By the first day of fourth grade, most students are pretty much old pros at the whole school thing. They know the basic dos and dont’s, how they should behave, and what their teacher expects. Plan to give them a good amount of freedom, but continue to guide them on their respective responsibilities. Here are some of the best teacher-tested ideas for fourth grade classroom management.
1. Teach values, not rules
Fourth graders know what they should and shouldn’t do in a classroom, but it’s still good to establish your expectations at the beginning of the year. Guide them through a discussion to establish a set of class values, and ask everyone to agree and sign their name to them. This is a terrific way to give kids a feeling of ownership right from the start.
Learn more: Building Brilliance
2. Practice the 7 Habits
Try making the 7 Habits part of your fourth grade classroom management system. Read Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, and talk as a class about how you can all apply those habits every day. Many schools have tried this system, and they’re finding these simple ideas give kids the tools they need to be successful learners and citizens.
Learn more: Perry’s Primary Paradise/Instagram
3. Post a Focus Wall
Kids tend to be more focused and ready to learn when they know what’s coming. Post and update your Focus Wall each week to let students know the topics you’ll be covering, and what they’ll be expected to learn and do. This is a good way to keep yourself on track with standards and objectives too.
Learn more: Ashleigh’s Education Journey
4. Establish a morning routine
Though flexibility is important, your fourth grade classroom management plan should include lots of regular routines. Calm the morning madness by having kids follow the same steps each day when they come into school. This will vary based on your own school set-up, of course, but make sure your routine includes time for kids to put away their belongings, hit the restroom, check themselves in for attendance/lunch count, and turn in any work or parent notes. If kids can handle these things on their own, it gives you time to deal with the inevitable last-minute stuff.
Learn more: Young Teacher Love
5. Use an end-of-day routine too
Don’t get caught out by the bell at the end of the day. Instead, plan a routine that includes time to wrap up, clean up, and talk over what kids learned and did that day. (Find more ways to calm the end-of-day chaos here.)
Learn more: Adrienne Teaches/End-of-Day Routine
6. Let others know where you are
Sometimes it seems like you spend half the school day going from one place to another, right? Use a simple sign to let others know where your class is throughout the day. Changing the pointer makes an excellent classroom job.
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7. Simplify your classroom jobs
Speaking of classroom jobs, you’ll definitely want to have some as part of your fourth grade classroom management system. But there’s no need to complicate things. Create a few basic jobs with multiple responsibilities, and change them up regularly. We love this system that uses Experts and Apprentices so kids can train each other on the duties of each position.
Learn more: Crockett’s Classroom
8. Work toward weekly rewards
Behavior management is a big part of any fourth grade classroom management system. Giving your whole class goals to work towards together fosters a sense of community and teamwork. Make your rewards effective by asking kids what they’d like to earn; that gives them increased incentive to behave.
Learn more: The Animated Teacher
9. Try a credit/debit system
It’s important to reward individual behavior too. A classroom economy system takes a little work, but it can teach kids a lot of real-life money skills. If that’s more than you can handle, give brag tags a try instead. And don’t forget the power of a simple hand-written note to make a student’s day a little brighter.
Learn more: Tanya Yero Teaching
10. Help students self-assess
By fourth grade, students should be starting to assess their own behavior. Try using a basic assessment at the end of the day on Friday. Send it home for a signature over the weekend, and bring it out Monday morning to help kids decide what they want to focus on improving during the week ahead.
Learn more: Notes From the Portable
11. Keep unfinished work organized
One key to fourth grade classroom management is deciding how you’ll manage unfinished work. This clipboard system is simple; just have kids add their unfinished assignments to the boards. When they’re done with another activity early, they can pull out their boards to finish up any leftover work.
Learn more: Adrienne Teaches/Managing Unfinished Work
12. Save your voice with a doorbell
In the last few years, teachers have discovered the magic of wireless doorbells, and they’ve been singing their praises ever since. Use them for transitions, to signal the end of individual or group work, and so much more. Get all the tips and tricks for using a wireless doorbell in your classroom here.
13. Help them when they struggle
Fourth graders are definitely too old for time outs, but they still need a safe place to cool off sometimes. Calm Down Corners have become a popular tool; provide some fidget toys, calming books, and suggestions for how to overcome their current mood. You can send them there as needed, or let them choose to spend a few minutes there when they’re struggling.
Learn more: Rocky Mountain Classroom/Instagram
14. Send home a Friday note
Your fourth grade classroom management plan needs to include regular communication with parents. Make things easy with a simple Friday letter you can send home in person or via email. Keep parents in the loop for the week ahead, and provide feedback on their student’s progress that week.
Learn more: Traci Clausen
15. Keep a parent communication log
Experienced teachers recommend keeping a log of all personalized communication you have with parents. Set one up for emails, calls, meetings, and other contacts, and be sure to note the details and any parent response. These notes may come in handy if you need to answer questions from your administration about patterns of behavior.
Learn more: Teacher Karma
Get more fourth grade classroom management inspiration with these 50 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Teaching Fourth Grade.
Plus, the Ultimate Checklist for Setting Up Your Fourth Grade Classroom.