Most teachers say that one of their greatest obstacles in their daily work life is classroom management.
There are so many good reasons for that. Many of the schools in our area of Southern California have kinder and first grade classrooms filled with 30 kids – without aides. Our days often lean more toward herding cats or monkeys than harnessing the learning potential of 5 and 6 year olds. Effective classroom management is critical!
I’ve used many classroom management techniques over the years. Although most work with the majority of kids, there are those years when I need to incorporate more, or even something totally different, into the rotation.
This year it is one of those years where it has become necessary to come up with something new. I’m excited to share my newest classroom management tool with which my kiddos are absolutely obsessed!
1. The Stoplight Approach
First up, is a tried and true method. There are a zillion different takes on stoplight classroom management. Plain and simple it consists of 3 colors (green=good, yellow=watch out kiddo, things can go downhill quickly here, and red=Uh Oh, now have to write a note to your parents and I really don’t want to so could you please get your act together so I can move you off red and back up to yellow so we can all leave happy?
My take on this strategy is flexible. First and foremost, kids can move up and down the “chart”. The white circles you see in the photo below are magnets. Of course, there are many versions of this method. Some include many different “clip” stops. However, the simplicity of only 3 levels speaks to me in a very non-chaotic kind of way.
I have found the stoplight technique very effective for most kids. The act of moving their magnet is torturous and nips that negative behavior quite nicely.
For others, however, it is just not enough.
2. Table and Group Points
Table and group points are definitely one of my class’s favorite management techniques this year. The students accumulate points throughout the month. At the end of the month the winning table gets a treat.
The “treat” usually consists of a fun eraser, a piece of candy, maybe a pencil or a smelly marker. Basically anything that I have on hand. I try to do 2 or 3 little things for each kiddo in the group that won.
If the whole class wins – then I usually treat them to a pizza lunch or ice cream or some other BIG DEAL thing. Obviously, the whole class doesn’t win all that often.
The groups get points for being first to listen the first time, first to quiet down and get ready for a lesson, working hard during collaboration and staying on task, finishing their work as directed, and being awesome for a substitute. Things of that nature.
3. Happy Cloud!
The happy cloud is such an easy way to celebrate individual kiddos. They can write their own name in the cloud and add “happy marks” if their name is already there. Each name and happy mark earns them a class penny. They use those pennies to “buy” things from our rewards menu. I love using a rewards menu of things like bringing in a stuffed animal, take your shoes off in class, read to the class, sit where you’d like… things that don’t cost me a dime but the kiddos love!
Kiddos earn an entry into the happy cloud for individual actions, however I do put entire table groups into the cloud when they’ve done something exceptional.
4. Awesome Pogs!
The kiddos get to keep the pog as long as they stay on task, don’t break any of our 4 rules, and finish their work. However, there is only one chance with the pogs. These pogs are kind of a big deal.
When my little peeps end the day with their pog still in their possession, they return it to our Awesome Pog box and receive Awesome Pog time. (Free choice for 10-15 minutes to you and me.)
My kids absolutely LOVE this. I’m so happy. Another lovely aspect is that those kiddos who work their tail off and are so good get rewarded in a way they truly enjoy, every day.
FYI: I will be remaking these and putting Mod-Podge on them before letting the kids touch them. The stickers and wood get dirty pretty quickly.
5. Sit Spots!
I get asked about my SitSpots ALL.THE.TIME. Yep, I am truly in love with them.
I have used these as my classroom “rug” for several years now and could not love them more. If you are on the fence … go ask them for a sample to try in your room.
Check them out in my friends’ classrooms.
Sit Spots Word Walk
One of the ways I began using SitSpots this year is as a word walk. I use a strip of 2″ black and a white paint Sharpie to write out our weekly sight words. After cutting them into individual words, I stick them on the carpet and let the kids hop and walk on them.
We use them as a “pass” to get up from our dots and go back to our seats. To do this, the kiddos step on each one and say the word to return to their desk. If they make a mistake, get back in line. Additionally, the word walk is great for line up time – “You can line up AFTER you’ve successfully walked and read the sight word trail.”
The kiddos love using the “path” during word work. I’ve even seen them make a “hopscotch” game out of it!
Sit Spots Grouping
Another SitSpots thing I’ve added is my final classroom management strategy. This time I used strips of purple, blue and green. After I cut squares and triangles out of each color for a total of 30 spots (thank you HUGE class sizes!), I placed a different color and shape under each chair so that each table group had a variety and no one in the table group had the same color/shape combo.
Now, when I want to differentiate groups or create collaboration teams that will work effectively, quietly and aren’t the same buddies that like to chit-chat rather than stay on topic, I just call on groups.
I LOVE it! It is such an easy and quick way to make new groups. The spots stay under the kiddos’ desks and don’t budge until I want them to.
Do you have that industrial carpet in your room? Check out SitSpots! There is just so much you can do with them!
So there you have it! 5 effective and easy classroom management ideas. Just remember, the MOST important part of any classroom management tool is CONSISTENCY. No classroom management program can work without consistent and thorough implementation.