4 Classroom Management Tips to Start the School Year

The most important part of classroom management is building respectful relationships with and between your students, according to Batsheva Frankel, author of The Jewish Educator's Companion. "It often starts with a smile. Just showing our students how happy we are to be with them, and how passionately we care about our subject, goes a long way toward creating that welcoming atmosphere that is just as important in the middle and end of the year as it is in the beginning."

The most crucial time to create relationships with your students is at the beginning of the school year. Frankel offers some strategies to let your students know who you are and what you expect of them.

Create classroom rules

Ask students to help you devise three to five classroom rules that will create a great learning environment. State rules in the positive. For example, "I will listen to others respectfully and let them finish what they are saying before I speak." If you feel it is appropriate to post the rules, have students create a poster. If students are mature enough, ask them to help you come up with fair consequences for broken rules. For younger students especially, it is important to review the rules for a few weeks at the beginning of the year.

Learn name as soon as possible

Take small wipe boards and dry-erase markers and have students write their names on a board--one at a time--then hold the board by their face while you take a picture. At home later, flip through the pictures and test yourself until you've memorized all the faces and names (just first names are ok too). Students will feel great when you know all their names the next time you're together.

Focus on positive reinforcement

Open a marketplace (a shuk) of fun stuff and explain a point system. What positive behaviors get points and how many? How will you keep track of points? When will students get to shop in the shuk? The prizes in the shuk don't have to cost much. Big prizes can be things like getting to sit in the teacher's chair for a day or having Shabbat dinner with the teacher (Frankel was surprised at how many of her sixth-grade students worked hard to earn points for that) or teaching the class a lesson about something of interest to them.

Create jobs in the classroom

You only need five or so jobs that earn students "money." (You can call the money something clever or use classroom shekels, ie. play Israeli money.) Students fill out "applications" for the jobs they want (first and second choice), and then every few weeks you can rotate your "employees" so everyone gets a chance. Jobs can be things like teacher's assistant, room manager (ensures room cleanliness and rule following), circulation director (hands out paper and other materials), technology director, or anything else you may need. Students can shop in your shuk with the money the earn. For day schools, this can connect with a math unit.

Every class is different, even in the same school. Every year you have new students and need to establish caring relationships with those students.

The Jewish Educator's Companion is a valuable resource that makes a great welcome-to-school gift for teachers to plan and generate ideas for the new school year. Order ten or more and receive 25% off*.