Classroom Management Suggestions

General ideas

  1. RESPECT your students
  2. Train your students about how to behave according to your expectations
  3. Decide if they are allowed to eat, drink, and/or chew gum during class. If they are not allowed, have consequences ready to give out. I would let students chew gum but asked them to stick it to the metal part of the furniture if they were unable to be responsible and throw it away correctly. When they stick the gum to the underside of the table it is just too difficult to scrape off whereas on the metal it flicks off quite easily. (They should laugh if you deliver this information to them properly.)
  4. No gum, food, or drink should be out during labs.
  5. They must wear goggles when any lab is being done especially if there are liquids or fire.
  6. They should wear long pants and closed toe shoes for labs. If they go to UC Davis, they'll have to dress appropriately for labs there. If they don't they will be kicked out of class. Might as well train them early.
  7. If you don't want your students to cheat or copy off of each other, tell them that you will not tolerate it. I would tell my students that I had the right to publicly humiliate them if they cheated. (and I would sometimes.)
  8. Mentioning a student by name can be incredibly effective. Just saying "Johnny" and giving a look of death can stop a student from talking, goofing off, or doing other unpleasant behavior.
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  10. Body language is incredibly effective.
    • Learn how to make a stern face.
    • Teach yourself how to stand rigid as if to show authority.
    • Learn how to use your body to prevent students from walking out the door if you don't want to dismiss them.
    • Learn how to use a finger to motion how to sit down, how to be quiet, or how to communicate just about any behavior you will want to correct.
  11. Stand near offending students. Proximity does a LOT to curb talking, goofing off, or other misbehavior.
  12. Do NOT argue with a student. You will NEVER win. If a student starts to argue with you, just stop talking. Tell him/her you would be happy to continue the conversation privately at a later time.
  13. Do not insult a student, even in jest.
  14. Do not make jokes until you have a repuation at the school and have earned the right to make jokes. Cute science jokes are fine, but anything that can be directly related back to a person of any race, ethnicity, religion, political stance, or personal choice is something that you do not have to share with your students. They are not your friends. You are a person in authority and have to act like a responsible adult. That means you RESPECT everyone.
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  16. It is ok to thank a student for following the rules. If a student raised his/her hand to use the pencil sharpener, I would thank them for asking. Sometimes we are teaching our students how to be polite people in addition to any academic information we intend to cram in their heads.
  17. Decide when they can leave the room. I used "get out of jail free" passes. Students got 2 passes per term. They were allowed to leave the room after they presented me with a pass. If they ran out of passes...oh well! I actually saw some students negotiate with another student to acquire an additional pass :-)
  18. Decide when students are allowed to walk around the room
    • Can they sharpen a pencil at any time?
    • Can they use the stapler? When?
    • Can they get a Kleenex? When?
    • etc.
      • For me: The students could sharpen a pencil whenever they wanted to as long as they asked first. If I, or another student, was talking then I would ask them to wait until we were done.
      • Other teachers: I've seen other teachers teach hand signals to their students. Motioning sharpening a pencil is all a student does to ask to use the sharpener. The teacher nods a yes or shakes a head "no."
  19. Have items available to make your students' lives easier. (suggested items)
    • Staplers
    • Hole puncher (3 hole punch)
    • Calculators they can borrow
    • Kleenex (or tissues)
    • Pens and pencils they can borrow
    • Extra notebook paper
    • Papertowels for after washing hands
    • Soap to use when washing hands
    • Lotion to use after washing hands (optional, of course)
    • Tape- but you may want to regulate access to tape or else it may go "poof" too quickly
    • Enough trash cans
    • Recycle bin for paper, plastic, or whatever can be collected at your school
    • Erasers they can borrow

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Suggestions for managing labs:

