50 Awesome Classroom Management Tips You Can Use Tomorrow

829482_students.jpgAs we come to the conclusion of Reader Appreciation Month, I want to summarize some of the things that we have learned. Today, I’ll focus on the incredible wealth of knowledge that we have learned about classroom management.

I found that when I put all of the tips together, I had over 70 suggestions. I combined a few of them and broke them down into categories. The tips all fell into four categories: Personal, Student and Parent Relationships, Organization and Teaching, and Behavior and Rules. After consolidating, I came up with 50 classroom management tips I have learned this month.

Personal tips for effective classroom management

  1. Find out who you are as a person; find your strengths, weaknesses, and how your chemistry works with others
  2. Pay attention at all times
  3. Keep your word
  4. Be excited about teaching what you teach
  5. Study leadership and be a leader
  6. Accept responsibility for everything that happens in your classroom, whether good or bad
  7. Assume the role of a captain of your classroom and be in control at all times

Student and parent relationship tips for effective classroom management

  1. Improve students’ self-concept
  2. Greet them at the doorway before they enter the classroom, use handshakes, high fives, nicknames, whatever
  3. Joke around with you students, but have a way to get them back on task
  4. LOVE! If we authentically show students that we are dedicated to loving them, believing in them-they will allow us to teach them
  5. Authentic honor, respect, and admiration goes the distance when you want students to engage deeply in learning
  6. You have to reach them before you can attempt to teach them
  7. Get to know them really fast; names in less than a week, absolutely
  8. Assign “math autobiographies” (or whatever) early, and learn more about them
  9. Share control where there are choices that control the environment, and where there really is a choice, give the kids that control (Which game will we play today if we finish fast? Would you like to take the quiz now, or go over homework first? Do you want sparkly stickers or smelly stickers?)
  10. Kids get told what to do all the time; make your classroom a place where they get to make some decisions
  11. Try to make a personal connection with each child — find out what their interests and activities are; if you know they have a game coming up, wish them luck, or ask how it went the next day
  12. Share (limited) personal information with them; this helps to establish a connection with the students
  13. Speak to students with respect, even when they are not acting respectfully toward you
  14. Praise! Praise! Praise! But make it specific — instead of saying, “You guys were so good at the assembly!” tell them you’re so happy they all stayed flat on their bottoms and listened quietly to the speaker
  15. Stop whatever you are doing whenever you see something remarkable happening in the classroom and point it out
  16. Do not try to make the kids like you; as you make them behave, they will like you
  17. Do not give in to every request, “This isn’t Burger King, you don’t have it your way all the time”
  18. Give in to some requests when it is educationally appropriate, “Fine, this is Burger King, have it your way”
  19. Do not be afraid to ask parents for help in the classroom or with events
  20. Keep parents informed about what is going on in your classroom (I first set up an email list, then turned it into a blog with email subscriptions)
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Organization and teaching tips for effective classroom management

  1. Keep impeccable records. Pamela wrote about this in great detail
  2. The students need to be working on something constructive and meaningful from bell to bell
  3. Follow a regular structure; this will also help students know what to expect; establish a weekly routine like Jeremy Aldrich
  4. To keep focus, you need to break focus, never expect half an hour of silent attention to anything if you are lecturing, interrupt yourself (with jokes, stories, off-topic nonsense, discussion of what is happening elsewhere in school, random knowledge, etc.); plan a variety of work, so that they will need to take out notebooks, or put them away, or move desks, or stop writing and start talking
  5. Focus on what needs to actually get done; never walk into a class thinking “we’ll see how far we get” — have a target, reach it, and the other time, to the extent that it exists, is used to build a class that kids are comfortable in, that they look forward to coming to each day
  6. Teach students — even the youngest ones — to be responsible for their own learning; let them know that you expect them to use their class time for learning

Behavior and rules tips for effective classroom management

  1. On the first day, give kids really easy things to do, like raise your hand if your last name begins with “G” and sit in assigned seats. have them fill in basic info cards, stand them up, sit them down, get them used to following directions and doing what they are told
  2. Whatever your rules, make them clear, keep them concise, keep them consistent, keep them fair
  3. Make your expectations (for both behavior and learning) high and very clear and reinforce them regularly (relentlessly pursue classroom management)
  4. Don’t make threats you won’t follow through on; actions speak louder than words
  5. Set the boundaries fairly close at first, then relax them later, once you’ve gotten to know each other
  6. If you have the kids seated in table arrangements, give tally marks to tables for doing the right thing — i.e. being the first to have all members with homework turned in or with book open to the right page, etc.; this speeds up transitions immensely
  7. Use behavior contracts
  8. Stay mobile; as they work, pace the room and watch for signs of confusion or distraction
  9. Gently tap off-task students on the shoulder
  10. Spot check what they are supposed to be working on
  11. I establish as few rules as possible, and then jealously enforce the ones I have — too many rules mean too many things you have to track
  12. Overexplain — ALWAYS review your expectations and go through the “What if?” scenario list before assemblies, field trips, guest speakers, substitutes, etc., no matter how many times you’ve discussed it before
  13. Find ways to correct students with as little distraction to your lesson as possible; develop “the look
  14. Use silence or whispering to your advantage — students are uncomfortable with unexpected silence; there will always be a few students who don’t immediately look up when you stop talking, so other students will start nudging them and pointing for them to pay attention, when all eyes are back on you, ask, “Are we ready to continue?” with an “I’m not very amused” look on your face
  15. Catch the students doing something right; if that doesn’t happen, lower your expectations for what they should do, and find someone who exceeds the expectations
  16. Do not be afraid to make kids call their parents and explain their misbehaviors during class; it’s amazing how much that fear of being found out does to your overall class behavior
  17. Don’t yell — or at least do it VERY sparingly and know that it will carry a lot more weight if and when you do; for example, saying “Don’t take that tone with me” to a disrespectful student will often escalate the situation
About Joel Wagner 516 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

9 Comments on 50 Awesome Classroom Management Tips You Can Use Tomorrow

  1. Pat and Jonathan, I agree with both of you. Thank you for all of your comments! I hadn’t realized just how useful all of the information was until I began to put the lists together. This one list here may very well be the most beneficial single article that I have on the entire blog. The ones on Thursday and Friday will come in a close second and third.

  2. You have given such great advice! I am a preservice teacher, and I will definitely be printing out your list! I’ll be sending a link to some friends, too! This is great!

    Do you really think we should lower our expectations of student behavior if no one is acting well? I don’t want to sound too idealistic, but don’t you think at least ONE person will be following the behavior codes you have set up for the classroom?

    • Liz, I guess it wasn’t quite clear. I don’t think we should lower our expectations for their behavior. I think that in a situation where we don’t see them doing something right very often, we need to find things they’re doing well and congratulate them for that.

      “Thank you so much for sitting up straight, Juan!”

      “Alyssa, I really do appreciate that you’re listening to me when I’m talking!”

      I think all of us who have been teaching for a few years at least know that there are days when not a single student follows the directions the entire time. In those instances, that’s where you lower your expectations not for the student behavior but for “what am I going to compliment?”

  3. What about keeping kids engaged with the use of technology? Kids using technology appropriately not only learn better, but they also cause fewer behavior problems because their engaged.

    Our site has a lot of ideas about how you can do this in a math context:

    http://www.techpoweredmath.com

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