Teacher, I have waited so long to use the word SPRING!! It’s finally here. Can we throw some confetti?!? We’ve made it through winter, and this is a great time to do some spring cleanup when it comes to classroom management and behavior issues. Can I just say one more time that it’s SPRING? 🤩
Warmer weather and birds singing is on the way. We’re getting closer to the spring break milestone. We can use a break, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that you can get there well do it with joy. Some classroom management tricks can really help you along the way.
Today, I really want you to think about spring cleaning your house. A couple posts ago, I told you about my problem with hoarding and my tiny office. But springtime is really a great time to freshen up your house, get in all the nooks and crannies, and toss out stuff that is not serving you well. I love the feeling of a clean, tidy home. There’s nothing like it. Can you relate?
Classroom Management Cleanup
We could also use that wonderful feeling when it comes to the management of our classroom and student behaviors. Imagine walking into your classroom and having that same feeling about your classroom management game. Everything is nice and tidy, calm, smooth, works well, fresh, simple, and clean. That is what dreams are made of for me, teacher.
I want you to have that. I want it too. So today, I’m offering some easy ways to encourage better behaviors in your classroom and to get that spring cleanup that I’m talking about.
If you’re new to the blog and you’re having some serious classroom management problems, let me begin by saying that I do a podcast episode and blog post every month dedicated to classroom management. I hate to sound like a broken record, but having classroom management issues can really kill your joy and make you not want to continue as an educator. So we have to get this under control. Even if you have it under control, never lose that love of learning new techniques and strategies that can help you continually improve in this area.
Hype Up Your Cleanup
The ideas I’m sharing today are going to be quick, fresh, and simple to implement. One suggestion I have about all three ideas I’m going to tell you about is to use your hype and excitement when you’re implementing them. Remember that our students model whatever perspective we have. So no matter what you use, if you use some excitement when explaining and modeling it, your kiddos will feed off of that and be completely engaged with it.
We’re so blessed in primary to be able to work with young children. They’re so easily molded and convinced of the good things. Now the older kids, not so much. If I tried any of these tricks with seventh and eighth graders, they would probably laugh me out of the room. Primary kids though, if you use the right amount of hype and excitement, will respond very well to these things.
#1 – Try a Classroom Management Game
Throughout the school year, students have become accustomed to whatever management tricks you have been using up to this point. To get a cleanup, it’s a great time to implement something new and simple that does not take a lot of your time and energy. My favorites are these class-wide competitions that have to do with behavior. It’s really simple to set something like this up on a white board, or if you want to print a game board and make it a little fancier. However you want to execute it is fine.
The games that I’m talking about are Table Points, Kids vs. Teacher, and Boys vs. Girls. When my student behaviors are getting a little messy and I want to clean those up, and really tighten up things and make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible, I will use these competition based games. I will choose one of these, probably for a week, or you could alternate every day to really keep things interesting.
Table Points to Cleanup Behaviors
With everything going on in the world, you may not have students at tables. Instead, you could do Row Points, or Column Points, and it works just the same. So what I do is in a place visible to all students, I will write the table numbers on the board, and under the numbers, I will make tally marks whenever students earn some recognition for great behavior.
For example, if I have told students to get all their materials out and put on their ready signal, and I look over and find that Table 2 has all students prepared and ready, I will give that table a point. Sounds really simple, right?
It absolutely is!
And the wonderful thing is that it’s naturally engaging, because students want to win. So all throughout the day, I encourage certain behaviors, and students know they can earn table points by doing what I ask them to do.
Normally, in my second grade classroom, I do not have to give a prize to the winner at the end of the day. The prize is, “Hey, you are the winner for today.” I do ask the rest of the class to give those kids a standing ovation. To really spice things up, you could offer a nontangible reward like five minutes of extra playtime, no homework for the night, or something simple like a cool sticker or a little certificate.
So just really hype it up and switch it up every now and then to kids vs. teacher, which means the kids are trying to beat you, the teacher, or boys vs. girls. My kiddos really love that one. I don’t know why it’s such a big rivalry, but I take full advantage of it. There are also other wonderful games out there, but those to me are the three easiest to implement. They require no preparation and the students just love them.
#2 – Teach New Routines and Procedures
I am a sucker for classroom routines. I really love for things to happen over and over so that I feel calm and safe and know what’s going to happen. My students know exactly what to do.
