Classroom management strategies and resources for calm, happy students

There's nothing fun about a classroom that's out of control. It's stressful and unproductive. Thinking about kids running amok reminds of something my husband often says. "Start how you intend to finish!" For me, that means starting the year with strong classroom management strategies in place. Setting the rules at the start of the year means everyone is on the same page. Start planning before you head back to school and be prepared to involve the students in your new grades.

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Ask students to help establish the rules

Young or old, no-one really likes to be told what to do or how to behave. Letting your kids help decide upon the classroom rules is a great way to help them be more accepting of them.

Start by explaining your reason for having rules in your classroom. It helps for students to know how they are beneficial for everyone. Tell them that rules provide clear guidelines about what is and isn’t acceptable. Knowing what you expect helps to prevent problems that can affect everyone.

Prepare yourself prior by deciding on 3-4 main points you must include. Consider the variety of issues that arise during a typical day and make sure you cover them in your list. Explain to students that you’ve started the list but need help deciding on the last few points.

Write your must have rules down for everyone to see and discuss the reasons for having them with your class. Ask students to contribute their thoughts on what else should to include. Write their ideas beside your own list. Start to narrow the student list. Group or delete any that don’t get a majority rule, are similar to another point or you simply can’t allow. You want to arrive at a simple and easy to remember list of around 6 points.

Points to discuss and consider:

  • Being on time
  • The level of noise that is acceptable
  • Being kind and respectful to everyone and their belongings
  • Keeping hands, feet and objects to themselves
  • Listening and not interrupting
  • Using manners and being polite
  • Being prepared when they come to class

You might also like to add a rule that’s more focussed on learning. Try to encourage children to step outside their comfort zone to try something new.

Once you’ve narrowed down your student list, add those points to your own. To sure all points are easy to remember. Have each student copy them down and tape them to their desk or in a notebook for easy reference. You might also like to make a classroom poster.

You’ll also want to think about consequences for not following the rules. This is another area where student input can be valuable. It’s pretty hard to complain about consequences they’ve helped put in place.

Consequences should not be a punishment. They should be a way of teaching the desired behaviour and only apply to the offending student. Never allow one student's actions to affect the entire class.

Suggestions for consequences:

  • Loss of privileges
  • Staying inside at lunch or recess
  • An email or phone call to parents
  • A conversation with the principal
  • A meeting with parents
  • Time out in a peace corner or calm down space
A step by step guide to making mind jars.

Model and encourage kindness 

It’s well documented that kindness is a very powerful value that can completely transform your classroom. Countless studies confirm that it improves social, emotional and mental wellbeing and reduces anti-social and bullying behaviours.

Kindness is one of the least difficult and tedious lessons to teach. If they’re not already used to behaving and speaking kindly, it won’t take long for students to form the habit once they experience the feel-good emotions associated with be kind.

Experiencing is the key to making anything really stick. Just like reading and writing or anything else you want your kids to learn, it must be modelled and practiced regularly. Taking part in good deeds is a sure-fire way to get them addicted to this good old-fashioned value.

Ways to encourage kindness: 

Facilitate regular morning circles 

Circlesallow children to acknowledge, celebrate, explore, offer encouragement or address problems. They provide regular opportunities to practice respect, listen and share appreciations and feelings. Children learn to communicate, discover commonalities, problem solve and adopt positive values and behavior.

Circles can also offer support and healing for children suffering a loss. They can also be effective in addressing difficult or bullying behaviour. Circles can be serious or fun depending on the topic but it's important to keep them structured and to the point.

See how to use them here.

Build community and improve wellbeing in the classroom with circles

Cultivate Connection

When students have a sense of belonging and feel supported they have fewer insecurities about school. Positive relationships with their teacher and peers improves concentration and engagement levels. When kids feel like they’re in control of their learning they’re much less likely to be disruptive.

Ways to create a connection:

  • Use ice-breakers at the start of the day like greeting students at the door with a smile and a high-five. 
  • Schedule one-on-one or small group morning teas with student to get to know them better. This could even be used as a reward for positive behavior.  
  • Encourage students to compliment one another with the “build ‘em up hotseat” activity.
  • Use the circle activity mentioned above.
  • Use encouragement notes.
  • Send positive feedback notes to parents.

There are also a lot of great resources available to help you out in your classroom. Below we've shared some books, lesson plans, printables and more to get you started. If you have an awesome approach that works great for you, please let us know so we can add it here to help others. 


