Winter break is always an exciting time for everyone. Teachers are ready for some time to breathe, parents are excited to celebrate the holidays with their families and kids are over the moon about the holiday traditions. Coming back to the classroom can be a bit terrifying, but there are things you can do to get ahead of the chaos. Here are some classroom management ideas that may just save your return in the New Year.
1. Review Classroom Expectations & Be Consistent
If you want to keep your classroom under control after the excitement of winter break (or any break for that matter) you should treat it as if it’s the first day of school all over again. It may seem a little childish, especially in upper grade, but kids need constant reminders. When you return from break, use the first few days, first week or even the first month to go over classroom rules and routines they are already familiar with. There are a few classroom management ideas you can put into practice to help.
This is a great time to remind students about the noise level, how we walk in the hallway, how we get the teacher’s attention, etc. Set high expectations for student behavior. Remind them how to act as a classroom community. If you have reward systems or any kind of behavior chart, go over how they work. After going over the rules, you can have students sign a contract. Just print a piece of paper with the rules typed and have each child write their name. You can hang this up in the room to remind them what they agreed to.
Children of all ages thrive off of consistency. They test adults when they do not provide the same answers each time. When you decide on the rules and routines of the classroom, stick to them, no matter what. Students will realize that you aren’t going to budge in how you do things and they will quickly do them the right way.
2. Switch Things Up
The New Year is a great time to switch up any rules or routines that weren’t working before break. If there are small groups that don’t work well together, it’s the perfect time to mix them up. Seating charts aren’t doing well, move some chairs or desks around. Certain reward systems may not work all year long, give something new a try to get kids excited. You can address these with the students and then provide consistency with the new way of doing things.
This is one of those classroom management ideas that can be put into play any time of the year. Depending on the group of kids you have, you may need to switch up groups, seating, rules and routines every couple of weeks just to keep the kids on their toes.
You can use these Digital Rotation Boards as classroom management ideas for reading and math to make center work and routines easier!
3. Reward Systems
One of my favorite classroom management ideas is to implement a fun reward system. Depending on how you run your classroom, you can incentive good behavior with a reward system. Set classroom, small group or individual goals for students to work toward. This is a great New Year activity as well and can tie into resolutions and goal setting.
Classroom reward systems can involve extra recess, additional computer time, prize box or whatever your class is motivated by that you are comfortable with. Choose the reward together and then decide which actions or behaviors add up to reach that goal. You can display the goals and rewards on the board so students can keep track of their progress.
If your classroom is organized by desk clumps, you can have each small group of desks working towards something different. This can be a bit more challenging to manage but I have found it works for some groups of students.
Students can also work towards individual rewards. This is a great way to hold them accountable for their individual classroom behavior. You can do sticker charts, punch cards, clip charts and many other things to keep track.
One simple reward could be choosing Flexible Seating in the classroom. Let students pick their own seats during independent work times using these anchor charts and rules posters.
4. Set Academic Goals
Classroom management ideas don’t only need to be about behavior. You can hold students accountable further by letting them set their own academic goals. Let them each choose one goal to work towards. I have found that this gets them motivated to learn and grow in that skill. When they complete the goal, you can reward them with a certificate or another prize of your choice.
If you’re struggling to figure out which groups to put students in and how to help them set individual and group goals, you can use this Small Group Scheduling to make things easier on yourself.
Setting small group and individual goals is a wonderful way to tie in New Year’s Resolutions, too!
These classroom management ideas will keep the classroom calm as you re-enter the classroom after the winter break!