February 23, 2017

Classroom Management Hacks : 6 Simple Strategies

Looking for classroom control from day one, but not interested in spending three days custom laminating name cards and pocket charts? Believe me, I hear you. This article provides streamlined management strategies that will still let you have a life. Read on.

Behavior Points.

A simple, budget friendly way to acknowledge group behavior. Here’s what you need: a chalkboard and chalk.

That’s it. If you want, keep track of points using a pencil and a special corner in your plan book in case they accidentally get erased. Use an unobtrusive corner of the chalkboard and draw a chalk cloud with the title “behavior points” inside. At the beginning of the year, you can use a lower number for the class goal and make the goal daily, with a reward of stopping early to play a few minutes of 7-Up, for example.

Later in the year, you can try a higher amount and have the reward take place whenever they accomplish it. Usually, a larger reward is in order for a larger point accomplishment. For example, 150 points might earn them a class movie and popcorn. You can flex the number of points and the goal time depending on your class needs and grade level. I have used this at all grade levels in several different countries. It works every time, and is simple and cost effective to maintain.

The Clean Desk Fairy

Clean desk issues can really slow things down academically. Having an end of the day “desk inspection” where the students do not line up for buses until their desks have been checked for neatness works well for various grade levels. On the days you miss, have the “clean desk fairy” leave a note on the board and a chocolate kiss or new pencil on those desks that are exemplary. Need to pinch pennies? Free paper passes issued from the teacher don’t cost anything, and are just as popular with the students as store-bought treats.

Reinforcement Charts

One of the most cost effective systems I’ve found is to purchase one of those reinforcement charts at the teacher store. You know, the ones with a space for the names down the side, and a full poster board sized grid with quarter inch squares running all the way across. Instead of using stickers, they make rubber stamps that fit into those smaller squares which in the long run is much less expensive. Or, to make it even more affordable, have the students color in a square every time they are caught being good. This enables a daily visual for which students need to be “caught being good”, and the students enjoy competing for the lead position. It reinforces graphing skills as well. If desired, you could do something special with the top behavior student at the end of each quarter. Students at all grade levels love this, and it is the most convenient way I have ever found to keep track of positive behavior.

Need an idea that’s even more extreme? Laminate the chart to the wall and use dry erase markers. It’s an affordable green teaching idea, and you can re-use this chart as many times as you need to with a little DIY white board cleaning solution.

Craft Sticks.

These things really come in handy for classroom management on the cheap. Check out the previous poston craft stick uses in the classroom. In addition to several craft ideas, you’ll also find some great management tips on how to include every student every day, incorporate a dirt cheap running program for PE and streamline your classroom communication in a way that you can use from year to year. Score!

Classroom Study Hall.

If your learning schedule allows it, try incorporating a brief study hall at the end of the day. Students who run into problems during daily independent work time can have one on one time with you. Those finished can assist with room organization, handouts, last minute announcements, etc. Admittedly, this can be tough to pull off without the right schedule. However, I did one year and it was one of the best things I ever tried. The students and I both benefitted tremendously, and the last few minutes of the day turned from chaotic to calm on the very first day we implemented the system. If you are blessed with a supportive administration, see what you can do about convincing the powers that be to allow the last class session of the day to be left to the classroom teachers. Chances are, the specialists will appreciate a chance to get organized for the next day’s room hopping schedule as well.

Daily Helping Hands.

Rather than struggling to develop an elaborate job schedule and chart with a spinning wheel or cards to pull and file, just have a daily helping hand to deal with all jobs. If a particular task is too much for one student, they can select a responsible friend to help them with it. Just go down through your grade book in order and select the next student each day. Simple, easy to maintain, and every student gets to help. This will free up your time (especially if you teach younger grades) to work on other important classroom management issues.

That’s it. Classroom management as cheap and easy as I can make it for you. Got another cheap idea that’s low on effort and high on the get a life scale? Share the love.

Photo Credit: Liz Marie

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