Classroom management—it’s one of our biggest issues as teachers. Without a solid classroom management plan, kids can quickly get off-task and disruptive, which isn’t exactly conducive to a productive learning environment.
Since I know teachers can always use more tricks up our sleeves, today I’m sharing my top five teacher hacks for managing student behaviours.
Teacher Hack #1: This or That
We all like having choice and autonomy over our day-to-day lives, right? The same is true for our students! I find that kids respond much better to being given options than being told exactly what to do, and when.
An easy example? When assigning math problems, tell your students they can either do the odds or the evens. First, it makes the task seem much more manageable—you’ve just cut the total amount of work in half! And second, it gives them some control over their learning.
Teacher Hack #2: Erase “No” From Your Vocabulary
I try really hard to never say “no” to my students. Does that sound impossible? Hear me out!
Students do not like to be told no. Heck, adults don’t really like it either! I’ve found that when I make an effort to avoid the word “no,” I get a much better response.
Here’s a very common example: when a student asks to go to the bathroom in the middle of a lesson, I say “Yes, you can go when the bell rings for recess.”
It’s a simple switch to make, but it goes a long way toward fostering a positive environment and relationship with your kiddos. I’ll admit, it takes some practice to erase the “no, not now” language from your vocabulary, but it’s well worth it!
Teacher Hack #3: Avoid Down Time at All Costs!
The quickest way for student behaviour to go off the rails? Letting your kiddos have down time! You need to have a plan for all those spare 5-10 minutes of time that pop up when kids finish work early or when your lesson ends sooner than you planned.
Five to ten minutes with no direction and no plan is a recipe for classroom chaos! That’s why it’s so important to have a plan for keeping kids engaged at all times, even if there are just a few minutes to kill. Need some ideas? Here is a free download of 12 conversation starters you can use when you have time to fill up with something to engage your students’ minds.
Other ideas for time fillers include reading a book, writing in a journal, grabbing a puzzle, and so on. Teach your students a few options and routines for what’s acceptable when they finish something early or find themselves with some idle time on their hands.
Teacher Hack #4: Use the Clock!
Let your students know exactly what to expect. Give frequent reminders/updates about how much time they have left, and signal them about what is coming next.
In five minutes, you’ll be cleaning up so we can be ready for recess.
Giving them a time warning removes the surprise for students who might be caught off guard that it’s time to wrap up the last activity. It also removes the anxiety of not being sure what happens next. Clear communication about the amount of time left and the order of activities can help make your transitions much smoother.
Tip: you can find lots of free countdown apps online to project, or use an old-fashioned egg timer so students can learn to manage time themselves. We all know five minutes can fly by when we’re having fun, so that visual cue of a countdown can really help your kiddos!
– Play with your voice. Want them to stop and listen. Use an attention getter and then lower your voice as low as you can go. You’ll notice them lean in and look and focus on nothing but you. Works like a charm!
Teacher Hack #5: Play With Your Voice!
This is a fun one! To capture your students’ attention every time, try playing with your voice. What do I mean by that, exactly? Use your creativity! For me, I like to use an attention grabber like a bell, and then I lower my voice as low as I can go.
It sounds simple, but it works like a charm! Students stop what they’re doing, lean in closer, and focus intensely on my face, trying to figure out what I’m doing and saying! You can experiment with different types of voices just to keep things interesting. Whisper voices, chipmunk voices, super slooooowww voices… so many options!