Want The Happiest Class In The School? Read This!

by | Jul 13, 2020

Classroom Management Tips That Help To Achieve An Organized Space And Happy Learners

If you want some awesome classroom management tips, then you’re in the right place!

Let me set the scene…

It’s the first day of school, the adrenaline is rushing, everything is bright and shiny, and you’re looking your best for the kids and the parents.

Nothing is out of place and nothing is without a color-coded label!

Classroom management at its finest, right?

Enter 22 students and multiple parents over a 30 minute period.

Peace disrupted?

Maybe.

But the noise and the stuff everywhere is indicative of a brand new year filled with tons of possibilities.

The noise…and the mess, are a good thing!

So how do you keep the peace, maintain the organization, and still allow your students to feel like there’s room to move and groove?

Answer: Effective, strategic, and very creative classroom management.

Not fail proof, but certainly worth investing some time and energy into implementing.

We all want the happiest class in the school, right?

Time to read about some popular strategies!

Ready to learn and take copious notes? Let’s go!

*This article contains affiliate links which means I may make a small commission from any items (awesome teacher books!) that you purchase.

1. Teacher First

classroom management tips

A teacher with great classroom management knows how to establish the roles and rules from the very beginning.

I remember my first year of teaching being in survival mode and pretty much flying by the seat of my pants.

In a lot of ways, I had no idea what I was doing.

I had the passion and love for kids, but I needed to experience my first year to really hone in on some management skills.

Like many things in life, you learn by doing.

A colleague of mine told me that you’re their teacher first, and later on you can become their friend.

Makes sense.

If you’re trying so hard to be their friend, many times you forget to lay down the ground rules.

Then things get chaotic and no one’s learning anything. You definitely don’t want that.

A teacher with great classroom management knows how to establish the roles and rules from the very beginning.

Teacher and student. Very distinct roles with very specific responsibilities.

When explained and modeled correctly, it helps everyone get on the same page, and also helps to start building that respect in the initial weeks of the school year.

2. Set Expectations

Expectations are essentially the rules for your classroom.

You can think of it as a list of ideas that will help you and your students function well all year long.

This can include the following: transitions, setting up stations, sharing community items, keeping tables clean, picking up after yourself, bathroom procedures, raising your hand to speak, recess, rewards/consequences, free time, and end of day procedures.

These ideas can be brainstormed together as a class and then posted somewhere around the room.

Some of the procedures should already be created before the year starts.

In the beginning of the year you will spend lots of time going over procedures and expectations.

You will most likely feel (and sound!) like a broken record, but it’s essential to having a healthy classroom.

You will refer to these expectations ALL. YEAR. LONG.

Be thoughtful when you make them and creative in your explanation.

Show your students that the rules are there to make everyone feel safe and to make their classroom the most enjoyable place possible.

Help them understand that as a part of your class, each person has a responsibility to know and abide by these rules in order to help keep everyone safe and learning!

3. Everything Has a Place

From backpacks to lunchboxes, to folders and station buckets, to your classroom library, everything needs to have a place.

One of my teammates came up with the idea to take her students on a classroom tour on the first day of school.

This allowed her to show her students the different sections of the room, where things go, how to properly put things back, etc.

Such a great idea!

Flexibility is key to thriving in your classroom!

Some teachers prefer to have the classroom situated before any students arrive and others may want their room to evolve throughout the year based on their students’ needs.

Either way works because each class is so unique.

However you decide to set up your classroom, just make sure that it works for you and your kids.

Be ready to scrap your plans at any point to make the necessary adjustments.

Whatever it takes.

Flexibility is key to thriving in your classroom!

4. Labels are Your Friend

I love labeling things, but I’m not one of those teachers who has their own label maker like Monica Geller. I’m a handwritten kind of person.

But I love labels! It makes life so much easier in the classroom.

And in the early grades when there’s so much reading, sight words, and phonics going on, the labels all around your room just strengthen your print-rich environment.

These are examples of things that I labeled in my kindergarten classroom: locker tags, name tags, homework folders, cubbies, book buckets, table spots, work stations, etc.

It is not an exhaustive list by any means. But it’s a great start!

classroom management tips

In the early grades when there’s so much reading, phonics, and writing going on, the labels all around your room just strengthen your print-rich environment.

5. Assigned Spots

The more structure the better.

I never knew that I would agree so much with a statement until I taught kindergarten.

One of the best tips around is to create a class list with a number order, and those numbers are what you use all year to organize papers, folders, report cards, etc.

Most teachers organize everything alphabetically by last name, but my preference was by first name. It was so much easier to memorize.

Because you find yourself counting kids all the time to make sure you have everyone, being able to just rattle off all the names quickly is super helpful.

For younger grades, it is helpful to have assigned spots at the carpet, tables, in their line, and at lunch.

If after the first semester you think that your kids can handle choosing their own spots for certain things, go for it.

