Your room is set up, you’ve gotten to know your students, and your routines are in place. Now it’s time to find some strategies that will keep things running smoothly. Here are some of my personal best practices for maintaining a calm and happy classroom.

The Quiet Corner

Designate an area your “Quiet Corner,” preferably away from fluorescent lights. Set out some calming items for kids who need a break. Include things connected with the senses, such as a pair of sunglasses, a music player and headphones, a puppet, a dish of mints, and a scented, color-changing wax warmer (some are sensitive to scents, so get parents’ permission).

The “I’m Done!” Center

To curb disruptions, create a center for early finishers that’s set apart so that students can be active without bothering classmates who are still working. Include unstructured learning materials, such as writing supplies, books, pocket charts, and felt boards.

The Tattle Box

Kids don’t always tattle to get others in trouble. Sometimes they just need to talk out a confusing situation. Give them a way to do so that doesn’t disturb you. Include paper and pencils, a decorated box with a slot in the top, and a play phone.

The Grouping Game

Group your students in a variety of fun ways so that the transition will be easy and quick instead of chaotic. Match by a combination of color, shape, number, or even clothing type. Items to include: things that have multiple attributes, such as dice, stickers, buttons, and toy cars.

More Strategies I Love

▶ Use a battery-powered push light as a visual signal not to disturb you when you’re working with other students or can’t be interrupted.

▶ Use sand timers with different lengths of time to suit various needs.

▶ Choose one “mystery student” each day to monitor while walking in line—everyone will behave!

▶ Set aside 10 minutes in the morning to greet students individually: Ask each child a question, make a comment, or give some words of encouragement.

▶ Award your class a piece to a puzzle every time they get a compliment.

▶ Provide variety in your centers to keep students motivated.


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Photo: Courtesy of Allie Magnuson