BOOKS

Caring, Sharing & Getting Along Book

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

Ebook
PreK - 1
64

This is a unique and invaluable resource filled with easy-to-read poems. It includes mini-lessons, activities and literature links to teach kids to use polite words, take turns, be fair, listen, solve disputes, respect diversity, and so much more. Written in “real” language to help students identify with the characters and situations. Use it to invoke meaningful discussions about issues kids deal with every day.

From the book Caring, Sharing & Getting Along
From the book Caring, Sharing & Getting Along
From the book Caring, Sharing & Getting Along
From the book Caring, Sharing & Getting Along
From the book Caring, Sharing & Getting Along

Sections include:

  • Getting Together
  • The Best Me I Can Be
  • Manners and Rules
  • Getting Along

Teaching kids to care and cooperate book

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

Ebook
​2 - 4
96

A page from Teaching Kids to Care and Cooperate Ebook
A page from Teaching Kids to Care and Cooperate Ebook
A page from Teaching Kids to Care and Cooperate Ebook

This is a practical resource in ebook format that helps to promote cooperation, respect for others, self-esteem, and literacy with meaningful writing and art activities. The easy and fun ideas for building a positive classroom community including: Autobiographies in a Bag, "Quilt of Many Faces," Class Compliments Book, Collaborative Bill of Rights, Conflict-Resolution T- Chart as well as dozens of other strategies that have been tried and tested by the teacher-authors of this book.


Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

Paperback or Ebook
K - 5
48

Brain breaks for the classroom contents page
A page from Brain Breaks for the Classroom book
A page from Brain Breaks for the Classroom book
A page from Brain Breaks for the Classroom book
A page from Brain Breaks for the Classroom book

This is a practical resource in ebook format that helps to promote cooperation, respect for others, self-esteem, and literacy with meaningful writing and art activities. The easy and fun ideas for building a positive classroom community including: Autobiographies in a Bag, "Quilt of Many Faces," Class Compliments Book, Collaborative Bill of Rights, Conflict-Resolution T- Chart as well as dozens of other strategies that have been tried and tested by the teacher-authors of this book.


RESOURCES

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

downloadable pdf
1 - 6
17

An effective classroom management tool for helping children to recognize and control anger and anxiety.

This social-emotional and mindfulness resource equips students with skills that allow them to manage their emotions to reduce anti-social and bullying behavior.

Anger and anxiety are normal emotions that indicate we’ve been hurt or our needs haven’t been met or alert of dangerous situations by triggering our fight or flight response.

When these emotions cause negative responses, children need strategies for recognizing and managing them to avoid arguments, physical fights or self-harm.

The lessons and activities in this bundle help build emotional intelligence and provide teachers with strategies that help children recognize and regulate disruptive, anti-social and bullying behavior to restore a calm and peaceful classroom.

Managing anxiety and anger a classroom resource
Managing anxiety and anger a classroom resource
Managing anxiety and anger a classroom resource

Includes:
 A printable pdf
 Book recommendations
 7 lessons/activities for managing anger and anxiety
 1 poster
•  4 BONUS coloring pages
 2 BONUS inspirational quotes posters for teachers


Student Encouragement Notes - Kindness, Friendship, Perseverance

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

pdf
K - 6
48

52 encouragement notes to help you recognise and nurture positive values and character traits whilst fostering a growth mindset in your student.

Present children with a note when handing back work you see they have put a lot of effort into or leave one in their book or on their desk when they’re concerned about a new topic or activity.

Receiving a note reinforces that student's efforts are noticed and appreciated to encourage more positive behavior and a willingness to try something new, even if it pushes them out of their comfort zone.

While academics are important, it's just as valuable to reward kind and caring words and actions. Friendship, kindness and inclusion are all traits required to build a supportive tribe and be successful into adulthood.

Notes have been organised into 3 categories to make it easy to find the right words to express your appreciation or sense of pride.

Encouragement & perseverance
 Kindness & caring
Friendship & inclusion

Student Encouragement Notes

Includes:
  Instructions for use
 
52 different designs
• 
 3 colorways
 
Black outlines for printing on colored paper
 
Sorted into 3 categories


Movement Break Cards

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

downloadable pdf
K - 6
26

Students can start to lose concentration if they are working at a desk/activity for a long period of time, so introduce some fun and jazz up your classroom with these fabulous movement breaks to get your students engaged and focused again.

They can be introduced at whatever time interval you deem appropriate - either 10/15 minutes into a work session or first thing in the morning, after break, after lunch etc.

