By: Alexis Gomez

Most teachers know and have experienced the symptoms of a classroom in desperate need of a makeover. It can happen at any time of the year—increasing noise levels, the class struggling to listen, students constantly out of their seats, incomplete work, and frequently sending kids to the office. However, turning your classroom around is more than possible. It just takes intentional planning, time, reflection, and consistency.

Consider the following tips to map out a plan for an effective classroom management makeover.

  • Set the environment. Before students come into class in the morning, try moving their desks. This will grab their attention and give them a hint that things are changing.
  • Have a classroom meeting. Talk to students about your observations and concerns. You might mention, for example, that you’ve noticed lots of talking or students out of their seats during independent reading time. Consider letting students share their feelings about these concerns and write them down. Chances are, you aren’t alone in your observations, and other students may feel bothered by these distractions too.
  • Collaborate and execute the plan. In your planning sheet or document, consider adding some of your students’ suggestions. After all, this is their learning environment too, and being able to contribute to the classroom’s improvement could make them more motivated to work with you. Afterward, explain the plan to your students and what the new expectations are.
  • Reward success. Try using a class-wide incentive such as a marble jar. When the class is executing the new classroom rules well, put a marble in the jar. Let your students know that when the jar is full, they can have a few extra minutes of recess, for example, or even a pizza party. Using frequent verbal affirmations can also go a long way.
  • Follow up and be consistent. Your leadership is always the most important driving force for students. Being consistent in your expectations and affirmations will yield the best classroom management results.

As you and your students adapt to the classroom routines, reflect on the differences you’ve noticed. Sometimes shifts happen immediately and sometimes they happen gradually. Note what is working and what could perhaps use additional improvement. Either way, give yourself credit for the work and consistency you are putting in!

Also, give credit to the students who are demonstrating positive behavior. Saying “thank you” to or pointing out the students that do listen attentively, are doing their work, and do follow directions can make an even greater difference in the classroom. Ultimately, when you find classroom management strategies that work best for you and your students, tackling issues in the classroom becomes easier in following years.