Classroom Management is the key to success in teaching.
I started teaching in 2004 in a small private school. The kids were for the most part well behaved and I did have issues here and there, but I don’t remember there being too many behavior issues, or did I just block it all out? Hmmm… that being said, I stopped teaching for about 9 years. When I returned back to the classroom, my eyes were opened to a whole new world of disrespect.
Here I was, feeling like a new teacher again, I was in front of 22 1st graders and I now needed to be the one that keeps them safe, teaches them to read & write and how to act in society.
How was I to do that?
Everyone told me that I needed to make sure my procedures were put in place, but I felt the push of my co-workers to get started on the curriculum right away. We had so much to cover. So I did…. By day 3 my voice was completely gone and I couldn’t manage this crazy group with no voice and we barely had any procedures in place. I did procedures but I didn’t do it right, and part of the problem was I didn’t even know my procedures well enough to implement them! This effected my entire year!
I had a rough year with behavior that school year. Things got better throughout the year, but I felt like I was just staying afloat, I was in constant survival mode and came home exhausted and completely spent each day. I knew I wanted better, but didn’t know how.
The next year went so much better! I had figured out so much more about myself and the best ways to lead a class.
Here are my tips for you on Classroom Management as you embark on this next year’s journey.
I decided to spend the first 6 weeks on procedures and social skills. I put off doing all science and social studies and replaced it with social skills. This paid off big time! (Check out the Character Education Units in my TPT Store) Once we were done with our 6 weeks, I continued just not as frequently and we were able to dive deeper into science and social studies because our class was ready to learn.
The other thing I put into place besides procedures was this Classroom Management System.
There are a few major parts to it.
It involves: Creative Discipline, Listening Lessons, The Row Your Own Boat Story, Behavior Plans, and Character Building Social Skills.
A breakdown of how it works in my classroom…
I had noticed that students would misbehave and my current method of disciplining wasn’t working (Have them sit outside or sit out from recess), I had good ideas, but when the time came I never could remember them so I would default to the ones that were at the front of my brain. This clearly wasn’t working.
So I came up with the Creative Discipline Behavior Plan. If a student continues to misbehave after several warnings, then I walk over to my desk and grab one of my pre-printed creative consequence plan sheets and pick a consequence out. I found that I was calmer when doing so and the kids didn’t see my head spin with frustration while I picked out the consequence which was probably not a rational one either. It helped to just be able to grab a sheet and still be talking to my students and quickly administer the consequence.
I like this Creative Discipline Sheet because I can tailor it to meet the needs of our class. Some students are more sensitive or jaded than others.
There are things to consider before passing out a consequence.
Is it right before lunch?
Did the child have a rough night last night and just needs so time to do something quietly?
Was the child being picked on by another student?
If I am in a rush or in the middle of teaching, I will pick one for the student. If I have the time, I will hand them the sheet and highlight 2 and have them pick it. Sometimes giving them the choice helps them take ownership of it.
The other advantage to this routine is the students never know what they are going to get! How many students in your class say, “It is worth doing what I want to do, because my teacher’s consequences aren’t that bad. I can handle it.” What they are doing wrong has a higher risk factor because they do not know what it will be this time.
There is also an editable version available to meet the needs of your school, because we all know each school has their own rules.
When the form is used it can be sent home, kept in a folder for conferences or thrown away.
I like the students to know that “tomorrow is a new day”. We start from fresh each day.
The other main part of the plan is the Listening Lessons. These can be time consuming, but they pay off big time, if you put in the work. I simply take any list that has my class list of names on it and room for notes and make numerous copies.
The one my admin passes out with attendance works well because it has several boxes. I keep it on my clipboard with a colored pen. When a student is doing something well, I put a star by their name. But when they are shouting out, out of their seat at the wrong time, drawing when they should be listening, talking to a neighbor while I am teaching, etc, I just simply put an X by their name.
I don’t tell them who just lost a “behavior point”, but I will say sometimes, “if you were just talking, you probably lost a behavior point”. The students never see anyone’s behavior points. At various points during the day for me (1st Recess, Lunch, 3rd recess, or after school) if they have 3 or more Xs then they need to have listening lessons.
Listening Lessons are a chance for me to talk with the students find out why they are misbehaving (maybe another student is bugging them, it was rough at home, or they need a seat change), we talk about respect and what is expected of their behavior, then they have listening lessons which is always active movement.
Depending on how many “X”s they have will depend how long I keep them. At the most is about 7 minutes. But they are moving the whole time. I give them active movements that involve their right brain and left brain (example Walk to the pole touching opposite knees and spell the word “two” on the way there and skip back).
This is not considered losing recess. I never keep them the entire time and they are still out at recess, but they are getting RESTRICTED RECESS, which means they are following a movement plan.
At the beginning of the year or after breaks I usually have about 5 students that need these Listening Lessons again and we are doing them at each break time. It really cuts into my break time, but the payoff is very worth it. In about a week, it will drop to 3 students each time and about the 2nd week, it is less times a day and about the 3rd week, it is maybe 1 time a day with 2 students.
Eventually we do not even use them until the next break. It is always shorter after breaks. They seem to catch on a little quicker after breaks too.
I found that I needed to use them at the end of the year again (about 3 weeks before school ended too).
To find out how student of the Day works in my classroom, click HERE to go to that BLOG article.
– How to reduce tattling in the classroom-
I love this Row Your Own Boat concept. It is such an easy social cue that really helps students. I read the “Row Your Own Boat Story” to my students and we talk about the importance of “Minding your own business and let the teacher do the work”.
The story is about two rabbits who are in a boat race and one sees the other struggling so he gets out of his boat and helps him row. Meanwhile his boat is floating backward and he isn’t making any progress with his boat. He has to get out and go row his own boat and he loses the race.
When the students come to me to tattle tale on another student, I just say “Row Your Own Boat”.
The students use this on each other too which is perfect and another way that the concept is reinforced.
This Positive Behavior Plan has helped my extreme behavior cases a lot. It can either be used in conjunction with parents, if they are on board or just between you and the student. I had a parent like it so much with her daughter, that she took the form to her Autistic Son’s teacher and requested something be in place for him as well.
The idea is to find 2 classroom behaviors that the child needs to improve in, such as “I can focus in math”, “I can keep my hands to myself”, “I can get along with others at recess”, “I can complete homework” or “I can complete 5 problems in math”. The idea is to make the child a behavior goal that they can attain, but they have to work for it. Then choose one that that they do fairly well most of the time. It gives them a sense of success. These goals are put on their Behavior Plan sheet.
Each day I grab the sheet put in their score for the 3 areas and hand it to the child. It takes seconds. The goals stay the same until they are consistently getting good scores and then either the plan is stopped or the goals change 1 at a time. This is not designed to be done for each child in the class. Only the students that need it.
If you are using this with parents, then parents decide at home how the points will be used. I had one that needed a certain score to play on the ipad at home. Another child needed to attain a certain amount to get a special treat with mom and dad.
In the Classroom
If you are using it in the classroom, think of something that you could do for them if they reach their goal; they get 2 days off of homework, a Popsicle at snack, bring a friend and eat with you at lunch or extra technology time. The goals need to start small and be attainable and then increase.
Inside the Classroom Management and Creative Discipline Unit you will find more Teacher Management Hacks; such as using show and tell an an incentive, learning ready, number order, group points, show and tell, student of the day and more. I included all the necessary management routines that worked for my classroom.
I hope you have a fantastic school year and please comment below with any class management questions.
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