How to become a Classroom Management All-Star

Classroom Management

How to Make Classroom Management Simple & Easy

Every early childhood educator knows how essential classroom management is to the success of every classroom. Experienced teachers know that classroom management is more than just implementing your center’s guidance and discipline policy. Instead, it involves everything from the classroom setup to implemented rules, routines and schedules, and even includes the teacher’s attitude and consistency. I have written some helpful tips to help you become a classroom management all-star!

Classroom Setup – When setting up your classroom in the beginning of the year remember these key tips:

1.      Noisy vs Quiet Areas: When arranging your classroom, it is important to separate the noisy areas from the quiet areas.

This helps prevent distractions and allows children to be more productive in their activities. Noisy areas may include blocks, dramatic play, music and movement, art, math, and science.

Quiet areas may include the library, writing center, listening area, computer, and manipulatives (table toys).  If possible, have the noisy areas on one side of the classroom and the quiet areas on the other. If it is not possible to divide the centers by sides of the classroom, you want to group the noisy and quiet areas the best that you can.

2.      Boundaries: It is important to arrange furniture to create clear boundaries for children. Children need to be able to tell that there are separate learning areas within the classroom, and they need to be able to clearly identify where each learning area begins and ends. Use furniture to your advantage to create walls and barriers between each area.

3.      Reduce “Run Space”: If you have a large classroom or center, one of your biggest challenges will be reducing run space. Run space is any empty or large area in the classroom that will give children the ability to run. When arranging your learning areas, try to place them close together to create narrow walk ways rather than leaving large empty areas for children to move through.

Classroom Rules – Remember these key tips for classroom rules:

1.      Ownership: When creating your classroom rules, it is recommended that you let your students help create them. You obviously want to have a clear direction for your rules before beginning this process, but let your students take ownership of the rules by helping you create the list in the beginning of the year. You may want to take pictures of the children demonstrating the rules to serve as the visuals on your charts, as well.

2.      Positive Phrases: It is important to phrase your rules and classroom expectations in as positive a manner as possible. Children often hear and remember the last thing that you say, so you want to phrase your rules to reflect the behavior you desire. For example, “Walking Feet” would be more effective than “No Running”, or “Helping Hands” instead of “No Hitting”.

3.      Review Daily: Young children get very excited about learning and creating in the classroom, which can often make it easy for them to forget the rules.  It is important to review your rules daily. It may be helpful to choose a child or several children to remind everyone of the rules in morning circle.

Routines and Schedules

Routines and schedules are very important in any early childhood classroom. Routines give children steps to follow in completing specific tasks within the daily schedule. Schedules and routines should be put in place from day one of the school year. This helps children understand and learn what is expected of them on a daily basis. It is also important to have schedules and routines posted throughout the classroom with visuals.

Positive Attitude and Consistency

Teachers and other classroom staff are key to successful classroom management. All staff members need to maintain positive attitudes and consistency towards the children in the classroom and during any day-to-day events, no matter how mundane they may become. Children learn quickly which staff members will follow through on their word and which ones will not.

If your rule is that after three warnings a child will be removed from the situation in which he or she is misbehaving, then you need to stick to this rule, no matter what. It is important for everyone to work together, so the children know what is expected at all times.

Classroom management really involves everything you do in the classroom, but these are some of the big ticket items to consider every day. You can find other great classroom management ideas and information on Classroom Management Techniques on my ECE Pinterest board.

This guest post was written by Sarah Owens. Sarah is an Early Childhood Instructor at Penn Foster and served as a Head Start preschool teacher for five years. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education.

Photo is courtesy of Robyn Jay, under Creative Commons licensing.