10 Tips on Managing a Classroom in a Positive Way

At the beginning of the school year starting and some teachers feeling overwhelmed I felt like it would be a great time to talk about Classroom Management. In my career and many observations the first thing that I see that breaks down a classroom the most is that teachers do not have classroom management skills. We are not taught in school the best strategies to help children succeed at their level and with the changes in the classrooms today, they do not look anything like they did thirty years ago. We can not expect that our children in our classrooms are going to sit and just do what they are told to do. They are very resilient and full of energy to where every teacher has to be on key to help every child succeed. I have come up with a list of areas that definitely will help enhance your classroom management if you keep them in mind. Sometimes as teachers we forget the easy part of our jobs and focus on the hard ones which makes us lose the real picture. Take a look at the following tips to remind your self as a teacher what we can do quickly to make our classroom work.  There are some things that we should definitely look at before children get into the classroom so that way on the first day we are ready to rock and start with the routine from day one.

1. Classroom Organization
The very first thing that has to be done is making sure that your classroom is organized in a way that can flow for the students but also having identified centers that the children can plainly see. The centers should be arranged in a way that keeps loud centers away from the quietest and calm centers.
Keeping the classrooms organized physically can make a big difference for your children. If toys are just thrown on the shelf, and they have no order, then children find it difficult to know where things go, that there is no order and their anxiety skyrockets. Even though people do think it, kids really do thrive off of order and routine. If they know where things go and what comes next, they will be more apt to follow the direction of the teacher.

2. Use Child-Friendly labels.
Everything in the classroom should be labeled with a picture and the words of what it is. This is very important for the children to start recognizing where specific things go as well as what they are. If you label the shelf and the item, it will definitely benefit the children as well as your self, so everyone is very clear on where items go. Make the labels big enough for children to see. Making labels that are very small are not age appropriate for children this age.

3. Make it Visual
The children need to see and know what is going on. So the more visual cues and prompts that you can give the better. Make a visual schedule that is large enough for children to see. Utilize pictures of the actual children in your classroom to make these. They can be very simple and plain. You do not want to make them real busy so that it doesn’t overstimulate the children. Make Visual Que cards for transitions and for reminders. Utilize the children in your pictures for rules and for items like who is in class today and who is which center.

4. Plan for all transitions
There are transitions in every classroom. This is something that can not be avoided but can cause some major issues with behaviors in the classroom. It is important that you have a plan for those times and you can make it fun and inviting for the children. Playing games, making chants or songs, or having specific learning activities set up to transition from one thing to another is great. You always want to remember that transitions need to be quick and easy so that children are easily moved from one thing to the next with no disruptions of being engaged. Keeping children engaged will be your best tool. Sometimes you may feel like you are a circus monkey trying to do so many tricks but in the long run, children are learning, and you are having fun with them. Know what you plan on doing at each transition and make sure that your children know what you are doing so that way they are ready to participate.

5. Routine
Routines in a preschool classroom and infant toddler classrooms need to be consistent. The same thing should happen each day at the same time. Now, I’m not saying that you have to be a drill sergeant and that every single second has to be exact. I am saying children need to know and be able to anticipate what the day will entail and what the next steps are. Go over the schedule every day with the children so that way anxiety doesn’t set in and you become overwhelmed with children that are having behavioral issues because of anxiety that sits in.

6. Communication
It is important that you communicate as the teacher not only to your co-teachers and parents but to your children. You have to communicate your expectations. If you verbally tell children what you want them to do and what you will be doing, then it will help them to follow the expectations that you have for the children in your classroom. They can’t do it if you don’t tell them. Not every child has been in a classroom setting before, not every child has been in your classroom before and don’t know what you expect them to do nor do they remember on a daily basis. Go over your expectations throughout the day so that way they can remember.

7. Keep Circle Time Short and Sweet
Circle time is a time that can be great for children to learn, but it is a time that should not be very long or give tons of information. If you see that children are not listening and paying attention, then it’s time for you to get them up and do something else. They are done! This is one of the hardest things for teachers to understand. Children do not listen for long periods of time. Three short circle times that go over important information that means something is better. We make a rule of thumb that the morning circle time is for welcoming the children, seeing who is here, and what we are going to do for the day. The second circle is time for a book and calm time for a transition into nap, and the third circle is at the end of the day to talk about what we have done for the day, what we are going to do tomorrow, and if there is any important information that needs to be given. Learning time is more a small group activity that can be done with just a few children so that more individual time can be given.

8. 25% or less of wall coverage
Children become overstimulated very quickly and easily. Having too much on the walls can be very overwhelming for children. You do not have to cover every inch of wall space. Utilize the walls for important information that you will utilize with your children. If you can’t talk about it, then it doesn’t belong on your walls. Artwork should be present but only if it has been done in the last few weeks or in that month. Anything over that needs to be sent home.

9. Positive vs. Negative
Giving children positive praise and making a big deal about what they are doing right means a lot to children. You would be amazed at the difference it will make in your classroom when you point out in front of the class the positive things that are going on and making a less of a deal about the things that a child is doing wrong. If you do have to talk to a child about a negative aspect then walking over to them in a calm, stern manner and letting them know that the behavior is not appropriate and talking about the situation will help them feel less cornered and be able to work with you more.

10. Love your Job!
You work with children, and this should be fun and enjoying. We as teachers have so much work going on and so many things to do on a daily basis that sometimes we forget what our real job is and that is to help our children learn. Our children learn best through play and learning how to manipulate the materials that they have. We as teachers are to facilitate that play so they can become engaged and intrigued. You can smile and have fun if you allow your self. If you hate children and hate the work that you do then find a different job. We need teachers that will enjoy what they are doing so our children can learn to enjoy their environment.