After distance-learning for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have understandably faced challenges adjusting back to in-person instruction in 2021. The burden of these challenges, however, has largely fallen on classroom teachers — even though administrators can do their part by implementing school-wide behavior management strategies.
But as students spend the majority of their time with school teachers, individual classroom management remains an important piece of the solution. Tackling classroom management can be overwhelming, so here are 15 classroom management strategies to help and inspire you.
Getting Started with Classroom Behavior Management
1. Decide, set up, and acknowledge your classroom expectations.
Different classrooms, students, and grade levels have varying needs, so reflecting on and deciding what will work best for you and your class is important. Clearly communicate the rules and procedures you decide to put in place to students so your entire class is on the same page. To make your expectations tangible to students, consider using learning contracts, like an etiquette handout or lab safety contract, which students can sign and keep on hand throughout the school year.
2. Teach (and reteach) your students about behavior.
Students all come from different backgrounds, so take the time to teach and explain the behaviors expected in your classroom. This way, all of your students will have a good foundation for how to behave in class.
However, don’t despair if your class begins misbehaving at some point. Since behavior is learned, use the opportunity to review, refresh, and reteach your class about the positive behavior you’d like to see. This can be taught in an entertaining way through a fun game like behavior bingo.
3. Display your classroom rules and procedures for reference.
Make your classroom decor fun and functional by hanging up posters like these, which showcase your classroom procedures to help students remember them. Having information — like how to ask to use the restroom — readily available and on display will not only remind students what they need to do, but also make the information accessible to classroom visitors and any transfer students.
4. Get students invested in your classroom management strategies.
Student involvement can lead to increased trust and participation. If you have room to be flexible, give your class choices where possible and ask for feedback on rules and processes. You can also further involve your students by creating different class jobs that students can rotate through, like line leader, homework collector, and announcement reader. This not only takes tasks off your plate, but it also teaches students responsibility and makes them more aware of classroom procedure.
5. Find fun ways to reinforce positive classroom behavior.
Learning how to behave can be a fun aspect of your classroom. Rewarding individuals who behave well with raffle tickets, a small prize, or even the ability to perform a coveted task will encourage students to implement what you’ve taught. Explain aloud why a student is being rewarded so the rest of the class knows how they can also achieve a prize. If all of your students are consistently behaving well, consider giving the whole class a prize like a mini party.
Embrace Predictability through Classroom Management Strategies
1. Create consistency with classroom routines.
The repetitive nature of routines ensures students know what to do when they enter your class and gives them an opportunity to learn and improve over time. Creating an easy-to-follow routine not only takes some of the guesswork out of your students’ days but also yours.
2. Post your class schedule for students to see.
When students know what to expect, they’re more likely to oblige. Incorporate posting your daily schedule into your classroom management strategy so students know what’s on deck and can prepare themselves. If your plan ends up needing to be changed, be transparent with your students about why and take the moment to emphasize the importance of being flexible when needed.
3. Preview exciting lesson plans and materials.
Take a play from an English teacher’s book, and use a strong hook in your lesson introduction. Add some creativity to this preview to pique your students’ interests and capture their attention. For example, you could preview a geometry lesson about shapes by saying, “Today we’ll learn how a circle is really just a fancy oval.”
4. Practice transitions with students.
Similar to having a classroom routine, practicing lesson and class transitions gives students an opportunity to learn, understand, and improve the way they change from one activity to another. Rehearse one or two transitions consistently to allow for the habit to take shape.
Use Smart Classroom Management to Correct Disruptive Behavior
1. Explore creative solutions to prevent disruptive behavior before it begins.
Sometimes disruptions are opportunities to implement new class procedures. Your students may be an energetic bunch, are easily riled up before a test or are still full of energy after recess. Adding an activity like a two minute shake-out to your transition into a test or out of recess could be a creative way to defuse this energy.
2. Be positive as you redirect students’ behavior.
At times, a gentle nudge in the right direction is all a student needs to get back on task. Maintain neutral body language and an even tone of voice while redirecting your student’s attention so your student feels encouraged, not punished.
3. Give appropriately-sized consequences.
While it’s important to correct behaviors before they escalate, it’s equally important to ensure the consequence matches the action. This smart classroom management technique helps build trust with students because it shows your dedication to fairness.
4. Create an easy-to-reference behavior intervention plan for students who need extra support.
From time to time, students may need more support in learning positive behavior. This support may involve multiple educators at your school and require coming up with a detailed plan. Using a straightforward template for your student’s behavior intervention plan can help keep everyone on the same page with ease and give your student the consistent support they need.
5. Address classroom behavior with individual students instead of the whole class.
While there are certainly frustrating times where it feels like the whole class is acting out, there is usually at least a student or two who stays on task. Keep these students as your allies in setting an example of positive classroom behavior by correcting individual students’ behavior instead of reprimanding the class at large. If you do need to address the whole class, try using positive narration instead. This allows you to acknowledge on-task students’ positive behavior and to motivate disruptive students to change their course.
6. Kindly acknowledge when a disruption has affected student learning.
Disruptive students can have an impact on the whole class, especially when their behavior calls for a larger intervention like being sent out of the room. To get students back on track to learning, acknowledge the impact of the situation before moving on with your lesson. A simple, “That was challenging to do, but I hope it gives [student] the time and space they need to think on their behavior,” can go a long way in helping the rest of your students process their reactions and continue learning.
With these classroom management strategies, your students can begin re-learning positive classroom behavior and adjusting back to in-person instruction. Remember that this takes time, so be as kind to yourself in this process as you would be to your students. And if you need more resources to assist with your classroom management strategies, check out more classroom behavior management materials on TpT for inspiration.