March 30, 2016

Classroom Management: Like a Champion

 I have noticed that my classroom management skills are tested in situations when I set up new tasks, which means there is a drop in attention, or when policy reminders and follow up needs to take place. So to help with this, here are a few strategies I have modified for my own classroom.

On the first day of class, I set up a list of classroom commands. The commands are designed for regular tasks like
  • distributing handouts
  • think-pair-share
  • writing answers on the board
  • homework

I train the students on what the command is and the time they have to perform it. Like a drill. To show them how it will benefit us, on the first day of class I have them time how long each task takes us normally. Then on the next day, I turn it into a drill. We calculate how much time was saved and multiply that to the term. They are always surprised by it and this helps get them on board.
Sample commands:
  • “BOARD” – students know they have 3 minutes to race to the board and write down as many answers as they can. Answers not on the board will not be checked with feedback; they will just be posted on the back wall at the end of class. The board work is not pretty, but it works.
  • “10 SECOND TIDY” – students know we are moving on to a new task and they are to clean up their working space.
  • “HANDOUT” – 2 students, one from each table, bring the handouts to their table and distribute. It is also their responsibility to make sure everyone has one. They have 10 seconds to do it. The class will even countdown. (If they are successful, their table will award them a green card, see below)


When using this strategy, make sure the rules are connected to their learning goals, motivations, the classroom, and the school. Here are the steps I took when using this technique:
  1. Brainstorm rules in groups
  2. Vote on the rules the class wants to keep
  3. Transfer the rules to red and green pieces of paper
  4. Red cards were given out for rules not followed
  5. Green cards were awarded for rules that were
  6. An example rule could be “help a classmate with questions about assignments.”
  7. Students present these cards to each other at the end of each day/class
  8. Cards are saved for the term
  9. On the last day of the term, prizes are awarded to the student with the most

 As this was a bit of a competition, students were fighting at the end of class to award as many green cards as they could because there was also a prize for the student who gave out the most.

Voting on rules that matter to the students and their motivations was what I found made this technique successful. They didn’t just write rules that were simple, like do your homework. They created rules to motivate each other, like compare your homework answers with a partner in the first 15 minutes of class. They all wanted to improve and achieve their goals, so they set rules to push themselves to do so.

Another strategy I find is often given little attention in the classroom, especially for managing situations with dominating students, passive students, etc., is eliciting. The techniques used to elicit answers, responses and feedback can create an inclusive and engaging environment. Eliciting techniques I use include:
  • Cold-calling 
  • Using playing cards
  • Rock-scissors-paper 
  • Students wearing “green” 
  • Alphabetically 
  • Have a student choose the next student 
  • If you have a pink dot taped under your chair
  • Using dice


These classroom management techniques were inspired by the book, with accompanying videos, Teach Like a Champion

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