Classroom management is an extensive term used by teachers to maintain appropriate behaviours of students so they can achieve the best learning outcomes. Classroom management has changed dramatically over the past few decades with more student-centred approaches in which children choose how they would like to learn.
Effective classroom management requires a lot of hard work and awareness as you need to understand the different ways of learning. Many teachers struggle to find learning strategies that work consistently. Therefore, it's essential to be aware of all the various theories and techniques that can be used concurrently to encourage positive behaviour. We have put together 50 Classroom Management strategies for 2022 to make sure students have the best start to the school year!
We've included a handy classroom managment pdf at the bottom of the page if you'd like to download and save these extensive classroom managment tips.
What are the current leading theories in classroom management?
There are quite a few learning theories that have been developed in the last 100 years. Many of the thoughts and ideas even overlap in some of the leading theories. In this particular blog post, we will focus on five core theories that have helped shape classroom management in Early Childhood. Let's take a look at a basic summary of each one:
This theory is underpinned by the notion that a child's development will continue, but we can change their behaviour according to the external environment we provide for them. Learning is seen as 'cause and effect' because external factors ultimately change the child's behaviour. However, recently this theory has been getting a mixed response as it does not allow children to make their own discoveries and learn through self-exploration.
Based on the belief that children's thinking changes as children reach different developmental milestones, this theory is linked to children's cognitive development. The way a child gains an understanding through interactions with the environment.
Early childhood educators that utilise this theory, respect that each student brings their own unique experiences and assets to the classroom. The basic principle is that knowledge is built on a prerequisite understanding the child already possesses. Learning is seen as an active process that needs to be contextual and relevant to the children's lives. It is more prevalent in classrooms today because it is more student-centred and allows children to have choices.
Social Learning Theory
The main essence of this theory is that children learn from observing others around them. It is a broader approach than the above theories because it better integrates ideas about cognitive development and the social environment surrounding students. A significant aspect of this theory is the focus on observation and children observing the outcomes of a particular action.
Humanistic Learning Theory
This is a student-centred approach to teaching in which children are given choices about daily activities and long-term goals. There is a shift that education should be more holistic.
How can I apply these theories when teaching?
Before applying these strategies, it is fundamental that teachers have a solid understanding of the different theories. Educators will be able to adapt and use methods effectively in diverse situations.
Having a solid understanding will help educators connect to students on all different levels helping to cater to all children's needs. These theories can be combined based on your teaching philosophy and keeping in mind what works best for the children you are teaching.
What are some classroom strategies linked with each of the theories?
Regardless of the theory you choose to incorporate in the classroom environment. We have put together 50 classroom strategies for educators to gain a better understanding of practical ways these theories can be used in school settings. There are many strategies within each one that can help with behaviour management and improve the overall outcomes of children's learning.
1. Establish routines
Routines can be beneficial in some classrooms as you can use them to set norms, so children know exactly what to expect. Many children thrive in environments where there is structure because they develop comfort. It is easy for classrooms to turn into chaos if things aren't planned, and there is no routine to follow.
2. Remain consistent
Consistency doesn't necessarily mean that you need to react to certain situations or act like a robot with no feelings. Instead, it means to follow through with what you say. This will help to build credibility and trust within your classroom.
3. Maintain a tidy classroom
To maximise children's learning, it's essential to have a clean classroom. A teacher can be more productive, and the children will remain motivated if they can focus; set time aside at the end of each lesson to reset the room and ask children to get involved too.
4. Reward and praise positive behaviour
Positive reinforcement refers to giving something to children (praise or reward) once they have performed the desired action so they associate the task with a reward and will do it more often. Check out our classroom management mega bundle, an extensive series of printable resources to maintain children's motivation and make learning more manageable yet fun. Our high-quality stickers and stamps are also a great resource to use all year round!
