Classroom management strategies are key to starting off your school year on the right foot and maintaining a positive classroom environment all year. The strategy you go with has plenty of variables from the ages of the pupils in your classroom to personal experience to even any EHCP considerations. And let’s face it, we’ve all had those lessons, days, or even weeks where it feels like all you have done is manage the running of your classroom… and that’s about it!
So what are the classroom management strategies that will work with a variety of pupils? And how do you make your classroom management effective in a classroom of multi-year levels?
Our teacher team to the rescue! The teachers of Teach Starter have created this collection of easy — yet effective — classroom management strategies that may help with the day-to-day running of your classroom.
Our Teacher-Favourite Classroom Management Strategies Ideas
So you already know the three C’s of classroom management — compassion, connection, and consistency.
But if you’re looking for some ways to put those three Cs into action, we chatted with some of the teachers on the Teach Starter team to get you exactly that! Here are some super easy classroom management ideas.
1. Quickly Get Pupils’ Attention With a Clap
Getting your pupils to quickly stop and listen to you is something that sounds simple, but we all know it can sometimes be a challenge to quiet a classroom full of excited children who are buzzing about the latest movie or upcoming holidays.
Some teachers prefer to clap in order to capture their pupils’ attention, teaching children a cadence to clap back. This simple strategy engages pupils and encourages them to participate in the attention-gaining process.
There are a number of ways to instill this practice in your classroom, such as:
- Pattern Clapping — Clap a rhythmic pattern (e.g., two short claps followed by a long one). Your pupils are then expected to repeat the pattern exactly, which means they must pay close attention!
- Call and Response Clapping — Teach your pupils that when you clap a particular pattern, they should respond by clapping back an ‘answer’ pattern.
- Silent Clapping — You don’t always have to touch your hands together to make this strategy effective. Sometimes the simple act of miming a clap is enough. Pupils should know that their role is to mime the clap back, quieting their voices.
- Clap and Freeze — Teach your pupils to freeze when they hear you clap, quieting their voices and staying in one place until you provide direction for their next movements.
2. Add Call and Response Chants to Your Toolkit
If clapping doesn’t feel right for you, here’s another auditory cue idea to help you regain classroom control when pupils have gotten too loud.
Use these call and response phrase ideas! This strategy is very similar to the clapping idea described above, in which a teacher claps and the pupils clap a specific response.
The only difference? The teacher recites the first part out loud, and pupils again respond out loud with their answers, rather than using their hands.
3. Curb Calling Out With Blurt Buttons
We’ve all experienced it — pupils thinking aloud: ‘It’s cloudy outside,’ telling you about their neighbor’s three-legged cat, or asking you, ‘Miss, how many days until Christmas?’
Not only does blurting out disrupt your lessons, but it can create an unequal classroom environment, allowing some pupils to dominate the discussion while others may feel too shy or hesitant to participate.
Blurt Buttons are a bright, fun classroom management strategy that can help you put an end to calling out.
Give each pupil several buttons to keep on their desks. If a pupil blurts, they must put a button back into the Blurt Buttons jar. At the end of the day, any remaining Blurt Buttons on desks go into the Rewards Jar, earning children points towards a treat!
4. Institute Traffic Control Sticks
Do you have craft sticks? Add some bright washi tape and pupils’ names, and you have a classroom management tool that can be used in various ways during the school year.
- Use these equity sticks as a random name selector to ensure you are calling on all pupils equally.
- Keep track of pupils you have checked in on during individual work. Turn their name stick upside down when you have checked in!
- Pupils can use these sticks to express when they have a question about their work. Rather than having multiple hands up and ultimately distracted pupils waiting, they can select their name stick and place it on their desk or put it in an ‘I have a question’ cup.
Thanks to the amazing @misstrikolas for this great photo!
5. Create Effective Transitions
Using effective transitions in the classroom can give pupils a break by providing them with a chance to get out of their seats and switch their focus to a new task. Planning your transitions between different lessons or activities also means that no time is wasted during a busy school day.
While these How to Walk Like a… Instruction Cards were created by teachers to assist pupils in walking through the school quietly, they can also be used for transitions in your classroom. For example, walk like an ant to your designated seat.
6. Use a Lucky Duck Bowl
Purchase rubber duckies to create your very own Lucky Duck bowl!
This idea comes from teacher Brittany Botta (you’ll find her on Instagram at @projectsandpompoms), who fills a bowl with rubber ducks each year and uses them to make job assignments or for sharing time. They’re a fun alternative to pulling craft sticks!
