It is indisputable that classroom management would rank within the top five banes of every causal teacher’s existence. Worst still, is that with each new day, every new class, and each new classroom, the expectation is that we will have to reinvent the wheel to tailor make a classroom management program that suits.
The great news is that it is totally possible to manage each class with these easy tricks below. The best part is that they are pretty fun too, leading to positive classrooms, happy students and an even happier teacher. Is there anything better than that?
Familiarise yourself with the school’s behaviour management policy.
A wise man once said that “consistency is best”. Sticking to the system in place shows the students that you know what you are doing and won’t necessarily freak them out with new stuff either. Don’t forget that this includes knowing what to do when a student breaks a rule and does the right thing too! Keep those vibes positive guys!
Work on an efficient entry system.
The way that students enter a classroom can be a major indication of how the day is going to play out. Therefore, you really want to get them entering that classroom in a pretty neat way. Without knowing the class or even the layout of the school, it can be hard to stop them before the door and wait until they are quiet to let them in, but if this looks achievable, give it a go. If you are unhappy about the way the class entered, don’t be afraid to express that it was an unacceptable way to start the day, discuss your expectations of how they should enter the classroom and try again. This will give them a taste of your expectations and can help to get them into “classroom mode”.
The possibility of establishing the following entry rituals is (sadly) not-so-likely on a relief teacher day, but NOT impossible! Regardless, they can give you some pretty solid classroom entry goals.
Immediately establish a classroom agreement with your class.
Once the class is settled at their desks or on the carpet, it is highly recommended that you work with the class to establish a classroom agreement. Even if this cuts into learning time, it is absolutely worth it. Collaboratively establishing the expectations of the classroom in terms of how it should feel, look with your students will make it easy for your students to own their behaviour. Classroom agreements should reinforce the consequences of breaking the rules, as well as the rewards for doing the right thing (more on that below!). Remember how we told you to familiarise yourself with the school’s behaviour management policy? Be sure to link the agreement with it in one way or another. As this stage, you have probably even picked out one or two students of which you can discreetly smile at in the way that says: I know, so don’t even think about it buster!
Hot tip: Check out some awesome ideas for easy classroom agreements in this collection of handy pins on Pinterest
Keep things positive with rewards.
Any successful classroom management strategy should always involve something positive. After all, positivity breeds positivity!
Mystery Rewards is an exciting way of encouraging students to behave awesomely. Decide on a class reward, like free time or an outside game and cover it with little post-it notes with whole class goals that can be achieved over the course of a day, like getting to lines on time or working quietly on a task. Each time they collectively complete a goal remove a post-it note to reveal just a little bit of the prize. Once all post-it notes have been removed, the prize has been won! Of course, if time does not allow for all post-it notes to be removed, and you think they have earned the prize, go for it! Our suggestion is to make this at home and reuse it for all of your classes.
Raffle tickets are always a favourite. Every time you catch someone being awesome, give them a raffle ticket. Put it in a box and at the end of the day, draw out a winner who can select a prize from your box, like a cool mini-sushi rubber set or smelly pens! Daiso is my personal favourite for exciting (and affordable prizes), but K-Mart or any $2 Dollar Shop are also fail safe places to shop, too.
Recess and lunch time are pretty rad moments at school, but they can make it difficult to reenter a classroom and refocus on learning. This is where transitions come in! Transitions help to maximise instructional time and assist students to move quickly and efficiently from one activity to another. Walking like a ninja back to class, using a word of the day or even a funky chant are great ways to transition from one lesson to the other and re-zone students.
Here’s a great example.
Thankfully, most teachers and those people in leadership, especially, are beginning to realise that children are… children, not machines who can sit still and focus for two hours blocks at a time. I mean think about it. Can you?
Considering that movement breaks have been shown to help improve behaviour, attention, and alertness for learning, they are unsurprisingly becoming an acceptable part of 21 century teaching. It is amazing how just 10 minutes of active movement in between lessons can allow students to refocus by expelling a little bit of the energy that they magically have without drinking seven cups of coffee.
Movement breaks can be inside or outside the classroom and as simple as a few minutes running around the playground, kicking a ball or chatting with a friend. Here is a handy list of movement break ideas that can be adapted for any class.
Make an effort to know your students, even if it is just for one day.
Developing rapport with your students is a fabulous way of creating a positive classroom environment, which in turn leads to good behaviour management. Steps like using your students’ names trust, using humour and getting to know the students outside of the classroom helps to break the ice and gives yourself and your students the chance to to see that, beyond being teacher and student, you are human after all!
While you may need to make some minor adjustments depending on a class, count the above as your one-size-fits-all approach to classroom behaviour management for each and every class. Not only are you going to be awesome at bringing your students into line, but you will create a positive classroom environment leaving both your students and yourself feeling pretty awesome, too.
So why not trial some ideas and make a list of those you love?
– Bec from The Relief Teacher Association