1. Make sure you have Structure in your classroom. If you have very defined procedures and routines set up in your classroom, you can eliminate a lot of behavior problems. When I was teaching, I spent more time in the first few weeks focusing on routines and procedures than lesson content. It is so crucial for your students to be familiar with how things are done in your class.
Here are some ideas of procedures that you might practice with your students.
-Turning in homework
-Going to the bathroom
-Behavior outside the class (lunch, specialties, and bathroom)
-Recess rules/lining up
-Working in groups
-Sudden illness (bloody noses, throwing up, etc)
-Walking in the hallway
-Signaling for attention
-Finishing work early
-Passing out supplies
-End of day
- Don't introduce too many routines at one time. The beginning of the year can be overwhelming, and it will take some time for students to learn how everything is done.
-Introduce the routine and explain why it is important. Then model the routine, and give opportunities for them to practice.
2. Be Consistent. Your students should know that you mean what you say. If the class is being too loud, don't threaten to take away recess until you are actually willing to do that. If you make empty threats, your students will know that they can get away with misbehaving and you will lose control of the class.
I like to give three warnings. If a student is talking during class, I ask them to stop. If they continue, I say, "If you don't stop, I will move your desk." If they do it again, I immediately move their desk. Before discipline is given, the student should have a warning.
Before the school year starts, think of consequences for common behavior problems. This way you will know how to react when a situation arises. Here are some common problems you might run into:
-Talking in class
-Bothering other students
-Shouting out answers
-Hitting/kicking (I let them know that these behaviors will not be tolerated and they will not get a warning)
-Won't stay in their seat
3. Think Ahead. A lot of the time, behavior problems can be avoided if you think ahead about possible problems that might happen. Before an activity, you can give explicit directions about behavior and what is acceptable. Every year at my school they celebrate Grandparent's Day by having the grandparents come and read to their grandkids in school. The PTA provides cookies and water. My first year, I didn't realize how much instruction the kids needed and things did not go so well. I had kids running into the hall to look for their grandparents, taking 2-3 cookies, moving their chairs around, crying because their grandparent didn't come, etc. The next year before the grandparents came, I made sure to have a discussion with the class about appropriate behaviors, and things went much better.
If you think ahead and have a discussion before you start an activity, things will go much more smoothly.
Also, think about your wording. When you ask a question, instead of asking, "Who likes to eat popcorn?" You could say, "Raise your hand if you like to eat popcorn." This way students aren't shouting out their answer. They know to raise their hand.
4. Don't try to be the "Fun" teacher. At the beginning of the year, it is so important to set the tone for your class. They need to know that you aren't afraid to enforce consequences for breaking the rules. Once you have established the classroom rules and routines, you can let go a little and do more fun activities with your class. By then you will know what they can handle and they will know what you expect.
Also, in the primary grades, students love their teacher and want to please her/him. I remember my very first day teaching, the class was so noisy lining up for lunch and walking in the hall. I made them go back to the class and try again. They still didn't do it right, so we went back again, and I had to be very stern with them. After I dropped them off at lunch, I was walking through the cafeteria, feeling so bad and thinking they all hated me. A couple of my students called out to me and waved, so excited to say hi to me. It made me realize that my students would still love me, even if I had to crack down sometimes. Kids need boundaries, and I think it makes them feel safe knowing that their teacher will enforce the rules.
5. Have a quiet class. By this, I don't mean that your class needs to be quiet all the time. But before you begin talking to the class, you should make sure you have everyone's attention. During lessons, students should be quiet so that they aren't distracting other students. This also makes it so that hopefully you don't have to repeat yourself over and over. If you let students talk while you are talking, you end up raising your voice and having to shout over them, and the class gets louder and louder.
These five tips are things that really helped my management, and hopefully you can use some of them in your class too.
Don't forget to subscribe to my blog to get more ideas for your classroom!!