7. Try ‘If You Hear My Voice’
Are you trying to control your pupil’s excitement after returning from lunch or playtime? It can be helpful to teach pupils at the start of the term that if you ask them ‘If you hear my voice …’ they should become quiet and pay attention to what you are about to say.
Then, when the classroom volume gets a bit too loud, you can simply call out ‘If you hear my voice … ‘ then wait for children to settle before providing the remainder of the directions.
- If you hear my voice, touch your nose.
- If you hear my voice, touch your head.
Consistency is key to using this strategy successfully with your pupils. You will want to use the ‘if you hear my voice’ phrase consistently throughout the year when you need to redirect pupils’ attention. That way, your pupils will learn to associate the phrase with the expectation to listen and follow instructions.
8. Set Up a Note Station
There are always going to be those children who want to talk and talk and talk, and there will also be the children who go to the other extreme — they’re too nervous to tell you things, even when something is weighing heavily on their minds.
Take a page from teacher Miriam Patrick’s book, and set up a ‘leave me a note’ station in the classroom like this one for both kinds of kids — and all the rest, too. This will help curb the chit-chat, plus it gives pupils who need to be able to write down their thoughts a way to communicate too.
9. Build a Quick and Easy Check-In Pile
Do you have bins in the classroom that are sitting empty? Considering labelling three with the following:
- I Totally Get It!
- I’m Almost There!
- Help! I’m Lost!
This provides a simple way for pupils to communicate their needs with you and self-monitor their learning.
Any simple tray will work, and you can check out our editable tray label collection for the signs. The rest is pretty self-explanatory!
Thanks to the wonderful @thekozyclassroom for this awesome idea!
10. Build a Brain Breaks Wheel
We all know about the importance of incorporating brain breaks into the running of a classroom, but we also know that thinking up new and fresh ideas can take time that busy teachers do not always have. This IKEA hack for the classroom is one that will provide many brain-break opportunities in the classroom and allow you to re-use old ideas with a fresh take.
Download the movement-themed classroom spinner template, and stick the tabs on the famous IKEA spinning wheel as a visual reminder for you and your students to take a brain break. A selection of fun exercise moves that are conducive to a classroom setting is included!
11. Use Hand Signals
Cut down on classroom interruptions by using non-verbal communication. Assigning hand signals to some of the reasons that pupils typically disrupt your instruction is a great way to fosters a culture of respectful communication between your pupils and you. This strategy requires them to be patient and wait for their turn, promoting good manners and consideration for others.
Pupils can use these to show that they need to use the restroom, have a question, need a pencil or have a comment to share without saying a word. Keep your classroom running like a well-oiled machine!
12. Provide Absent Pupils an Easy Way to Catch Up on Work
During the day-to-day running of your classroom, there may be times when pupils have been absent from the class for a short period during the day or the whole day due to illness. Keep track of catch-up work by easily displaying this work on a hanger.
As you hand out worksheets or notices, clip the leftovers to the hanger. Either label the clips with the day of the week the activity was completed, or the name of the pupil who missed out!
13. Make It Simple for Early Finishers to Move On
With children of different abilities in your classroom, you will often have pupils who complete individual tasks ahead of their peers. Planning ahead so your pupils know what the procedure is when they’ve completed a task is a good way to prevent the whole class from being disrupted by an announcement of ‘I’m done… now what?’
We suggest creating a folder, bin or display like the one in the photo below where pupils who have finished their work early can choose extension work. Teaching children where to find these resources at the start of the year and letting them know how to do so on their own will limit interruptions in the classroom.
14. Use Job Cards
Streamline your group work in your classroom and build leadership skills by providing pupils with specific roles. For example, you might assign one pupil as the leader, one as the materials manager and another as the pupil who will speak on behalf of their group when you all come back together as a class.
You can also supply pupils with a list of group ‘jobs’ and encourage them to select roles as a group.
These Group Work Role Cards are the perfect addition to your classroom to set your expectations for group work.
15. Keep Pupil Voice Levels Controlled
Whether you call them tap lights or push-button lights, these have been popping up in a lot of classrooms — and can be used in all sorts of ways, including this classroom management idea.
Add voice level labels, and just tap a button to let your pupils know when it’s time to use those whisper-level voices or pipe up to join a classroom discussion.
16. Post a Visual Schedule or Timetable
Having a visual schedule is a must-have classroom management strategy that will ultimately reduce the ‘what are we doing next?’ question!
Print out daily timetable cards, and stick them on your board as a visual reminder for your students about the daily events.
Need more ideas? Explore our teacher team’s favourite classroom management ideas for teachers!
Banner image via Shutterstock/GagliardiPhotography