6 classroom management tips that work for any teacher! Avoid having to discipline by redirecting, refocusing and making your room fun.
You know how some years you get that one "special class?" For me, it seems to happen every 5 years - something must have been in the water at the moment of conception because the whole class (it seems!) needs to be managed differently than other years.
Many of our students need to talk and move in order to learn best. Learning should be a social event, where kids share discoveries, use oral talk to go deeper into a subject, and can ask questions that should be answered by other students, not just the teacher.
But sometimes a classroom can get too loud while "working together" or there are special times when the entire class seems a bit more squirmy than usual (full moon, holidays, birthday parties...).
So here are some extra special classroom management tips that may just help make those types of days run a bit smoother.
These six strategies may be just what you are looking for. My favorite is "3 Xs." I use almost every day and the kids completely monitor themselves.
1. 3 X's on the Board
Put 3 large X's on the board. Tell the children that as they get too loud (even if they are on task), you will simply erase an X. When all three X's are gone, the classwork becomes homework and you move on to the next lesson. Works like a charm!
Out of all the classroom management tips I have tried over the years, this is the one that I have used with every grade level (from 2nd grade up to 8th grade). I have not had a class yet that hasn't responded well to it.
2. Classroom Team Building Activities
Taking a thoughtful approach to building classroom communities through activities is key in managing a classroom. Doing on-going classroom team-building activities throughout the year is an excellent strategy for all teachers.
A really fun activity is to make index cards with a variety of birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, etc. Tape them to the board and have students choose a card for an animal the really like (have a couple of blank ones to write on for the kids who get upset not being able to get their first choice if you are teaching the primary grades).
Then divide the kids up by animal classification groups and give them questions to answer together and present to the class.
The questions can be anything you like, but some ideas are:
3. Divide the Room
Students who wish to talk while they work go to one side. Students who want to not talk go to the other, or may stay at their seats. Set a specific amount of time to complete the task, and if students who were on the talking side do not have it finished, it becomes homework with a parent note explaining that the child chose to talk during work time. Of course, if you have a student who needs this peer interaction to be successful, just modify it.
I tried this recently, and was amazed that my "worst offenders" chose to go to the non-talking side of the room. They monitored their own behaviors and chose to work instead of play. Simple strategies often work the best.
4. Spell the Word
Choose a specific holiday-themed word to spell, such as "candy" for Halloween. Students earn a letter each time another staff member compliments you on their behavior in specials, the lunchroom, hallways - wherever it may be!
Their reward should be a class-decided one, such as a read-in, extra recess or maybe a board game afternoon. My class cannot wait to tell me when they have gotten a compliment, and always beg the other teachers to let me know!
5. Fun Friday
For the students who never have to flip a card and do everything they should, this is their reward. Each Friday, make an extra 15-20 minutes at the end of the day to do something fun as a reward. This can be an extra recess, a small craft, a game, a quick science activity - anything you know your students will love.
I do believe in giving all children a chance (and lots of them!) but those kids who really are well-behaved all the time do deserve something special.
6. Give Responsibility
Some children do not respond to elementary classroom management tips and classroom discipline, for a variety of reasons. You can possibly turn this around by offering an "important" job to the child. Often a child's behaviors will clue you in as to what responsibility you should give him or her.
Set up an opportunity for the child to read to a younger student, be a helper around the school grounds, or check the rooms after announcements to see if any teachers need papers taken to the office.
Many times these students are simply looking for attention and self-worth, and will get it through negative behaviors unless you help them turn it around.