  1. Set up an equipment accountability system. Do NOT just put 8 objects in a common area and expect that they will magically come back. You are fooling yourself if you do not hold every student accountable for the equipment s/he is supposed to be using.
  2. What I did:
    1. I had 8 lab groups. Every lab group was numbered. Group 1 used items in bucket 1. Group 2 used items in bucket 2. and so on
    2. Items that could be numbered were numbered before going into the buckets. So group 1 used the set of colored pencils numbered set 1.
    3. Things were color coded whenever possible.
      • The microscale pipettes had a colored dot on them as did the solution bottle that the students accessed as the stock bottle. Keep in mind, this was a small bottle of solution in case a student destroyed it. The larger, clean stock bottle was kept in the stock room. It, too, had the same color dot on it. When cleaning up microscale labs, students returned the pipettes to a cup, having the chemicals color coded made it much easier to see if the right pipette was put in the right cup.
    4. In the beginning of the school year, train your students how to use the buckets.
      • Have a specific place where you put them for students to access. Tell them to have 1 student from the lab group to come up to get the equipment. If you have too much equipment for 1 bucket, then use more than 1 bucket for the equipment. Some labs I did were multi-day labs and required 2 or 3 buckets of equipment. I'd give them a list of what to put in each bucket in order to be cleaned up.
    5. When you first start using the buckets, check every single one before you dismiss the students.
      • Let the students see that you are making sure all of the equipment came back. If a beaker is missing from bucket 4, announce, "Group 4, I need a beaker. Can you find it?"
        • This is effective for many reasons.
          • First, no individual is being called on so no individual is made to feel bad or incompetent.
          • Second, the responsibility is being shared by 4 people who are a team and it allows them to work as a team to find the beaker. Since you are not picking on an individual, nobody feels out of place.
          • You are still communicating that you are checking up on the students without any one student feeling picked on.
          • When group 4 returns the beaker to you, thank them for returning it. If you give out respect, you'll get it back.
    6. Every student had a student number (in additon to their group number.)
    • Their student number became their goggle number. Person #1 used goggles #1. Person #2 used goggles #2. and so on...
      • This was useful in many ways.
        • First, nobody shared goggles with more than 2 other possible people in any given day (I taught on a 4 x 4.) Even with the period schedule, the most that the goggles would be used in a day is by 5 people. If for some reason someone had an eye problem, it would be easy to clean the affected goggles because you'd know which ones were messed up.
        • It also let you know who used the goggles so if they came back gross from hair gel or something simliar, you could talk to the offending student and ask him/her to not put the goggles on his/her head.
        • When cleaning up, you can ask person # to please put their goggles away if you see them not put away.
        • I think what made me the happiest with this method of goggles was when they were put away in numerical order. I would celebrate when the goggles went back in numerical order in the cabinet. I know that nobody would intentionally steal goggles, but the point I was making was that I was holding them accountable for objects. It worked.
    • Goggle numbers were also used to assign books to students. If a class set of books was available, they would be numbered on the side with numbers 1 - 32. Students used the book number corresponding to their goggle number.
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More suggestions:

