Classroom Management – 10 Keys to starting the year off right!

Let’s talk classroom management… 

   Although there’s not one single method, procedure or strategy that will ensure success; there are a few things you can do that will help dictate how the remainder of the year will go. Without some of these key practices below in place you can count on some sort of disruptive behavior interfering with your teaching.  

Key 1: Plan for Success 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

While brainstorming lesson plans, make note of all the procedures and rules you want to teach!  

Find the FREEBIE here

Get your 1st day of Kinder Lesson plans here!

Key 2: Teach it, practice it, and don’t settle

   What I’ve found to be most effective is practicing what I teach. Be specific, precise & clear so there are no misunderstandings and they understand your expectations. The more enthusiastic you are about the lesson the likelihood of the students being engaged increases drastically! I know it sounds ridiculous raising your hand a hundred times without making a sound or moving around the room… BUT… If you model it in a highly effective way your setting the tone of excellence. 

In the classroom I teach hand signals the 1st week.   These hand signals are an effective tool for your classroom management! These allow your classroom to run smooth for the whole year with minimal interruptions! 

Find them here on TPT!

Key 3: Use Examples

Make examples before hand of the lesson being taught. This way you can model your expectations when explaining directions. It does take effort but the reward of keeping your lesson flowing, and students engaged, make it time well spent.  

Key 4: Use Pictures 

This is especially important when teaching K-1st and ELL students who can’t yet read.

Pictures are invaluable tool when teaching or giving directions. Take a look at my voice levels in my TPT store. They come in a variety of themes. They show students your voice level expectations with visuals! 

The morning can be so stressful! I created these morning procedures to help the transition. The pictures are really effective in keeping the morning less chaotic. Check them out here!

Key 5: Build Relationships 

I can’t stress enough that it’s important to take time the first 2 weeks of school to get to know your students & their parents. Try to find something special with each child and make that “connection”. Students who feel cared for and trust you are more willing to work with you. (I am a firm believer that WE can and DO make a difference in a child’s life. Try to stay connected through the years. (Can you believe my 1st year kiddos are now Freshman in High school?!) 

  It’s also important to communicate and make connections with parents. They are our biggest supporters! Find out what their preferred method of communication is and not only reach out for negative situations but also the positive! Making them feel involved goes a long way! 

Classrooms should Home a safe zone for our students. I always started the day with morning meetings. Catch phrase …“bubble up” “bubble down” here is where students can share how they are feeling and why; in essence their “safe zone”. Find the check in charts here.

There was even a time I shared how sad I was when my grandma was not doing well. I broke down, wiped away my tears and the hugs and positive encouragement coming from these 5-year olds was amazing! This doesn’t happen over night, you have to invest time, support, love & commitment into your classroom. <3 

I start my morning greeting my students EVERY day!

Even preschool students LOVE morning greetings. This is from the preschool Chickadees & Bumblebees Preschool

Key 6: Have Rules and Consequences… & Don’t forget to follow through  

After reading, “No David!” and “David Goes to School” to my class, we brainstormed rules and why they are important & pertain to us. Find the Anchor Chart here.

Then we make the rules as a class (guiding them to my rules)  I use Whole Brain Rules (find the freebie here). 

When students feel like they have input they are more likely to abide by it. Have them sign their names to the anchor chart that’s hanging in the classroom to make it official. The most important factor in making it successful is the follow through. Why have rules if you are not going to enforce them? I know some of you are limited in what you can do. Whatever your consequence is (pick up the pencil you threw, making an apology note, TAB out in classroom) just make sure you follow through. If you let one time slip then the child knows your limit and will most likely break the rule again.  

 Key 7: Positive Consequences 

   Rewarding students for positive behavior is a great way to encourage making positive choices!  

   We are a Leader in Me school. Students worked towards awards throughout the day. I made a mountain, to track their behaviors. Good choices & behavior helps them climb the mountain, bad choices & behavior brings them down the mountain. They can move up and down the mountain all day. This is really important to let students know that one bad choice doesn’t dictate the rest of your day. They may turn their day around by making positive choices. 

Some positive rewards that were given were tangible items such as a pick from the treasure box; intangible items were getting to sit in the teachers chair (My student’s LOVED!). Watch for that time the child is working and doing the right thing, make sure you make it known you are pleased with the child’s choice. Reward the positive behavior you are seeing! 

Key 8: Set expectations prior to teaching

 I use the C.H.A.M.P.S. strategy. This behavior management system allows you to set clear expectations with your students. 

Each letter has meaning: 

C – Conversation 

H – Help 

A – Activity 

M – Movement 

P – Participation 

S – Signal/Supplies 

                         Check out the clip chart here 

Key 9: Eliminate the gray area

Clear expectations is key! By eliminating the gray area students will be less likely to get distracted and off task because they know what is expected. 

After giving verbal directions I reinforce them with visuals. Students can refer back to them throughout the lesson or activity. Take a look at my Direction Cards here! These are a LIFESAVER!

Key 10: Teach Social-Emotional Skills  

   As teachers we get wrapped up with academic skills that must be covered before testing time. The reality is sometimes we neglect the social -emotional development. 

We ask students to work in a group to complete a task, and they start fighting! The ability to develop good relationships with peers and manage strong emotions are just as important as mathematics and writing a sentence. 

   While administration often doesn’t understand and doesn’t see you hitting a standard by teaching these necessary skills… I say “close the door and do you boo!” Teaching students these necessary skills is in order to be more successful and prevent challenging behaviors in future educational settings! We need to be just as focused on teaching social emotional skills as we teach literacy, math, and other skills!

One successful strategy I use is my “Cool Down” area. I utilize many tools in this area i.e. fidget tools, cool down jars, timers, reflection sheets and much more!  

I have also used Morning Meeting to teach these skills and practice them using fun games such as digital resources as Daniel Tiger  and Harry Wigglebottom  on YouTube. There are a variety of books like “Bucketfilling” “My Mouth is a Volcano” “Tattle Tongue” to reinforce these skills as well. 

My favorite one to introduce and teach during circle time is “happy” and “sad” choices. This is a perfect time for a read-aloud using the teacher booklet. You can ave an open discussion with your students and they can ask questions. Then I use the cards to sort the behavior cards into “happy” and “sad” choices in a pocket chart. I make sure to really discuss what they happy choices look and sound like! 

Using the song and having them act out happy choices really reinforce the choices! Find it here.

I hope you can at least walk away with one if not more of these helpful suggestions for your best school year yet! Good luck everyone! 

Carolyn Hacker  

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