While there are a number of practices that work together to create a strong classroom management foundation, there are a few fundamental basics. Teacher preparation and organization, engaging lessons, building relationships, well-established routines and procedures for the students, and brain breaks or other related movement instructional strategies.
Preparation and Organization
According to Robert Marzano, classroom organization is one of the 11 factors that influence student achievement. By being organized and prepared, teachers maximize instructional time, minimize the frequency of behavior problems and chaos, and create a safe and positive classroom environment.
Organize your books and materials by month or theme. You are more likely to put your materials away and in a place where you can find them if you have them organized by a specific category. Being well-organized cuts down on lesson prep time as well. You can quickly and easily find the materials you need when getting your lessons ready.
I used plastic tubs with lids to store all of my materials by theme and concept. I stored by books in a separate area, but also by theme and concept.
Use clear plastic containers and labels and store all of your materials separately.
This idea came from The Clutter-Free Classroom. Hang a dry erase board or create a wipe-off space to record end of the day reminders such as changes in transportation.
For more organizational tips and tricks and storage ideas, check out my Pinterest board Classroom Organization.
I found this quote from the blog post The Boy Friendly Classroom: Making Time for Movement and thought "Wow!" this picture sums it all up. If we do not provide our students with lessons that engage them and keep them moving and thinking then they will find other things to do... oftentimes things that disrupt instruction and learning. Novelty is key. Rotate techniques, strategies, and activities when students seem to be loosing focus or interest.
Procedures and Routines
When introducing procedures and routines never assume that students know everything. You will have to model the exact behaviors you want to see from your students. When teaching procedures and routines you have to scaffold your instruction. Model the procedure or routine you want them to learn. Practice it with them. Have them practice on their own and with each other. Then slowly send them out on their own to do independently.
Never assume that any procedure, routine, or task is so small or trivial that it does not require modeling and group practice.
For example: You must model and practice how to enter the room, how to walk to the carpet, how to leave the carpet, how to line up, how to stand in line, how to work at each center, how to listen to a story, how to turn and talk to a partner, how to throw something away, how to get materials, how to go to the restroom, how to get a drink, etc.
These pictures came from a Debbie Diller workshop. First, the teacher modeled, then the teacher had the students practice with partners.
I Can... and anchor charts are another great way to scaffold teaching procedures and routines.
Making Time for Brain Breaks and Movement
Break your direct instructional teaching time up with brain breaks and movement activities that are strategic, purposeful, and instructionally focused.
Brain breaks are great for in-between activities. I used them in between read-alouds and lessons, or before we lined up, etc.
I used brain break ideas from Deanna Jump's All Set? You Bet? Classroom Management Transitions and Routines. This unit also contains direct links to videos and songs that incorporate movement. You can find more movement videos and songs on my Pinterest board Music/Movement/Videos.
I also used these from Third Grade Thoughts.
Classroom cheers are another way to praise students and get them moving. I used these fun cheers with my students. You can check them out on TPT here.
Transitions are another great time to get students moving. Check out this great post Transition Time...It's Like Hammer Time for the Classroom for some great transition activities. Some examples include counting down, singing songs, repeating pattern movements, and movement activities.
Education to the Core has some great tips for transitions too.
When shhhhhhhhhhh doesn't work, use attention grabbers to bring students back from turn and talk, to get them quiet so one person can talk, or when they all start talking at once. I used these attention grabber cards. If you are interested in them, you can find them here.
For more on the brain and ways to incorporate purposeful movement into your day, check out this post from Fun in PREK-1 & Kinder.
This making time for movement reminder came from Jessica Fredrickson. You can get it for free here.
One of Marzano's nine instructional strategies for effective teaching and learning is reinforcing effort and providing recognition. Effort and recognition speak highly to the attitudes and beliefs of students. Building relationships with your students contributes to better classroom behavior and creates a more learning-friendly classroom environment.
Build better relationships with your students by:
Getting to know them- take time to talk to students about their lives outside of the classroom
Individualize- individualize the curriculum and find creative ways to help each student learn the material
Watch what you say- avoid using harsh words and sarcasm with your students
Keep trying to reach your students- set clear expectations, keep your own emotions in check, and enforce classroom rules, procedures, and routines positively
Sometimes students need additional time to calm down or adjust to new activities. Crayons and Lesson Plans shared a great post about using a "calming caddy" with her students. Learn more about how she uses it and what she include in it here.
Relationships make a difference in the way students perform in school. They can also make the steps needed in giving students what they need in the classroom a little easier.
Rather than give out stickers or use a treasure box, I used incentives such as singing or moving to an extra song, rubbing "smellies" on their hands (flavored smelly chapstick), adding a pom-pom to their cup, classroom cheers and chants, and reward coupons such as work in your socks, bring a stuffed animal to school, sit in a special chair, etc.
I used these great reward coupons from Mel D-Seusstastic.You can check them out in her TPT store here.
This post merely skims the surface of classroom management and how to establish it in the classroom. For more ideas and suggestions check out my Classroom Management Pinterest board. I am always pinning new ideas to it.