Teaching encompasses a lot of different and important pieces in order for a teacher to be or have success. They need just the right lesson, tools for the lesson, strategy, visuals, oh - and classroom management. The one piece that could take any well thought out and strong lesson and rip it to shreds is having no management of the kids. So what do you do? Yes, the clip up/down charts and Class Dojo (which is what I use) are fantastic and they do work great... for a while. But have you ever noticed that they wear off after a few months of so? It's like a new toy that loses its shine. There's no motivation behind it anymore. That's because that one tool cannot be the one and only thing that you rely on when it comes to keeping you students interested in wanting to 'be managed'. Intrinsic motivation isn't always something our little ones come to us with, therefore we have to give them that motivation.
Having the clip chart and Dojo can be great for an overall record keeping tool for management and can work but it cannot be the ONLY thing you rely on for the entire year. Believe me... it WILL lose it's charm. The key to managing your classroom is having a 'bag of tricks' per-say to pull out. Think of it like a 'boxing ring'. You're in the ring with your students. You need to have the right moves, tricks, and be ready to swing at a moments notice. Follow these few tips to help!
1. Put your gloves on! No, that doesn't mean I want you to fight with your student. It simply means to make sure you have the right gear. What tools will you use? We've already discussed how using one overall tool won't be affective. You have to keep it new and fresh for them to keep their interest. Keep a 'bag of tricks' handy to keep things upbeat and fresh in the classroom. Here's what I use!
I literally keep a 'bag of tricks' cards on my desk at all time. Each of these cards has an easy but extremely motivating idea on them to keep the students engaged and interested throughout the day or lesson. The activities on them are mostly goal oriented and help those students who lack that intrinsic motivation. If you'd like to learn about them, check them out HERE!
2. Get in the ring! You have your tools ready to go, how step into the ring with your students. This means commit and don't back down. There's never an okay time in education to let your feet come off that ground - keep them planted firmly. You've heard the phrase 'give them an inch' right? I'm pretty sure a teacher coined that phrase! Stick to your guns, rules, procedures and don't ever take no for an answer. If that means you're still practicing how to line up quietly in April (like I am this year) then do it! Don't let that guard down!
3. Give them the golden belt! This is all about rewarding your students. They work so hard day in and day out and need something to show for it. All of my 'bag of tricks' cards are all working towards some type of 'prize' but that prize doesn't have to be tangible. It can be something very easy, fun, and small. I know my class loves Karaoke! (YouTube has great kid friendly Karaoke videos to use!) Here's a great list of free rewards from Teaching in the Fast Lane!
4. Know when to go for the TKO! Again, not asking you to hit your students!!! This just means to pick your battles. Don't 'die on every hill'. You can settle situations and arguments easily without having to make a show out of everything. Just do small 'jabs' until you truly need the TKO. You'll know when it's time.
5. Fly like a butterfly, stink like a bee. What I mean is to stay positive. This is probably the part of the job that gets me down the most. Happy classroom = happy teacher. If you do all of the above on the list then you'll be able to accomplish this tip easily. When you find yourself getting frustrated then it's time to reevaluate your tools and see what you need to switch up. A few new tools and a new outlook on things just might help do the trick.
After everything said so far, the best that you can do, is do what works for you. Don't worry about what the teacher next door is doing or what you learned or did 5 years ago. Go with your gut, that's your best instinct you have.
As always, let me know if you have any questions! I'm happy to help!