Classroom Management for Elementary School
In elementary school, most teachers would agree that the teaching is the easy part. In-depth knowledge of the curriculum, creative lesson plans, formative and summative assessments, no problem!
Instructing might be easy, but not when there’s chaos in the classroom. And learning is never easy (no matter how good your teaching is), if the environment isn’t conducive.
Some days, as an elementary school teacher, you might feel as if you spend more time managing your students than you do teaching them. You tell students to use their “inside voice,” but might be on the verge of shouting yourself. You ask kids to be positive, but can sometimes devolve into negative thoughts or behavior yourself.
Let’s look at effective classroom management strategies that can make teaching easier for you, and learning easier for your students.
Set Classroom Rules
From Day One, you should set classroom rules for everyone to follow. Depending on the age of your students, you might want to write the top 3-5 rules on the board. These can be rules of behavior that everyone will abide by throughout the school year, rules for a specific lesson, or rules for group activities. Rules help set expectations, which, in turn, empowers students and encourages them to take responsibility. Whatever rules or procedures you set for your classroom, you need to enforce them fairly and consistently. If you don’t, you dilute the effectiveness of the rules and risk alienating students.
Avoid Power Struggles
In elementary school, children are at an age when they’re often testing boundaries. It’s important to avoid power struggles with them. If you have to remonstrate or discipline a student, try to do it privately. Talk to the student after class, or if need be, in the hallway. Private discussions can help defuse the situation. You avoid “shaming” students in front of their peers, and you take away their audience.
Stay Calm…and Positive
In all of your interactions with elementary school students – individually, with groups, and with the entire classroom – you have to stay calm, no matter how you’re feeling inside. Don’t let the misbehaviors of a single student or a few students rattle you and impact how you treat the group. When you need to correct behavior, take care to do it with positive language. In a positive light, “stop talking while other students are talking” becomes “let’s be respectful and listen to each other.”
It’s always better to have parents on your side than against you or disengaged. Presumably, you and the parents have the students’ best interests at heart, but you might not always agree on how to handle specific situations. If, however, you can engage parents early and often, you’re more likely to address potential issues as allies, rather than adversaries. It might seem counterintuitive, but parents who never step foot in the classroom can nonetheless dramatically influence behavior management in the classroom.
Education 4 Equity Online Professional Development Courses
At Education 4 Equity, we have a wide range of online professional development courses for teachers, including Classroom Management: Restorative Justice In Action. We have 1-credit, 2-credit, and 3-credit online courses for teachers that qualify for graduate level credit and have been approved for LAUSD salary points through the Los Angeles Unified School District.