5 Classroom Management Tips for Elementary Teachers
Classroom management is such a big part of teaching and has become more critical as students readjust to post-pandemic in-person learning. As a former kindergarten teacher, I want to share five teacher tips that can help you navigate tricky behaviors that may arise.
Tip #1: Create Positive Connections
Remember that some children come to school to learn, and some come to feel loved. You may be the only kind voice that speaks to them, so make sure to interact with each student daily.
Showing an interest in your students is a great way to let them know that you care about them and want what is best. One way to create a positive connection is to greet each child personally with a smile as they come into class every day. Connections show students that you are on the same team working towards a positive class environment.
Tip #2: Set Clear Expectations
When setting expectations, we cannot assume students know what we mean. Explain, model, and practice good classroom behavior so students understand what you’re asking them to do.
Role-playing is a great tool to help with this process! For example, if you ask students not to whine, demonstrate what whining IS and what it is NOT. Role-play a whining voice versus using a big clear student voice so they understand the difference.
Using a visual as a reminder is also a great way to follow through and handle behavior issues. While teaching, you can just point to the picture or sign that illustrates your class rules, instead of stopping your lesson to correct their behavior.
Some children understand behavioral concepts better when explained through stories. Look for books on behaviors you want students to learn and read them to your class.
Tip #3: Be Consistent
After you set expectations, always, always, always follow through. The students will know that you say what you mean and mean what you say.
Kids feel safer and more assured when they know exactly what is expected of them and how you are going to handle different situations.
If you do need to remind or reteach a desired behavior, speak in a calm, kind, matter-of-fact way, and relate the consequence to the behavior.
For example, if a child refuses to finish their work, remain calm and say something like, “We need to finish our work. If you choose not to do it now, you will have to do it later when everyone else is switching to free time.”
Follow through in a kind but with a calm, respectful tone. You don’t want to engage in a battle. No power struggles, no nagging, just be consistent each time.
Tip #4: Have Realistic Expectations
With classroom management, it’s important to know developmentally how long instruction times can be and what you should expect from your students. Older students can go longer than younger students before needing a break.
Consider doing fun, educational songs, rhymes, chants, hand jives, and other movements. I’ve found success in being more animated and adding more humor. Instead of sitting in a chair in front of my class, I like to move around and engage with the children.
Add brain breaks in often as they build up their attention spans. It is better to have five shorter instruction times than one long one. This helps keep the students attentive.
Also, to avoid students blurting out or interrupting, give students more turn-and-talk time during instruction.
Tip #5: Plan Ahead for Breakdowns and How to Handle Them
I like having a Calm Down corner where students can go when needed. They can lie down, punch a pillow, or do activities that help them breathe, re-center, and reset.
You can decorate your Calm Down corner with posters or have books on self-regulation skills for students to read.
I also include sensory activities, such as fuzzy pom poms to push inside a plastic bottle, pillows to hug, and stuffed animals to talk to. Then when the time is right, I talk with the student to reassure, support, and help them problem solve.
One Final Teacher Tip…
I much prefer to “catch them being good” and praise the positive than have to deal with the negative. Be sure to tell students how much you appreciate it when they behave well in class.
I would love to hear what works for you. Sharing ideas is so valuable! I have learned a lot from other teachers I look up to and admire, so I know teachers can learn a lot from you. Join our teacher Facebook group to share your classroom management teacher tips.
Keep up the great work, teachers! You are amazing!!!