Classroom management strategies for elementary
Oh how I love talking about Classroom management strategies for elementary classrooms! Are there just some things that you’re good at, and you really don’t have to think twice about it? That’s me with classroom management… I honestly have to thank my teacher mentor (during student teaching), because she was the best of the best! I learned from her, and the only time that it didn’t really work was when I taught middle school! HAHAHAHA – truth!
So today I want to discuss FROM THE BEGINNING – how to make this work for you. I taught 1st grade for 12 years, and I can honestly say that it worked every single year, with a different type of group every single year. Some years I was given the most model class from the beginning, and other years – well… let’s just say… I think admin hated me! 😉 Just kidding – I truly believe that the list we get at the beginning of the year are the students that need to be in our classroom. I will learn from them, they will learn from me and from the others in the room. I didn’t always have this view – but thanks to Heather D. – she changed the way I thought about the much awaited list come the beginning of August.
why classroom management is important
I think anyone who spends more than an hour in an elementary classroom will agree… if you don’t have classroom management, nothing works. Students don’t learn, you’re not in your happy place, admin is being called ALL THE TIME, parents start complaining – and KIDS AREN’T HAPPY! Students need structure – we’ve heard it – and it’s TRUE!
What does classroom management look like? It’s that classroom that you walk into, and students are engaged in their activities – either with the teacher, other students or by themselves. It’s the classroom that might have chatter, but that chatter is not disturbing to others. When you walk in, you immediately feel calm – that’s a classroom that has management under control.
classroom management tips
In this blog post, I’m going to give you tips about management. In some parts, I’m going to tell you exactly what I say and how I say it – only because this is how I learned it from my mentor teacher. I took some things and used exactly the same wording until I became my own best version of me. And some wording of hers – I still use. It works! I’m guessing you’re here because you want to learn more about classroom management, so I hope the way I explain it helps.
Let me preface this with saying… I’M NOT A DRILL SERGEANT. I’M NOT MEAN. I DON’T RAISE MY VOICE – EVER! I LOVE CHILDREN. I RESPECT CHILDREN. I HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP WITH MY STUDENTS. As I’m writing how we do things, I’m thinking… if you don’t know me, you might think I’m super strict… but that’s not it… It’s just that I know that keeping order and procedures in the elementary classroom is so vital to having a thriving learning environment. I keep it positive – but our rules are NON-NEGOTIABLE. I want every single student to thrive in our classroom, and the only way we can do that is to have procedures in place.
Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers DAY 1:
Now – I’m just going to explain how I did it, and how it worked for me.
First – make sure your room is prepped! Meaning – you have these things in place:
- name tags on desks – so that students know where their space is
- resources organized – we always labeled everything – from book nooks, book bins, supplies, etc… everything has a place, for good reason. This will help when you start going over how to grab things, use things, and pick up things.
- have at least 4 books to read per day for the first week
- keep in mind that for the first day or two – things will be hectic. People will interrupt you – so make sure you ALWAYS have something for your students to work on… we have a classroom rules booklet that we use. Students can take it out and color anytime I needed a minute or two
- For the students who didn’t come to meet and greet (see below), or for supplies dropped off the first day – Have about 8 boxes around your classroom with a picture of what you want in those boxes. This way students can put those supplies in the box, and it will be out of their way. You can organize later (as in after school). We’re a K-8 school, so cheerleaders always came to our classrooms and helped students sort supplies – LOVED IT!
- Have some type of way to play soft music. I had a “tape” that I used every single year – even when tape recorders were no longer a thing. It had soft music, and I just loved it – so I kept using it even though I’m sure I could have found something on youtube.
- Area ready for students to keep their book-sacks and lunch boxes.
our meet and greet:
- We always did a Meet-and-Greet which happened BEFORE the first day of school. Yes, it was usually on one of our days off (not PD) but this helped with meeting the students, getting their school supplies and fees, and showing them their classroom. It sure did help relieve some of their first-day jitters. It also helped with organizing of school supplies, so that I wasn’t trying to get things put away with 24 students looking at me. If you can talk your admin into doing this – I strongly recommend it.
Something on their desk:
Make sure you have something on their desk while they are waiting for students to come into the classroom on day 1. Usually I had our classroom rules booklet – and would tell them to color the first page (the cover). Sometimes I had name puzzles and or just a coloring sheet. If you have their supplies already – make sure that their colors are quickly accessible. I always had colors from previous years, and OR buy packs when Office Depot has them for really cheap. They never go to waste, so I felt it was a good investment.
But again – this is not the time for them to sit idle. Coloring soothes the soul for most, so this is what we did.
After all students are in the classroom, and announcements have been made:
The first thing you’re going to want to do is obviously introduce yourself. Then the next thing you want to do is explain how you will ALWAYS call groups of students to do certain things.
- Desks: If you have desks, make sure you have them in some sort of way for students to be in a group of 4 or less. That way you can explain what comes next.
- Tables: This is our preferred way… Every table had a number on it – table 1, table, 2 – etc. This is ALWAYS how I called students to do certain things (get supplies, come to the carpet, line up, etc.)
Once you explain which desks are in which group, and/or which table is which – you explain that we are going to PRACTICE this first activity.
