Teacher Janelle writes:
“We’re almost halfway through the school year, and my classroom management is out of control. My students do not respect me at all, and it’s not just one or two of them–it’s become the culture of our classroom. The students just do not listen to me. I want to turn things around, but I’m worried it’s too late in the year. What can I do?”
Janelle, we totally get it, and we’re here to say that it’s NEVER too late to get back the respect of your students. Here is some advice from our helpliners on how to start fresh.
Make achievement a group effort! Give “points” to each class for certain things that everyone does well (like following directions or everyone turning in the assignment), and then when the class accumulates a certain number of points, everyone gets a reward, like a homework pass. –Brenda M.
I give tickets to my students (bought from a party supply store). They can redeem them every other Friday. A certain number of points can be cashed in for prizes, like a piece of candy or extra computer time. Sometimes I give 1-2 tickets and other times I pull of a long string of 10-15, especially if I want to change the behavior of other students! Tickets can be earned for good behavior, turning in work, showing respect, appropriate class participation, and so on. – Becky S.
Talk to other teachers about the classroom management strategies they use that work. A lot of it is setting an expectation and following it, and you can do that at any point during the year. It’s just a matter of sticking to it and being consistent. I use a point system and give bonus points for on-task students. – Heather S.
I teach fifth grade and use Class Dojo. I keep a total of their points for the month. Then they get a copy of the “menu” to fill out, choosing how they will spend their points for the month. Only 14 points can be carried over for the next month. The choices range from 15 points to 80. It works well with little effort on my part! – Kate F.
Don’t be afraid of calling parents; they can be your biggest advocate. If you do call a parent for negative behavior, also make sure you call that parent when the child has a good day as well. That will also help get the parents on your side. – Jodi W.
I started using “kindness points,” and every time they show manners, they get a point. If they don’t, I take one away. I keep the points on the board so they can see their progress. If the class gets 20 points in one day, they will get a treat, like extra time at recess. Doing this has really helped curb the negativity and disrespect. – Kathy M.
If students are being loud, my instinct used to be to raise my voice to try to be louder than them. Now, I’ve started doing the opposite–I’ll speak more quietly. This tends to intrigue them, and they’ll start hushing each other so they can hear what I have to say. Try it! – Erin F.
“Fake it ‘til you make it.” Even if you don’t feel like you are in control, act as though you are–cool, calm, collected. The next time you walk into the classroom, convey through your directions, expectations, and the way you carry yourself that anything less than respectful behavior will not be tolerated. Then have a plan for how to enforce those expectations. Avoid getting emotional or angry. – Greg T.
Maybe try having the students begin each class period instead of you beginning it (or beginning the school day, depending on what grade you teach). If you teach English, assign each student a day to bring in a poem to share at the start of class. If you teach math, have a student lead the students through the warm-up math problems. See what happens when the students lead each other as opposed to you having to corral the behavior every day. – Laura E.
Teachers, what other advice do you have for those struggling with classroom management?