Monday, June 25, 2012

Creative Classroom Management Ideas

Oh, the chitter chatter of students…. when they are supposed to be working quietly?!?  You have set the classroom expectations, you have “laid down the law” about grade level behavior, and yet you sometimes do you wish you had one of those Staples buttons that said, “Boys and Girls should be working quietly?”  It is time to get creative with classroom management!
1.       Collaborate with students: Often classroom rules are set by the teacher.  Try an approach where you work together to set and make classroom expectations with your students.  If they are involved in the process, they have more ownership and accountability for their actions.  As the teacher, you are the facilitator in this process.  You can help guide students to phrasing ideas in positive ways on their classroom contract.  For example, instead of having a classroom expectation of “no talking,” consider phrasing it as “Listen attentively during teacher presented lessons.  Respect quiet thinking time during independent work times. “   This classroom contract should be hung somewhere in your classroom where students see it. 
2.       Work as a class: Working as a class means build class morale, and encouraging your class to be bucket fillers vs. bucket dippers.  The book How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer is a great way to introduce positive traits and behaviors you are hoping to see from your students.  Create a classroom bucket, laminate it, and put it outside your door.  When students are being bucket fillers, have them write their name on it with a dry erase marker to recognize them.  Students also love to solve puzzles, so create a Wheel of Fortune puzzle up on the board with a special message.  Every time the students are on track, pick a student randomly to choose a letter.  When they solve the puzzle, they earn a small incentive.  Let’s get creative with a Beat the Creature incentive.  I let me students submit ideas for creature drawings, and then I pick one randomly and draw it on the board.  When the class is making good choices, you go up and erase a part.  If they are chatty, you go up and add a part.  This visual is a great way for students to catch on fast to making better choices, especially during those tricky transition times. 

3.       Work as a team: Sometimes, a little peer pressure is a good thing!  Set up small competition between groups of students to see which group will be the most behaved and on-task group in the classroom.  Have students earn parts of a holiday themed picture, with the goal of being the first group to accomplish the task of earning all the parts for a small incentive.  I find activity rewards, such as lunch with the teacher, extra recess, relay races in the gym, special art project, board game time, computer time, etc. are the best motivators.  Does anyone have any creative activity incentives that work well for their classroom?   During different holidays, have students earn parts of a picture for every time you “catch their group being good.”  Some fun holiday themed picture part ideas include: decorating parts of a witch and her broom, earning ornaments on a Christmas tree picture, drawing parts of a snowman, coloring a valentine bug picture, or petals on a spring flower.  Students also loved game show themed team events such as Classroom Survivor, where students can be voted off the island (group of student desks) for not working as a team and become a floating island (desk by themselves).  Then they have to adopt another classmate from Redemption Island whom has been trying hard to make better choices since they may have been voted off another island.  This allows students to always have a chance to rejoin a group based on the choices they make.  Teachers who want to incorporate the social studies curriculum should try an idea such as the Amazing Race 50 States Challenge.  Teams earn a state on a blank map when they are working hard and are demonstrating respectful, hard-working, on-task behavior.  This could also be adapted to a whole class incentive. 
4.       Individual classroom management techniques: I think that individual classroom management techniques need to be quick and easy.  Time on learning is essential.  I find these simple classroom management techniques to work well.  I have a “Good Job” jar in my classroom.  Individual students who are being role models receive a slip of paper (often recycled paper slip) to write their name on it, and place it in my jar.  At least once a week, I pull a few names from my good job jar.  Those kiddos get to shake my M & M man’s hand, but you can pick any simple incentive that would work well for you.  It doesn’t take long for students to realize the more you behave, the more slips you earn, and the more opportunities you have to get your name pulled from the good job jar.  To add a twist, try “Magic Moments.”  Pull a name randomly out during a transition time, and if the student is doing what they are supposed to be doing reward them with a shake of the M & M man’s hand.  For variations, you can ring a small bell if there was a magic moment, or let the students know when a name was picked (not the particular student), and unfortunately there wasn’t a magic moment.  After a few tries and misses, students will catch on quick to what you expect!  Having a mystery walker as you walk from place to place in the school helps keep  your line quiet as you pass in the halls.  For students who are talkers, try handing out a “Yak Attack” slip, or those who are blurters hand out “Blurt Alert” slips.  These silent signals while you are in the middle of a lesson are a visual cue to students.
      There are so many teachers out there who have tricks of the trade.  Let us know what your favorite classroom management ideas are by commenting here on the site, or providing a link to a strategy that works well in your classroom.   Let’s learn from each other!  I will compile a list of ideas and links that you share, and repost them so you can get a whole list of great classroom management ideas. 
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