This is what I would say: “Boys and girls – first grade (insert elementary grade) is all about practicing things. Today we are going to do a lot of practicing of our procedures so that you know what is expected of you. I’m so excited to share with you all the ways that will help you be successful this school year.”
First procedure – raising your hand:
Our first procedure is raising our hand. In our classroom, I love to hear your responses… I really do! But if more than one person is talking, Mrs. Juneau has a really hard time hearing. So – I want us to practice raising our hand. IF YOU THINK YOU’RE READY TO PRACTICE – RAISE YOUR HAND! Now – you might have a few students who shout out something. That’s ok… this is what you do:
Find three or four friends that raised their hand… say this: “Oh… I love the way ‘Brian’ raised his hand”. Thank you ‘Emmy’ for raising your hand -etc.
Then do it again – let’s try again… IF YOU THINK YOU’RE READY TO PRACTICE – RAISE YOUR HAND! You should have less students shouting out (hopefully none… but 😉.) If all students raise their hand – get SUPER EXCITED!
But if a few shouted out – thank a few more kiddos for raising their hand – and move on. Remember that they might have been able to shout out all through K – so it’s going to be a skill you practice OFTEN.
Second procedure – How do we get to the carpet for story time and other whole group activities:
The next thing you want to practice is WALKING to our carpet for story time. Explain the rules of how this is going to happen.
- “Let’s go over how we know which group we are in – RAISE YOUR HAND if you can help me out”
- Student(s) explain which group they are in
- “Raise your hand if you can think of some classroom rules that will help us get to our carpet safely?” Give them opportunities to share if they raise their hand (if they shout out – continue to THANK other students for raising their hand). “Oh – I love how you raised your hand to answer so that Mrs. Juneau can hear everything you have to say… thank you.” (remember to ALWAYS preface your question with raise your hand so that you are setting them up for success)
- let’s go over walking to carpet
- we will wait to hear when my table is called
- we will sit in designated area (I will explain this to them as I call tables)
NOW LET’S PRACTICE…
- “Now I’m going to call one table at a time to sit on our carpet.” Raise your hand if you’re ready to see how this works.”
- Then call ONE table – and explain:
- “Once table is called, you will stand up and push in your chair (this is for safety – so that a friend doesn’t accidentally trip on a leg chair)”
- “Then you will walk to our carpet – remember we are walking for safety”
- Our first table called will sit here – actually show each student what square – also explain that this will change every time depending on the table called.
- Our carpet had 30 sections – so each student sat in a section (SEE BELOW) – but if you don’t have this, then I suggest circle tabs or putting tape on the floor with numbers – something that they can see. My favorite carpet had sections – WELL worth the investment.
- Have them practice – get super excited how well they did! This will set the 2nd group up for wanting to be successful as well
- When you see something done exceptionally well – explain it to the class (do NOT call students out for doing something that they should not do) – at this point – remember that these are 5 and 6 year olds, and we need to explain everything.
- After table one is called – explain what table one should do on the carpet while waiting for the rest of the class.
- sit quietly
- keep hands and feet to ourselves
- sit in our square/space
- Now call second table – and continue with above explanations.
- Once all students are seated and ready on the carpet – tell them how proud you are of their first grade accomplishments! Explain how impressed you are that they are SOOOO ready for 1st grade. Pump this up!!
NOW BREATHE! You did it! Your first and second classroom management rules have been discussed! WOOT WOOT! I’m serious… I was always holding my breath for these – the raising of the hand can be exhausting. But it will save you so much frustration down the road.
Now talk about you to your students. Tell them a few things that you are sure they probably want to know… I always talked about my own children and how much I LOVE teaching first grade. At this point – be you!
READ A BOOK
Then explain that you want to read one of your most favorite first day books. I always read “First Day Jitters”. I explained just how excited and a bit nervous I was for our first day. A few years in a row, we also did jitter juice – but they changed the rules on us, so we stopped doing the juice. HA – one year we did JITTER GLITTER – Ya’ll… my teacher parents were not too happy! (my teacher friends that I taught their kids). We gave the students jitter glitter when they came to meet and greet. We then told them to sprinkle the jitter glitter in their hair before they went to sleep – this would get rid of all our jitters. Sort of still laughing about this one. Now – we just read the book. Whomp whomp!
As always – we discuss throughout the book – these are great times to reinforce the raising of the hand to discuss. “Oh… raise your hand if you think you can tell me what might happen next…” etc.
Once we finished discussing the book – we moved on to our classroom rules booklet. I explain that we already covered two very important classroom procedures – “Raise your hand if you can tell me one of them”…
“Now we are going to go over some other classroom procedures to keep you safe in our classroom and on our campus.”
PASSING OUT BOOKLETS FROM THE CARPET:
Explain that a lot of times when we are sitting on the carpet, I will be giving you something to do when you go back to your seat. Whenever I pass out things (and you’re on the carpet) this is how it will work:
- I will give the sheet/packet to the first person all the way to the right – you will then get up and go back to your seat
- Raise your hand if you think you know why I will do it like this…
- Then I will give it to the next person in this square… etc.
- Then practice this routine
- Once you get back to your seat, you will pull out your chair, and either sit quietly waiting for further instructions OR if I give you instructions beforehand, you can start working.
