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3 Classroom Management Strategies for Back to School Success

Classroom management. Wherever you are in your teaching career, whether it’s just starting out or you’ve been here a while, your classroom management strategies (along with your mindset) can make or break your teaching career. There are many components to it - it’s not just managing student behavior. But that’s what we’re going to start with. Because from the first day of school, you are "on." If you want to be able to teach the kids, have the kids behave, have your classroom not look like someone turned it upside down and shook it (well that might happen regardless), you have to have your classroom management strategies on lock. And it starts with how you teach rules, routines, and expectations.


So, I’ve got a goody for you to take back to school with you in a few weeks, or next month, or in two months depending where you are in your summer break. I have created The Great 88: Rules, Routines, and Expectations to Go Over and Over. This is going to become a classic. You are going to get this out for years to come, and use it as a checklist of things to teach your students how to do life in your classroom. It is geared more for upper elementary (because that has been my world for the past two decades), but you may find it useful if you teach outside of that age range as well.


Why are classroom management strategies so important? Rules? Routines? Shouldn’t we let them get to know each other, get started with some content…won’t the rules just come up naturally as we go? I mean, if they’re in upper elementary (and I consider that grades 3 and up), they’ve done this before right?

Want to listen to this message instead of read? You can hear the audio version in my podcast or click the Mp3 below.

NO. They have not. Girl. Boy. Real talk time. They have had two months off. (If you are in the U.S., and maybe not, if you’re on a year round school schedule). But anyway, they have been off a school schedule, more than likely not on anyone’s schedule for a few weeks at least. They have reset. They are coming back from being wild and woolly, and that’s good, cause you know what? You probably needed to be wild and woolly after last last school year too! And unfortunately many of the home environments our students come from aren’t stable and lack structure. So they are coming back, and just assume when it comes to behavior, they remember nothing.


You also have to take into account that your expectations may vary greatly from that of the last teacher your students have. What wasn’t a big deal last year, like noise levels or transitions, may be a big deal for you. Assume they know nothing. Treat it like a blank slate.

So I’ve got the great 88 for you, but I also have some other guidance for you for how to establish classroom management strategies in the new school year. They all begin with P. Are you ready? You're about to learn about the important of presence, procedures, and practice.


The first "P" that will impact your classroom management strategies is presence.

That is, your demeanor. Your confidence. How you project your voice. It all matters. And when you’re just starting out or your coming back from a bad year or experience teaching, I know it’s hard to find your voice. But you’ve got to go in there from day one and establish you are the teacher. You are the boss. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to be mean. No. Not at all. We don’t want our students to associate use with that, they have enough of it from other surrounding forces in their lives. But you can be firm. And assert your boundaries. That’s what your students need, and it’s secretly what many of them crave. They want someone to be in charge and provide structure. It helps them feel safe to know that it’s you they can count on.

But that means no wishy washy form you. You’ve got nothing to be afraid of. Well, maybe a little. But no. You’ve got to tell yourself “I am the adult. I am the teacher. These kids are looking to me. I set the tone.” The more sure you are of how you want things, want your students to do things and to behave, the stronger your presence will become.


The next "P" that should influence your classroom management strategies is procedures.

And this is all what The Great 88 is about. You have to teach them everything! If you want it, teach it. You may have heard that before, but it makes the difference between smooth sailing and…hitting an iceberg in October. You have to teach them everything you want them to do…and you’re going to need to do it consistently. Like…how to sit in your seat. Don’t want to see their feet on the chair? Gonna have to teach them that! Do you want certain supplies on their desk by the end of announcements every day. Better not just show them what supplies, but where you want the supplies on their desks. Sounds a little over the top, but as you’ll see with The Great 88 Checklist, you’ve got to leave nothing to chance.

And…you won’t be able to teach them every rule, every procedure, on the first day. Or even the first week. You do need to let your class get to know each other, get to know you and have fun, but you also need to keep the focus on the long term goal - which is having your students ready to learn with as few behavior disruptions as possible. Seriously, going over how you expect the pencil sharpener to be used and when to to use it may seem excessive now, but it won’t in a few months when they know to sharpen their pencils first thing in the morning (notice I said pencils not just a pencil) when it’s not interrupting your math lesson. Or teaching them how to clean it out and when so you don’t have pencil shavings strewn all over your floor.


And the last "P" for classroom management strategies is practice.

You will need to practice anything you want your students to do just like you will reading and math. They have to practice the procedures until they can do it…and if they forget (or try to push the envelope just to test you), you’ve got to reteach it until they get it. Practice may seen like it’s wasting class time, or being excessive, but it’s not. Not in the long run. Practicing also helps to establish your presence. They’re going to learn that you aren’t kidding! This is how things are going to be in your room. And you don’t need to be emotional about it. Don’t get angry when they need to practice. It’s not about the reaction. They’re kids, kid’s brains are developing, they’re going to forget stuff, especially at the beginning of the year.

A lot of this practice will come from modeling the behavior or procedure that you want. Remember that “if you want it, teach it?” It’s also if you want it, show it. Show them what it looks like to stand in line keeping your hands to yourself. Show them how to walk from one center or station to the next without making a lot of noise and leaving a mess behind. Probably most important is showing them how you expect them to interact with one another. Especially if they don’t have a model of it outside of school, an adult who can model for kids how to have control of their emotions and work respectfully with others become that more important.


So to review, the three P’s to establish classroom management this year:

Authority isn’t a bad word or thing. Kids need authority figures. Leaders to show them the way. But you’ve got to act the part and believe in yourself and your power.

Every little thing. They can handle it. If you want things a certain way, show them. How to talk softly. How to hang your coat. All of it. It will all make the difference and focus them to learn.

You won’t just show them once. You may have to show them all year. But what ever you want you will have to teach and to reinforce with practice. It’s not a bad thing or even a punishment. It’s learning how to be and how to do things in a way that will keep the calm and contribute to learning.


We’re going to keep diving into classroom management in the lead up to back to school. Make sure you grab The Great 88 - Rules, Routines, and Expectations to Go Over and Over - I promise it’s something you can take back to school and use all year long. While it takes time and requires resolve, standing firm on your classroom management strategies will give you the foundation for a better school year - regardless of what comes your way. Grab it below!


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