Classroom Management and Discipline Tips for New Teachers
part of my series, I Just Got a Teaching Job... Now What?!
One of the toughest things for a new teacher is usually discipline. There are a lot of tightropes to walk.
- Your kids need to know you care about them, but they also still need to see you as an authority, not a friend.
- The kids need to feel they can be forgiven, but they need to feel like it matters when they mess up.
- The overall atmosphere should seem positive, but there needs to be consequences when misbehaviors happen.
Everyone always says that it's easier to start out tough and back off, and I agree- but that doesn't mean you don't smile, at least in elementary. Kids need to feel they can trust you, and a smile is a great way to start building that relationship with the kids.
But they need to know that you will follow through, too. Being nice and smiling doesn't mean cutting them a break when they break a rule. That first week and after, I make it a point to give one verbal reminder, and then crack down.
When I think of discipline, I like to have:
- Class rewards
- Individual rewards
- Individual consequences
- And as needed:
- Team rewards
- Team consequences
- Class consequences (as a last resort- I don't like to do these very often because you end up punishing some kids who don't deserve it.)
When you choose a discipline system for your classroom, make sure it's something that includes positive reinforcement for good behavior, and is easy to follow consistently for negative behavior.
The "marble jar" works well in my class for a whole class reward, but I also love the idea of team rewards through a "barrel of monkeys" competition or a whole class trying to build Mr. Potato Head together. These pictures are linked to their sources at Pinterest!
That last one is SO much cuter than my marble jar!! (If you pin these, please pin the original sources, not me! It's only fair :)
I was hoping to give you a collection of individual classroom management systems, but it turns out that The Clutter-Free Classroom just did. Check out her post here.
I really enjoyed the clip chart last year. For me, it was a way to give every kid something to work for the whole day, each day, no matter where they were on the chart. Even once a kid made it to red, they knew I'd be proud of them (and tell their parents) if they were able to move back up the chart. It was never to the point of "Oh, you lost your recess, so now there's no need to try anymore" which I found happening with a "stoplight" system in the past.
I can also reward different kids for different things. If one student always forgets to put their name on their paper and they remember this time, I can reward them because it's extraordinary for them.
I have also found that, even when kids got a choice of the prizes or something like lunch with the teacher or a positive phone call home, they tend to pass on the prizes.
How cute are these free coupons, too? (Again, if you pin, please click over to Mel's to pin it from her site!)
Intrinsic rewards are the best. When my kids reach "Sparkling," the other kids cheer (I didn't teach them to do this, but they started it on their own and I love it). They also take home a bookmark, a sticker on their newsletter, and a little certificate to show their parents (thank youuu, Target Dollar Spot).
At the end of the day, they get to sign the Sparkling Hall of Fame (a laminated piece of black construction paper) with a silver Sharpie, which they love. They add tally marks after their first time signing.
After reaching Sparkling 10 times (which only 2 of my kids did last year!), they get to go over their name in gold Sharpie and get special recognition from the principal.
I keep certificates ready to go, even signed already, so that all I have to do is add the name and date while they pick a sticker, and then I hand them the bookmark and the marker to go sign the HoF. DONE.
Plus- let kids make your job easier when it comes to tracking the discipline. My 2nd graders were carefully chosen for the job of Clip Chart Recorder, where they took a mini clipboard and filled out a 0 for red, 1 for orange, and so on up the chart for each student each morning, and then they moved the clips back to green to start the day. They loved helping, and I didn't have to do it. Win, win. Occasionally, kids will make a mistake- but overall, it worked so well when I chose conscientious kids (or had two kids work together so they'd catch each other's mistakes).
When you think about consequences, be careful taking away recess. Often the ones who would get it taken away are the ones who need it the most. That said, sometimes there isn't another consequence that motivates the student, so sometimes it's very hard to avoid.
In my class, kids who reach red take home a Think Sheet. I copy plenty at the beginning of the year, fill out the name and date, and add a note in my binder so I remember that it went home. The kid does the rest, unless I want to write a note to Mom and Dad on there.
Make sure parents aren't only hearing you contact them with bad news. That first week, I make it a point to send positive notes home with the students who I can already tell will be a challenge, because I want their parents to see that I do see the good things about their child. Usually, those parents haven't heard good news from their child's teacher in awhile.
When I send kids to pack up, every kid is supposed to color in their newsletter- and those on red or sparkling come to my desk to get what they need. It's a quick process that I can get done while the other kids are packing up.
Make the rewards or punishments something that will be easy and quick enough for you to do at that point in the day. The end of the day is hectic enough without 10 kids getting stamps or going to the store. If you want to do those things, fine- but do the store once a week, or give a student the job of being a Stamper.
A discipline system needs to work for you, so choose carefully, and just like in organization, don't be afraid to try or add something new. I love my clip chart, but I know that depending on my students this year, it may not work. Or, it may not work for one or two students who need something more individualized and tailored to what motivates them personally. Keep it simple and consistent, and you should be able to find what works for your class.
And if you're not? Please ask for help. Other teachers will be happy to offer what has worked for them, and the blogging world (myself included) will be happy to offer some advice, too!