Effective classroom management is the key to having your classroom run smoothly. Implementing a classroom management system will allow you to spend less of your time redirecting students and more of your time instructing them, which is the goal of teaching!
As a new teacher, It can be hard to determine what classroom management strategies will be most successful in your classroom.
To begin, let’s take a look at what classroom management should look like and the best strategies to get a first-year teacher started.
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What Should Classroom Management Look Like?
Effective classroom management sets the tone for learning by helping students know what to expect. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do students have an idea of what their day will look like when they walk through your door?
What routines will they follow for arrival, transitions, using supplies, etc.?
What expectations are in place?
Will students feel comfortable in your classroom? With you? With their peers?
Having all of these components in place will set you up for success. If you don’t have the answers to these questions yet, then it’s time to dive into general classroom management styles to get you there!
What are the 3 General Classroom Management Strategies?
When it comes to effective classroom management, there are hundreds of strategies out there, but ultimately it comes down to 3 main categories: building relationships, setting expectations, and maintaining consistency.
1. Build Strong Relationships with your Students
You may be wondering how building strong relationships with students relates to classroom management. Let me connect the dots for you! The goal is to set a positive classroom environment for your students.
Students who feel accepted and understood by their teacher and their peers are more comfortable participating, engaging, and interacting.
So, how can you ensure that strong relationship building is happening in your classroom? That’s where building a classroom community comes into play. As a teacher, you want to unify your classroom as a team who works together and helps each other. Students feel comfortable with one another, are welcoming of ideas and perspectives, and have multiple leadership opportunities throughout the school day. Although it won’t happen overnight, when it does happen, it will be magical.
You want your students to look forward to coming to school each and every day!
2. Set Expectations that are Clear and Simple
Instead of making classroom rules, try setting classroom expectations and allowing students to be a part of the process. By doing so, classroom expectations become more meaningful for them. You also give students the opportunity to clearly understand your rules because they helped make them!
How to Set Classroom Expectations with your Students:
Grab a piece of chart paper and work with your students to brainstorm expectations. Together, come up with two to four classroom expectations. Be sure that the expectations that you choose to use are clear and simple for students to understand. You want your expectations to encompass the majority of the rules students need to follow in school. Have your students sign the chart to serve as a ‘classroom agreement’. By inviting students to the table to share their ideas, you help make the expectations that you set more meaningful for them to follow.
3. Have a Consistent Schedule & Routine
Are students entering the classroom in the morning? They know to start unpacking and put their homework in the basket.
Is it time for lunch? Students know to wait for their number to be called before lining up.
Did students finish an activity early? They know to pull out their folder of early finisher activities.
These small routines are what keep your classroom running and prevent you from answering hundreds of unnecessary questions and interruptions each day. Take it from me, a routine sets the pace for your classroom and helps students know what to expect without taking away valuable instructional time.
How Do You Deal with Misbehaving Students?
You’ve set your expectations and developed routines, but you still have students who are misbehaving. How do you handle it?
What to Do if a Student is Misbehaving in Class
You might have a tough time with ONE student in the class. Every teacher has dealt with a disruptive child. Think about how your relationship with that student can be strengthened. Does that student feel seen and heard by their teacher? Sometimes, a student’s misbehavior can be a sign of family problems at home or a lack of attention. Assign a leadership role to that student so that they feel valued and needed.
Is the student hyperactive and constantly needs to move around the room? Make them your class messenger! This way, they are able to get some movement throughout the day. You may also want to try incorporating some Engaging Teaching Strategies for Fidgety Learners.
Do you have a student who is defiant or disruptive? You may want to give them a teacher assistant leadership role. I know this might sound a bit crazy… but hear me out. Most defiant students are acting out for a reason. They want to feel cared for. Having them as your teacher assistant means they will work closely alongside you with lots of opportunities for praise, positive talk, and mentorship.
Remember to focus on the positive when talking to your students!
Are there Several Students Misbehaving in Class?
It may be time to review classroom expectations. Reestablishing expectations every couple of months reminds students of the agreement they signed at the beginning of the year.
Also, consider class-wide incentives to help students hold each other accountable. My Unlock the Prize Chart freebie is a fun way to have students work together toward a common goal while earning something fun. Check it out for free below.
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15 Tools for Effective Classroom Management
1. Create a Class Contract/Agreement
As mentioned above, consider having your class share expectations that they believe are acceptable for the classroom. After you’ve settled on your 2-4 classroom expectations, have students sign a contract stating that they understand and will follow these expectations. Hang it up and use it as something you can reference to reteach expectations as needed.
