I love trying out new classroom management ideas mid-year. Sometimes my students just need a change because they’re getting antsy for a break from school or the current system just feels a little stale. Are you looking to try out some new management strategies? Keep reading for 5 new classroom management ideas!
Play Beat the Teacher
This is something I always did with my first graders. We would play ‘beat the teacher’ for a specific reward. I always include my students in the decision for what the reward will be. This strategy is super simple and very effective in my experience.
Here’s how it works:
You’ll need two jars or clear containers. You could even use clear plastic cups! You’ll also need a lot of beans, counters, beads, math cubes, mini erasers, or some other visual item that will be placed in each jar. You and your students will discuss a desired behavior that will earn them ‘points.’ When you see students or a student exhibiting that behavior, the class earns a point. You’ll place your visual item in their jar or container. When you see students not exhibiting the desired behavior, the teacher earns a point.
If you prefer for your students to have a more easy-to-count visual, use ten frames or tally marks to keep track of points!
Sometimes I will even ask a student to watch the class for a set period of time and then they determine who has earned the point. They are almost always very honest about who should get it!
I got these magnetic ten frames and counters from Scholastic, but you can find a similar version on Amazon!
If you want to use a system that’s even more simple, write class and teacher on the white board and then draw tally marks to keep track.
Use Smelly Smiles
If you have Mr. Sketch markers in your classroom, this is a really simple management trick! I reiterate my expectations of my class and tell students that when I see these leaders in my classroom they would *quietly* receive a smelly smile from me on the back of their hand or as a dot on one of their fingers. I never make a big deal when I give them out so it’s a private thing between the student and me.
I also always give my students the option to get a sticker instead because I know not all of them want marker on their finger. My students have fun smelling their hands to see which scent they received!
If you like, you could even add a reward for students that receive smells on all five of their fingers! So many incentives could work with this strategy.
Try Choosing a Secret Student
Secret student is something I’ve been doing with my first graders for a long time. This is another simple management trick that can be used in the short term or for an extended period of time.
Here’s how it works:
You print the secret student card and tape it to the whiteboard. Beneath the card, you’ll write the name of a random student, and that student will be the secret student. To keep it truly random, I’ll even pick a stick to determine the secret student. This was effective because I could carry the stick (covering the name) and hold it up as a reminder that the secret student is being watched.
After some time, I’ll reveal whether or not the secret student has earned their reward. If the student did not earn the reward, I never reveal their name. If the student did earn it, I pull the secret student card off of the board to reveal the name of the student. You can then give the student the predetermined reward. In the beginning days of my teaching, that student would earn a Skittle. As I moved to use my punch card system, they earned one punch on their card.
Utilize Partner Work
I often have students complete partner work. My students always want to choose their partners, but this often leads to behavior management issues. Usually I assign partners, but this can get old quickly. Occasionally, I’ll use partner cards to make pairs with my students.
Each student has a card with a food item on it. They have to find their match to meet their partner. You can pair them up ahead of time by pre-planning who will get each card. Otherwise, distribute them at random and wait for students to find their match!
There are also cards for a group of three to match if you have an odd number of students.
Create a Command Center
One management strategy that I incorporated last year that I loved was a command center. If you have students that are coming and going frequently, such as students being pulled out to work with other teachers, it can feel frustrating to keep track of where your students are.
The command center makes this easy! Students will move their numbered magnet in the morning when they make their lunch choice and then again if they leave the room.
I ask students to use the magnets for their lunch choice because it helps me quickly take attendance in the morning. Additionally, if two students are in the restroom, my class knows not to ask to use the bathroom because they can easily see that two magnets are already in the bathroom section.
If you have students that sit far away from the command center, you could also incorporate these Dollar Tree lights or these from Amazon! Students will turn them on when they are in the bathroom. This makes it even easier for students to see whether they may ask to use the restroom or not.
Looking for more management ideas?
I hope these classroom management ideas are helpful for your classroom. If you enjoy using them, I’d love to hear about it!
Hi, I’m Libby!
I’m so happy you’re here! I love all things first grade – the curriculum, the content, and the sweet kiddos. I’m passionate about helping K-2 teachers save time in the classroom with fresh ideas and fun, engaging resources.