Classroom management is essential at any grade level, but kindergarten is where behavior expectations are first established. It took a few years before I felt confident in my classroom management skills, and I am always looking to adapt and learn.
Classroom management begins on day one. Classroom rules and school-wide rules should be established early on and consistent throughout the school year. Expectations of behavior should be explained and modeled at the beginning of the year, and reviewed on a daily basis. If the expectations are clear, and a teacher follows through on consequences, the students will be successful in meeting the expectations.
Teachers can incorporate students in the process of creating classroom rules, especially in grades kindergarten and up. If a student is involved in creating the rules, they will take
ownership of the rules and be willing to follow them. It adds meaning to the rules and consequences in the classroom. It is important to create a classroom community. My class writes a “class promise” at the beginning of the year. We start with creating a list of do’s and don’ts at school. We work together to narrow it down into a list of simple rules we can all follow.
This is a part of Responsive Classroom, one of the philosophies I have learned and used in my classroom. Responsive Classroom believes in teaching children respect – respecting each other, the classroom, and themselves.
Another part of the classroom community is our daily routines. Each morning we have a morning meeting. It sets the tone for the day. We do a greeting circle where students say good morning in fun and unique ways. This ensures that each child starts their day with a smile. I write a morning message for my class as well. This, as well as calendar and reviewing our daily schedule, is included in the morning meeting.
A way to instill responsibility and respect in my students is through classroom jobs. I change these jobs weekly, so each student has the opportunity to help take care of their classroom. Students have the opportunity to be a table captain, responsible for passing out papers and supplies throughout the day. Other jobs include line leader, lights helper, messenger, and door holders.
A key component of classroom management is to understand why students have certain behaviors. This involves getting to know each student individually and their cultural background. A student’s home life can impact their learning style and behavioral characteristics. Understanding this can help better plan a behavioral expectation for the student. I have worked with individual students using behavior charts. These students needed an additional form of discipline in order to succeed in the classroom.
I have had the opportunity to use a variety of discipline techniques in the classroom. Positive behavior support systems (PBS), in both the classroom and school-wide, can be very effective if used properly. External rewards, such as coupons or tickets, can be effective in providing students a reward for meeting the expectations set at the school. However, the students must fully understand why they are receiving the tickets or why they did not receive tickets. These explanations are important to help students internalize their behaviors and learn to self-motivate themselves. If they can learn to follow rules and meet expectations without the desire of an external reward, they will be successful in later school years.
It is important to always follow through with discipline and consequences regarding rules and expectations. Consistency is important for elementary students. When they know the consequences and know that the teacher will follow through, they too will follow through with the rules of the classroom. When I can incorporate all of these factors of classroom management, my students and I are both successful.