You can either do all the movement breaks at once, or do one every so often throughout the day or even get students to come up the front and choose a movement break as a reward for good working etc.

Many researchers and education specialists have stated that movement breaks and physical activity are a great way to get children re-focused to sit back down for an activity.

Includes:
  26 movement breaks in round toppers - both col. and b/w option
 
Numbers 1-20 in round toppers - b/w
• 
 26 movement breaks in flashcards - both col. and b/w options
 
Numbers 1-20 in flashcards - b/w


Editable positive feedback notes for parents

Editable Positive Feedback Notes for Parents

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

Editable Powerpoint File
K - 6
26

Parents love receiving positive feedback slips highlighting their child’s growth and achievements. Sending notes home to parents helps build trust and opens lines of communication with the teacher.

These teacher reflection notes are a great back to school resource that can also help with behavior management and bullying. Start the year by setting expectations that encourage students to show kindnessrespect and perseverance to nurture a positive and supportive classroom culture.

Editable Microsoft Powerpoint files make it quick and easy to share positive qualities through personalized messages that can be sent in emails to parents or taken home by students.

Simply select a style and color, pop in your photo, type your message and decorate with flowers, hearts, stars, birds and bugs for a beautiful affirmation for students and parents to treasure.

Editable positive feedback notes for parents
Editable positive feedback notes for parents

Includes:
  Instructions for use
 
52 different designs
• 
 3 colorways
 
Black outlines for printing on colored paper


Mindfulness lessons and resources for primary and elementary schools

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

downloadable pdf
K - 6
26

The practice of quietening the mind to bring awareness and attention to the present moment is known as mindfulness. It’s a skill that can be very useful in educational settings as it can help increase concentration and instill a sense of calm.

Practiced regularly, mindfulness helps children to regulate their emotions and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. It can improve their ability to cope with distress by restoring emotional balance when bringing their attention to the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations they’re experiencing in that moment.

Many teachers who use mindfulness report calmer classrooms, more attentive students and more effective learning. Based on adult research, mindfulness is growing in popularity and being used in schools around the world as an effective tool to enhance student and teacher well-being, as well as academic performance.

Mindfulness lessons and resources for primary and elementary schools
Mindfulness lessons and resources for primary and elementary schools
Mindfulness lessons and resources for primary and elementary schools

Includes:
 A printable pdf
 Book recommendations
 7 lessons/activities for managing anger and anxiety
 1 poster
•  4 BONUS coloring pages
 2 BONUS inspirational quotes posters for teachers


Scholastic Job Chart for the Classroom

Format
Grades 
No. of Pages 

​​Pocket Chart
K - 5
1

Full-color photo cards include 10 job cards, 2 blank cards, and 2 title cards (1 blank). Also includes a 2-page activity guide. 

Includes:
  durable nylon pocket chart (26 1⁄2" x 27 1⁄2") with 13 see-through pockets
  10 job cards
  2 blank job cards
  2 title cards (one blank)
  activity guide


Manage your class signs for teachers

This pack of six classroom signs offer a clever way to manage your class. Each sign comes with an easy-to-use 4" wooden handle. The teacher silently raises the appropriate sign to direct the student's to the correct behavior. Each sign measures approximately 8" x 12" (with handle) and is plastic-coated for durability.

Signs included:
  Please Raise Your Hand
  Time to Clean Up
  Who's Got It?
  Please Line Up Quietly
  Quiet!
  Look and Listen


Good behavior tickets

Good Behavior Ticket

​These clever Ticket Awards are padded for easy use. Each award is perforated into two parts. One part is filled out by the teacher and the student takes it home to show parents. The second part is signed by the student and placed in a container for a chance of a prize in a classroom or school-wide drawing! A wonderful way to give positive reinforcement!

Includes:
  ​100 tickets

If you have some other great tips for managing your classroom, we'd love to share it with our readers. Feel free to post them in the comments below or email us

Disclaimer: There are some affiliate links on this site. They help fund our outreach program Nourish Network which supports disadvantaged school families in Melbourne. 

AUTHOR: Lisa Currie - Ripple Kindness Project
Lisa is the founder of Ripple Kindness Project, a community and outreach program, and primary/elementary school curriculum. Passionate about improving well-being and reducing bullying, RIpple developed a whole school, evidence-based SEL, kindness and mindfulness curriculum to build character and emotional intelligence to nurture positive, happy and safe school communities. 

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