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In high school I decided that I wanted to become a teacher. And after college, I was able to teach my favorite grade – 5th grade! I loved those years and enjoyed coming in to see the students each day.
But with any of the middle grades, there is drama. I spent many recesses having conversations with students trying to mediate the relationships and friendships that were constantly being tested. And sometimes, really a lot of times, these conflicts would not stay confined to the playground and would affect the classroom.
Classroom management is probably the biggest challenge teachers face and causes the biggest headache. But, I did find three tips that I used which really improved our year. These tips all involved encouraging the students to be kinder to each other – and they worked!
BONUS: And as a “Thank You” for checking out Project Stella Resources, we want to give you a Bonus! Download our editable version of the Consequence Worksheet to help your students reflect on Classroom Expectations. This was a game-changer in my classroom and improved overall behavior. Students became a willing and active participant of our classroom management.
New to Project Stella Resources? I have the following blog posts to provide more Professional Development so you feel confident that you are making a difference in the lives of your students and staff.
And if you like these, let Project Stella Resources provide professional development and training for your school or organization. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Classroom Management Tip One: A Simple “Thank You”
Okay. I know. You may be thinking that this tip is too simple – but it works (I’ve even used it with high school and college students). Whenever my class would start getting a little rowdy, I would see one student who was sitting quietly or following instructions and say, “Thank you Hannah.” Then, looking at another student, I would say, “Thank you Scott”. This continued on and on until just about every student (and most of the time, all the students) were thanked.
I never had to raise my voice and it caught the classes attention. By modeling this, I had students who also started thanking other students during presentations and group work.
Similar to this, I had a practice in my class that if a student did not meet an expectation whenever we had guest instructors or specials, he or she had to write an apology note. But, they could not just say, “I’m sorry.” I also asked that they write something in the letter that they were thankful for. Some of the responses were a little creative, but it did get the students to think about the other person and how he or she might feel.
Classroom Management Tip Two: Weekly Nominations
In my classroom, I started a recognition program called, “The Golden Apple.” Students were awarded for positive behavior and able to move through nine levels during the semester to earn the “Golden Apple” award.
An important part of the program was that students each week wrote a nomination of someone that was encouraging or kind to them that week. They were not allowed to pick the same person from the previous week and were strongly encouraged to pick someone they had not nominated before. I collected the nominations every week and then would pick someone to read about. I also typed up all the responses so at the end of the semester the students received a note of all the kind things they did.
With the “Golden Apple” award the focus in the class shifted to positive and encouraging behavior. Acts of kindness did not go unnoticed and students were thinking about what they could do to help each other.
Classroom Management Tip Three: Positive Reads
For me, the highlight of each day was when we finished our work and had some “downtime” that I could read a chapter book out loud. Even with fifth grade students who could read on their own, they liked this time that they could put their heads on their desks or doodle while I read to them.
I was always very intentional about the books I picked. It was important to me to pick books that dealt with issues my students were facing but had a positive message. (I really wish Wonder was out when I taught).
If you teach children in the lower grades, I also recommend a couple of books in my post “50 Books your Child should read before turning 8, part three – Books about Kindness”
If you liked these tips and want to use them for classroom management, check out my post:
Make sure to grab the BONUS: And as a “Thank You” for checking out Project Stella Resources, we want to give you a Bonus! Download our editable version of the Consequence Worksheet to help your students reflect on Classroom Expectations. This was a game-changer in my classroom and improved overall behavior. Students became a willing and active participant of our classroom management.
Through the Schools that R.O.C.K. program, I support teachers and schools across the country by reminding educators about the feeling they had when they first entered the classroom. The desire was there to make a positive impact on the lives of each student. Unfortunately policies, lack of support, and classroom management frustrations make so many teachers ask, “do I have what it takes?”.
BUT… YOU DO! And I am here to be your cheerleader and remind you of the difference you make every single day.