The key factor in a well-run classroom is having clear classroom management routines. This could vary depending on the age or subject that you teach, but overall having set classroom management routines is what keeps a classroom well-managed and allows for a safer, more secure learning environment.
Classroom management is the act of controlling the behavior of students in your classroom to promote positive interactions while minimizing disruption. You need to set expectations that you communicate on day one (and reinforce throughout the year) in terms of classroom management routines so that every member of the class knows what is expected and what your class rules are.
Here we’ve outlined some classroom management routines for you to consider when planning out the year in terms of classroom management so that you can set clear expectations from day one!
Table of Contents
Start by thinking about how much structure each student needs in the classroom. Some students require lots of structure, while others thrive in a more relaxed atmosphere. You will want to take this into consideration when thinking about classroom management routines so that you are catering to the varying needs of your students.
Catering to student needs can be done in a variety of ways within your classroom management routines, and we’ve outlined some ideas for you below:
1) Ask Questions
Students that need a lot of structure in the classroom love to answer questions and will feel rewarded by participating. Ask your students lots of questions and give them the opportunity to answer whenever possible.
2) Seat Students Closeby
You’ll want to make sure you group your students up in such a way that there are both good and bad influences around each of them. For example, if you have a student who struggles with classroom management, it might be best to give them more support throughout the school day by seating him/her close by to another positive role model.
3) Use Charts
Make use of charts in your classroom for almost anything that can be quantified. This includes behavior, academic performance, and more. Charts are a great way to give students a visual reminder of what is expected and how they can improve.
4) Incorporate Variety
One pocket chart with the same classroom management routine each day will quickly become stale and old news. Try to make use of multiple tools for your classroom management routines (such as posters, charts, daily 5, etc.) in order to keep students engaged and excited about what’s expected.
5) Positive Reinforcement
Make sure your classroom management routines are all positive reinforcement-based. Situations where students need to be reminded that they’re not meeting expectations will quickly become an area of frustration for everyone involved. Focus on rewarding good behavior so that you’ll see a change.
6) Classroom Jobs
Look at your classroom management routines as a whole. Which responsibilities can you assign to students that will make the most out of what you need from them? For example, assigning specific “Classroom Jobs” will not only give students a sense of responsibility and belonging, but it’ll also allow for them to take ownership of the classroom in a way that is fun and rewarding.
7) Alert Students Ahead of Time
It’s important that you are open with your students when it comes to classroom management routines. Let them know what’s expected ahead of time by using posters, previews, word walls, etc. This will help minimize any confusion and misbehavior that may happen in the future.
8) Differentiate Instruction
Students with differing needs in the classroom will require different types of classroom management routines. Make use of various strategies for differentiating your instruction in order to accommodate student’s individual learning styles and behaviors. For example, some students may need more structure while others may benefit from a more laid-back vibe.
9) Body Language
Make sure your body language is saying what you want it to be saying. If you’re relaxed and calm in the classroom, students will be able to sense this and will respond in kind. On the other hand, if you are visibly frustrated or stressed out, they’ll also pick up on this and will misbehave accordingly.
10) Use the “Wait Time” Strategy
Whenever possible, wait for students to calm down before you attempt to get them back on task. If they need a moment to stop and think about what’s happening, this is always better than reacting right away and allowing their emotions to take over.
11) Role Play to Practice Classroom Management Routines
Students are much more likely to perform the routines you want them to behave well by when you practice these together. This is a great way for both of you to get comfortable with what’s expected so that it becomes second nature.
12) Make Use of Desks
If your classroom uses desks (which can be a great way to get students focused and ready for learning), make sure they face the right direction at all times. Gone are the days of allowing students to turn their chairs around and chat with their peers because this hinders your ability to keep everyone engaged and on-task.
13) Practice Stewardship
If you want students to take responsibility for the learning environment around them, it’s important that they practice stewardship within their peer group. You can do this by having a dialogue with students about what is acceptable behavior in your class and what isn’t.
Making use of “Check-ins” is a great way to modify your classroom management routines each day. When you are looking for compliance, it’s important that you emphasize the “task” or focus on the lesson ahead rather than relying on simply establishing rules.
Putting these together into your classroom management routines is the more difficult part. You don’t want to overwhelm your students with information so they will inevitably forget how the processes work. Keep things simple, yet effective.
