primary, classroom, teacher, hallway, hallway behavior, how to keep students quiet in hallway, classroom management, Teacher Toni, kindergarten, first grade, second grade

Well, hi there, and welcome, my joyful teacher friend. Welcome to this week’s topic of hallway behavior. I hope your work isn’t too crazy right now. Well, who am I kidding? It’s April, this time is always crazy. I guess what I mean to say is, I hope you’re managing it well. I’m hanging in there. And I’m enjoying my sweet little first graders and enjoying my new coaching clients.

I’d love to work with YOU!

Being a mentor to so many teachers truly lights me up. I love focusing on their goals, helping them make decisions and take action on problems, and help them create new joy in their work. Have you ever thought about it and what it could do for you in your career? Times are stressful, we have a lot to get accomplished between now and our much deserved break. And I’d love to help you with that.

My time slots are very few. So if you’re interested, this is definitely the time to request a free 30 minute session. Just send me an email to toni @ It would be my pleasure just to meet with you, to uplift you just for a little time. And maybe to see if a longer term of coaching would be right for you.

Another thing I love about coaching is that it gives me so many ideas for the podcast. Recently I worked with a client to help smooth some transitions and get more productivity out of her time in the classroom. We found out that the biggest culprit in the management problems she was having was due to hallway behavior. And so that is our focus for today. I’m going to share some of the strategies that I gave her to try, that she found great results in, with you.

We’ll talk about why this is important. And I’ll give you my favorite, never before shared here on the blog, strategies that helped me keep my students quiet and calm. So, if you need to get a better handle on hallway behaviors, or just want to learn some new tricks to have in your pocket in times of need, let’s do it teacher. Let’s get growing.

What’s the big deal about hallway behavior?

Hallway behavior has never really been a big issue for me until this school year. Let me explain. I used to work at a much smaller school. Literally, there were very few steps to take in the hallways to get from point A to point B. This year, I’m working at a much bigger school that has a lot of hallway to tread. So I’ve become more strategic in managing these behaviors this year. And as I mentioned, I’ve worked with coaching clients on this before as well.

So let’s begin by putting out there why this is so important. Of course, we don’t just want a bunch of hooligans out in the hallway showing everyone that we’re bad at managing things. But what I really want to say is that this is what other teachers and staff see from our students. Even if you have the most wonderfully behaved students in the classroom, they could come out in the hallway and show other teachers that they are just a terror. This is the only time other teachers and staff members see your students and their behaviors.

So first of all, I’d like to just say it’s not fair to our students, when other people get these perspectives about them in just this short time of seeing them. It’s very easy to get a little happy go lucky in the hallway with your friends, even if that isn’t something you would normally do in the classroom. We owe it to our students to manage their behaviors well, so other teachers and staff get a good feeling for them.

Save your instructional time!

It’s also very important because of the reason I mentioned earlier with my coaching client, it saves your instructional time. So if your students get out of hand in the hallway, you have to calm them down. They have to refocus. What a waste of our time when we have to spend our precious classroom minutes refocusing students because they were maybe wild in PE or loud in the lunchroom. And now we’ve come down the hall and they’ve been very, very antsy the whole time. We have to put a stop to it, when it’s actually time for us to begin teaching again.

So if you like to be hyper productive and get every moment out of your day, this is a great focus. You can train your students to be calm in the hallway to enter the room that way, and avoid that loss of precious time. So those are two reasons why we should focus in this area.

Hallway Behavior Isn’t Natural

I want to begin by clearing something up. We often feel that walking quietly, in line, in an orderly way should come natural to our students. And we don’t really teach a lot about it. We don’t really reinforce that as much as we should, because we think it’s natural.

But I really want you to stop for a second teacher. If you’re walking down the hallway, maybe to the copy room, and you pass by a coworker that you really love to see, do you just walk by in silence? Do you just do a quick, quiet wave and keep going? Not very likely.

I recently had a friend from my old school who works in supporting students with different behaviors, come to my new school. So I hadn’t seen her in months. And it was just very surprising to me to see her at all. When we crossed paths, I had my class behind me by the way, I made a big ol’ crazy yell, “Hi, Vicki, how are you?” It basically echoed through the hallway. And then I had to explain to my students why I was so loud. And what a horrible model to them.

So just remember, this is not natural. It’s not natural to them. It is not natural to you. But there are strategies that you can use to help create this habit within your students.

It’s All About Engagement

So the trick here is engagement. We have this focus on engaging our students within the classroom, but we seem to forget that when we’re out in the hallway. Engagement is having them actively involved in something. I engage my students in the classroom with movement with cheers with lots of different things.

So why would I forget this when we walk out the door? Insert some of these engagement strategies to make sure your students have a purpose for giving you the results that you need.

To engage my students in the hallway, I always begin with a moment of reminder. Before we leave where we are, whether that’s leaving the classroom, leaving the gym, leaving the lunchroom, I always have a quick moment to refocus their attention. Let’s go ahead and get that over with. Let’s remind them that we’re about to go in the hall. There are expectations, and you must be engaged with me during our time of walking.

