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7 Simple Classroom Management Strategies for a Calmer Classroom

Inside: Seven effective, easy-to-implement classroom management strategies

Sometimes we have students who require elaborate behavior plans. These can be tricky and time consuming. However, we make the time because we know it’s in the best interest of the student.

Those are for the big issues. The ones that require team meetings, a calming area, and a barrel full of patience.

But what about the little issues?

  • blurting
  • arguing
  • unable to resist that scrap of paper on the floor

These types of behaviors require different classroom management strategies. Simpler ones.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve felt everything from annoyed to challenged by “little issues”. These days, I feel determined to find just the right motivator to put an end to these behaviors once and for all.

Consistency in Classroom Management Strategies

Regardless of whether you use one of the classroom management strategies I’m recommending or something else, consistency is key.

Consistency helps students understand expectations, rewards, and consequences.

It’s equally important for students to understand that consistency may look different for different students. Some may need more reinforcers and/or a different consequence than others.

A girl needing classroom management strategies
This girl could benefit from some behavior management strategies. Photo by Yuliya Timofeeva.

It Comes Down to This

To change student behavior, you can reinforce positive behavior or give a consequence to negative behavior.

Reinforcing positive behavior involves rewarding students for desired behaviors, so they will continue. This can be done through praise, privileges, or tangible rewards.

On the other hand, addressing negative behaviors with appropriate consequences helps students understand that certain actions are not acceptable.

I have had much better luck rewarding positive behavior, but there are definitely times when consequences are appropriate. The strategies below are the ones I have found to be most effective overall.

(There are some affiliate links to Amazon products on this post.)

Bonus: It’s always best to emphasize prevention. Make sure to read to the end and grab my free Behavior Decision Cards to stop undesirable behaviors before they start.

1. Fuzzy Jar

This whole group reward system has been a staple in my class ever since I started teaching second grade. Students try to fill up a jar with fuzzies through positive behaviors.

In the beginning of the year, the fuzzies are easy to earn. I’ll reward routine behaviors like having two sharpened pencils in the morning. Later in the year, it gets harder, and more focused on classroom goals.

Some of the rewards stay consistent.

  • Good reports from a sub
  • Quiet in the hall
  • An overall great day!

Once the jar is full, the class earns a party!

I like to use different sized fuzzies to make the reward match the behavior. I also remove fuzzies, if needed. However, I try not to do that unless absolutely necessary.

A jar of fuzzies to help with behavior management
Try different sized fuzzies so the behavior matches the reward.

2. Table Points

For this strategy, students have to work together to earn table points. Tables can earn points for following directions, working quietly, and being good role models.

The biggest benefit here is that students encourage each other and give reminders about behavior expectations.

Once a table earns 50 points, they get a reward card. These are (mostly) free, easily accessible rewards you can give to your students. “Super Supplies” and “Teacher Area” are always a hit.

A set of forty reward cards
Reward Coupons are excellent motivators!

3. Stickers

Who doesn’t love stickers? Whether you use a sticker chart, planners, or give the sticker directly to the student, stickers are an easy, immediate, and inexpensive reward.

4. Pay Them

Once we hit April, my students are ready for something different, as even the most effective systems can run their course.

Our economics unit starts in April and runs to the end of May. At this time, we scrap some of our reward systems in exchange for earning dollars for positive behaviors. Students are rewarded as individuals, tables, and whole class.

They use the money to purchase student-made items at the end of the year.

This system doesn’t have to be related to an economics unit. You can use play money to reward students throughout the year and offer them ways to purchase prizes and privileges.

5. Clothespins and a Lanyard

This is one of the easiest classroom management strategies. (Shoutout to my teammate, Denise!) It works great for individual goals like sitting inappropriately, blurting, and interrupting.

I put 3-5 small clothespins on one side of my lanyard. Whenever the student exhibits the behavior we are trying to stop, I move a clothespin from one side of my lanyard to the other. Once all the clips are moved, there is a consequence. The consequence varies by student, but here are some common ones.

  • Move your seat
  • Email to parents
  • Lose 5 minutes of choice time
  • Apology letter
  • Reflection sheet
Clothespins for behavior management
Who knew clothespins could be the key to stopping unwanted behavior?

6. Raffles

As a school, we hand out “Pride tickets” when we notice students being safe, kind, and/or responsible. The tickets go in a bin designated for their grade level. Every Friday there is a drawing where three students from each grade level get to choose a prize.

My students love this! If we ever stop doing this as a school, I will find a way to integrate it into my classroom management strategies.

7. Mystery Student

Our librarian chooses a mystery student from every class. No one know who it is. However, if that person makes good choices, they will earn a prize at the end of class. If they make poor choices, the class never finds out who the mystery student is.

I love picking up my students and hearing someone say, “Guess what? I was the mystery student today!”

This boy is trying the shh behavior management technique.
Students never know when they will be the mystery student. Photo by speed300.

Relationships are First

No matter how big or small the behavior problem is, you won’t get anywhere without a positive relationship. Students need to know that you care and they can trust you.

A strong relationship can make it easier to implement reinforcement procedures, as students are more receptive to feedback from someone they trust.

This may take time, but the rewards are well worth it!

Get it Right From the Start

The best time to set classroom expectations is at the beginning of the school year, and I have just what you need to get your year started off on the right foot.

Make sure to download these free Behavior Decision Cards today! (No worries if it’s later in the school year. The cards are still effective!)

These cards spark classroom discussions. Students can share, discuss, and even act out the best and the worst ways to handle tricky situations.

Equip your students with the tools they need to make positive decisions from day one.

  • 24 situation cards
  • Print-friendly version of the cards
  • Suggestions for us

What is your most effective classroom management strategy? Please share your ideas in the comments.

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Teaching blogger for elementary teachers

Mary Wingert, licensed educator (K-12 Special Ed. & 1-8 General Ed)

I started teaching in 1993.   I have taught special education, fifth grade, and fourth grade.  I moved to second grade in 2015, and I am still there today.  

I believe in teaching strategies that are effective, differentiated, and engaging. I am looking forward to building a community of teachers who feels the same!  Read more here.