Organizing Your Class for Success

I’m currently placed in a Head Start program where I have been learning a lot about what to do, and what not to do with a classroom full of 4-year-olds.  So far, it’s been a bumpy ride, as I have had several different teachers in-and-out of my placement classroom since I started a month ago… Seven to be exact.  With that being said, it’s super hard to pinpoint which management strategies work for these kiddos, but it also means that I have seen a million and one strategies used since all teachers are different.

How do we know what strategies to use, when to use them, and if they’ll be effective?  Really, it’s all about experimentation and your own preferences.  Some teachers can sit quietly and wait for their class to manage themselves, others may need an extra set of vocals to calm a group of children.  It all depends on your situation and your teaching style, but there will always be a strategy out there that will work for you.  Of course, each child is different as well, and combining all of these different children in one room will call for the use of different strategies.  Some kids may only need redirection, others will need a 1-on-1 time if they cannot control their outbursts themselves.

One article that I found to be extremely helpful is “20 Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques” written by Marcus Guido, which you can access here.  In this article, Guido outlines a good amount of techniques that you can experiment with.  They’re all research-backed strategies, and my favorite part is that they are all positive!  Not one of the strategies that are mentioned involves punishment or exclusion, so I think the majority of these could give successful results.  Guido also included a downloadable list available to print as well so you can keep these strategies with you right at your desk!  Very cool.

A second article I found to be interesting is “7 Classroom Management Techniques That Really Work” written by the WeAreTeachers Staff which you can access here.  In this article, there are seven straight-forward answers to the question of “Will these strategies be effective?”.  I believe these are solid tips since the article itself was published by a staff of educators.  Unless they are out to sabotage all teachers seeking help, these tips are legitimate!  Like the first article mentioned, this one also outlines positivity, building relationships, consistency, and more.

As a bonus, I also came across this PDF file, which is super helpful, it’s just a lot to read.  However, it does outline considerations for research to practice techniques, which is perfect!  The practices were grouped into five categories: (a) physical arrangement of the classroom, (b) structure of the classroom environment, (c) instructional management, (d) procedures designed to increase appropriate behavior, and (e) procedures designed to decrease inappropriate behavior.  I find this paper useful because it outlines techniques that not many people think of as being effective, like the placement of the kid’s tables/desks.

Overall, these three articles project very useful tips and tricks on how to implement certain techniques in your classroom.  It is up to you as the teacher to know when to use them, because, besides their parents, you are the one who knows your students the best.  This also means you must be prepared to accommodate these strategies to fit your own needs and teaching style.  Remember, classroom management doesn’t mean that the children need to be punished, but that they may need more of a set structure in order to fulfill their needs as a student.

Here are a few short videos that demonstrate some techniques as well:

Managing A Classroom – There’s always a way to success

As an aspiring teacher, and a current childcare center employee, classroom management is always the most apparent educational aspect to me.  All teachers implement different, effective techniques for their classrooms, and I usually focus my attention on the variety of strategies that I, too, could try out someday.  Of course, improvement is never a bad thing, nor is shaking things up a bit and experimenting with potential management skills that could work equally as well, or better for you!  In my field placement, however, this is not the case.  I have noticed more often than not, the struggles my Co-op teachers face daily when it comes to managing a classroom full of 4 and 5 year olds.  Rather than learning new skills that I could someday use as well, I often notice that the preschool classroom I am currently placed in does not have much of a management system at all.

Like most preschools, both the students and the teachers begin the morning with carpet time.  During this period, we outline the daily schedule (which does not change, it’s more of a reminder for the students), we discuss and update the calendar, and then we read a story before it is time for centers.  As I stated before though, without classroom management, this daily morning routine always turns into a longer, more stressful carpet time than it should be.  For example, on the daily schedule, morning carpet time is only supposed to take roughly 15 minutes to complete, but without effective management skills, it takes nearly 45 minutes to settle the students and catch their attention, before even beginning the lesson.  Taking the time to try and redirect a handful of 4 year olds causes the obvious loss of valuable class time, and can also cause the students who once had your attention, to act out as well.  With that being said, how do we know what management strategies to use?  How do we know when to use them?  How do we know they will be effective?

We all know it is especially difficult to hold the attention of 20+ preschoolers.  We also know that not all classroom management techniques will work for the same age groups.  Many management strategies advise that you create and maintain meaningful relationships with your students in order to prevent inappropriate behavior because “students won’t listen to a teacher they don’t like”, or for more accuracy, a teacher they aren’t as comfortable with.  For preschoolers though, many of them are very accepting and couldn’t care less whether or not you’re a one-eyed troll, they will be your friend.  Under this circumstance though, you may need to experiment with a management approach that isn’t so obvious.  Between this article by Megan Ruesink, or this article by Allison McDonald, they have provided 20 different examples that could potentially be your answer!

After reading about the different approaches that you could experiment with in your classroom, and learning when the right time to implement them is, our remaining question still stands: how do we know that these strategies will be effective?  The truth is, the only way to know is by doing!  All students respond differently to certain approaches, so it is up to you as the authority figure to find which ones work best with your specific classroom, and to stay consistent with them!

It is definitely a bumpy ride trying to gain control of a classroom full of preschool students, but I leave this article with you in case you’re ever in need of a few extra tips or a boost of confidence.  Don’t worry, we’ve all been there!