Look at your day and decide where these routines or procedures are needed. I’m going to share three of my favorite classroom management tricks. There’s a video demonstration of all three of these tricks HERE.
Transitions can be rough and waste quite a bit of our time. I’m talking about transitions from our desks to the carpet, from the carpet to our desks, from our desks to the line, all of those times when your students have to go from one place to another.
When you think about your transitions, are they running smoothly, quickly, and quietly? If not, try the transition break. I teach my students that we are like a football team. Football teams get in a big huddle, talk about their plan, and when it’s time to get out there on the field, they clap their hands and say, “One, two, three, break!” When we say, “One, two, three, break!” my students transform into ninjas and quickly, quietly get up and report to the next area.
Before each transition break, I clearly describe the expectations. Once you practice over and over and over, your students will do exactly what you ask them to in a more quiet and orderly fashion.
If you check out the VIDEO I mentioned, my former students actually demonstrate this routine.
In that same video, you’ll also hear about the ready signal. From the get-go of each year, I teach my students that ninjas never call out when they are ready to move on.
So if you have those little guys and gals that say, “Mrs. Mullins, I’m done! I’m done! What do we do now? I’m done.” It could drive me insane! That is why I created the ready signal where they sit up and cross their fingers on the desk.
So this is the expectation, and I always remind my students to use it. “When you’re finished, put on your ready signal.” And every day, when I look around the room and see ready signals, I always compliment students by calling them ninjas.
The third trick in this video is the unpredictable callback. I love callbacks for focusing and quieting my room. It works much better than saying, “Boys and girls, quiet down. Shh, shh, shh.” So instead, I use callbacks. One of my favorites is one I created called the unpredictable callback. Students never know what I’m going to ask them to do, so they have to be ready to do it and put their eyes on me immediately.
I’ll say, “Eyes on your teacher,” and the students repeat that back.
I say, “Hands like this.” They repeat it, and they have to look at me to see what to do with their hands. I may put my hands in the air or on my hips. Whatever it is, it challenges them to look at me and give me their full attention.
#3 – Try Some New Tricks
Us teachers have to be crafty and inventive to keep our kids engaged and help these little ones be happy along the way. Of course, I could be like the principal on the movie Matilda, Mrs. Trunchbull (love that movie!) but that would not help me have a great impact on my students.
I want them to be joyful.
I want to be joyful.
We want to have a happy environment together, so sometimes we have to use some kid friendly tricks to encourage them to be on their best behavior.
Happy Bag for Classroom Management Cleanup
My favorite trick to use when I really need a cleanup of classroom management is the Happy Bag. There’s a post about it HERE. I’ll tell you right off the bat that this trick will require some preparation. You can find a template in the post. It’s a giant bag with a big smiley face on it and all these wonderful tricks inside that can excite your students.
I really hype this one up and tell them that when we’re on our best behavior we can pull something from the bag. So we’re constantly encouraging our students in positive behaviors that please us to help them receive some kind of reward. You may use cool stickers, a silly hat, classroom jokes, sound machines, anything that can bring a little laugh to your students. I mention using sound more HERE.
The last set of tricks I want to mention are free in my Virtual Rewards Bundle HERE. I created a bundle of rewards at the beginning of this school year that would help teachers transition to virtual, but the wonderful thing is they work in person as well.
One of my favorites to use with my students is called Make a Masterpiece. I basically have printed out in vibrant colors different pictures that are meant to be placed together to make a masterpiece. For example, in the bundle there is a massive ice cream sundae. I cut out the pieces, laminate them so I can reuse them, and if students are modeling wonderful behaviors, I will pull out a piece of that and add it to our board.
Students love the anticipation of finishing this picture. The reward is simply seeing you put together the picture and seeing what the end result is.
You can do this, Teacher!
You can end this school year on a happy, joyful note. Just keep your classroom management game in check with a little cleanup, and I hope that this post has helped with that.
We need to be more joyful and impactful in our classrooms, and that is why I’m working on a big project. It’s a training called the Joyful Teacher Academy. If that perked up your ears and you think that could be something you would enjoy, sign up down below to get updates about its completion.
We’d love to have you in our Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group as well! Head on over and tell us how you up your classroom management game.
Until next time, keep making a difference, teacher friend!