teach

Why is it important to know camper's names? 


Returning staff: what is an example of a classroom strategy that you have seen work well?  New staff: what were some of the classroom management techniques you recall from some of your own teachers in the past?

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