Listen, classroom management is hard. It’s one of those things that changes from day to day and year to year. We never perfect it, but it can make or break our classrooms. And yet, I don’t remember a college class that taught me anything about classroom management behavior systems! It’s also something I get asked about more than anything. So, let’s address some of those most asked questions about our classroom management behavior systems.
Question 1: How do you get your students to be perfect?!
Since we open our classroom to the world through video and live broadcasts, people always complimented my students on their behavior. I always get asked my secret to their perfect behavior. Well, I am here to tell you that our behavior is imperfect. Our classroom is not perfect. I am not perfect. We have great days and not-so-great days. We have days where we’re on point with every routine and procedure and days where we can’t remember how to do anything. What you see in our videos and live broadcasts is real life. The students aren’t coached. 95% of the time, my kids aren’t even aware that we’re live or being recorded! Rest assured, things go great and bonkers in my classroom, just like every classroom in the world. And when they go crazy, we regroup and keep moving along.
I also want to address this: classroom management is a lot of work. When you see my class or any class walking nicely in the hallways, or a classroom that is running smoothly, that’s not luck. That is work. And effort. From day 1. Every day. None of that just happens.
Question 2: What is your behavior management system?
That answer is simple: I don’t have one. That’s right. I don’t adhere to a single “system” for behavior management. My classroom management behavior systems are centered on three things: relationships, expectations, and procedures. In the past, a clip chart was our system. And it worked. But we learned to do better, and we did better. We removed the clip chart years ago, and things are better without it.
Classroom Management Behavior Systems: Let’s talk about relationships:
Relationships are the foundation of classroom management. Period. When our students know we love them and respect them, they will be more likely to do what we ask. When we invest time bonding with students and building relationships, our students will likely want to follow the rules and procedures. And when they stumble, the consequences will be more meaningful and impactful because they won’t want to disappoint us. So, my number 1 tip for classroom management is to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS. Eat lunch with your kids. Play with them at recess. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Incorporate morning meetings in your classroom. Invest in relationships, and you’ll gain that time back tenfold.
But this is important to say: relationships aren’t a cure-all. Relationships don’t solve all problems. Relationships are a key piece of the puzzle, but they are not the only piece of the puzzle. And Relationships are not the single answer. There is MUCH MORE to classroom management.
So let’s talk procedures…
This one is pretty simple: If you want your students to do something independently, teach them exactly how you want it done. Practice the routines and procedures. And then practice some more. Do you want them to put their jackets on the hook in the cubby? Teach them how to do that. Do you want them to put the broken pencils in one jar and the sharp ones in the other? Teach them how.
Also, don’t let them do a procedure wrong. Stop if students know a procedure and don’t do it correctly. Discuss it. Model the correct way and do it again. Ya’ll, I’m not afraid to turn around in the hallway and go back to the room if we aren’t hallway-perfect. It’s ok. That consistency is key.
Classroom Management Behavior Systems: The List Of Procedures
Sit down and mentally walk through your entire day as if you were a student. Start from the moment you enter the door. Make a list of everything you want them to do on their own. That’s the list of procedures you need to teach. Yes, it is A LOT. Yes, it is an investment of time. But you get that time back tenfold (or more) over the course of the school year. Don’t slack on this, ya’ll. Trust me. I can tell you the years I’ve slacked on this and the years I haven’t. The years I slacked off were hard.
Classroom Management Behavior Systems: Expectations:
Wherever we set the bar for our students, that’s where they will reach. If we set the bar high, they will soar high. If we set the bar low, they will suffer. Walk into our classroom and ask my students what’s expected of them; it’s simple: BE THE BEST. Period. Everything we do, everywhere we go, and all that we do. Be. The. Best. That’s a high expectation. And that’s what we strive for each day. Do we always make it? Of course not. We’re five years old, and we’re human. We learn from those days, and we start the next day aiming high!
Question 3: How do you handle behavior issues?
First, remember, not everything has to be an episode. I tend to:
Not every behavior issue requires our attention. Nor is every issue worthy of interrupting a lesson or activity. Choose your battles. Use your body. I can mosey over near a student who isn’t making a good choice, and BAM, it’s fixed. And we all know that teacher look is powerful. Powerful. Just that look.
And why are those simple actions so effective? Refer back to question 2: RELATIONSHIPS! They don’t want to disappoint you, and they don’t want to disappoint themselves. Sometimes, things do require our attention. We use “take a break” in our classroom. Students sit there for 1-2 minutes, calm down, and think about what they need to fix, and they return.
Classroom Management Behavior Systems: The Importance Of Talking
Another tool I use is talking. When a student is having an issue, we talk about it. Ask them what they’re doing and why they’re doing it… if we can get some information, we can often fix the issue. Unfortunately, sometimes the behavior is dangerous or disruptive. So, don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements. Use your administration and behavior specialists for help. Another sometimes overlooked tool is your exceptional education or special education team. They are truly experts in behavior and supporting students. If I struggle with a particular student, I ask one of our special education teachers to observe and give me feedback and suggestions! And involve the families. Build that bridge to home, so if you need assistance, it’s there.
And document everything. Everything.
Question 4: How do you use your trampoline as a classroom management tool?
We have a trampoline in our classroom! Thanks to Bonnie Kathryn at Bonnie Kathryn Teaching for the amazing idea! I purchased a mini trampoline on Amazon for about $30. Our trampoline is used as a behavior incentive. When someone does something that we want to praise or celebrate, they get to bounce! I might say, “Fred, great job reading those words! Bounce” Or “I love how hard you worked on that addition, Betty! Bounce” Or, “That was so nice of you to help your friend clean up! Go bounce”
This rug is from Alive Studios: http://bit.ly/RugsAliveTKS. The kids also get to bounce into the classroom when they arrive, and everyone bounces during our end-of-the-day dance party!
The rules for the trampoline are simple: you are only allowed to bounce when Mr. Greg permits you. If someone bounces on the trampoline without permission, it immediately gets put away for the day. This is a powerful deterrent to kids bouncing when they feel like it. Set the rules and adhere to them. The trampoline gets taken away 3-4 times in a typical school year.
Classroom Management Behavior Systems: Trampoline Questions Answered
1. No, I did not get permission.
2. No, I did not get liability releases signed.
3. Yes, they fall. They’re 5. They fall out of chairs. Randomly. They fall. And get up. And bounce some more. True story. One year, a little girl was bouncing and hit the edge of the trampoline. She fell. The trampoline flipped over on her. She stood up, flipped the trampoline over, and kept on bouncing. (See, not everything has to be an episode. LET IT GO!)
And yes. It’s safe. The trampoline is placed in a location so they don’t hit anything if they fall. It’s as safe as our playground equipment, the scooters, and the rock wall in the gym. It is a classroom management tool and flexible seating because I allow our “boss of the day” to sit on it throughout the day. Only the boss of the day is allowed to sit on it, and they know my expectations, which include no jumping while sitting if they would like to remain the boss of the day.
Question 5: Where do they sit?
You’ll notice we don’t have tables & chairs in our classroom. This is also an important piece of my classroom management. Students need CHOICE AND VOICE in THEIR CLASSROOM AND THEIR LEARNING! Having no tables and desks gives them a choice in where they do their work and how they do it. Choice and voice empower our students; when we empower them, we have buy-in. Buy-in can make classroom management easier.
Question 6: What’s the doorbell noise I hear in your videos?
It’s a doorbell. We use a wireless doorbell as our attention signal. When the doorbell rings, students know to stop, be quiet, and look at me. No clapping, no call and response, just a doorbell chime, and I have their attention.