My top 10 Classroom Management tricks

As a teacher, the most important thing to have is classroom management. You cannot hope to teach a class effectively if you don’t have their respect and their attention. In the PHE classroom this becomes even more important because of the added dynamic of active moving people. Handling the chaos of the gym or outdoor field can be trying for even the veteran educator. Here are my top 10 tips to classroom management:

  1. Make Respect your number one priority – in my class, I drill the importance of RESPECT. For self, others and the teacher. Even before we talk learning goals, this goal is paramount. That means, we discuss feelings, we have our sharing circle and we are clear on what that looks, sounds and feels like.
  2. Co-create your rules and post them proudly- Make them short, clear and concise. Generally, I do the number of rules equaled to the grade level i.e.: seven rules for grade 7s etc. Think pretty picture and poster paper. If it’s clear and out there, it is tangible. (Laminated and dry erase is usually best so that you can update or change as the year goes on) Same goes for your Learning Goals and Success Criteria
  3. Make squads- have set squads for your class and a set location for where they sit when they entre your class. I prefer 4 squads, regardless of the number of students, so that I can start team activities quickly.
  4. Create and stick to a routine– Sit in your squads as you walk in the gym, explain the warm up and the activities of the day and go. Finish with a stretch and chat. Try to make it similar every time so everyone knows what’s coming.
  5. Lay out consequences and rewards– I have a thing for baseball in my class. We always go with the “three strike” rule. I’m a firm believer that everyone makes mistakes and because of this, I allow for 3 strikes. At one, I make eye contact, clearly state “one”, and then continue teaching. Two is the same. At three, students know that they sit out of the game for five minutes. At the end of that, we have “the talk”. Discuss what had them sit out, what I expect and that there is no fourth strike in baseball. Instead, it’s next step up the chain of discipline such as a call or note home or a visit to the office. I also make a point of reminding the class that I’m old and will forget about strikes by tomorrow. That way everyone starts fresh.
  6. Communicate with parents, staff and school – Use programs like Remind, email, agendas, create posters etc. so that everyone is aware of what is going on in your class
  7. Get their attention– Use different ways to get attention back when instruction or activity hasn’t go according to plan. There are lots of different ways to do this. Here are just a few:
Clap out a rhythm and have them clap it back Ex : Clap, clap, pause, clap-clap-clap
Use a song or a rhyme with actions to match: “These are grandma’s spectacle and here is grandma’s cap, and this is the way I told my hands and put them in my lap.”

« Les mains sur la tête, ça veut dire arrête. Les mains sur la bouche, ça veut dire écoute »

Call and respond: “peanut butter” and they respond “Jelly” or “pepperoni”  response is “pizza”
Hand in the air Simple group response where everyone mirrors the action
Drip, drip, drop Use your voice to get their attention. Use a loud voice, using your diaphragm and not your nose, to project your voice. First 2 words are loud, next one is soft.

N.B. always use firm language here such as “ I want your attention”

Speak softly and have them respond Instead of going loud, you go soft.

“if you can hear me clap once, if you can hear me clap twice…” you get the idea.

Use music. Turning music on or off is a great hint that something is going on.

Superhero music to signal the last minute or  “Ride of the Valkyries” is always a good choice.

  1. Practice Personal Positive Praise– No one wants to only hear the negative. Take the time to quietly let them know one-on-one that they did a great job. There are so many ways to demonstrate praise, if they see you care (and don’t make a scene) it goes a long way to winning their respect.
  2. It’s okay to be funny– Make a joke, wear that crazy pair of socks, laugh at yourself.
  3. Get it wrong and own it- If you make a mistake; be courageous enough to admit it. Apologize. If we are vulnerable, they will respect you that much more.

Do you have some other great ideas? Please share in the comments below.

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