I usually say, “Eyes on your teacher,” and they repeat. And then I’ll say, “Hands like this,” and they’ll say, “Hands like this,” and they’re looking at me to see what I’m doing with my hands. You can actually see this in a video that I created: 3 Top Secret Management Tricks. But once they see where my hands are placed, that is where they will keep their hands during their time in the classroom.

Hallway Behavior Strategy #1: Hallway Challenge

I call this our hallway challenge. Doesn’t that make things a little more exciting when you put that word “challenge” at the end? So, this is how the hallway challenge works. I explain to my students that we’re going to do a hallway challenge. You have to keep your hands just like this, however I’ve decided to hold them. That may be arms folded, hands on their hips, hands behind their backs. Sometimes we do more challenging things like hands up on top of our heads, or we even sometimes make little glasses out of our hands and have to hold them the whole way through the hall.

So with my students, if they complete the hallway challenge on their way through the door, whether it’s the lunchroom door, the classroom door, I give them a reward. I give them recognition for completing the hallway challenge. And now we’re not talking about candy or prize boxes. If you read How I Dumped My Prize Box you know that’s not the case.

I recognize them in other, more creative and sought after, ways. If you complete the hallway challenge, I’ll give you a head tap on the way in the door. If you are extra awesome at the hallway challenge, you, my friend might even get a double head tap. What does that mean? I just give them a little tap on the head. But you know what, every kid wants a tap on the head from their teacher, and every kid wants the double tap, because that’s special. That’s two taps. I recognize them sometimes with a pinkie high five. One of my class favorites is an elbow high five.

Hallway Behavior Strategy #2: Student Shout Out

Another way I like to recognize students is to give a student shout out. On my classroom board, I have a laminated sheet of paper for student shout outs. Throughout the day, I’m looking for different behaviors that are exceptional, things that students do that deserve someone to recognize them. Maybe that’s patience, maybe that is incredibly neat handwriting. Or maybe it is ninja hallway behavior, when students show me that they are exceptional at walking in the hallway and completing the hallway challenge. I mean, I recognize they didn’t make a peep or walk a step out of line. They deserve a student shout out.

So what do I do? I write their name on the shout out board. That’s it. And sometimes when I know my students are going to be a little extra wild, like when they come out of PE, I remind them of this before we get started during our refocus time. “Boys and girls, I know you’ve had a great time in PE, but we have to be quiet in the hallway. And I’m going to choose one student for a shout out as soon as we get in the door. So if you want to be that student, you’re gonna walk down quietly, you’re gonna go in the room and sit down on the carpet, like a ninja.”

Hallway Behavior Strategy #3: Line Cutters

I want to give you one more strategy that I came up with just this year. It has really been amazing in the hallway. I do not use this strategy all the time because it could become burdensome, but only during times when I know for certain my kids need to be calmed down in the hallway. During that refocus time, of course, I introduced the challenge of what they do with their hands, and I’ll let them know they’ll get recognition, maybe a head tap, a pinky high five. But sometimes I’ll say, “Okay, boys and girls, this time in the hallway, we’re gonna do line cutters.”

So you and I both know students are obsessed with people cutting in line. Oh, boy, do I hear that every day. I decided at the beginning of this school year, I would try letting students cut in line if they were showing exceptional behavior.

Line Cutters in Action

First, I announce it. I let my students know we do not do this every time we go down the hall, I will let them know when we’re going to. I’ll watch carefully for someone who is being exceptional. And I’ll call their name and say, “Jump in front of so and so.”

So let’s pretend I have a little girl named Kristen, who is in the very back or near the back of the line. And she is just walking like a little angel. She’s fully focused on me all the way up front, and she is just trying super hard to get to cut line. I’ll say, “Kristen, cut in front of so and so.”

So sometimes I’ll let them cut to the very front of the line right behind the line leader. Sometimes I’ll let them cut in front of someone who just isn’t engaged in the hallway as a small reminder that they should be listening and following instructions. But they know the shift has to happen quietly and quickly. And believe it or not, there is very little disruption.

Sometimes I choose one line cutter. Sometimes I’ll choose several on the way down the hall depending on the length of the walk. For me, it is so powerful, it is the most effective thing that I do when I need students to walk quietly. I use it a lot of times coming out of the lunch room, because that seems to be when they are the least structured.

Don’t forget engagement!

But to wrap things up, just remember to engage your students during their hallway walks. We can’t expect them to be on top of their behaviors if they have no purpose, no reason to stay that way. Remember that naturally, we aren’t very good in the hallway either. And just remember to pull out some tricks. Pull some tricks from your magic teacher hat, that you know will get your students excited and motivated to be on their best behavior down the hallway. Probably most important is to save your precious classroom time and save your sanity. Aren’t things much better when our students enter the room calm and ready to learn?

My hope is that one or all of these strategies help you to whip your students into shape during those long hallway walks. That wraps up a super fun episode. I hope this was relevant to you my teacher friend, and I hope that it brings you some more peace and sanity to your day.

I love sharing these ideas with you, and I truly appreciate my coaching clients who helped me to realize these are problems that teachers are facing that can give them a lot of issues that can steal their joy. And so, thank you to those of you who work with me one on one, you bring so much joy and happiness and motivation to my life. As to all of my blog friends. I love you guys. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. And as always, until we meet again, go make a difference, my joyful teacher friend.