Establish Your Authority Early On
Early in the year, ideally within the first couple of days, you must establish your authority. Your students will learn very quickly whether you are a serious teacher or not. You do not have to be a drill sergeant, but show them that you are serious and are not going to tolerate rude behaviors or disobedience. The easiest way to establish your authority is by following through with consequences and rewards. If you tell the students that a certain behavior will result in a specific consequence, see to it that it does. Otherwise, you are just handing out empty threats. Just the same, if you have promised a certain reward, make sure you keep to your word and do that thing for your students.
For younger students, consider implementing a weekly reward. Some examples might include an opportunity to pick from the “treasure chest,” being “invited” to a classroom party that takes place during the lunch period or extra time for recess.
Get Color Coded!
Many teachers find it helpful to organize their classroom by color. This works whether your classroom has tables or desks for students, and it works whether your students are younger or older. If you have desks, group together four to five students for each color; if you have tables, keep four to five students at each one. In the center of each group, keep a colored caddy for supplies and a tray for papers in the coordinating color. For instance, the “green team” will have a green supply caddy in the center of their table or desks and a green paper tray next to the supply caddy. When it is time for students to turn in work, have them put their papers in the tray at their table. When you have the time to go around the room and collect papers, you can do so and they will be neatly stacked in the paper tray. This strategy saves a lot of time.
You will find color-coding to be very useful throughout the day. If you do centers in your class, send students to centers by their color. When it is time to line up for lunch, recess or dismissal, do it by color. Just for fun, have a “team spirit” day and encourage your students to come to school dressed in a t-shirt for their team color!
A “buddy system” is sometimes used due to school rules when it comes to sending kids out of the classroom, but why not use it in the classroom, too? If your students know ahead of time who their “buddy” is, this will save time when you need them to “find a neighbor” for various tasks throughout the day because they will always have a “buddy.” Organize your classroom seating arrangements such that students are arranged in groups that are also “buddies,” it will help even more. If you have an odd number in your groups, buddy up the two students who are closest to each other in two groups.
Tip: We already have a section ‘Classroom Management and Discipline’ with nice activities to help you with your classroom management: praising cards, classroom labels, certificates and awards, and more!