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9 Simple Classroom Control Techniques From A 19 Year Veteran Teacher

Nov 22, 2007
First, Pretend your deaf. I know this sounds funny, but oh it works like a charm most of the time. You start to use your hands and point, and you barely whisper, and so on! Teachers, you'll be amazed how much you can communicate and it's 100% engaging, versus verbal directions. I use this at assemblies, I use it in the classroom, and I use it on field trips big time!

When a student is on task I give them a non verbal thumbs up, smile at them, or simply "lip" the words to them, without actually saying the words. They are so engaged in it, that it makes them want to do the very thing you're asking of them asap! Plus, if you're using it as a reinforcer, it is quick, simple, and they love it!

2-Have a Friday Award and points system in place. Here's how I work this one. I went to Wal-Mart. Maybe you can do the same, and I found these big six inch by ten inch numbers. They were actually used to price items. Well, I conjured up the guts to ask the manager for a few of them. He happily gave them to me. Anyhow, what I do is put those big numbers on the chalkboard, or on top of the chalkboard on Monday. Then everyday, every hour, every minute, I'm constantly looking for good behavior, so I, or a designated quiet student, can change those numbers to go higher and higher.

When the kids reach the number 30, they get 30 minutes of FREE time on Friday. This works well while your teaching because it only takes a second to say: "How many points do we have, how many more do we need for free time?" And the kids are constantly working to get those 30 points! And as a good teacher, I follow through on the positive and the negative reinforcement. If they don't get the 30 points, there is no FREE time, and if they do get it, they absolutely get the FREE time.

3-Have a Friday present ready every Week. What I mean by this is something my Grandpa taught me. "Good behavior deserves good rewards." My grandpa used to traffic the thrift stores, and before his going home to heaven, he would save a bunch of toys for me to put into a treasure chest. The first year I started using his toys, I had one of the best classes of my nineteen year teaching career!

I simply put the box in front of the class, near my desk, and once in a while, I'd pull out a firetruck, an Elmo, a Scooby Doo Figure, some Hot Wheels, and an occasional wind up dinosaur, and the kids would freak out over it! They loved to see what was in the chest. Well, if the class is good as a whole, everyone, and I mean everyone, even the kids who have been bad, get to choose one present. Why? Because we are a family. But, the same holds true if the kids misbehave, no one gets a toy. See how this might impact your class? The kids don't want to lose their toys! Try it, you'll definitely like this one!

4-If a child breaks a major rule make sure you give them a major consequence. In other words, if a child hits someone, or defies you, send them to the principal. Nothing is worse than for the kids to see you let a serious offense just slide by. On the other hand, nothing is better than for the kids to see you follow through and lovingly send a child to the office. Lovingly is the key. When I first started teaching I thought tough tones were the best. Over the years, I simply get quieter and treat them like a "nice police officer" explaining at a whisper how they need to go on up to speak to the principal and I'm so sorry that they made that choice."

5-When you have to call a parent about behavior, put the child on the phone first, before you get on the phone with the parent. I used this both as an Assistant Principal and as a Veteran Teacher. What this does is a couple of things. Number one, when they get on the phone with mom and dad, 99% of the time kids are honest (there are the 1% who lie) and they immediately start crying as I have them explain the rules they broke, by themselves, (after a brief meeting with me discussing why they are making the call) of course. So again, if you put them on the phone first, you eliminate any and all confusion as to why their child is in trouble.

6-Be constantly positive. This is easier said than done in an era where kids are not being trained to obey adults, have very little manners, and many have been raised by T.V. and P.S.P. When I say be constantly positive here are the specifics. Use positive techniques prior to negative ones. In other words, say things like: "Who's paying attention? Who's watching me? Who has hands and feet to themselves?" Instead of: "Johnny pay attention and stop hitting Kelly!"

Simply put, positive works 99% of the time, whereas negative maybe about 50%. I'm amazed at how little negative reinforcement actually works these days. Anyhow, Positive words, encouragement, and positive actions work 99% of the time. I give out stickers, I love to say: "Wow, Amber is on a roll" when they start to answer questions correctly over and over. Our school also has a "Good News" postcard that we fill out as teachers when their reading level or behavior improves! The kids love getting the postcard!

7-Be Prepared as a Teacher. Be ready to teach. I probably should have put this one number one. Good teaching keeps the attention of your students and your teaching should be innovative, engaging, fun, and animated. Find the activities in the Teacher Texts that engage all learners including your English Learners. Use all of the group activities that are fun, use the extension activities, and projects. Every textbook is filled with fun activities than can be done with the kids, but although I question why, I've noticed many teachers are more concerned with just teaching them the material.

But, as you may realize, giving them useful practice, takes them beyond! For example, I had three of my students with blue shirts and one with a white shirt come up to the front of the class to illustrate the "which one doesn't belong" math concept. Quickly the students said the "one with the white shirt!" I cannot remember one child who was playing around during that lesson.

Good teachers arrive to school early and leave late. I know that sounds basic, but it's so true. By leaving late, I don't mean staying on the school grounds until 5 or 6pm though. Some principals have gone crazy with this one!

I mean arriving to work 30-60 minutes early to prepare, and in addition, planning with your grade level team, instead of planning by yourself, during your one hour of prep time per week. Also, it may mean staying after school for an additional 30-60 minutes per day as well! Remember the 30-60 rule!

8- Use happy face and sad faces on the board. Simply draw a happy face and a sad face and start putting names on the board. Call me old fashioned if you like, but one of my most skilled mentors utilizes this old method, and to this day, she is still one of the best teachers ever. This is so simple and so powerful and if you do it quickly it won't interrupt your teaching. It works so well when the class starts to get unruly as well, because you simply take your Expo marker and start writing names of those behaving, without saying anything at all, and it really gets their attention.

9-You've got to have a good signal. One that you like as well as the students. In our class I sing: "Dat, dat, a, dat, dat." And then the class responds: "Dat Dat!" It's to the same tune you hear at the baseball and basketball games, and it's very effective! For many years I tried other teachers' signals and they didn't work for me. Simon says works great for elementary students if you do it while your teaching as well. I.E., "Simon says, eyes forward, hands folded, watching me."

Another signal I use that works every time like a charm is: "These are the students who are NOT watching me, not paying attention, not looking at me, then when I have everybody's attention, I simply say: "Nobody." But if I have one or two talking it gets them every time because they don't want their name said aloud to the rest of the class. The key hear is to really praise them when you notice that now everyone has looked at you, and how that pleases you as a teacher, and ultimately enhances their learning too!

Lastly, remember, you touch the future, you teach! Never forget that. You are quite probably the most important person in this child's life for the year you have them and your impact will benefit them for the rest of their natural life!
About the Author
Don Alexander is owner of leading-online-business.com
and writes on a variety of subjects. To learn more
about this topic Don recommends you visit http://www.leading-online-business.com
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