When running a classroom, I find that the little things are the ones that seem to cause the most frustration. (No, not the children!) These five “small things” have helped my days run more smoothly and free up space in my brain for other things.
Classroom Tricks Every Teacher Should Try
A simple list of children’s names can decrease frustration. List names in a column; make multiple lists on a page. Photocopy the lists and cut apart. These class lists can be used anytime for a variety of tasks. Use the list to check off who has returned permission slips for a trip or who has taken home the class pet for the weekend. Place a list with your substitute teacher plans (for easy reference). Once I had these lists, I kept finding ways to use them.
Print the names of your children on wide craft sticks. Color one end of the sticks red (or any color). Drop the sticks in a cup, colored end down. When you need to choose a child to take a turn (for anything), pull a stick from the cup. Drop the stick back in the cup red-end up. Next time, choose a stick that does not have red showing. This quick, fun, random device helped me choose children without always choosing the same child. (It happens, even if we don’t intend to do it.)
Sometimes your class is humming along and everyone is working. Then you need to call for clean up or tell information to the entire class. How do you get everyone’s attention? Our class uses several attention signals. We have the “quiet chime.” Whenever I ring the chime (which carried through the classroom), the children know to stop what they are doing and look at me. We also use a “clap response.” I clap a pattern and they clap the pattern back to me. I repeat the clap response a couple of times for everyone to respond. Choose one (or more) attention signals to teach to your children. Then your class knows when to stop work and look toward you.
Maybe you already have a system for assigning class helpers or class jobs. Maybe you have the perfect system for tracking who does/has done what. But keeping track of who has done what job and who needs to do which task and who missed because he was absent and so forth was frustrating for me. So I copied what I saw in a friend’s classroom. Two children are designated helpers for the day. These two helpers are responsible for whatever jobs I need—leader, table cleaner, door holder, and so forth. If a task pops up that needs an assistant, one of these children does it. We have small clip-on badges that the helpers wear. The helpers rotate through the classroom. I pull two names from the list and place them at the back of the stack at the end of the day. If a child is absent, he is helper the next day (or when he returns). This system has reduced my frustration of keeping track of all those jobs and turns.
Location, Location, Location
I have a bad habit of laying down items wherever I am. So I spend time searching when I need it again. For example, I was always “losing” the remote for our music player. Now it stays in a colorful bin on the easel at our group learning space. I always return it to that spot (even if it means walking across the room). I can find it again quickly when needed. Place items in specific locations; locate specific items where they are most used. Use this idea for children’s supplies, too. Use bins to store scissors, glue sticks, crayons, or other items in specific locations. Children will know where to find things (and where to return them). Time spent searching adds up and adds frustration.
These are a few quick tips that help me have a smooth classroom experience with less frustration. What tips have helped you in your classroom management? Tell us in the comments.