But always be ready to pull back on those freedoms if they can’t handle those kind of choices.

*Pro Tip: The line order can be different from the other number order you usually have. It’s nice to have your line order be by height so that your students who are shorter can see in front of them.

It also becomes a great sorting/classification lesson on the first day of school!

Recess Time: You Deserve A Break!

If you’ve hung with me this far, then you’re really serious about classroom management tips! To reward you for your dedication, I wanted to recommend some awesome books for teachers just like YOU!

The Essential 55 by Ron Clark

This is an awesome book. Ron Clark discusses how it’s possible to discover the potential in every child. He has AMAZING classroom management tips!

The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence In The Elementary Grades by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

When I taught kindergarten, we did the Daily Five in our classrooms. This is so helpful for creating independence in literacy with young kids!

Recess is over now…time to learn classroom management tips #6-10!

6. Class Promise

Making a class promise together is a great way to establish community during the first week of school.

This is a great time to generate ideas from your students about how they want to be treated, how you should be treated, along with the best ways to ensure everyone is safe, happy, and able to learn.

A class promise can sound something like this:

“In our classroom we promise to treat each other with respect, raise our hand to speak, show kindness, share, and work together in order to have fun and learn.”

You will most likely have a big list of brainstormed words on the white board or giant chart paper, and your job is to wordsmith the ideas into some kind of final draft.

In my class, I would write it on a big piece of paper or poster board and have all of my students (and myself) sign their names.

Then it would get laminated and posted somewhere in the room.

If a student or the teacher is ever not following the promise, you can refer back to it as a class and remind each other of your collective agreement.

It’s a very powerful management tool.

classroom management tips

“Making a class promise together is a great way to build community during the first week of school.”

7. Morning Circle

Morning Circle was hands down my favorite time of the day. Here are some reasons why…

  1. Establishes classroom community
  2. Daily read aloud
  3. Learn about each other
  4. Encourages participation and individuality
  5. Strengthens your bonds with your students
  6. Builds confidence in public speaking
  7. Fosters good listening skills

Our morning circle time happened after morning warm-ups and reading.

I would usually start with a read aloud or any announcements for the day, then every person had a chance to share.

Some days there were topics such as “share your favorite movie” and other times it was just random.

I recommend having some kind of object to pass around the circle to indicate when it’s your time to talk.

I had a collection of pointers in my classroom, so normally a student would pick one of those to pass around the circle.

An example of a student’s sharing time would go something like this, “My name is Emma and I’m excited that today we are going on a field trip.”

It was nice to have them practice saying their name in front of their friends, and because we did this every day, it was helpful for substitutes when they had to take over!

One last thing…I always gave my students the option to pass on sharing if they just didn’t feel like it.

But they still had to introduce themselves before they passed the pointer to the next person.

I feel like morning circle helped us start our day off right. I’m so glad one of my teammates introduced me to this amazing management tool that I treasured with my students!

classroom management tips

“Most students want to help in one way or another. Helping out can give them a sense of pride, accomplishment, and show them that hard work can produce great results.”

8. Class Jobs

We’ve all thought this many times, “If I let them do it, it’ll take so much longer. And I might have to redo it again myself.”

Yep. I’ve thought and said that as a teacher and a mom, but bottom line: give those kids some jobs!

It will pay off in the long run.

Why are classroom jobs so important? What’s the point anyways?

First of all, most students want to help in one way or another.

Helping out can give them a sense of pride, accomplishment, and show them that hard work can produce great results.

How you go about creating the class jobs or rotating through them is completely up to you.

I’ve seen some teachers switch out jobs on a daily basis, and others that do it on a weekly basis.

In my classroom I didn’t have an actual job chart.

I had a keyring with everyone’s names that hung on the board, and each day I would rotate to the next person.

They were the calendar helper and my special helper throughout the day if I needed someone to escort a friend to the nurse, take something to the office, etc.

I picked a line leader each day based on who lined up quietly and had done a great job all morning.

There will even be times when you come up with random jobs like table wipers, board cleaners, class monitors, the possibilities are endless.

Class Jobs can also be motivators for your students’ behavior.

If a child is having a hard time making good choices, his/her job can get taken away and then another child can take over.

I’ve even heard teachers tell kids they’ve been fired from their job, which makes me crack up laughing.

Each teacher is different. Just do whatever works for you and your kids!

Can you just imagine a 5 year-old’s response to, “How was your day honey?”

“I got fired today.”

So darn funny.

10-classroom-management-tips-that-work

9. Behavior Plan

In any classroom it is necessary for students to know what the expectations are for behavior, including both the positive and negative consequences.

They need boundaries.

And they need them to be reinforced.

It’s helpful in their cognitive development, social growth, and in fostering strong trust with their teacher.

You read that right. Consistent discipline helps children grow in trust.

I told my students all the time, “If I didn’t care about you, I’d let you do whatever you wanted.