2. Assign Student Leadership Roles
Leadership roles allow students to feel important and needed! By assigning students leadership roles, the expectation is set that everyone has their job to complete with the understanding that roles will rotate giving everyone a chance. Use my editable leadership roles decor to keep student roles organized.
3. Classroom Economy
Consider allowing students to earn classroom dollars to spend. This can be paired with ClassDojo or any other behavior management system. As students earn money, they become excited to spend it on various prizes.
Classroom Economy System
Students will earn “Class Cash” for positive behaviors throughout the week. They can buy classroom coupons with their money! A great classroom management tool that incorporates real-life math skills.
4. Class Mascot
A classroom mascot can be a real animal or a stuffed animal! In my classroom, we use Buddy the dog. Students earn raffle tickets to be entered to take Buddy home for the weekend. This keeps students on task because they desperately want Buddy to come home with them! Interested in getting a class pet? Check out this post to help you get started.
5. Use Class-Wide Rewards & Incentives
Although we want students to meet their own behavior goals, we also want them to be able to work as a team to achieve class-wide goals. My Unlock the Prize Chart freebie is a great way to do that! Simply set a class goal and post it on the board (the freebie has a template for this). As students are exhibiting the behavior, give them a key. The class will work together to earn keys and unlock the prize of your choice.
6. Incorporate a Voice Level Chart
Voice level charts are a great way to control the noise in your room. Visuals are a powerful way to remind students of your expectations. When hung in a visible spot, visual voice level posters allow students to see the expectation for noise while they are working. With voice levels ranging from 0 – silent to 3 – speaker, these posters clearly define each level and are perfect for helping students control their voice.
7. Use Individual Behavior Trackers for Difficult Students
Some students may need individualized behavior trackers and that’s okay! We can’t expect one size to fit all. Based on a student’s behaviors, you may need to set individual goals for that student. Use one-on-one conference time to discuss the child’s behavior tracker and to strengthen your relationship with that student. Remind students that you are in their corner and you believe in them!
8. Have Early Finisher Activities Ready
Having routines in place, prevents students from misbehaving. Early finisher activities are an easy way to set the expectation of what students need to do when they finish their work. Take a look here to learn more about creating routines for your students.
9. Display Hand Signal Posters to Avoid Interruptions
Use hand signals to minimize disruptions throughout the school day. By having students raise 1 finger for the bathroom, 2 for water, 3 for pencil, and 5 for a question, you can anticipate student needs while answering fewer questions. My hand signal posters are available in many cute designs to get you started and set the expectation early on.
10. Use a Movement Word for Directions
Ding Dong! When they hear that sound, students know it’s time to move to the next activity. Another way to do this is to write a word on the board that students correlate with movement.
11. Incorporate Brain Breaks Throughout the Day
Sitting at a desk all day can be exhausting for students. Incorporate brain breaks throughout the day to help your students burn some of their energy! I love using GoNoodle videos for this! (Tons of free ones available)
12. Use Callbacks to Get your Students’ Attention
Callbacks or ‘class chants’ are perfect for gathering your students’ attention after an activity and focusing it back on you. Here are some of my favorite callbacks:
Teacher: “Scooby-Dooby Doo!” Students: “Where are you?”
Teacher: “Hocus Pocus!” Students: “Everybody Focus!”
Teacher: “Are you ready?! Are you ready?!” Students: “Let’s go!”
13. Use Target Mini-erasers as Incentives
I use a container to store mini-erasers from the Target Dollar Section. While I’m teaching or while students are working independently, I’ll walk around the classroom and let students that are ‘on-task’ choose a mini eraser to keep.
14. Add Movement and Engagement to your Daily Lessons
One reason students might misbehave is that they’re bored of the same activities! Add some new teaching strategies that involve opportunities for movement and hands-on learning.
15. Ensure that there is Positive Parent Communication
Some parents may only receive phone calls from the teacher when their child has misbehaved at school. But what about the days that they demonstrate positive behaviors? Every parent (and student) would love to receive a positive note or email with highlights of that student’s day. Did he/she do something kind for a friend? Did they stay on task for longer than 15 minutes? These behaviors should be acknowledged and praised!
I hope this post gave you easy-to-implement, but effective classroom management strategies. My hope is that these tips help new teachers feel more prepared to start the new school year.
Not a first-year teacher? What effective classroom management strategies have worked in your classroom? Comment below and share your favorite classroom management tip!