Spring means warmer weather, blooming flowers, and the dreaded… spring fever. Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by the warm weather turning your sweet students into out of control, antsy kiddos that seem to have lost all their attention span!
It’s me. I’m raising my hand. And if you can relate, I’m here to help! Whether you are feeling burned out or just in need of some new ideas, this post is for you! You’re going to learn about 10 classroom management tips that are easy to implement, simple to maintain, and most importantly, are EFFECTIVE and SUSTAINABLE to get you to spring break and beyond. So let’s get into it!
#1: Movement is Key
By this time of the year, students may be literally vibrating with energy on the carpet or in their seats. One thing I’ve learned, especially with my own 5 year old boy, is to harness that energy and help them put it to good use. This may mean you need to build in more breaks than you have in months just to get out those wiggles. I also love to create opportunities where they use movement while learning. Some of my resources for building movement in the day are:
Movement is key so let that motion move you into spring break!
#2: Did Somebody Say Play?
In addition to kiddos needing to move and wiggle to stay engaged these days, they also need play! Are your students bored with the same activities? They may be getting restless and need something new. So I ask you- Have you ever tried incorporating play into their learning?
“Scientists have discovered that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain, unless it is done in play, in which case it only takes 10 to 20 repetitions.”
If you’re worried about integrating play in your classroom, I highly encourage you to just give it a try! I promise you’ll be shocked by the level of engagement, growth, and understanding of skills students will gain. They don’t even realize how much they are learning through their play! Check out THIS blog for some easy and engaging ways to incorporate play into your day.
#3: Make Time to Chat
This is a time of the year where students are really beginning to grow into themselves and get comfortable with how the classroom runs… which is a good thing… right? Well it’s also a time of the year when students get SUPER chatty. It can be really hard when they just want to talk and nothing else matters to them. Well just like we learned some easy ways to incorporate movement when they are wiggly, let’s also talk about how to harness those voices in the classroom for GOOD.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If you find that your students just won’t stop chatting with each other, simply let them talk. I know that may sound crazy, but we have to think about student needs first, which is more time to talk with each other. But for a win-win situation so you can get back your instructional time, you can make that talk academic by utilizing partners. Partners in the classroom can be SO powerful and you can learn all about that HERE.
Maybe you’re finding that students just keep getting louder and louder and louder. It happens. Especially during those spring months together. If students have seemed to have forgotten how to control the level of their voice, or when to use it, check out THIS post for voice level tips and tricks.
Another way to use those chatty voices is by providing specific times to share about themselves or learn more about each other. You can do this by implementing morning meetings or connection circles. It provides a safe space for them to talk about whatever topic you feel is necessary for the time. Connection circles are a game changer for a positive classroom community and can seriously help combat elevated levels of chattiness. Check out more hacks for classroom community ideas HERE!
#4: Get Outside
Do you have students just itching to be outside? Maybe they keep staring out the window or are even begging to be out there. I say go outside! Bring your learning into nature and enjoy that beautiful spring weather! You can play a game of scoot on the sidewalk with some chalk, you can grab some clipboards and task cards and let them play in pairs, or simply bring some book bins out and get cozy reading in the sun. It’s easy and they’ll have more room for wiggles and to spread out. Check out THIS post for more ideas for getting outside!
#5: Attention Getters that Work
How many times have you been standing and just waiting for students’ attention? It makes minutes feel like hours and it can be a real time waster. Instead, try THESE attention getters that are simple and WORK! These attention getters are essentially a quick, FUN, call and response tactic, similar to Marco Polo. We say a word and they give their attention with the correct response. For example, students are getting too chatty with off topic talk, I might say TACO real loud. Everyone knows to freeze, look up, and respond with NACHO CHEESE! I’ve got everyone’s attention. MAGIC! Check out these other fun ones below!
I love these because not only are they great attention grabbers, you can apply it to all kinds of things in the classroom. Need to give directions? Get their attention first. Need them to grab materials? TACO! It’s like a secret code students have to listen to before they are allowed to move. Teach them a bunch so you can change it up to keep students on their toes! It’s a fun way to engage them and ensure they are listening to ALL directions before getting started. Help students achieve a class reward when they are displaying whole class expectations. See a fun and easy example idea below and grab this FREEBIE!