- For this activity- I tell students that they will ONLY color the cover of the booklet. We will go over what the cover says… “Our classroom rules”. I will also go over how we color slowly to make sure we are doing our best work. I also explain that we will be working through our booklet all week long – so don’t worry if you don’t finish coloring the first page – you can always go back to it. (This is for that student who is a perfectionist – make sure they know that it’s ok if they don’t finish – this will help reduce the melt-downs… I promise…)
If you’d like to see the booklet we use, you can click on the buttons below. OR you can create your own.
classroom rules booklet
We always made this into a cute booklet. Staple the cover to construction paper, and then staple the rest of the booklet behind the construction paper.
WHERE ARE THINGS IN OUR SCHOOL?
Now… because students are nervous – they might need to go to the restroom. If you’re lucky enough to have a bathroom in your classroom – wow! For us – the bathroom is down the hall – WAY DOWN THE HALL! So the next thing we talked about was LINING UP so that I could show them where the bathroom is.
I would explain:
- There are going to be times when we go to the bathroom as a group and other times when we will go as a table.
- Today we are going to walk to the bathroom as a group – but I want to talk about how we are going to line up
- Just like we did for carpet time, I will call one table at a time to line up. I will not always call the tables in order, so always be listening.
- Let’s review what happens when our table is called (review)
- Now – when I call your table, you are going to line up here – explain your line-up procedures – (door, space, etc)
- For us – we always lined up at our back door. The front door was only for entering – back door for exiting. This made it easier for us – but obviously all classrooms are different.
- There were some years where students could handle lining up without too many issues – but other times I actually had to put tape on the floor for the first few weeks to get them used to doing this. A few years I also printed out and taped numbers to the floor – just depends on the group.
- Then you practice calling tables and lining up… We would do this several times.
Before we actually line up the last time, we discuss some hall rules.
- Now – boys and girls… now that you are in first grade, we have to really show everyone that we are ready to be first graders and one way we can do that is by walking in a quiet, straight line when we are in the hall.
- I know last year you put your finger on your mouth and sometimes even held in your bubble… but now that we are in first – we need to show others that we have self-control. We can do that by walking with our hands by our side, and walking in a straight, quiet line.
- If you are right behind the person in front of you – then you are in a straight line.
- Raise your hand if you would like me to use you as a example of what a straight line looks like… pick a few students who raised their hand – bring them to the front of class so all can see
HELPS AS VISUAL – THEY LOVE THIS PART!
- Place all students in a straight line – then tell them that you are going to pretend to be a student. Have students start walking – and you get out of line. Then have them stop. Have students raise their hand if they saw something wrong. Continue doing this with a few different things you DON’T want to see. I always pretend to be the student NOT doing the right thing – instead of having a student do it. I feel like it’s better coming from me.
- We also talked about the amount of space that should be left between students – (not a lot) so that our line looks all together
- always facing the front
- not raising our hand during this time unless it’s an emergency
- Once you’ve done this several times – then have them line up just like we’ve been talking about…
- For the first few years we had a chant about being ready for the hall – but I eventually found that they were quieter if I didn’t do the chant.
- Now it’s time to practice walking in a straight line
For the rest of the year, I always had a line leader and caboose – but on the first day – that didn’t happen yet. I explained that to them at some point – just not yet.
At this point – we are going to learn (show) where the bathroom is, and discuss behaviors expected in the bathroom. We have posters outside our bathroom doors explaining our procedures, so that’s what we always read to our students. I’m sure all schools have some of the same and some different rules, but these are what we discussed.
I also have an editable PPT/Google slide that has pictures of things in the bathroom so that you can over the rules and expectations. See button below.
- If 3 people are in the bathroom – stand quietly outside the bathroom until 1 person leaves
- Go in and do your business – this is not the time for playing
- Once you’re done, flush the toilet.
- Wash your hands and dry them – only use 1 or 2 napkins – that’s all you need
- Throw the napkin in the trashcan
- Then quietly leave the bathroom and head back to your classroom or get back in line with us
- When you get back in line – you might not be in the same place that you were before – that’s OK. Just go behind the last person
- Then start sending students to bathroom – some may say they don’t need it – I always encourage them to try – the quicker you can get them sort of on a schedule – the better it will be.
Once everyone is done – head back to the classroom, reminding students about how we walk in the halls so that we are not disturbing other classrooms.
OBSTACLES IN THE HALLS:
We had a water fountain on the way back to our classroom. So I always explained to students that if we were walking in line, this is not the time to grab a drink of water unless Mrs. Juneau says to line up for a drink of water. It’s so important to think like a first grader at this time – what obstacles are in their way that might cause them to drift?
- might want to discuss not touching other bulletin boards – why? Because teachers and students work soooo hard on their bulletin boards
- if a student is in the hall – go around them
- if two teachers are talking – go around them – etc.
- not rubbing our hands and feet on the wall – why? Because our wonderful custodians spent all summer cleaning our beautiful school, and we want to help keep it that way.
Obviously these things are just a few of the things that happen a lot – you can focus on the things that you see happening.
Google slides / PPT template
Here’s a cute and fun template for bathroom expectations. Jut add your own text! Comes with a lot of background images that lend themselves to discussing bathroom expectations.
beginning our day:
The next thing you want to discuss is how you are going to begin your day – EVERY SINGLE DAY… What happens when you get off the bus/car rider line. Obviously how your students come to you will be different than our routine, but make sure you explain how it will work.