5. Use hand signals in the classroom
With so many children in the classroom wanting to give their input or ask questions, hand signals are a must! You could create your own signals, e.g. three fingers up to go to the toilet or four fingers up if the children want a drink of water. This will make it much easier to answer simple requests without any verbal communication.
6. Give children warnings
Giving children a warning before reacting will allow them to stop and think before repeating the behaviour. Our behaviour peg chartis a great tool to use in the classroom environment for a visual reminder to encourage children to follow the guidelines.
7.Practice everything you wish to implement
If you are introducing or implementing a new routine or approach within the classroom, it can help to practice exactly what you expect until children have perfected the task! Especially for younger children, simple things such as lining up correctly or how to place their bags in the morning etc. need to be revised and practised.
8. Set clear rules and classroom expectations early on
If children know their boundaries clearly at the start of the year, it will make it easier for them to follow through. Define to children what is expected in the classroom at the beginning of the year, so when things do escalate, you simply need to monitor and remind them of the classroom rules.
9. Ensure active supervision
Whilst students are working on a task, walk around the room to ensure children stay on task. Check-in with children, especially If you notice anyone getting distracted or needing some extra help. This will also send an indirect message to students that they need to remain on task as you will come around and check.
10. Monitor each child's progress
Regular observation and assessment to track children's progress is essential as it can reveal valuable information on the child's learning abilities. It is also an excellent opportunity for educators to re-evaluate their teaching methods. The desk positive behaviour tracker is a simple way to encourage and monitor positive behaviours in the classroom.
11. Facilitate classroom discussions
Classroom discussions are a fantastic way to collaborate ideas and hear different perspectives. If conversations are encouraged, children will feel more confident as their opinions are valued, and they can share their thoughts openly.
12. Give step by step instructions to children
We mustn't overwhelm children with too much information as this can often lead to poor student behavior by children as they cannot retain so much information in one go. Breaking things up into small steps will make it much easier for them to understand instructions.
13. Encourage questioning
The essence of the cognitivism theory is the importance of children's mental processes and thoughts. Through questioning, teachers can stimulate children's learning and encourage them to think and share their ideas. Children can use their imagination as well as develop their knowledge to get a better understanding if they are unsure of things.
14. Use visual cues
Scientifically, visual cues have proven to reduce the effort involved for children's visual memory as they interpret what is trying to be communicated. When a student can associate information with a specific stimulus, they are more likely to remember and retain information as they can organise information better in their memory. Mindmaps are a great way for children to sort out information visually. Similarly, we sell a range of posters that are a great visual reminder of positive behaviours.
15. Avoid distractions
Distractions will waste valuable time, therefore eliminating any distractions before starting the lesson can be helpful. Children need a clean environment to focus, so teachers often need to consider the classroom layout, desk arrangements, seating plans, and decorations around the room. Have rules in place to minimise distractions.
16. Use a Teacher's Pet Creature to get children thinking
Having a Your Teacher's Pet Creature is the perfect way to get children thinking about what is right and what is wrong in a more light-hearted way. This cuddly classroom friend can surely help educators teach behaviour management strategies and model making good choices through role-play and storytelling.
17. Make sure you actively listen
In order to support children and make them feel valued, listening is one of the most important teaching tools fundamental to the classroom environment. Listening is not just about hearing the words that come out of children's mouths. Instead, we should understand, empathise and support children to the best of our abilities.
18. Brainstorm before teaching a new concept
Coming together and sharing ideas before learning a new concept is a great way to make a safe space for children to express their views freely. Because this theory strongly links to mental processes, children can learn from each other by building on their existing knowledge.
19. Focus on the process rather than the end product
As teachers, we can often have a lot of expectations and focus on the final product rather than the process in which the child's learning. We need to bring a shift into actually encouraging children for putting in the effort. A simple example is commending children for manipulating the playdoh with their hands rather than waiting for them to roll a perfect ball shape.