But I care about you and I love you enough to tell you when you’ve done something wrong.”

So aside from helping your students grow, develop and feel safe, a behavior plan is also helpful for the teacher.

“It is necessary for students to know what the expectations are for

behavior, including both the positive and the negative consequences.

They need boundaries. And they need them to be reinforced.”

There’s not a perfect way to implement a behavior plan. It’s a very fluid system.

Some classrooms have a “clip system” or some color chart that designates how each child is doing with their behavior.

Oftentimes the colors are green, yellow and red like a stoplight.

Green means you’re good to go, yellow means slow down and think about your choices, and red means you need to stop and take a time out.

However you do it, make sure that your students are aware of the system and understand the ramifications for their choices.

Side note: Make sure to have some kind of designated way to communicate with parents about their child’s behavior. A daily folder, email, phone call home, special individualized behavior chart, etc.

Doesn’t matter how, just communicate!

I didn’t want to have one more daily thing to keep track of in my classroom, so I communicated with parents on a case-by-case basis.

I had sticky notes on my desk, and if I needed to jot a child’s name down for 5 minutes off of recess or free centers, I did.

Remember, it’s not the method that matters, but more the follow through. Be consistent!

10. Relaxing Environment

Cultivate an environment of mutual kindness, respect, and love.

Free to have fun, learn, and be yourself.

This is the kind of classroom environment that every child deserves to have.

When they do, they are able to thrive and reach their full potential. It’s possible!

You may be thinking, “Lisa…easier said than done. Some kids are just tough!”

I get it. I have had my fair share of really tough kids. But they are the ones who need the safe, relaxing environment the most.

How do you, as the teacher, create that relaxing environment?

I really think that it’s a culmination of implementing the first 9 strategies.

Be thoughtful with each of them, flexible, and willing to change something if necessary.

Be consistent in your implementation and be willing to apologize when you mess up.

Come to your classroom each day and give your kids your best.

Cultivate an environment of mutual kindness, respect, and love.

And love your students well. Not love them the same, because they all have different needs.

But love them well.

If you do all those things, your kids will want to come back to school and spend time in their classroom.

It will be their safe space and hopefully a happy place for everyone!

**True Confession: I am very aware that no matter how great your management is, you can have a chaotic classroom and lots of friction between students.

It happens.

I taught kindergarten for 8 years and I know exactly which 2 years were the hardest.

It was hard to come to school some days. Drama all over the place.

One time I remember turning off the lights, having the kids put their heads down and I told them we were done for the afternoon and I needed a break.

It was that hard.

When the final bell rang on the last day of school, I hugged each of my kids and then cried in my room, just letting it all out.

I was so happy the year was over. And that was such a strange feeling to have.

So I get it.

These management tips are not supposed to create the most magical classroom ever.

But utilizing all 10 strategies consistently and with kindness is a great place to start!

Quick Recap

Great classroom management takes time to implement.

It’s not a cake walk, but it’s possible.

These 10 tips are just ideas that I’ve used in my own classroom and that friends of mine have used in theirs.

There are probably 50 more ideas you could add! The classroom is constantly evolving, and your management style will too.

So what now?

Take each idea and think through your own classroom and ask yourself these questions:

Is this a strategy I can get on board with and believe in?

What would this strategy look like for my teaching style?

What is something I can tweak right now that will set me up for success in my classroom?

My advice for you?

Just go for it. Dive in!

Embrace the journey that teaching brings!

Here’s to a year of learning, growing, and FUN!

~ Lisa

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Every Teacher Should Stop And Read This Right Now!

Comment below with any other ideas or tips that you think are super helpful! Share this post with your fellow teacher friends!

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6 Comments

  1. Leah

    This post has a ton of great tips for classroom management! Although I am not a teacher, I use a lot of these strategies for my job as a group facilitator for teens with substance abuse. I wish my program would have taught me some of these skills! I’ve learned a good bit from reading your post and agree with teacher first, friend later. Also stressing the importance of expectations and giving out individual roles. Thanks for sharing! Love the Monica Geller reference BTW 😂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      That’s awesome that you use some of these strategies for your job. So cool! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I hope you have a great year with your teens!

  2. Maureen

    I love the idea of a Class Promise. I make a Class Constitution with my fifth graders, using their suggestions to come up with our five main rules. I’m always impressed when they continue to refer to that poster throughout the year, to remind their classmates that this is what they agreed to do.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      The Class Promise is so helpful! I love that you do something similar with your 5th graders. Isn’t it amazing how much it resonates with kids? So cool!

  3. Rache

    Some interesting ideas here, a lot of these I use in my classroom too! High school students do tend to need different boundaries and reinforcement compared to elementary, so consistency through the whole school experience would be amazing! We can dream right? Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! I hope you have a great year with your students. And yes, consistency throughout the whole school would for sure be amazing!

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