But what happens if you put all your time and energy into working these classroom management routines and either due to a misunderstanding or maybe a personality conflict, it’s not going the way you had hoped?
One of the most important aspects of classroom management is not allowing yourself to get upset. When you become stressed out and frustrated, it’s going to be very difficult for your students to remain focused and on-task as well. Remember that misbehavior is normal and it’s your job to find strategies for dealing with it.
If you are having serious problems with certain students, don’t be afraid to call parents at home. Depending on the severity of the incident(s), this may mean notifying them about their child’s disruptive behavior both inside and outside of class. It’s better to shine the light on misbehavior early rather than letting it get out of hand.
Now, you know that classroom management is vital to your teaching career and you’ve had some great tips for how to keep things moving smoothly in your room. However, there are certain instances where students won’t be receptive or they simply won’t respond.
They also might complain about rules. If this is the case, remind them that these are your expectations for a successful learning environment. The more they do it right, the easier it will be for everyone to focus on their lessons. If you find yourself getting frustrated with students who won’t comply or are just being difficult, take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to refocus on the task at hand.
If this is the case, know that in almost every circumstance, it isn’t you. Instead, it’s often something happening in that student(s) life that has nothing to do with you as a person. It’s important that you provide plenty of support and encouragement for students to behave well in your class, but make sure they always know the expectations.
Don’t be afraid to tweak the expectations if necessary as well. If something really isn’t working for a class, brainstorm with them on the best plan of action. Explain to them what you need the end goal to be and ask them for their opinion on what the routine should be. You will be surprised at what they come up with (and sometimes, it’s not even in the realm that you would have thought of, but works beautifully).
Classroom Management Tools
The most important aspect of having classroom management routines run smoothly is the implementation of classroom management tools. The examples below are some of the best-known tools used by teachers. However, as stated before, these should be adjusted to each teacher’s unique style and needs.
IMPORTANT: If you do not feel comfortable using a certain tool or if it simply doesn’t work for your students, remove it from your routine immediately. This isn’t about forcing yourself to do something that doesn’t feel right. It’s about establishing a routine that is comfortable for you and your students, develops positive relationships, and provides effective lessons on a daily basis.
1) The Magic of Two-Minute Warnings– Consider when you want your students to improve their behavior. Do you need them to do something in particular? Is their desk messy? Are they talking when they shouldn’t be? The key here is to give them a warning that coincides with the offense.
For example, if their desk is messy and they need to clean it up before the lesson begins, give them two minutes to get it in order. If they aren’t working when you ask them to or talking while you are trying to explain something, give them two minutes to comply. It may take a few tries, but eventually, they will understand the meaning behind the warning and why you are giving them two minutes instead of one.
IMPORTANT: If you give too many ‘two-minute warnings” without following through, it loses its effectiveness. Only use this tool when you are serious about seeing a change in behavior.
2) The Buddy System– This is a great way to help your students with behavior issues by giving them each other for support.
You can pair up in several ways—Heather and Samantha in one group, Marcus and Alan in another, etc. Or you could even have the whole class paired up. All that matters is that each pair has a buddy. The pairs are responsible for encouraging their buddies to improve behavior or, if students are still having trouble, you can address the class as a whole.
3) Classroom Jobs– These will vary depending on your classroom and what your students need to learn how to do. For example, you could have everyone take care of the recycling bins, have two students monitor the hallway for traffic, or have one student responsible for putting up posters around your room. The key is that this establishes a sense of community and responsibility in your classroom. If everyone has a job to do, then the behavior will improve because they are aware of what you want them to be doing.
4) Classroom Coupon System– This is a great way to promote good behavior by allowing students to ‘buy’ things that they want. When their behavior has improved, reward them with classroom coupons for treats or privileges within your class. You can also give out coupons for parents too, which are usually an easy way to keep order in the home as well.
5) Chants and Songs– These can be a lot of fun for your students and give them some sense of control over their environment as well as the ability to have a hand in being an active participant in their learning. You can use these with just about any lesson, but they tend to work best when it’s something that is being taught in a repetitive way.
For example, if you are teaching them about rhyming words, have them come up with a chant or song that reinforces this skill. They will remember it better and you won’t have to remind them what to do next time you work on these skills. You can also use songs for transitions too…just be mindful of the age group you are working with. This is best suited for younger grades.
Classroom Management Routines and the 4 Keys
Determining a classroom management routine that will work with your students isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.
If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.