Fifth grade is often the last year of elementary school for many kids, and they definitely know the ropes. In fact, they’re often looked on to be leaders for the rest of the school. They’re pretty independent and ready for lots of responsibility, so plan your fifth grade classroom management strategy to give them autonomy while still guiding them on the path to good choices. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for fifth grade classroom management.
1. Build classroom expectations together
Give your fifth graders a sense of trust and ownership by spending time the first day talking about what an effective classroom looks like. By this age, they not only know what teachers expect of them—they’ve also developed some expectations of their teachers. Find out what they’re looking for so you can help provide it during the year ahead.
Learn more: Proud to Be Primary
2. Use a class agreement instead of rules
Once you’ve talked about your expectations, establish a class agreement together instead of just laying down the rules. Keep it simple and work towards values like respect, responsibility, and enthusiasm. All students should sign the agreement, and you should too. This is your promise to each other for a successful year of learning and fun.
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3. Give students a private way to communicate with you
Make good teacher-student communication a vital part of your fifth grade classroom management strategy. The “I Wish My Teacher Knew” Jar is a really cool way to do this. Early in the school year, introduce the jar, and ask all students to write down something they wish their teacher knew about them on a sticky note and drop it in. Then, leave the jar out throughout the year. Let kids know they can drop in a note whenever they have something to share, and check it regularly.
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4. Establish routines for independence
Fifth graders don’t need to be walked through every step of the school day. Instead, let them know what needs to be done and let them complete those things on their own. Many teachers use a morning message and routine to give students time to take care of all the stuff that pops up at the start of the day. Kids can come in, settle their stuff, and start work on their own. They’ll feel trusted, and you’ll have a few minutes to finish your coffee and be ready to tackle the day ahead.
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5. Try collaborative team classroom jobs
The learning benefits of classroom jobs make them a key part of fifth grade classroom management. Kids gain so much from having assigned duties and being able to meet (or exceed) expectations. For fifth graders, move away from detailed jobs like Line Leader or Pencil Sharpener. Instead, break your jobs into broader groups, and assign a few students to each team. They can decide on their own who will handle individual tasks. It’s a learning experience, but one that’s so worthwhile.
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6. Set up a supply station
Set aside a corner and make supplies readily available to your students. This way, they can get what they need while they’re working independently. Make keeping the station tidy and letting you know when supplies are low one of the duties you assign to a job team.
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7. Simplify your hall pass system
Another good way to extend a little independence to your fifth graders is in how you issue hall passes. Try a system where they don’t need to ask you; simply have them indicate where they’ve gone. One fun way comes from Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris; she has students tap a light to indicate they’ve gone to the restroom. If the light is already on, students know they need to wait until someone has returned. As for the hall passes themselves? These labeled bottles of hand sanitizer are pure genius.
8. Establish rules for technology use
Don’t forget technology when you’re building your fifth grade classroom management plan. Most kids have been using tech like tablets, computers, and phones pretty regularly by now. That doesn’t mean they don’t need some classroom guidelines, though. Set some rules to help kids respect and care for these pricey pieces of equipment so they’ll last for years.
Learning more: Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris
9. Encourage self-assessment
Take your turn-in bin to the next level by asking students to self-assess when they drop off their work. (If you’re worried about privacy, use a set of drawers instead of open bins.) This will allow you to focus on kids who feel like they’re struggling, and also give you a better idea of kids’ confidence levels.
Learn more: Tales From a Very Busy Teacher/Instagram
10. Set up student mailboxes
Even in this increasingly “paperless” world, elementary teachers still seem inundated with worksheets, flyers, newsletters, notes, and handouts. Save time (and your sanity) with a mailbox system. Kids can drop off anything they have for you on top, and pick up their own papers from their box daily.
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11. Work toward a class goal
Older kids shouldn’t need as many rewards to behave well in the classroom, but you’ll still want to work them in from time to time. Group rewards are a way to build a sense of community and teamwork. We love this simple option where sticky notes with stated goals cover a group reward. Simply remove a note each time they meet a goal, and when all the notes are gone, your class earns the reward hidden beneath.
Learn more: Teaching on the GC/Instagram
12. Use Class Dojo for individual rewards
If you’re not already using Class Dojo for personal rewards with your students, now’s the time to check it out. Kids earn points they can use for whatever rewards you designate, and the system keeps track of everything for you. Parents can check on their students’ progress too. Many teachers say these are real motivators in their classroom.
Learn more: Hanging With Mrs. Hulsey
13. Save your voice for teaching
All classrooms get a little noisy from time to time, but yelling really doesn’t help. Instead, try a classroom doorbell. It’s bound to become one of your favorite fifth grade classroom management tricks. Noise monitoring apps are fun, too. They do the work of monitoring the class volume level for you and then offer feedback in a variety of ways.
14. Make grades meaningful
Fifth graders are usually receiving letter grades in all subjects, but do they really know what those letters mean? We love this anchor chart that helps kids interpret their scores as more than just letters or numbers.
Learn more: Teacher Trap
15. Keep a parent communication log
All teachers should keep a log of their personal communication with parents. These logs may come in handy if your administration has questions or if you need to document a pattern of behavior. Get an easy-to-use free printable log at the link.
Learn more: A Teachable Teacher
Need more fifth grade classroom management inspiration? Check out these 50 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Teaching Fifth Grade.