Veteran teachers know that teaching younger students can be an exercise in patience. The larger the classroom, the more you feel like tearing your hair out.
However, it does not have to be like this. That is, you do not have to lose hair both literally and metaphorically. All you need to do is practice a few choice classroom management tips, such as the ones given below.
1. Show No Fear
Okay, children cannot smell fear. But, children can gauge the difference between a person who cannot be moved and a person who can be easily pushed over. You want your students to listen to you or consider you as a force to be reckoned with? Then do your best to look fearless in front of them. Act tough and be tough (within reason). Presenting a tough front makes your students a little wary of crossing the line.
2. Be Firm From The Start
This second tip ties into the first one. You should not only present a tough front, but you also need to be tough from the start. At the beginning of the year, tell your class that you have a few rules that you plan on having followed thoroughly. For example, bathroom breaks can be taken only at the end of the class (however, in some cases you can use your discretion and send them to the bathroom anyway). Being firm from the start ensures that by the end of the year, you have a classroom filled with mostly well-behaved students.
3. Always Have Back Up Activities Planned
Whenever you are having your students do some activity, there are always going to be a few students who finish way ahead of the others. Now there are two things you can do with these students. One, you can allow them to be free. But that is risky move because they might end up disrupting other students. Two, you can give them more of the same work. However, that will not serve any learning purpose. What you can do is give them a few exercises which are a part of the next lesson you have planned. Or, you can allow them to read something – from a selection of already available books. You can give these students any activity; it is just that they should not feel bored with that they are doing.
4. Positive Language and Actions
Children are impressionable. Young students even more so. As a teacher, always be positive in front of them. And ensure that your actions and deeds are positive as well. Most children tend to mimic the important adults in their life. In the case of your students, you are one of the important adults in their life. If you act positively, they too will try their best to do the same.
5. Be Organized
Elementary and primary school classrooms can devolve into chaos very quickly, especially if there is no teacher around to supervise. Always organize yourself and your plan for the day. You cannot skip out in the middle of the classroom to get something you forgot or to get your notes. If you cannot make it, then try to organize a substitute teacher as soon as you can. In short, be organized and be prepared. The worst thing that can happen is your class raising hell simply because you did not think things ahead of time and have left them to their own devices.
6. Positive Reinforcement
A rewards and points systems works very well with younger students. You should consider having a rewards and points system in your classroom that reinforces good behavior. For instance, if your class has gone through an entire period without any disruptions and has turned in their class work on time, then everybody in the classroom gets 10 points. These points can be added up at the end of the year and your students can receive small gifts for good behavior.
7. Magical Quiet Sprays
This is a method that has been widely practiced by most teachers. It is a simple water spray but your students can believe that the spray has
magical properties. When your class is getting a little too noisy or you want to catch their attention, spray the potion ( which can water + food colouring) in the air a few times. It will most definitely get their attention! Once you get their attention, you can proceed ahead with whatever you wanted to say.
One of the most important things to remember is that there is no exact science to managing your classroom. Many teachers try many methods of managing their classroom before settling on one that suits them and their students the best. Managing students is often a case of trial and error. Many teachers have made tons of mistakes before figuring out what makes their students tick. If you find that your methods dont work on your students, do not lose hope. Instead, re-evaluate, talk to other veteran teachers and figure out a new way to manage your classroom. You never know, the next time you try, you just might hit the jackpot and have your students fall into place!