Then you will need to explain what they will do when they walk into our classroom.
- Where will they put their…
- lunch box
- book sack
- What will they work on?
You need to go over every detail so that they feel prepared for tomorrow. We even practiced this several times. Have them line up outside your classroom. Tell them where you will be standing. Show them exactly what they need to do.
WHO’S WHO IN OUR SCHOOL
Once we get back from our first bathroom break – the next thing I want to do is discuss a few important people in our school before our first recess. We share duties – but I’m not always the one on recess duty, so I need to make sure my students know all of the people that they will be coming into contact with the first day of school.
This seriously is a life-saver! Everything is editable and the pictures are SUPER EASY to add to the ppts/google slides. I didn’t go over ALL of them the first day – only the ones I knew they would come into contact with:
- teachers on recess duty
- lunch ladies/lunch duty teachers
- dismissal teachers
For this activity – I would have students come back to the carpet. We would practice the entire thing again… calling tables, standing, pushing in seats, coming to our spot, sitting quietly while waiting for others – etc. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
field trip to our playground:
Before our first recess break – we go out to the field to show students the area that we are going to play in, and the things we play on. (we have 2 classes at a time on certain play equipment depending on the day). So we use this time to not only explain this, but also explain:
- rules on equipement
- bathroom situations if you’re outside
- games we can/can’t play (can’t play tag or football) – can play…
- what you should do if you get hurt
- who to look for if you need a teacher
- where to LINE UP when the teacher blows the whistle
- what we DO when the teacher blows the whistle
- we actually practice lining up several times
- then we eventually walk back to our classroom
I also have a playground PPT/Google slideshow with pictures of playground equipment. You can add your own text to go over the rules and expectations. See buttons below.
Google slides / PPT template
Here’s a cute and fun template for playground expectations. Jut add your own text! Comes with a lot of background images that lend themselves to discussing recess expectations.
water break after recess:
We always have a quick water break after our recess. Some years we have water bottles, some years we don’t. I’m not sure why – but it just depends (on what… I’m not 100% sure! 🤦🏻♀️).
Here’s my “talkthrough”:
- I’m going to unlock our door
- The lights will be OFF (except for our lamps)
- Walk straight to your seat and put your head down
- This is a great time to unwind from recess (I always have our soft music on at this time)
- I will call one table to go get water at the water fountain
- When I call your table – you will walk quietly to the fountain and stand in line
- If there’s another class – we will wait a few minutes
- Once it’s your turn – (our leader – we will discuss later) will count to 5 (actually practice counting to five – not too fast or too slow)
- Once they are done counting to five – your turn is over
- You need to walk back to our classroom with your hands by your side and quietly so as not to disturb other classrooms that are learning (always explain why we are being quiet – start getting them thinking about respect for others!)
- I stand at our door and watch students as they go to the water fountain. From this area – I can see all of my students in the class, and the ones walking to and drinking at fountain
- FOR MANY YEARS… I gave a skittle when they came back from getting water – if they were quiet while waiting and walked quietly back to our room. That had to stop once food restrictions happened, as well as different allergies started popping up. Now I just say, “Thank you for quietly getting water”… or “Thank you for walking back so quietly, I know that Mrs. so and so’s class really appreciates how quietly you did that…”
classroom schedule cards
At this point – we would discuss our classroom schedule. If you’ve never taught elementary before, some of the things that happen ALL THE TIME are questions like – when is lunch? When is lunch? So, when is lunch? THEY ARE HUNGRY!!!
I found that having our schedule up and ready always helped with those questions. They can’t tell time yet, but showing them where we are in the day seemed to help. Sha hearts! (If you aren’t from Louisiana – sha means… well… not 100% sure – but for me it means – too cute or sweet!)
- when is recess
- when do we go home
- do we get to nap? (OH OH!!) Some parents leave it to us to tell them that in first grade, we don’t nap! Oh… I feel your pain, sweet first grader!
So at this point, we go over our schedule! I have editable schedule cards below if you don’t already have these for your classroom.
Back to the carpet:
Follow same procedure as above with getting students back to the carpet. Before you call tables – call on a few students to talk through our procedures.
Then… we read another book. My second book is called “My Teacher’s My Friend by P.K. Hallinan. It’s super cute, and explains some of the ways our teacher helps us throughout the day.
- I have my teacher books categorized by month. The label says “August” and also says… This book belongs to Mrs. Juneau (or Mrs. Juneau’s class). My teacher books are only for me to use – they don’t go into the student library. Now they do go home with our “Caught Being Good Bag” but we will talk about that later.
- Remember – the more organized you are, the less down-time there will be in the classroom. If you have to take a few minutes to find a book, that’s a few minutes that students can start acting up.
When someone enters our classroom:
I almost forgot to add this one – but last night I dreamt that my administrator walked in and my group went CRAZY! (My dreams always stress me out!!) As soon as she asked them a question, it was like a hot-air popcorn popper – everyone started jumping up and shouting out. Honestly – it woke me up! I know some teachers can handle that, but let’s just say, I’m not one of them.
So it’s super important to discuss what your expectations are when someone enters the classroom. Our doors are locked, so I have a door opener. It’s usually one of the students that sits closest to the door.
