The Best Classroom Management Strategies for the Beginning of School

The Best Classroom Management Strategies for the Beginning of School

The cool part of being a teacher is having the ability to start fresh each school year! It gives us an opportunity to try new ideas and refine those strategies that worked. Here are some of my ideas for making the best of this new school year:

1. Build Community. Consider your classroom like a family. Help the children get to know each other and you. Take the opportunity to create a personal connection to every child. Remember that the children who are struggling in school, especially with behavior issues, need even more of a connection. Here are some activities to get you started:

  • Classmate Scavenger Hunt. Make a BINGO game board. In each square put a description that might fit the children in your class, such as “Comes to School on the Bus.” Children talk to each other, trying to find the child’s name to match each square.
  • Classroom Family Book: Children each draw a self portrait, and depending on their age, either dictate or write something about themselves. The pages are laminated or covered in page protectors and put in a binder and become part of the classroom library. Read the book frequently to the children during the beginning of the school year.
  • Picture Name Cards.Take a digital picture of each child and laminate it on a small index card. Punch a hole through the cards and put them on a binder ring. Choose one child to start in the middle of the circle. That child looks at one of the cards, finds that child, says “good morning” and then takes that child’s place in the circle. The next child then turns over the next card and starts the process again.
  • Duck Duck Goose Name Chase . Play by the standard rules for Duck Duck Goose but instead the child who is “It” says the name of each child as he or she goes around the circle.
  • Who Am I? The children write or dictate something about themselves privately during the day. Then at group time, you read each description without telling the name. The children will play a guessing game to figure out who you are describing.

Here’s a video showing how Morning Meeting can be used to build community every day:

2. Teach Procedures. The key to getting a smooth running classroom is teaching children all the steps to the classroom procedures. Think through all the behaviors that children need to learn, like transitioning to the carpet, cleaning up, using materials, or going to the bathroom. There is almost no procedure too simple to teach directly. The Responsive Classroom has a terrific technique for doing this called Interactive Modeling. Here’s a great example:

3. Build Social and Emotional Skills. Young children often misbehave because they haven’t got the social and emotional skills to handle the demands of the classroom. For example, some children will need help learning how to use words instead of actions when they are frustrated. Some children need help learning how to be kind and say nice things to make friends. Other children need to learn how to calm down when they are upset. It isn’t effective to punish children when they are lacking these skills; instead you can add this to your curriculum or work one-on-one tutoring children who need it.


 4. Children Engaged. Children misbehave when they are not engaged in the lesson. Are children chatting during your read aloud? Poking each other during circle time? Playing with things in their desk during lessons? Try using techniques that keep children actively involved with hands-on materials and give lots of short breaks to keep their attention focused. Try alternatives to hand-raising.

The teachers with the smoothest running classrooms spend the first 6 weeks working on these strategies. Don’t worry as much about keeping up with your curriculum or teaching a lot of new concepts in the first month. You’ll make up for the time spent on classroom management activities by having a more efficient classroom throughout the year. Most of all, you and the children will be happier and have a more joyful year!

Please share in the comments any of your beginning of the year strategies that have worked to get your classroom off to a good start!


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