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#6: Keep Calm and Carry On
Sometimes there are just WAY too many wiggles and you need to bring the energy DOWN. Strategies to help your students keep their bodies calm are crucial and will help the classroom out greatly! THESE mindfulness brain breaks are great at assisting students relax, they don’t take long, and they teach students how to use their breath to calm themselves.
I love using breaks during times of the day that students are really amped up, like after lunch/recess or a really exciting activity. Read-alouds are also a great way to relax students. You can either read to them or put on a read aloud like Storyline Online.
#7: 5 to 1 Rule
Have you ever heard of this rule? This is going to be GOLD for you when students REALLY struggle with behaviors. 5 to 1 means that you give FIVE positives to every ONE negative. Now I know that may sound difficult, but I promise it WORKS WONDERS. Let me paint a picture.
Let’s say you’ve asked all your students to come to the carpet for a whole group lesson and you notice an array of behaviors, from positive to negative. It may be a gut reaction to correct the negative behavior but honestly, that’s the last thing we want to do. When we highlight the negative behavior, it actually can be reinforcing it and giving that student the attention they were looking for.
Instead, find every single positive behavior you can, even if it is so small. For example, “Wow. I see that James came right to the carpet quietly and sat down ready to learn. Thank you James.” This is an instant attention getter for James AND everyone else. It shows students exactly what you expect and that you are praising him for it. You’ll quickly see some students start to straighten their bodies to get noticed like James. Continue this tactic by complimenting more and more of that expected behavior and pretty soon you’ll see all of your students displaying exactly what you want.
The 5 to 1 is a great reminder to yourself to use FIVE positive praises before you ever bring attention to ONE negative behavior. It can be hard to shift our thinking and get into that mindset, but this is such an important strategy to help those students who really struggle with behavior. You want to “kill them with kindness”. Some kids can get into a negative headspace feeling like they are always in trouble and turning to negative choices to simply get attention. You can help get them out of that downward spiral and find even the tiniest things to praise. The more you praise, the more they’ll work for that attention and it’ll break that vicious negative cycle. Check out an easy and engaging way to reward your whole classroom for displaying expected behaviors!
#8: Fertilize the Fun!
The struggle is REAL! Sometimes it’s just going to be a challenge and that’s OK. Maybe it’s right before spring break and EVERYONE is way too excited to control their bodies. Maybe it’s that crazy month of March when it seems that students have forgotten ALL expectations. No matter what, focus on going back to the basics. This means reviewing those expectations, using looks like/sounds like, and making it FUN!
This time of the year is all about giving yourselves grace, while continuing to work towards your goals. Help students achieve a class reward when they are working hard towards expectations together. They can get closer to their reward by doing simple things, such as students all coming to the carpet the first time being asked or everyone getting started quickly on a task. These are easy ways to motivate students, while also rewarding and recognizing positive behavior. Check out a fun and easy example idea below! Students get to fertilize their fun by watching their flowers grow until they reach their goal.
#9: Maintain High Expectations
When all else fails… which there are bound to be days and weeks like this, again go back to the basics. This means you may have to pause instruction to practice procedures. Whatever you have to do to maintain those high expectations, do it. Otherwise your ducks will NOT be in a row. You may have to pull out the posters when they are really struggling, giving them visual reminders of what is expected of them.
I know it can feel frustrating when at this point in the year they seem really solid and then all of a sudden it’s like the beginning of the year again. Just know that it is NORMAL and everyone experiences it right around March. You can review expectations with THESE posters. Maybe they need a reminder about making good choices. I like to pull out THIS sort after every break as a reminder for students when they return to the classroom.
Another great resource to keep things fresh in their minds is by using explicit instructions displayed on Daily Slides. They help because they show students exactly what to expect each day, on top of informing them of what they should be doing during each time block. There are different behavior management clipart pieces that can be included to help students with expectations and voice levels. Check them out HERE!
Above all else, maintain those high expectations even when students are really struggling. I know it’s hard and frustrating, but YOU GOT THIS. Check out THIS post for more about routines and procedures.
#10: Ramp Up Your After Break Tips
Getting ready for spring break? I know by the time it gets here EVERYONE is ready. You deserve the break and your kids do too. When you get back, it may feel extremely daunting to try and get everything back in order. Have no fear, I’ve got you covered here! Check out THIS post for more ideas and tips to easing students back into routine after long breaks.
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I hope you enjoyed learning easy and engaging ways to tame that spring fever. Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including Whole Class Reward FREEBIE! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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