20. Monitor noise levels in the classroom
Noise is inevitable in any classroom and ensures children are engaged in learning. However, if it is not monitored, it can quickly become distracting. An interactive visual cue such as the Noise-O-Meter can help children understand the appropriate noise volume for different times. For example, if the teacher is talking, the meter will be on 0 as children need to listen. If children are working in pairs and need to have a conversation, the meter may be on 3. Children can enjoy moving the arrow at different times of the day.
21. Be flexible
Educators must accept that children are unpredictable, and things may not always go according to what has been planned. If teachers plan lessons with a looser structure, they can accommodate student news and adapt the lesson according to things children may want to do.
22. Play the role of a facilitator rather than a teacher!
Instead of simply explaining principles and using drills to memorise things; the role of the facilitator is to help the learner gain their own understanding and perspective. It's important to guide children to reach specific goals, even if they use a different method to get there!
23. Stay authentic and be yourself!
To build a better relationship with children, it's fundamental to stay authentic and remain true to yourself. You don't need to change who you are just to become a teacher. Children love when teachers can relate the learning content to personal stories as it makes the lesson more engaging. Don't be afraid to crack a few jokes here and there, and always tell children the truth.
24. Be aware of the causes of poor behaviour to avoid them
Pre-existing conditions or external factors may cause distressing behaviour amongst certain children. Understanding and looking out for early warning signs can help prevent these behaviours. Work on strategies to manage the behaviours before it occurs, e.g. if a child loses interest in long lessons, break it up with a few short breaks and free playtime.
25. Focus on equity rather than equality
Although these two terms are used interchangeably, there is quite a big difference between the terms. Equality refers to giving children the same opportunity and resources. On the other hand, equity is about providing children with specific resources relevant to their needs and adapting management strategies to suit students' requirements.
26. Guide children but try not to give away the answer
Provide guidance and encouragement for children to make their own discoveries instead of passively giving answers. Our writing prompts can be used with older students to jog children's memory and assist them in knowing what to write.
27. Make learning more relevant
Children will quickly lose attention if they cannot relate to the content being taught. Try to connect the curriculum with their life and give real-life examples when explaining concepts. Build on what children already know. You can even involve children in dramatic or imaginative play related to the content for extra fun!
28. Observe the children's learning
When you take a step back and observe, you will be able to see how children learn and what techniques work best for them. Watch and listen to the children interacting with each other. You can then adapt different teaching techniques to suit each child.
29. Provide opportunities for discovery
Children can learn about the world around them by making their own discoveries. Students can learn life skills such as independence, autonomy, responsibility and problem solving if they go on a journey to seek answers for themselves.
30. Promote discussions
Instead of simply receiving information, having a class discussion can assist in processing ideas. Students use critical thinking skills to understand different perspectives. Voicing their perceptions and using communication skills is also an essential aspect of learning.
Social Learning Theory
31. Be a good role model
The root of this theory is that children learn through observing. Because teachers are such an important figure in children's lives, they often impart some of life's most valuable lessons. Children will imitate what they see; we should inspire and motivate them to be the best versions of themselves to succeed in life.
32. Treat each child with respect and kindness
No matter how children are behaving, each child must be given affection and warmth. Negative behaviour can often occur if student's feel neglected or are looking for more attention. Children should also respect each other. The 100 acts of kindness & 100 positive behaviours poster is an excellent reminder for children to be compassionate in the classroom environment.
33. Ensure smooth transitions
Transition refers to the time between classroom activities or subjects during the day. Moving from one lesson to the other can sometimes be harder than it seems! Children might make more noise, start moving around and get distracted if they don't know what to do. Try to use hand signals, clapping or gestures to get the children's attention. You can even sing songs and ask them to join in for younger children.
34. Get on the children's level
Try to avoid talking from the top. When you want to engage with a child. Bend down and physically get to the same level as them. The same applies to language. Make an effort to communicate with simple words the children can understand.
