It’s that time of the year when I always had to take a step back and evaluate my classroom management plan. Toward the end of the semester, things that worked earlier in the year seem to become less effective. This is probably because both teachers and students are tired and getting antsy!
If you’re looking for way to switch things up, I thought I’d share with you the most effective classroom management plan I’ve ever used. Of course, every teacher and every class is different; but at the very least, I hope this can give you some fresh ideas and inspiration as you work on a new classroom management strategy for your class.
My Classroom Management Plan
My strategy for classroom management has several different parts to it. It incorporates a variety of systems that all work together to motivate students to do their best!
The use of clip charts is fairly controversial; however, at my school it was a requirement to use one in the lower grade levels. I have to say, I’m pretty terrible about moving clips. I don’t want to interrupt class by having students move their clips around, but I want the students to do it so that it is more meaningful.
The system I found worked best for me was to keep a list (either mentally, or written if possible), and then announce clip changes during a transition. Sometimes I would let students know immediately if they had a clip down, so that they wouldn’t be confused about why, but I would have them wait until a transition to actually move it.
Sometimes I would keep the list private and sometimes I would write the names on the board so students could see. It was a good reminder for them to be able to see the names on the list that I am watching. Also, I tell them that just because it starts out on one list (up or down) doesn’t mean it won’t change before the transition.
I know many people disagree with the idea of clip charts (and probably my list keeping strategy) because it publicly displays who is being “good” or “bad.” However, I’ve found that if you set up a proper classroom community, this is not an issue. I always spent time talking about the clip chart in the first few weeks of school, and how it is a simple self-evaluation tool, and not a rating system of who the good students and bad students are. This has helped significantly, and I never felt that my students felt embarrassed at having to move their clip down.
Behavior Punch Cards
Another tool I used as part of my classroom management plan is behavior punch cards. Each student would receive one card which they were responsible for. If they lost it, I would replace the card, but not the punches.
Students could earn punches (that sounds weird…but I’m referring to hole punches) for moving up on the clip chart. At the end of the day, students who ended ABOVE “Ready to Learn” (the starting point) on the clip chart could bring me their punch card.
If they landed one space above Ready to Learn, they received one hole punch. Two spaces and they earned two hole punches; and if they finished at the top of our chart, they got three hole punches.
Once they received 10 hole punches in their punch card, they earned a reward coupon.
Classroom reward coupons are my favorite classroom incentive! I have used them as part of my classroom management plan for years. I’m not a fan of treasure boxes or things like that for many reasons. Reward coupons are easy, don’t cost me any money, and provide more meaningful experiences for students. My kids always loved them!
The main way students earned coupons is by filling up their punch card. I also gave out coupons for completing a certain number of math challenges, but that has nothing to do with classroom management.
Students were responsible for coming to me for a coupon. I did not keep track of it. I didn’t remind them or ask them about it. They brought me their punch card, they asked for a coupon when it was complete. If they didn’t do that, they didn’t get anything! I’m all about student responsibility.
Another part of my classroom management plan had to do with keeping my table groups organized and focused. I came up with a table point system where table groups could earn points for various things. Mostly, I used this as a way to make sure tables stayed neat and organized, students were prepared, and everyone was focused on work.
I would give out table points for things like being the first table to transition, working the most quietly, being the neatest/most organized, etc. I created a poster that I kept on my whiteboard and simply kept a tally for each team:
At the end of the week, whichever table had the most table points won the VIP Caddy for the following week. The VIP Caddy was a special table caddy that contained things like scented markers, gel pens, mechanical pencils, colorful Expos, etc. Students LOVED getting to use the supplies in the VIP Caddy!
I also implemented a weekly “Table Captain” system, which I also kept track of on the same poster I used for table points (see picture above). Each week, I would choose a captain for each table. This person was in charge of turning in all papers for the table for the entire week. This helped reduce the chaos of having 22 students get up and crowd around our turn in basket all at one time.
I’ve seen similar systems to this that are a little bit different. For example, giving each student a different colored sticker at their desk. One week, the yellow stickers could be the captain. The next week, the blue stickers would be the captain. This way, you don’t have to keep up with who’s already done it and just rotate through the colors.
Creating Your Classroom Management Plan
As you are thinking through your classroom management plan, first ask yourself what problems need to be solved. Is lining up chaotic? Are your students constantly talking when they are supposed to be quiet? Do your transitions feel 1000 years long? Nailing down exactly where the issues are can help implement the most successful classroom management strategy.
While the systems I have shared worked best for me, please remember that every teacher and class are different! You may find these systems work well for you, or that some of them work, or that they don’t work at all. As always, adjust to the needs of your classroom.
I hope this has been helpful to you in creating your plan for classroom management. It can be such a tricky part of teaching! Hopefully you have gained some inspiration and ideas and are ready to start fresh in the second semester.