Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Challenge of Classroom Management

I've been pondering how I can try and offer advice on what works the best in managing an art class with both classroom and cart.  The truth is that not one single trick works for everyone.  Every single art class is different with unique students, behaviors, and enthusiasm.  I have explored ways to create rules for the class, standards for behavior, routines and procedures, and much more.  Throughout the year, it can change depending on the climate of the class.

I would like to offer tips and suggestions for what worked best with me, and throughout fall I will be posting visuals of my classroom(s) that display reminders, rules, etc.

Create your Rules.  In the beginning of every year, create your list of rules.  As king or queen of your classroom (or cart), you must set the rules straight from day one.  Your rules also set your routine throughout the year.  How should the students enter the room?  How should they be ready when you push that cart into the room?  Should they be listening while you're talking?  What are the consequences for disrespect?  I notice that even after 6 years, I am adding new rules or refining ones in place.  I do notice that students I have had throughout the years are now familiar with my routines, and they have been making great improvements in their behavior, artwork, and following directions.

Create Your Time Schedule.  Make time for your lesson, and be sure to create time for passing out materials and cleaning up.  I've heard some art teachers have worked out with their co-workers to clean up after their allotted art time, but our schedule's too tight in our district.  Within 40 minutes, I take attendance, discuss, instruct, demonstrate, guide students during  project, and clean up.  I allot the last five minutes for clean up, and they must be done before I even look at any positive rewards.  Yes, the students also create some awesome work in that time.

Create a Mantra.    Does your school have a universal message that can be used in your class?  In my district, we use the three R's: Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect Your School (then we sing R-E-S-P-E-C-T).  This theme is repeated many times throughout the school year to help promote self-respect and pride in one's manners.  I always start with a discussion of how the three R's can be used in the art room.  There are so many mantras that can be used within the art room that are more art-related, and if you're on Pinterest, I have them saved in a board!

Control Your Noise.  This is the area I struggle the most with because I believe students should be allowed to interact while they are working on their projects.  I also have difficulties creating my own work without background noise, like music.  The students know their noise level must be kept down, but many times, they forget or ignore the rules.  I'll be the first to admit I become embarrassed when the principal walks in because a student shouted out loud and it was heard in the hallway.  There are some ways I keep the noise down.  First, I use a "Yacker Tracker," a handy noise detector that looks like a stoplight.  When the detector reaches red, I give only one warning.  If it reaches red again, they lose their star for the day.

This video also shares a great trick for controlling noise in the classroom without verbal reminders.  It's from (I found this on Pinterest...see how awesome that site can be!)

Reward Systems.  Recently, I switched to star rewards for each day.  If a class reaches four stars, every student receives a token prize, which can be candy, or pencils, art samples, or stickers.  For some teachers, I've heard they give free art time.  My students get some free time when they finish projects, but with all the fun projects to make, I run out of time to do all my lessons by the end of the year!  I kept track of my stars on a chart large enough to keep all 21 classes and site all the weeks of the year.  Gosh, I wish I took a picture of that covered at the end of the school year. I'll have my new picture added in a few weeks!

Prior to the star system, I used a game called "Picasso Pic."  The object of the game was to start a class with 5 numbers on the board, representing 5 students that could get picked.  Each student sat at a seat with a number.  The numbers were then written on poker chips and placed n a box.  If a class became too loud, they lost a number.  If a multiple students were misbehaving, another number.  At the end of clean up, the numbers on the board represented the number of students picked.  You pick a number out of the box, that student received a prize.  I found many flaws with this game and decided not to use it anymore.  First, students were getting picked over and over, while others waiting weeks and weeks.  I tried to keep track of who was picked and who wasn't, and it became a hassle.  Second, since some students didn't get picked for weeks, it wasn't fair.  Third, I got tired of students taking too much time to pick out of the box.  Lastly, I had prizes stolen.  This game does work in other schools, but not in mine.

With my grades K-3, I use Class Dojo, which is an online point-based classroom management system that has worked wonders.  You enter each students name in a class, and while you have that class, you can add or subtract points depending on the student's behavior.  I like to give rewards for most points earned every three classes.  Students want to earn their points, and when I randomly announce a point given, I love seeing the room give a silent cheer!

Understand That You Are Not Perfect.  After 5 full years, I still change strategies for managing behavior.  The reward system is nice, but then you may have one or two students that continue with their behavior.  This is where you have to keep on your game.  Is the student teasing others?  Notify the parent.  Is the parent difficult to reach on the phone?  Write a letter.  Are there issues with a group of students?  Separate them!  Still issues?  Repeat the previous statement.  Sound like I'm complaining?  Well, it happens!  Teaching what you love is awesome, but you still need to manage your classes.

Seating Charts.  If you're on a cart and move from room to room, you're golden.  The chart's in place!  Communicate with the classroom teacher on any changes or designated spaces for students in the room while you're giving your lesson.  If you do have a classroom, create charts.  I create 21 different charts, and they have to be done in pencil.  I draw a floor plan, photocopy it, then write the class name and students in their table places.  When I need to switch, an eraser will help you in modifying your seating arrangement.  In my situation, if the chart is not in place, the students' behavior was different.

I have much more to share, but it is late.  So many strategies to write about...

If you would like to visit my board of Tips to Manage Classroom and Cart on Pinterest, please visit


  1. The problem here is that the person getting bullied doesn’t think it is funny and does care that it happened to them.

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  3. Clear rules are really necessary for the best management of classroom. According to essay writing services classroom rules protect every student’s right to learn and enjoy school. They have to cover every possible interruption, disruption and misbehavior in the classroom.