Type of Guest:
If it’s a student – we keep on working. If they need to talk with me, you will sit quietly unless I give you other instructions. Chances are, they just need to ask a quick question, and it won’t take longer that a few seconds. Let’s practice.
If it’s an adult: Again, we will keep on working, unless they address us directly. If an administrator comes in and wants to talk to us as a class – we will:
- stop doing what we are doing and put our eyes on her
- if she/he asks a question, we will raise our hand
- we will not get out of our seats or move from where we are unless we are told to do so
Remember, if we don’t explain what we want to see, how are they to know? 🙂
I also have some Google Slides templates for classroom expectations – see below.
Google slides / PPT template
Here’s a cute and fun template for Center Expectations. Jut add your own text! Comes with a lot of background images that lend themselves to discussing expectations.
About 20 minutes before we are to head to lunch, I start on our cafeteria expectations. I don’t do this too early, because then everyone will get hungry just thinking about it.
For many years, we didn’t eat with our students – someone else was on duty so that we could have 15 minutes (or 30 minutes if we didn’t have lunch recess duty) to enjoy some quiet time. But… all good things come to an end – and the last several years everyone eats with their kiddos. Some love it, some don’t – but our school got so big, that there was no way around it.
I know that your rules will be different than ours – but here’s some of the major points we discussed:
- your lunch line number (for the first few weeks of school – we put a label on the students’ shirts with their name and lunch number). We did this until either they remembered their lunch number, or our IDs were complete
- walking through the lunch line to get your food (rules and expectations)
- if you bring your lunch – where to stand/sit until we are done
- we were assigned a table – so we always discussed which table we were to sit at and how we were to file in – not sitting by friends – sitting in order
- if you bring your lunch – sit down and immediately start eating (since it always takes them a LOT longer to finish)
- sitting with both feet on the ground (I can’t tell you how many times I saw other students fall off of the lunch stools)
- how/where to line up once your table is called to go out to recess
- and the rules go on… but those were our biggies
Google slides / PPT template
Here’s a cute and fun template for cafeteria expectations. Jut add your own text! Comes with a lot of background images that lend themselves to discussing lunchroom expectations.
More classroom management strategies for elementary students:
Even though I know what I want our rules/expectations to be in our classroom, I always include the students in this process so that they feel that they have a voice. This also helps to discuss why we need those certain rules and expectations.
- So we meet back on the carpet – following the same procedure as above
- I use a large poster that had Classroom Expectations written on it (and this is where we would brainstorm)
- “Raise your hand if you can think of a classroom rule we might need to have…”
- When a student gives a rule, ask why? Who will this help? What will it prevent? Talk through each rule/expectation
- They will probably give you a TON of rules – at this point I explain that we might need to condense some of these so that they are easier to follow – then I tell them that I can tell we are going to have a fantastic year together… just seeing how they already know what is going to help our friends learn in the best environment possible.
After this session, we will go back to our seats and work on a few more pages of our coloring rules booklet. (following the procedure for going back to our seat…).
Don’t forget to PRAISE students for doing things correctly!
- “Thank you for raising your hand!”
- “Thank you for coming to the carpet so quietly!”
- “I love the way you walked to your seat!”
The more you do this, the easier it becomes! I promise – it works. First grade students want to please you – they really do. In all of my teaching. I only had 2 students (one boy and one girl) who didn’t want to please, and would actually rebel anytime I praised them. So… for those two students, I held my tongue most of the time. I had to do things differently with them – but the rest got praised all the time, and it worked!
CLASSROOM MANGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR ELEMENTARY DAY 1
At this point – we don’t go over any other management strategies. They are usually tapped out by this point – you’ve gone over a LOT!
So now we just practice, practice, practice.
- We go back to the carpet to read another book
- Raise our hands to discuss different things about the book
- Line up for our last recess
- Walk quietly to the bathroom
- Work quietly at our desk while coloring our booklet
Tip: Make sure that on day 1 you send home something to let parents know about their child’s day. Even if it’s pre-prepped… they want to hear about it, and taking that extra step goes a LONG way. Here’s an example you can use if you’d like. Go to file and make a copy and you can change it up however you see fit.
Helping students stay organized is another part of classroom management. We will talk about it in more in detail later, but I’ll explain our set-up:
- 1 inch binder for each student (this went back and forth nightly.)
- We usually purchased the binder before school started – typically at Sams. We did ask for binders on our supply list, but it was soooo much easier having the binder ready for the first day of school, rather than waiting for supplies.
- within the binder was a folder – one side was labeled homework the other side labeled stay at home
- Pencil pouch that I bought at dollar store
- Crayon bag (I took their crayons out of the box and put in zip lock bag with their name in it).
- If students bring markers, we put those in zip lock bags with their name as well, but those are not at the child’s desk. We don’t use markers for a while!
- Tables: I tried many different things – usually the seat pouches held their smaller items – eventually I paid our secretary to make me some seat pouches that lasted for YEARS!
- Binders: As students come in the morning, they take the binder out of their booksack and place at their desk
- I call one table at a time to bring me their binder – this is when I check for notes from parents, homework, and other important documents
- Then students put their binder on our designated shelf. (This helps so that when I need to add notes and other important things – all of the binders are in once place for me to easily access)
OTHER DAY 1 ACTIVITIES THAT WILL HELP:
We do a LOT of writing innovative books – which I LOVE! So for me, day 1 is a great day to start. We read Brown Bear Brown Bear Who do you see. Then I explain to the students that we are going to make our own book with US as the characters. I will need to take each student’s picture for our booklet, so I go over what my expectations are while I’m doing this. IF you can have a parent helping, that’s lovely… but sometimes just having you is best – no distractions. If you want the FREE slideshow to do this in your classroom, you can grab it here!
2022 – A precious friend of mine introduced me to the world of collaborative posters. These would be a great addition to a first day of school acitivity. Each student gets a page. They color it, cut it out, and it ends up making a large poster for you to hang in your classroom or outside in the hallway. I’m in love with these!
ENDING THE DAY
This is just speaking from experience… MAKE SURE that you know how each student is getting home. There’s nothing worse than having a fabulous day, but the only thing parents and students remember is how horrible dismissal was – or that they missed the bus… or that it was stressful.
We made bus/car rider tags for each student. On the tags we had:
- Student Name
- Teacher Name
- Bus number or car rider or walker
- Student phone number
- This might sound like a lot, but if you don’t do a meet and greet, call the parents the night before to double check on how they get home OR send out a parent info form and MAKE SURE everyone fills it out. I have one, if you would like to see it.
You literally can’t be in all places, so having this information available to the people on duty is SUPER HELPFUL! (also speaking from experience as an admin on car-rider duty.)
STUDENT INFORMATION FORM
You’ll use this for MANY THINGS, but I promise… it will surely help with dismissal on the first few days of school. Comes with instructions on how to populate the paper student info form using autocrat.
how do we get home poster:
We also had a poster on the exit door with how everyone gets home. This was a life-saver for me at the beginning of the year, and also helped when I had a sub or parent volunteer at the end of the day. You would think that they would remember how they get home and/or their bus number, but some just don’t. Add in announcements about busses and the chaos of those announcements – it’s just better to have all of your ducks in a row.
you did it!
CONGRATS! Day 1 is DONE! Set up your room for tomorrow… go home, take a bath and RELAX! I’m super proud of you… day 1 is hard – the prep you do to get to this day is hard. But YOU DID IT!
classroom management strategies for the elementary classroom DAY 2
Welcoming your students:
I’m not sure how it works for you (and it has worked differently for us throughout the years) but if students come to you, I suggest:
- Stand at the door to greet them. Starting their day seeing their teacher’s smiling face and greeting them as they walk towards you sets the tone of the day. My student teacher hugged ever student as they walked into her classroom. You do you – but that’s what I did as well, and it worked for us. NOW… I did have one little fella who cringed, so we did something a bit different. But for the rest of my students… we hugged (pre-covid). Now they have all kinds of ways to greet kiddos – students can even tap on the cards of how they want to be greeted – super cute!
- Have a plan in place for what students do once they enter the classroom. This is something that you should have gone over yesterday. Practice it again if you need.
- For the first week, I usually have their classroom rules coloring booklet out on their desk, along with their bag of colors. This just makes it easier for them and for me.
First – review the main expectations you went over yesterday.
- If ya’ll do the pledge – you’ll want to go over this routine as well
- Raising our hand when we have something to say
- Walking to the carpet (group setting)
- Getting in line to go places
- ALSO review the rules that were brainstormed yesterday. If you had a chance, those rules should be printed, laminated, and on the wall. If you need a set – I have editable rules for many themes as well as my mix and match sets.
- We also review who’s who in our school. It will take more than once for students to recognize other teachers, admin, etc. The second day is a good day to introduce PE coaches, front office staff, and nurse.
Now you’re going to practice morning routines – I promise this might seem redundant, but the more you practice the expectations you want to see, the easier things will be FOR THE YEAR!
This is what we practice:
- walking into the classroom
- putting away your book sack
- if you bring your lunch – placing that where it belongs
- work on what teacher has at your desk
- practice calling students for binders
- show them again how this works if they have forgotten (I call one table at a time – they line up at my table as I go through each binder. Once I’ve pulled out notes/fees and other important info – I hand the binder back to them and they place it on our binder shelf. Then they go back to their seat and continue working on their activity.)
I always found it super beneficial to give students jobs within our classroom. I’ve done many different set-ups of those jobs, and that’s a personal preference, but I would make sure you have enough jobs so that each student has something to focus on. We didn’t add all of them at once, but we did add them pretty quick.
As you go over the jobs, you are going to explain each one and then ACT IT OUT! Some years I only acted out what was expected, and other years I did what was expected and then did a few “not good choices” to make them giggle. It sort of just depended on the group. If I felt that the wrong choice would create them to get out of control, I didn’t continue doing it. But many years I fould that it helped to explain some of the things I didn’t want to see.
First set of jobs to go over:
- Line caboose
- Door opener (this doesn’t change daily)
- Door holder
I add about five jobs a day. Some of our jobs change daily, and some only change every few weeks. The ones above change out daily.
The set that I have in my store also has an explanation of each job (it has the explanation on the card and an explanation within a PPT.) This is what we use to go over expectations.
