Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Managing the Classroom

This section addresses topics such as the art of teaching, arranging classroom seating to foster learning, strategies for the beginning and end of class, and policies like managing electronic devices and preventing plagiarism. Additional external resources can also help instructors consider how to address particular student behaviors.

Two important moments during instruction are the beginning and end of class. The events that occur during these windows can influence the engagement of students in their learning as well as their ability to synthesize major concepts.
Learning student names and pronouns can be one of the most effective ways to establish a productive classroom environment. It can build classroom community, increase student engagement, make students more comfortable seeking help, and increase student satisfaction with a course. While instructors can feel like learning student names and pronouns takes valuable time away from class, its benefits to student learning are greater than covering more content.
The physical setup of chairs, tables, and seating in a classroom can significantly influence learning. Instructional communication theory suggests that the seating arrangement can impact how the instructor communicates with students and how the students interact with one another, impacting engagement, motivation, and focus.
Active learning classrooms (ALCs) are spaces configured to maximize active, collaborative learning and multimodal teaching. Research suggests that teaching in an ALC can improve student attitudes, conceptual understanding, and passing rates, especially for female and minority students. Yale features several reservable ALCs, including the TEAL and classroom space in the CTL.
Teaching thrums with a million threads of impression, expectation, feeling, and narrative construction for which teachers cannot plan. Holding these threads together like a loom constantly at work as new material is fed through, the teacher’s unique identity as artist balances, coordinates, and creates the learning environment.
Classroom policies regarding technology, academic honesty, and behavior help students form initial impressions of the tone and expectations for a course. Research into the impressions of classroom policy on students is ongoing, but suggests that students perceive instructors to have significant control over the fairness of classroom policies. Instructors can meet that expectation by crafting policies for behavior that maximize student focus, inclusivity, and fairness.
While flexibility can be critically important for equitable and inclusive teaching, it also needs to be balanced with simple, coherent expectations and course structure. Here are some considerations for thinking about ways to create both flexibility and structure to support student learning, while keeping your workload manageable.
Yale instructors occasionally experience unexpectedly large numbers of students seeking admittance to their limited-enrollment courses. This brief guide will help you develop course admission criteria and communicate them to your students.
Many Yale students managed to learn and thrive during the pandemic because faculty were attentive to their well-being, showed heightened compassion, and acknowledged the many challenges they faced. Although specific methods may evolve as classrooms return to in-person teaching, we strongly encourage instructors to continue to prioritize student well-being – and their own. Following are suggestions and resources to support this valuable work.
Distributing a pre-course survey will help instructors get to know their students and get a sense of the class before the first day. Open-ended questions often elicit valuable information about student identity as it relates to the course, and allow students to choose if, and how much, to share. One method to protect anonymity is to distribute index cards on which students may write their answers.