  1. Before school starts, walk the perimeter of your classroom.
    • Decide how every aspect of your room is to be handled. If it is important for students to know about the object and how to interact with it, tell them. I wanted students to feel comfortable in the room so on the first or second day I would actually go around the perimeter and show them equipment, explain what it is and if they'd be using it sometime during the year, and share my expectations with them.
    • It may seem silly, but I'd show them
      • where paper towels are located
      • soap they can use when washing their hands;
      • the lotion they can use after washing hands; the sinks (that are not trash cans);
      • the incubator that they'd use in biotechnology and maybe in chemistry;
      • the goggle cabinet;
      • the gas jets and how they should be turned off;
      • the cabinets that stored equipment and how I expected them to not use them as trash bins;
      • the back door we went out of during fire and earthquake drills but at any other time was actually a wall;
      • which desk was mine and they could not touch;
      • the demo desk that was also off limits and why;
      • the desk that had their objects on it like staplers, hole punchers, extra worksheets, the "in box";
      • where the "out boxes were located";
      • the pencil sharpener;
      • the line of death they were not allowed to cross or else they'd have detention;
      • and other areas they were not to linger in.
  2. If your classroom is structured such that there is a blind spot at the door because of a recessed wall or other architecture, put down a "line of death."
    • Monitor students who cross the "line of death" and give the detention if they wander over it. In time they'll learn that the line is actually a wall and you won't have kids randomly leaving the room and wandering the halls.
    • If the trash can exists on the other side of the line of death (as it did in my classroom) just ask them to ask you before they toss out trash.
    • Thank them for asking you.
    • In time they won't have to keep asking as they'll just give you a look and you'll smile at them. But they do need to be trained to not walk out the door if the door is hidden from your regular frame of sight.
  3. Have tissues/Kleenex available for your students.
    • A box only costs like $1.50 and yet you make so many allies by showing them you care about them. I heard someone suggest that you keep wet-wipes available for students and if you want to have that type of relationship with kids, then do it. It may not be a bad idea considering the germs that probably need cleaning off their hands and noses. I know that you are not supposed to be your students' friend, but letting them know you care about their welfare does not mean you are being their "friend". I used to walk around during tests handing out kleenexes to students who were sneezing or sniffling. I got many grateful looks because I recognized that my students were human. They tend to appreciate that.
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  4. If you teach in an area where students are often hungry or sick, keep some saltine crackers on hand.
  5. If you teach in an area where students need an extra set of clothes, you may want to have one (or some) on hand. If you want more details, just email me and I'll tell you situations in which I had students who needed to borrow clothes.
  6. If you are female, have extra feminine napkins available. Your students, if comfortable enough with you, will ask you for one occassionally. Again, you will be their life saver if you can give them a pad during this crucial time in their life. I don't know if students ask male teachers for feminine supplies, but I kind of doubt you'll have a student ask you if you have a tampon or the equivalent if you are not a female teacher.
  7. Have a box of band-aids on had. Decide how badly a student has to be bleeding to get a band-aid. If you don't mind passing them out to any student for any reason, then don't ask them why they need it, but if you don't want to be wiped out of band-aids in the first month of school, you'll want to regulate their access.
  8. Decide if you are going to do homework passes or not.
  9. Decide how often students are allowed to leave the classroom and for what reasons.
  10. Keep in mind that you will have to come up with a system for keeping track of who leaves and why if you want to regulate how and why students can leave. I was not good at keeping track of how, when, or why students were allowed to leave the classroom so I gave out "get out of jail free" passes. (See #15 above...I did not realize I was putting this here twice.)
  11. A student could turn in their slip for any emergency they saw fit.
  12. But they only got 1 per term.
  13. If they did not hassle me during the first term, I'd give out 2 for the second term.
  14. If they still had them at the end of the second term, they could turn in the slips for extra credit.
  15. I'm not sure exactly why this system worked, but it did. Sure, some students would sell their slip to another classmate or a student would agree to serving detention for leaving the room, but I'd say for 95% of my students, they were content with being trapped in the room.
  16. I told them that I wanted them to stay in the room because it drove me nuts when they would miss something and then be lost when they came back. And I was being always seemed that the 5 minutes a student missed in class was when I was explaining something.
  17. If your students do drugs, decide if you are going to tolerate them being under the influence during class. I actually asked students to not come to class under any illegal influence on lab days because I needed to know they'd be safe during class. Honestly, on other days it did not bother me as long as they were not disruptive during class. At least I knew they were safe in the classroom and not out on the street somewhere. You will also want to find out if your administration is supportive if you remove a student from class for being intoxicated.
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  19. Instead of giving out candy as a reward, small stickers work great. You know, the kind of stickers they make for teachers to put on those grids where you can keep track of homework turned in...the tiny ones. It is amazing how happy a junior in high school becomes when s/he receives a sticker for whatever reason.
  20. Think of a reward to give out or to do when the students behave well for a substitute. The reward can be "free" time, a special movie, a special lab, stickers, or food stuffs. I really want to discourage giving out candy in light of the obesity epidemic, but I have to admit that I gave in to the candy pressure. (At least when I was a supervisor for fundraising, I tried to offer non-highly sugared foods for students to buy.)
  21. Having trouble with getting volunteers or are you getting the same person volunteering over and over?
  22. You are the teacher. A powerpoint presentation, the tv, the textbook, videos, or any computer enhancement is not the teacher.

Don't let the sparkle of multimedia substitute for good old-fashioned listening to your students' concerns and explaining to them the information that is confusing them.

Do not assume that a beautiful, flashy, multimedia presentation is going to explain anything better than you will when you demonstrate that you are concerned about their lack of understanding.

Being a caring human goes much further than any text based piece of information.

  1. Protect your students.
    1. If someone randomly walks into your classroom, ask him/her to leave. Respect the crashing person, but inform him/her that you will not allow him/her to remain in the classroom because your students need to focus on the information they are learning, not on him/her.
    2. If a parent spontaneously shows up, ask him/her to register in the front office. Nobody should be allowed to enter your classroom without you knowing about it ahead of time.
    3. If you know that students in your classroom might fight each other, then don't sit them near each other.
    4. If you see students throwing signs or threatening looks at each other, use the "death glance" to indicate you saw them and they need to stop.
    5. If you know there is gang friction in the classroom, establish that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated in the classroom. It is ok to acknowledge that there are students in the classroom who have personal differences, but everyone must respect everybody else when in the classroom. You may not like each other, but you have to respect one another.
    6. Know the procedures for earthquake, fire, or other disaster drill. Know the code that comes on the loudspeaker if your school does stranger danger drills.
  2. Know what your school rules are for cell phones or other electronic paraphernalia. So as to not create teacher enemies, stick to the school rules. If they get away with school rules in your classroom, it makes it more difficult for other teachers to enforce the rules in their classrooms.

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