If you already have your job chart, here’s a great presentation you can use. All you need to do is type out your expectations of each job. Super cute and functional. Click on the image to see it in my TPT store.
WASTE NO TIME – START THE ROUTINES!
So it’s day 2, and the best thing you can do is start WORKING! I’ve had years where they started our week on Thursday, so we made an executive decision to not start “working” until Monday – and let’s just say DON’T DO IT! It made for a LONG day! Students want and need routines, so the quicker you get started, the BETTER!
We work on phonics/handwriting first
In doing this… it gives me a ton of information, and it also allows for us to practice:
- “seat work”
- using our tents for privacy
- following directions
- checking our work
- working quietly
All of the above things will be things students do DAILY… so making sure they understand these are SUPER IMPORTANT!
- Show students how they will get their packet (We go over the letter first whole group at our carpet). Then I hand out packets the same way I did with classroom coloring rules.
- Explain what to do with their privacy tents
- Talk about what it means to work quietly – give/show examples
Ya’ll – the key is to talk about EVERYTHING!
For the next few weeks, this is something that we will do daily. The letters change, but the pages are layed out exactly the same so that students know what to expect. I found this the easiest way to practice our procedures!
HAVE SOME FUN!
Yesterday you took your students’ pictures. Hopefully you were able to upload them into the Brown Bear template. If so, this is a great time to read that book to them so that they can start putting a face to a name of the friends in our class. We actually do this SEVERAL times projecting it onto our board. They don’t get tired of it, and it TRULY helps with learning our friends.
Because we are a GAME PLAYING classroom – I waste NO TIME in introducing our first game and the expectations when playing games.
- Have fun
- Remember that it’s just a game – if/when someone wins – shake hands and say, “Good Game!”
- Our first game is whole group – so we go over the game rules as a group
I have who has:
- We are going to sit in a circle – let’s practice that
- I’m going to give each student one card
- Look at your card – you will see two pictures with their name underneath
- It’s OK if you don’t know that friend – I will help you since we are just learning names
- This game will help us learn the names of the friends in our class
- Our leader will start –
- Then walk them through the game (you’ll be moving around a LOT because chances are – they don’t know everyone) this is more about experiencing the game aspect
- then explain where the game is stored and how
MORE DAY 2 ACTIVITIES:
Day 2 is where I pretty much introduce a lot of the things that we will do DAILY. Not our actual curriculum, but all of the extra things we do to make teaching our curriculum easier.
I go over how we are going to do it, where we will sit, where to get the supplies (if needed), and so on.
We do a counting days in school activity daily – only takes a few seconds, but it helps with our morning routine. So I pull up the google slides and explain:
- We will do this daily
- I’ll call you to the carpet – and we will face our board. This is different from when you face me during story time… so we will practice
- Then I explain how it works
- I also explain what we will do after this activity
Another example: We do question of the day – so I will show students how it works. We use a digital version, so I explain how they will watch for their picture, then move their pic to the answer, and so on. You can read more about these by clicking on the links below!
Another example: Morning math workbooks. I have August printed and ready to go for the first day, but we don’t use until day 2. I will go over when we do this, where to get it, how to work through it, etc.
Don’t forget to keep going over what you taught on day 1. Bathroom expectations, cafeteria expectations, playground, walking in the hall, etc. Good behaviors don’t just happen by you saying them – students need to practice – so spend the time now, so that the rest of your year is AMAZING!
As the days go on, start calling on students to help with the expectations (not just you saying them). Always include the WHY do we need to follow…
SO… Here comes the MAGIC! Back in the day we called it “Caught being Good” tickets. Now we just call them coupons, but they work the same.
Every time I catch a student making good choices/following the rules/expectations that we’ve already gone over, I give them a ticket. And let’s just say… buy two rolls – because you are going to make it rain tickets for the first few weeks.
I purchased coupon holders from Dollar Tree for each student, and this is where they “housed” their coupons. When students get a ticket, they either write their number on it, or their name – we did names, but do what works for you. There are two parts to each ticket – so they do it for both. One ticket goes into their coupon holder and the other goes into our daily tickets. You can read more about it by clicking on the link below.
Let me just say, when I removed the treasure chest and implemented this instead… amazing things happened. Now – eventually we do want students to be intrinsically motivated – we really do… but in my opinion, that takes time. As you go throughout the year, giving out tickets becomes less, and affirming words are used more. But in my opinion, it’s a process.
Here’s another thing you’re going to want to discuss. I explain:
- what section they will find their homework in every night
- We start a homework sheet the second day – it focuses on the letter we learned. It’s super easy, but it gets parents used to checking the binder, and students used to working nightly.
- the routine of how I will check their homework
- When students bring me their binder, and I’m looking for notes from parents, this is also when I quickly check their work. Then I’ll move it to the other side of their folder (the keep at home side).
Are you starting to see a pattern? Talk about everything. Explain everything. Model everything. Practice everything.
Explain when you see great things and not great things – but don’t call anyone out. A lot of times I pretend that a few years ago this happened “gasp” and how would you handle that? How do you think that made a friend feel? Etc…
I’ve had administrators who wanted to come in on day 2 seeing curriculum. Let me say this (and I think I can because I’ve been an administrator!). Starting curriculum before routines and expectations are in place is just setting us all up for FAILURE! Please administrators – give your teachers time to learn their students and time to set up their learning environment for TRUE SUCCESS! The curriculum will come! And I can promise you this… if routines are not in place, that teacher will spend a lot more time disciplining DURING curriculum than actually teaching – and this will be a year-long problem, not just a week or two.
