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4 Classroom Management Strategies & Resources for Calm, Happy Students

Picture Of A Boy And Girl At School With The Caption: &Quot;4 Classroom Management Strategies And Resources For Calm, Happy Students&Quot;

Need some classroom management tips? 

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 & tools to help students who are struggling with emotional wellbeing or mental health issues

Setting the rules at the start of the year means everyone is on the same page but classroom management isn't just about kid's behavior, it's also about their how their coping emotionally.


1. 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 on a set of classroom rules helps them to be more accepting of them. 

Start by explaining your reason for having rules in your classroom. Students need 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 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 focused on learning. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your student list, add those points to your own. Make sure all your 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 the consequences for not following the rules. This is another area where student input can be valuable. It’s pretty hard to complain about consequences that students have helped put in place. 

Consequences should not be a punishment. They should be a way of teaching the desired behavior 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 time 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.

2. 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 behavior.

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 acts of kindness is a sure-fire way to get them addicted to this good old-fashioned value.

Ways to encourage kindness:

Free Kindness Checklists For Adults

3. Use circles during morning meetings

Classroom circles allow 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 offer support and healing for children suffering a loss. They can also be effective in addressing difficult or bullying behavior. 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

4. 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 improve 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.
Student Encouragement Notes

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. 

BONUS - Brain Breaks

One of the easiest and most fun ways to keep students engaged and learning is brain breaks!

Spending a few minutes on a brain break has so many benefits (read about them here), but the one we're highlighting in this post is behavior management. 

It's proven that children are not able to concentrate for extended periods of time. When they are asked to sit still and pay attention during long lessons, many will start to fidget, poke the person in front of them, or chat to a classmate. At this point you've lost them, and the quality and quantity of information being absorbed is compromised. 

An easy way to get them back on track is to give them a short recess. When you break lessons up into digestible chunks with a quick two to three minute brain break, you're not only paving the way to greater learning but you're fending off the bad behavior that can result from boredom.

Grab a set of brain break cards to improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as behavior and academic achievement.  

Brain Breaks Cards For Elementary Students. Mindfulness And Movement Ideas For The Classroom For Student Wellbeing.

AUTHOR: Lisa Currie - Ripple Kindness Project
Lisa is passionate about contributing to a happier world by building emotional intelligence in kids through fun and engaging social-emotional learning resources. Her core value is kindness as she believes it to be the “mother” of all character traits. She started Ripple Kindness Project to spread kindness in schools and communities. She is also the founder and director of an outreach program that supports disadvantaged families.  

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