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Five Essential Classroom Management Strategies


Many new teachers find themselves overwhelmed by the diverse behaviors and personalities in their classrooms. Teacher prep courses often do not equip teachers with adequate strategies for classroom management. Here are 5 foolproof tips to control behavior and maximize instructional time in your classroom.

1. Praise positive behaviors. This is a fun intervention for younger students. Have the child give you a "high five" slap while saying: "High Five! 2 ears listening. 2 eyes watching. 1 mouth shut."

2. Provide SOME extrinsic rewards. While our ultimate goal is for students to intrinsically monitor their own behavior, children thrive when they are working toward some sort of goal. This does not necessarily mean you have to spend a lot of money on rewards. Some of the most popular "prizes" in my class are 1 night of no homework, lunch and board games with the teacher (the students eat their cafeteria lunches in my classroom), and sitting at the teacher's desk for a day.

3. Post your rules in the front of the class next to the chalkboard and refer to them often. Be specific with your verbal praise: "Johnny, thank you for following rule #5. Raise your hand to speak." Also, keep the wording of your rules simple and kid-friendly. Here are the classroom rules I use for my lower elementary students: 1) Listen carefully. 2) Follow directions. 3) Work quietly. 4) Respect people, places, and things. 5) Raise your hand to speak. 6) Clean up after yourself.

4. Plan ahead for effective transitions. Your students are like sharks-they smell fear and prey on weakness. Always stay one step ahead in your thinking. For example, when one lesson is almost over, be thinking whether you want the students at their desks or the rug for the next activity. While they are writing their names and the date on their paper, grab the materials for the next lesson so you will be ready as soon as your students finish the current assignment. And don't forget to let your students help you. One student can be collecting papers while another student is passing out the next assignment.

5. Silence is powerful. When your class becomes unruly, do not shout over them. They will win every time. Instead, use a calm, quiet voice. They will mirror your emotions and tone. I only raise my voice few times each year, and then my students know I REALLY mean business. Try counting backwards from 10 slowly (and show it on your fingers as a visual cue). This shows the students that you value their conversations and you respect them enough to let them finish, but you also need them to refocus. When teaching, if you need to stop talking mid-sentence because you feel that no one is listening, do it. Most of your kids will notice and stop talking immediately, and then they will signal to the kids who are still talking. In my class, we have an unwritten rule that says, "If you waste my time, I waste yours." For every minute I spend waiting for the class to quiet down, they lose one minute of their recess. I usually only have to do this a few times in the beginning of the year for my students to learn. Now when they see me looking at the clock, they know I'm waiting for them to get quiet.

These 5 strategies tell your students that you are in control, and that you have high expectations for their behavior. By using these classroom management strategies, you will spend less time managing difficult behaviors, and more time teaching!