I talk quite a bit about classroom management on my blog. I have to be honest here. I have tried so many different things. I have tried the clip chart, I have tried check marks, I have tried the “flip the card”. NONE of them work for me.
The book Dream Class really changed my thoughts on behavior management, and I constantly recommend it to any teacher I meet. It’s that amazing.
I’m here to talk to you about my favorite section of that book: How to improve classroom management by doing less.
You mean I don’t have to go home every day exhausted? SIGN ME UP!
You may all think I am crazy, but I do less and it has improved my classroom management like crazy.
Here are my tips (adapted from Dream Class) on how to do less:
1.) Slow Down– The same way children emulate their parents’ behaviors and mannerisms, if you haven’t noticed yet, your students emulate you. You are with your students for about 7 hours every day. They watch your every move. I noticed that when I started to slow down and speak with a purpose, my kids started to slow down and speak with a purpose. When I stopped to say “bless you” or “excuse me,” my kids also started doing this. You may think this isn’t that profound, but trust me it is. When you slow down and stop rushing through everything and stop treating your day like you have way too much to get through, you will have calmer students. As a result, you will get through everything and you will get more done. Try it and watch the shift happen in your classroom.
2.) Talk Less– Let’s face it, the more we talk, the more likely our kids are likely to tune us out. When they tune us out, they are more likely to misbehave. If you want your words to stay with your kids and have meaning, be brief, get to the point, then move on. Save your voice for inspirational or personal stories. Your kids will love to hear these!
3.) Do Nothing– My favorite. If your students are not doing what you want, do nothing. Stand in a prominent place where they can see you (perhaps on a chair!), and literally do nothing. Your kids will stare at you, they may wait for you to flip your lid or even lose your marbles, but you won’t! When my students notice me standing there, I hear them reminding each other to be quiet. I hear things like like, “SHH, I want to hear this” or “Guys, be quiet or we won’t be able to earn our fun project”. If they don’t catch on, simply take the moment of silence to gather your thoughts then remind them again precisely what you expect them to do.
4.) Lower Your Voice– When you raise your voice, you send a message to your students that they only have to listen to you when you’re yelling. You’re basically saying that it’s ok to tune out when you are speaking at a lower or normal tone. Speak softly, and your students will listen. They should even have to lean in just a bit to hear you.
5.) Teach Your Classroom Management Plan– If students don’t know what you want, they aren’t going to give it to you. If you want them to come in quietly and open their books, then model how to walk in quietly and how to open a book. Figure out what you want your students to be doing at all times and teach, model, and show them every routine and procedure. When your students forget (and they will) stop in your tracks and practice it all again. Once your students are successful, trust in your management plan. Don’t bribe, manipulate, or persuade your students to behave correctly. You created your management plan for a reason. Let it do the “heavy lifting.”
6.) Enforce Logical Consequences– While your classroom management plan needs to be simple and effective, it also needs to work for you. You need to believe in it and follow through with it. Make your rules and stick to them. When a rule is broken, there needs to be a consequence. It can’t be some random random consequence for the sake of just giving a consequence. You need consequences that will fix the behaviors that have occurred. Take a look at this document below for my logical consequence ideas.
Click HERE to grab this freebie!
Like I said above, when you start doing less, you’ll have time for some inspirational and personal stories. You’ll also have more time for inspirational lessons. One of my favorite lessons each year is when we read The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polocco and talk about our differences and coming together as a family. I typically do this at the beginning of the year, but it’s great for a mid-year community building, too!
We talk about being there for each other and stepping in to help one another out when it’s needed. My favorite part of the lesson is when the students brainstorm ways to pay it forward. Then, without a doubt, someone starts the year off by paying it forward and it has a domino effect in our classroom. :) We created this anchor chart on ways to pay it forward, and I keep it posted all year.
Here is an example of a student paying it forward. This student wanted to thank his classmates for electing him as student council representative, so he went home and printed all of these labels that say “Thanks a Million.” He personally thanked every student when he gave them their candy. Is that not the SWEETEST most thing you’ve ever seen?!