35. Incorporate hands-on and manipulative materials
In a traditional classroom, you will find textbooks, workbooks and a whiteboard. The constructivist theory recognises that children learn through being involved. Children need to manipulate, touch and construct with different materials to better understand the concepts being taught.
36. Promote group learning
This theory is built on the notion of collaborative learning because children construct their knowledge based on their environment. Group learning has many benefits such as building children's confidence and helping shape their own perspective. Children become more willing to share their views if this type of learning is encouraged.
37. Use positive language
Modify the language you use by swapping out negative terms with more positive language. Children will feel less threatened, and it removes the harshness. A few examples include: "Don't bang the door" can be replaced with "Please shut the door quietly" or "No running" can be exchanged with "Please walk in the classroom".
38. Stay organised
There can be nothing worse for a teacher than not preparing a lesson. Children can easily pick up if you are teaching impromptu and will quickly lose interest. Make sure you have plans, materials, worksheets etc all ready to go before the lesson so things run more smoothly and you can get the maximum benefits from the time you have with children.
39. Keep children motivated
Whether you use intrinsic or extrinsic incentives, it's important to keep children motivated so they can achieve the best academic performance. Intrinsic motivation refers to enabling children to set goals and helping them to achieve them. Extrinsic motivation is using an award system. Check out our classroom awards and rewards jar for more ideas!
Allowing children to be part of the decision-making process can help teach them about responsibility and empower them to feel valued in the classroom. Simply asking questions such as would you like to do this activity first or would you like to have some free play can assist children in developing into more robust and more responsible adults.
42. Build effective relationships
A positive teacher-student relationship that is nurtured and built on honesty will help children flourish and increase positive outcomes. Having a warm, open relationship with students can help them feel a sense of security.
43. Help children set goals
At the beginning of the school year, ask children what they would like to learn this year and the goals they would like to achieve this year. Our learning goals trackeris beneficial to keep children motivated and remind children of the goals they set.
44. Create a safe learning environment
Holistically, children should feel a sense of belonging in the classroom. Ensure all children are physically, mentally and emotionally fit. Cater to each child's needs and guide them if they struggle in any of these aspects.
45. Movement integration
Sitting down for long periods can be quite challenging for young children. To make it less tedious for children, allow students to have a stretch periodically or play a quick game to give children a brain break so they can feel refreshed. This is a great tactic that can increase productivity in young children and help them focus.
46. Establish partnerships with parents and families
Because feelings are central to the humanism theory, all external factors play a huge role in children's lives. Encouraging partnerships with parents and families validates that education is a shared responsibility and positive parent engagement is linked to better learning outcomes for children.
47. Foster children's creativity
Creative classrooms can often be a more fun learning experience. A few creative examples that can be incorporated into your program include; storytelling, arts and craft, music and puppets. In terms of behaviour management, approaching instruction with different mediums can be very engaging.
48. Encourage self-evaluation
Traditional classroom models will use class tests to understand if the child is meeting learning outcomes. Self-evaluation can help foster independent learning. Children identify the areas they think they are doing well and also where they might be struggling. This is an excellent way for children to identify their challenges and accomplishments.
49. Differentiate learning
Accepting that each child learns differently is central to this theory. Learning needs to be conceptualised to meet the requirements of each child. Lesson plans need to be simplified for children who may be struggling and extended for those who find it too easy. The Early Finishers pack can be printed out for young children, which aims to keep them busy to focus on helping students who need extra support.
50. Celebrate children's achievements
A child's intrinsic motivation is highly valuable, so it is important to acknowledge even their small successes and achievements to make them feel valued. Simply recognising students' efforts can significantly impact their overall performance.
To conclude, many of these classroom management techniques will aid teachers in helping students achieve the best learning outcomes in the classroom environment. Implementing some of these techniques in your teaching practices can keep children more engaged and motivated. Teachers must build a relationship with students to understand their learning methods. No matter which theory you apply, students will benefit from a more well organised and fun classroom where they can be themselves.