With the new year school year upon us, it’s time to share about how to set the stage for some easy peezy classroom management.
Here are my Top 5 Actionable Classroom Management Tips:
#1: Have a seating plan
For many of you this is probably standard, but it’s something I’ve gone back and forth on over the years. Some teachers swear by it, others don’t bother until they have a sense of who is in the class.
There are two main reasons that I will always have a seating plan on the first day of school:
- It makes it easier for the students! You don’t know the dynamics yet and this alleviates any pressure for them about finding friends to sit with.
- It helps you learn names quickly! And a huge part of getting off on the right foot with classroom management involves knowing your students’ names as soon as possible. So make a seating plan!
#2: Have your systems ready to go
Have you noticed that elementary teachers are great at developing and implementing systems in the classroom? When you enter younger classrooms throughout the year, kids always seem to know how to ask to go to the bathroom, how to sit on the carpet, how to take out materials etc.
As students enter middle school and high school, teachers are more likely to assume that students should automatically know how to do things. This trap just leads us to frustration!
We need to remember that students might have seven other teachers in classrooms where things are done differently. We need to take the time to make sure they know what to expect in OUR room.
Now, what do we need systems for?
Well, think about…
- things that happen every day;
- things that will annoy you if they’re done wrong; and
- things that are a safety issue.
Have a step-by-step procedure that kids follow for these situations.
(Check out this blog post for a bit more about systems)
#3: Practice these systems!
One of my key systems is how students should enter the room: I want them to come on in, have a seat, and take a look at the opening slide to see what they need to get started on.
However, practicing how to enter the classroom can feel silly, especially with older kids.
We just have to acknowledge this and get over it!
I will literally say, “I know this feels silly but we’re doing this so that you have the muscle memory of exactly what to do when you come into this class. It will make everything easier going forward.” And then everyone gets up, leaves the classroom, and re-enters it according to my system.
Repeat with other systems!
Remember, students like predictability. These types of predictable systems are going to make your classroom management easier from day one.
#4: Learn names quickly
Find a way to do it! Even if this is not your strength, you need to make it a priority. The seating plan will help for sure, but you might also want to take a look at any available photos on your school database and quiz yourself. Having students make name tags can also be really helpful, and they’re also an opportunity for students to display pronouns or other interesting facts about them.
However you do it, you need to have some kind of plan that allows you to pick up the majority of names within that first week.
#5: Be on the lookout for behaviours that might become a potential problem
…and nip them in the bud in the first week.
We want to be as proactive as possible!
For example, if you’re doing an activity and you have a student who is excited to participate but tends to blurt out answers and interrupt others, that’s something that warrants follow up conversation.
Now, this should NOT be any kind of intimidating conversation.
Instead, as they’re packing up at the end of class, casually approach them and say something like, “Hey, I’m really impressed with how enthusiastic you are and I love that you have a lot to share! Have you always loved science?…*allow some back and forth*…Do you notice though that you jumped in a lot while I was still talking? Do you think you could try to watch out for that next class?”
They will likely be a bit caught off guard by the fact that you’re addressing this.
But if you bring it up in the right way with the right tone and follow it up with other pleasantries, their takeaway is going to be that their new teacher sees them and likes them and they’ll want to contribute positively going forward. And when you see them in the next class, be sure to greet them excitedly to continue building a positive relationship.
I have never had a student get their back up when I have this kind of conversation at the beginning of the year because it’s framed in a positive manner.
Bonus Tip #6: Expect the beginning of the year to be exhausting
Especially when it comes to classroom management. We need to front-load it.
If you want to set things up well for yourself and for your students it’s going to take a lot of energy in those first days and weeks.
But if you do it right at the beginning, the rest of the year is going to be SO much smoother and you can spend those future classes enjoying the relationships that have been built and doing fun activities and lessons.
What are some of the small things that you like to do with the meeting of the year to get classroom management off on the right foot? I’d love to know!
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your best strategies! And if you’re interested in having some guidance in classroom management before the next school year, check out my Classroom Management for New Science & Math Teachers course on PopPD here!
Interested in other Back-to-School activities? Check out: