It’s January of 2019 and sometimes the start of the new calendar year after the Winter Holiday can be a good time to reboot as a teacher. Maybe you were having some issues with classroom management in the fall and want to try some new things? Maybe your class is doing well, but you are open to some new strategies?
Here are a few simple classroom management strategies that I have found have worked well in my elementary classrooms.
Music isn’t only for the Early Years. It works great with older children as well. I teach Grade One and we have a cleanup song. We also have an end of day song. These work well. They help the students transition far more smoothly and quickly than simply using voice commands. This holds especially true for the large number of EAL students I have in my room that in August, simply didn’t understand many of my instructions.
Listening to Student Stories:
All children want a voice. Al children have stories to share (some more than others). All students want the attention of a grown-up. Many of the children I teach simply don’t get the attention they need or deserve at home. Their parents are too busy for them or simply absent from their lives. Although we have an EXTREMELY BUSY day-to-day existence as elementary school teachers, we have to fight hard to make a little more time each day to listen to our students’ stories. What did they do after school yesterday? What did they eat for breakfast? Why they think Superman is better than Batman. This helps build a stronger rapport and believe me, there are some students who only have teachers to listen.
You don’t have to be a clown, but if you are teaching young children you should NEVER be “all business.” Kids like to laugh and have fun. You, of course, have to keep it controlled and at appropriate times, but kids love a teacher who can be a little silly and give them a good laugh. I have always found that I can build a bond with a student through my use of humor.
This, of course, seems like a no-brainer, but all students love praise. Who doesn’t like having positive things said to them? Who doesn’t love a pat on the back and to be told they are doing a good job? This can be easier said than done. I think many teachers, myself included find it too easy to get sucked into dwelling on the negative side of things. I myself know I need to spend more time praising the little ones in my class.
That’s right. I love having lots of plants in my classroom and so do my students. This Fall, as part of a Unit of Inquiry, we looked at how bringing nature into our classroom could create more student well-being. My classroom gets a lot of sunlight and has a huge window ledge. We lined that ledge with plants and everyone in the room agrees it makes us all feel better. Students also love being assigned the duty of watering the plants throughout the week. Turn your classroom into a mini-forest and you will see the behavior and well-being benefits!
About the Writer:
Kevin O’Shea is a PYP/Nature/Outdoor educator currently based in Beijing, China. He is a father, husband, and avid conservationist. Kevin is an advocate for outdoor play and nature education. He is the host of the long-running Just Japan Podcast and is currently developing the Making Better Teachers Podcast!