Seeing first-graders smile, learn, and grow is lovely. However, you often have to get creative when it comes to effective classroom management strategies. Below is a list of 18 tips you can choose for your first-grade classroom management inspiration. Be sure to include them in your classroom rules.
1. Reporting vs. Tattling: Teach Students the Difference
While teaching the classroom rules, especially on the first day of class, review tattling vs. reporting. Take at least 10-15 minutes to talk about this. Also, create a visual stating the differences and hang it on your wall. Children cannot discern the difference between when to handle something themselves and when to tell an adult. They must learn.
Learn more: Mrs. Warner Arlington
2. Morning Meeting: An Every-Day Must Have
For building classroom community, establish a routine by starting each day with a meeting. Take this time to review the objectives for the day, take 1-2 minutes to check classroom mailboxes, and fully gather the children's attention. It will keep both you and the students on track and help with classroom culture.
Learn more: Responsive Classroom
3. Use a Doorbell as an Attention-Grabber
A favorite trick is to purchase wireless doorbells for your classroom. Use these as attention-getting signals for many situations, whether to address behavior issues or tell students when to line up. It's also a terrific quiet signal to use while saving your voice.
Learn more: Shannon Maree Teaching
4. Prepare for Partner Talk
Manage talkative students by assigning each student a partner. One is “A” and the other “B.” Discuss the rule that no one else can talk when the teacher talks. Any time you have a chatty class, you can stop the lesson and ask all “As” or ‘Bs’ to do something, such as explain what the teacher just said.
Learn more: Read Write Think
5. Hand Signals for Getting Your Attention
When reviewing the expectations of classroom behavior, review this classroom management technique. Teach students to use hand signals for routine situations. Put up one finger if they have to go to the bathroom, two fingers if they need to get a drink of water, and so on. Alternatively, use hand signals for class discussions.
Learn more: S&S Blog
6. Blurt Cubes
Another of the first-grade classroom management strategies is using BLURT cubes. Create a set of blurting cubes to keep on their desks. When a student interrupts or talks out of turn, give them a blurt signal, and then they must turn one letter. Having the whole word “BLURT” at the end of the day means getting a prize.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
7. The Special Secret Word
Tell students the secret word (something silly: giraffe, apple pie). During classroom lessons or classroom discussions, the student's job is to listen because you can say the secret word at any time. The first person to hear it and raise their hand gets a prize. This is a fun way to control a noisy class and bring children to attention.
Learn more: Learn Teaching
8. The Witty Whisper Game
Another first-grade classroom management option is to take your current voice level to a whisper and say, “If you can hear me, [your name] says put your hand on top of your head.’ Continue this in variation until more of the class follows you; add in a clap or noise. It will get the rest of the students focused.
Learn more: KFUNdamentals
9. Call-and-Response Attention Grabbers
A fun, quiet signal uses a phrase to get students focused. Make sure you are loud enough for the students to hear. For instance, you can say, "Ready to rock?" and the kids respond, "Ready to roll!" There are numerous fun ideas from which to choose in this online resource. Bored students will love this, too.
Learn more: Pro Teacher
10. Positively Praise Good Behavior
One of the most outstanding classroom management ideas is to praise positive behavior. Experienced teachers use this technique, and it works. Pay attention to the frustrated students, especially during independent work time. Pointing out good behavior or good work (use this awesome list for help) assists in conquering many behavior issues.
Learn more: What I Have Learned Teaching
11. Use Colored Sticky Notes to Communicate Understanding
One of the classroom ideas for classroom management is using colored sticky notes. Create a color-coded chart and assign each color a phrase: 'I GET IT,' ' 'I'M STRUGGLING,' etc. During your lesson, stop periodically and check for understanding. Students put a colored note on their desk, and you know whom to help. Students who feel less frustrated become less disruptive.
Learn more: Edutopia
12. Voice Level Chart
Use this animal poster/voice-level chart to keep your kids on task and control noise levels, especially independent work time. You can use a clothespin to point to the level you'd like or have a poster for each level and put up the appropriate one with each lesson. It's an incredible resource.
Learn more: Pinterest
13. Play Calming Music
Quietly playing music while the students are working could help them focus and combat discipline issues (and create a happier teacher). Play something classical or instrumental. It helps calm some students and fills in the need for some background noise for others. Tell them the rule is that if you cannot hear the music, then the students are too loud.
Learn more: Safe Supportive Learning
14. Use Multiple Hands-on Activities
Many behavior tricks start by incorporating multiple hands-on activities within your lessons. Your students will stay engaged much longer and, at times, learn much more. Children need to use their hands and move around while learning. This is proven to help students learn and is a huge teacher lifesaver.
Learn more: Brown University
15. Use Proximity Control
Move around the classroom as much as you can. By simply standing close to the student, or students, who are talking or not following the rules, you can gain control over the situation without having to say a word. It helps students pay attention as well.
Learn more: Resilient Educator
16. Get Parents/Guardians Involved Right from the Start of School
Not every parent/guardian will show up to Open House Night or Meet the Teacher Night, but you can still get them involved. Send out a personalized letter or a cheerful postcard to every student's home to get parents/guardians on your side and involved right from the start.
Learn more: Resilient Educator
17. Assign Classroom Jobs
Students will take more ownership of their behavior and classroom responsibilities when you assign them. Give each student a job to do (make sure to sharpen pencils, erase the board, be a line-up leader, etc.). Rotate jobs each week if you would like. Create fun charts to help students remember what to do.
Learn more: Scholastic
18. Take Brain Breaks
Children have limited attention spans. Give students a break to recharge their brains. It does not have to be too long; 1-3 minutes is enough if you do it often. There are brain-break videos online. You choose the breaks or give kids a brain break card when they are overwhelmed with the current activity.
Learn more: Understood.org