Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers

Welcome to the wonderful world of teaching early elementary students! As elementary school teachers, we know that managing a classroom full of young learners can be both exciting and, let’s be honest, a bit chaotic at times. But fear not! I’ve put together a list of simple strategies to help you tackle those common classroom management struggles with a smile on your face (at least most of the time.) Here are some of my favorite ways to support classroom management for elementary teachers. 

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL

Alright, alright…I know you’re really here looking for some practical classroom management techniques, (don’t worry…I promise I’ve got those coming for you). BUT FIRST, can we just take a moment to acknowledge that classroom management in a room packed with 30 six year old’s is just plain hard! I don’t care if you’re a new teacher or you’ve been at this whole education thing for years. We ALL have days where our students’ disruptive behavior gets in the way of learning, these young children tear apart our beautifully arranged classrooms, and that positive learning environment we’ve worked SO hard to build goes to crap! (I’d use another word, but it just doesn’t feel right for a blog post focused on 5-7 year olds.)

Here are a few different situations that can lead to a disorganized and chaotic elementary classroom (and an overwhelmed teacher.) 

Picture this: crayons scattered like confetti, papers flying like kites, and a mysterious trail of glitter leading to who-knows-where. Sound familiar? Keeping the classroom tidy is like herding cats sometimes, but with some evidence-based practices, clear expectations, (and a whole lotta patience), we can turn chaos into order!

Ah, the wonderful world of distractions – from the classic pencil tapping to the sudden urge to share the latest playground gossip (usually during THE MOST climatic moment of your class read aloud). It’s all part of the adventure of teaching, right? Don’t worry — it is actually possible to get our kiddos back on track with a few key strategies. (Stay tuned.)

To pee or not to pee, that is the question! Bathroom breaks can sometimes feel like a logistical puzzle, especially when you’re in the middle of a riveting read-aloud or an important math lesson. Do you stop for a whole class break? (But let’s be honest…those are the worst!) Or do you let your students leave for bathroom breaks whenever they need to go? This essentially guarantees that students will be missing important classroom activities. (Not much better.) 

Now that we’ve established a base level of “solidarity” — let’s unpack the good news…  

It IS actually possible to have a well-managed classroom! You know, the kind where your posters stay attached to the walls, the academic achievement of your students is improving month after month, and you don’t feel like pulling your hair out at the end of the day (most of the time.) Let’s unpack some behavior management best practices to help you build a positive classroom environment that functions well for you and your elementary level students. 

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES (THAT ACTUALLY WORK) 

WHOLE CLASS REWARDS 

One of my absolute favorite effective classroom management strategies is using whole class incentives or rewards. Whether your students are working towards some extra recess time or a class party, we can achieve amazing things when we work together. These easy to prep, print and go resources make positive reinforcement for good classroom behavior easy for any busy teacher to do.

Here’s how they work:

Step 1: Choose (or even better, co-create with your students) a class goal to work towards. (Ex: Having agendas on their desk before the national anthem.)

Step 2: Every morning when students are successful in completing the goal, they earn a piece to add to the reward challenge.

Step 3: Once all of the pieces have been earned, the whole class earns the reward! Bring on the pizza party! (Or whatever reward you choose.)

Each of the 13 different reward themes contained within this resource is editable, so you can pick and choose the rewards that work for YOUR classroom. The variety of themes (ex: crayon box, pizza, and seasonal/holiday themes) also helps to keep the excitement around the reward system going for your whole school year.

  •  These reward systems help build a classroom culture of mutual respect and shared responsibility. 
  • They offer meaningful opportunities for a class discussion about teamwork. 
  • They’re just plain fun!! Students get excited to “fill the crayon box with crayons” or “earn all the gumballs in the machine” and of course, the rewards themselves are a nice perk too. (Honestly — what little kid wouldn’t get excited about a pajama party?

VISUAL DIRECTIONS & REMINDERS 

Let’s face it – sometimes words just don’t cut it. If you’ve ever had to explain the same set of basic directions 100 times in a row (let’s be honest, we’ve all been there), you know what I mean. That’s where visual aids come to the rescue! From colorful charts to handy cue cards, you can make every task a simple one for your students to complete. 

Why use visual instructions?

Visual direction cards are perfect for establishing a classroom routine and developing student independence. With over 40 different cue cards to choose from (in both rainbow bright and pastel colors) students will be able to know exactly what they need to do, just by looking at the board. Trust me…these cards will save so much time and frustration (for you and your students).

DESK FAIRY NOTES

If you are looking for a unique approach to keeping your classroom tidy and your students’ desks organized, give this strategy a try! Once a week (or so) I recommend doing a “desk check.” You can do this after school or while your students are at lunch or recess. During this check, you’ll evaluate the cleanliness of student desks and leave a little note (and possibly a treat) for students with exceptionally neat workspaces! 

Why this works:

It doesn’t take much to get young students to believe that a magical desk fairy truly is coming to check on the cleanliness of their desks. (Trust me…they super buy into it!!) When the desk fairy comes and leaves sweet notes and treats for students with clean desks and “clean your desk” reminders from the desk fairy police (for those less than tidy kiddos in your classroom), you’d be amazed how quickly your classroom desks are tidyed and organized! Honestly…it’s kinda shocking how excited a six year old can get about cleaning a desk!

Teacher Tip:

Keep these visits from the desk fairy sporadic and surprising! This will encourage your little learners to always keep their desks neat just in case the desk fairy decides to make a visit today.

REMINDER BRACELETS

Do you ever worry that your important class reminders just aren’t making it the long way home to parents? Let’s be frank…every year you have specific students (you know the ones) whose parents will never get the field trip form, the picture day reminder, or the book fair announcement. One of my favorite practical strategies for keeping parents in the loop is using reminder bracelets! This can be especially helpful for communicating with parents that don’t have or use technology. These visual reminder cards can be taped or stapled to students’ wrists or attached to backpack handles.

Not only do they help with parent communication, but they also make sure students have the opportunity to participate in this communication. They get SO excited to share their reminder bracelets with their parents. I’ve even had students request bracelets on days that they really didn’t need one.

Plus, on a practical note…It’s a lot harder for them to forget about their field trip forms when there is a bright blue bracelet on their wrist.

My reminder bracelet pack comes with over 50 preset options and several editable templates that you can customize to meet your specific needs.

I’ve got you covered! In my classroom management bundle,  you can grab each of the resources mentioned in this post PLUS several other resources designed to increase student engagement and improve student behavior in your elementary school classroom. This bundle includes: 

Grab your CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT BUNDLE today! 

FINAL THOUGHTS…

Remember that classroom management for elementary teachers is not just about keeping the peace – it’s about creating a warm, welcoming space where every student feels valued and empowered to learn. Using these classroom management resources, new teachers and veterans alike will be equipped to build positive relationships with their students, while ensuring that classroom rules are being followed throughout the school day. With just a few simple resources, your early elementary classroom can be a place where your young students learn and you can enjoy a class read aloud in peace.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *