Classroom management strategies are critical for teachers. Creating an environment that fosters learning, engagement, and mutual respect influences the success of both students and teachers. Learn powerful classroom management techniques that can help you establish a positive and productive learning atmosphere.
Classroom Management Strategies That Really Work
1. Being Organized & Prepared is One of the Best Classroom Management Strategies: Teachers who are well-prepared are better equipped to manage their classrooms. Organize your lesson plans, materials, and resources in a logical and accessible manner.
If you don’t yet plan your week the previous week, consider this switch. Knowing what you’re going to do allows you to prepare the bulk of the material days in advance so you’re not stressed (which kids pick up on). It also provides the opportunity to change things up if something’s not working, which is a huge boost to your classroom management skills.
My preference is to have a hanging file near my desk. Files are labeled with the days of the week. I store my copies and notes in the file and then pull all the items out and set them on my desk the night before. This way I can review the content and make sure I have enough material. And if a lesson doesn’t work, I can use a lesson I have already prepped & is at my fingertips.
2 Common Management Issues Due to Lack of Organization
Two common reasons for classroom management issues include students being confused or bored. Plan for early finishers and provide differentiated work for those who need it. We need to help all students access learning, and early finishers deserve engaging activities so that distracting others isn’t a goal. See these early finisher activities that I love having early at my fingertips.
Train students where to find early finisher activities, and have a running list of “What Do I Do Now?” activities in a clear location so students know where to look and don’t have to interrupt.
2. Establishing Clear Expectations is One of the Most crucial Classroom Management Strategies: Setting clear and consistent expectations for behavior, assignments, and participation is the cornerstone of effective classroom management. Ensure that students understand what is expected of them from day one, and reinforce these expectations regularly.
Display a poster of the essential behavior expectations that you and your students have created together and number the expectations so that when you’re redirecting a student, you can mention the number on the chart or simply point to the number on the chart as a form of redirection. Read this blog post about 6 easy classroom management strategies that work.
3. Create a Positive Classroom Culture: Foster a sense of community and inclusivity by encouraging teamwork, kindness, and respect among students.
To make kindness a regular part of your classroom, have a day where students pick 2 students to write a note of appreciation to. Students can have a class roster to keep track of those students they’ve written their note to.
Have fun in your classroom, whether it’s a review game, a quick related video, meme, joke, etc. It can even be a cheer for something that’s going right, when students beat their transition time from last week or line up quickly when they come in from recess.
Use humor to lighten the atmosphere and build rapport with students. Humor creates a positive classroom environment where students feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Practice inclusivity by making sure all your students are represented in the images around the classroom. If you have a classroom library, include diverse books by diverse authors.
4. Use Engaging Instructional Strategies: Incorporate a variety of teaching methods to keep students engaged. Utilize multimedia, group discussions, hands-on activities, and technology to cater to different learning styles and maintain interest.
As you plan your lessons ahead of time, think about ways to incorporate different strategies into your lessons. Note that not every lesson needs to include this. Some lessons are short, direct, like reteaching a concept or a quick lesson on topic sentence structure, etc.
Using group or partner work is an easy way to incorporate variety. Just remember that students might not be the best at choosing partners or groups that are going to help them be productive. You can offer limited choices or have groups or partners planned out ahead of time. Find an engaging close reading unit that will help add even more engagement to your reading lessons.
5. Be Consistent with Discipline, BUT Be Flexible: This may seem contradictory, but it’s not. Consistency is key when it comes to enforcing rules and consequences. Consequences for misbehavior should be fair, proportional, and consistently applied. This helps students understand the connection between actions and outcomes, and they know what to expect.
BUT, you have to know when a student needs more flexibility. This is the hard part. It takes time to get to know students well enough to know who needs more flexibility. This doesn’t mean that there’s not consistency. Flexibility could be having an agreement with a student that you’ll give a quiet warning so they’ll know they’re at risk of overstepping boundaries.
I’ll often use a code word the student and I have agreed upon ahead of time. When I say the word, they know to monitor their behavior more closely. This can be done verbally or with a sticky note. You can also use a break card (like walking to the fence & back) for students to deescalate behaviors. The more you keep attention away from students who are using negative behavior, the more effective your discipline will be. And many students appreciate not having their redirection be a public event.
6. Use Positive Reinforcement: Rewarding good behavior can be more effective than solely focusing on discipline. Praise and reward students for their efforts, improvements, and positive contributions to the class. This encourages a culture of positive behavior.
(Look for more on this topic in a future blog post.)
6 ideas for positive reinforcement.
- Use non-verbal signals to praise behaviors: a thumbs-up, smile, head nod, or OK signal.
- Hand out tickets that students can fill out for a weekly drawing.
- Use verbal praise, like saying the names of those on task.
- Add points to a class point or group point tally.
- Do a quick walk by and offer quiet verbal praise.
- Hand out classroom economy tokens (if you have a classroom economy).
Remember, positive reinforcement can be different for different kiddos. If you have a student with specific needs, perhaps the reinforcement is being able to play with a toy or gadget for 5 minutes on Friday (or the end of the day) if they’ve earned it.
Pin this blog post to a relevant board for later reference.
7. Build Relationships: I know…we’re tired of being told to build relationships with our students. There’s no quick fix–it just takes time! But, developing strong relationships with your students will significantly impact classroom dynamics in a positive way.
Here’s a place to start: Show genuine interest in their lives, aspirations, and concerns.
As a student cleans up to go home, ask what they have planned for the evening & share what you’re hoping to do. The next morning, ask the student about something specific they said yesterday. This simple effort leads to dialogue that builds a relationship. In the future, I’ll be writing about even more ways to build relationships. Here are a few places to start:
- Ask students about their evening or plans.
- Bring up your previous discussion at another time and share more.
- Make a positive call home to families.
- Write something quick on a note and place it on a student’s desk in the morning
- Let students know you heard them. Ask about a comment they made or a piece of writing.
8. Flexibility is Key: While it’s important to have a structured plan, be open to adapting when necessary. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances arise, and the ability to adjust your approach shows resilience and adaptability to students. This goes back to #1.
9. Have a Classroom Teacher Buddy: There are times when you may need to send a student to another classroom. Having a teacher buddy ready to go, with their schedule nearby, allows you to quickly ask a student to leave for a specified amount of time.
Another reason to have a teacher buddy is because that teacher gets to know your student. They build a relationship and their classroom can become the safe time-out zone that’s just what your student needs. When students know they’re having a tough day, they may even ask to go to this classroom for 10 minutes as a way to regroup. And when you anticipate that things are beginning to spiral out of control, the buddy classroom is a good solution that allows you to still teach while the student takes a needed break without involving the office.
10. Reflect and Iterate Your Classroom Management Strategies: Regularly assess what’s working and what could be improved in your classroom management approach. Be willing to make adjustments and learn from your experiences to refine your strategies over time.
Effective classroom management strategies can create a learning environment that promotes engagement, cooperation, and personal growth for both students and ourselves.
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