I’m going to talk about centers now, but we don’t start centers until all other routines are firmly in place – this is usually week 3. Now – it makes things a bit harder, because centers are such a great time to pull groups – but starting centers too early just doesn’t end well. I PROMISE – I know from experience!
Once you think your students are ready – introduce ONE CENTER AT A TIME! This is what it looks like:
So if I want to introduce Book Nook:
- Every student is going to do this for practice
- I’m going to show students how they get their book nook
- when they can trade out books
- how they will trade out books
- where they can sit
- actually do all of these things so students can visualize it
- once you find a spot – that’s your spot… we don’t continue to move around
And so on. Then we are going to practice. First I will walk around while they are working in their first center. I’ll praise students who are making the right choice – telling them exactly what I like about what they are doing. “I love the way you are whisper reading. This will help the friends around you concentrate on what they are reading.”
After we practice for a while, then we will practice picking up that center. We will explain why it’s so important to put things back where they belong… etc.
The next time we practice…
The next time we practice this center, I will sit at my table and pretend to be working with students. We will go over rules and expectations of what to do if they need something while I’m working with other groups:
- Question – quietly ask a friend
- Bathroom – grab the hall pass and go – if there’s not a hall pass, wait patiently unless it’s an emergency
- Now… I know that some would disagree – but for me… I would much rather students walk out of the classroom without my permission than have an accident. So for me – if you have an emergency – just go… even if I’m teaching.
- What to do if there’s a knock at the door
- and so on…
When I’m ready to add the 2nd center, I will do it the same way. All students will practice that ONE center. If it’s the writing center (and we have a designated spot for that) I explain that we will first all practice the center at our tables, then we will eventually practice with 2-4 students at the actual center. We go over supplies that will be used, as well as expectations on how to use.
the dreaded clip chart…
Now… I’m going to be honest. Our reminder chart worked for me! BUT… I know there are HUGE concerns and lots of discussions about these charts.
This is my argument (but just skip over this part if you don’t want to use – I get it!)
For us – students started on green daily. They had so many opportunities to move their clip up, that most days everyone was on green or above. But that’s not to say that at some point during the day, that they didn’t end up on yellow – which meant “Let’s think about our choices.”
I go into a lot of detail when I’m explaining our reminder chart to my students. Will we make mistakes? Yep – is that OK. Yep! Our goal is to change our behaviors around – so if students do that, then they are able to move their clip back up the chart. Were there years when we hardly used our chart? YES. Many years in fact. But I also had years where that chart literally saved my sanity.
My goal was always to use it as more of an incentive for the good behavior. So if I could focus on students making the right choice, the ones who were struggling with behaviors tried their hardest to make better decisions.
It worked for us – but I know that many are completely against it.
If you made it all the way to this part – I think you deserve a prize. This is BY FAR the longest blog post I’ve ever written, and many times I wanted to stop. But if this just helps ONE person out there who is looking for tips with classroom management, then it was worth it.
Now – by no means is this truly the end. You will need to spend the next few weeks doing everything above – over and over again. but I hope that the details will help. And last – I’d like to thank Mrs. Coleman again for the foundation she gave me when I student taught, and I can only hope that I was able to pass along some goodness to the student teachers that came into my classroom to grow and learn.
Until next time!
We Are Better Together
ooops – not the end!
I actually forgot one seriously important detail! Your voice level.
Let me start at the beginning to help you understand:
The teacher I student taught under whisper talked… for real. When I first met her, I can’t tell you how many times I had to read her lips – and I thought – how do the kids hear her? Now – I’m not a loud person, by nature – but I always thought I would need to use a teacher voice for students to hear me. THAT’S NOT THE CASE! If you talk “low”, your students will as well. And they will quickly train themselves to LISTEN for your voice.
Is this all baloney? NOPE – Let me explain how I know this works.
So I spent 10 years in first, then was asked to move to middle school to help with a grant. I spent 4 years in middle, and had to change the way I taught and how I used my voice to project.
After 4 years, I was able to hop back down to first. I had forgotten all of the classroom management strategies for elementary that I’ve talked about above. By the second day I was questioning my move back down to first. 🤦🏻♀️ My middle school friends came to check on me, and my only comment was that it looked like my classroom vomited paper! Everything was a disaster. My students were so loud and management was seriously lacking.
I spent the weekend regrouping and thinking about how I used to teach, and why my management techniques worked the first time. THEN I REMEMBERED… oh my gosh… my voice! That’s one of my problems. I’m using my middle school voice – I need to go back to my normal “inside” voice. Once I changed that, and a few other things 😉 I was back on track! Try the low voice – see if it works for you! I am serious when I say… I never raise my voice… it works!
If you have any questions abou this blog post – I’d love to hear from you!
ooops – still not the end!
You’re welcome! Ya’ll… you need to have an EMERGENCY SUB TUB. This will truly be a life-saver one day when you just can’t lift your head off the pillow, but need to have something in place for your sub. READ THE BLOG POST HERE!