The hardest part of teaching is the thing they don’t cover in teachers’ education programs – classroom management! It’s what makes a day turn from jump-to-the-sky-amazing to don’t-want-to-ever-come-back-again-awful.
Classroom management is undoubtedly one of the hardest teaching skills to learn, but these tried and true tips and tricks will help you focus students’ attention, manage behavior issues and motivate reluctant learners.
For years, I studied all of the best classroom management tips and techniques. I tested, tweaked and retested strategies in my second grade classroom.
And then I took the ultimate plunge. I became a kindergarten teacher in charge of a classroom filled with super active, brand-new students.
My secret to keeping kids on task, focused and engaged was establishing rock solid routines and expectations, holding students accountable and building strong partnerships with parents.
Being clear about my expectations from day one helped the class gel.
When a behavior issue would pop up during the school year, I’d reteach the step-by-step expectations – making sure to give kids plenty of opportunities to act out the expectations since practice makes perfect.
When the kids were busy working and I needed to get their attention in a hurry, I loved pulling out one of my favorite call backs. I said the first line and students followed up with the second.
Some of my favorites included:
Macaroni and cheese… everybody freeze!
Hands on top…. everybody stop!
Did Pete cry?… Goodness no!
Class Call Overs
When it was time for the class to line up at the door or I was dismissing kids to walk back to their desk after a whole group lesson, I avoided mob scenes by having them slowly trickle away from the group. I’d excuse kids based on shoe color or the number of pockets they were wearing, their favorite food or the first letter of their name… there were so many fun possibilities!
And when the kids just needed a good dose of refocusing, I’d try one of my calm down tricks.
If You Can Hear Me
Using my calmest voice, I’d say “If you can hear me, touch your nose. If you can hear me, scratch your head. If you can hear me…” I’d continue giving simple little directions until everyone joined in and quieted down.
When in doubt, whisper. It sounds counterintuitive but it usually works like magic.
Pulling out my calmest whisper voice I’d quietly explain, “I’ve going to use a very quiet voice so that I know everyone has their ears turned on high. I’m going to wait until everyone is looking at me. I’m going to wait until everyone has a calm body. I’m going to wait until everyone stops talking…”
Giving Shout Outs
I’m all about positive reinforcement so I’d call out kids who were doing what I asked by saying something like, “Thank you Ben for sitting criss cross applesauce. Thank you Beth for looking at me…” I continued complimenting kids until everyone was quiet.
Storytime was my go-to after recess follow up. It helped the kids calm their bodies and refocus for the next academic lesson.
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