Classroom managment is arguably the most important element to a smoothly flowing and successful classroom. Can anyone share any classroom management strategies that work well, or even ones that do not?

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The classroom management strategies that have worked the best for me come from two books: "The First Days of School" by Harry Wong and "The Reluctant Disciplinarian" by Gary Rubinstein.
The 7th grade group I have this year is a real challenge. Tightening up on my rules. By passing warnings and timeouts, because they just don't work with this group. Will assign detentions(brunch, lunch or after school)and a call to parent and when they don't show up they get a referral. I have shown them video clips on good behavior and had discussions. Having the work ready for them when they walk in the door helps, but I have to time them or else they don't do the 5 min warm-ups. Tried lining up and they just talk and waste class time. Rewards work for a short time, then they don't. Any ideas.
When I taught sixth grade, I literally had to try two to three new strategies a week! Finally, one day instead of teaching a lesson, I put it aside and opened up the floor for a whole class discussion. I started off with some of the problems in class, and how "I" felt about it. That led to students sharing how they felt, and then I asked students how they think we could work together to solve the problems.

In the end, they came up with the idea for group points. The students were already seated in table groups, so each group were designated a team name. Students had to work together to gain as many points as they can by the end of the school week. For example, I gave points when groups were on time with their bell ringers, if their areas were clean, if I overheard a kind comment or saw a good deed. When the class starts to get too loud, I whip out a stopwatch. I don't say anything, I just make a big show of taking it out and start it-- they have 8 seconds to settle down, until I start deducting points from the noisiest groups. Usually peer pressure gets them all before 8 seconds are up.

At the end of the week, I tallied the points and the team with the most points get a special privilege. I suggest talking about privileges and agreeing with whole class before starting the points. When I first started, I let the groups pick their own -- usually they wanted candy, or to be the first out for dismissal, or free reading time.

If I had to do this again, I would revise it so that it's a win-win for everyone. The winning groups get their special privilege, but I would also let the groups work together to win a set amount of points, let's say 1000 points. If at the end of several weeks the groups' tallies equaled 1000 points or more, the entire class gets a surprise. It may be a pizza party, or a Free Friday session where they get free reading time, play educational games, or ask me to teach about another subject for the day.

Ask your students for help. They might come up with really great ideas!
Classroom management was one of the most difficult things I struggled with as a pre-service teacher. I struggled more so because of my petite stature, especially with secondary students who looked older and towered over me. One of the most important lessons that I learned is that first impressions do count A LOT. Professional wear and behavior from day one helped create that distinct message: I may be friendly, and I could be a friend, but I am, first and foremost, the teacher.

That first distinction--paired with rapport, good relationships with the students, and lessons customized for their learning-- have helped eliminate many problems for me. Other small techniques to use in the classroom to stop chatter or minor problems include walking around the room, making myself visible to everyone, and body language. That last one was one of the best "secrets" my mentor teacher gave me-- walk straight and tall at all times! Students read into it way too much, but for some reason, it gets their attention ;)
BTW, I also recommend the following book: "Teaching Outside The Box" by LouAnne Johnson. Awesome book!
I teach high school and the book that has helped me the most is Fred Jones' "Positive Classroom Discipline." It's an older book and had a companion book titled "Positive Classroom Instruction." Both of those books have been rewritten and combined into one titled "Tools for Teaching." I still prefer the older book but the the newer one is also good.

What I really like about Fred Jones' approach is that it appears the teacher doesn't do much for discipline. The teacher simply breathes and stares, remaining calm the entire time. Some students like to have a power struggle with a teacher and get the teacher riled up. As long as the teacher shows anger or negative emotion, the student wins. The next day the struggle begins again and the student learns quickly which buttons to push. Fred Jones' teaches you how to remove those buttons so the students can't push them. He has a very powerful management system.

Another author for discipline is Jim Fay. He has a series of books based on his "Love and Logic" system. There's Love and Logic for Parents, Love and Logic for Teachers, etc. I have found his love and logic approach very effective for students who don't like school, are often disrespectful to adults, who have social issues, etc. "Love and Logic" works for every student but the difficult students need it more because they often have fewer loving support systems in their lives.
I teach sixth grade and I find that my students are very materialistic as this age. (Ipods, Video game systems, etc) I use tickets that I pass out to kids when they are doing something positive. Raising hand, helping someone, completing a difficult problem quickly, coming in from recess quietly, etc. They save these tickets and when they reach 10 they can trade them in for a no homework coupon or a prize from the prize box. (Fancy pens, matchbox cars, lipgloss, etc) They love to earn the tickets and when they see that you are passing them out for positive things they will all jump on board. I have also done "super prizes" in the past. When you see something they would like on clearance for like $5.00 I buy two and then tell them if they can collect 100 they can have it. I have also done in the past where when they do something negative they have to pay you with their tickets. (No homework=pay me 5 tickets)
I have tried this but find by 7th grade they make remarks like is that all we get. I prefer to tell them their reward is good grades and other intrinsic rewards. I have found things in the trash because students don't appreciate what I have gone out and purchased. Some teachers tell me they have to bribe thieir students to behave, this is not my idea of managing my class.
I agree with you. It's important to institute a behavior management system from the first day of school. I give all of my students a "magic number" which they use for the entire school year. I have a Behavior Chart labeled with numbers 1-24. If students break one of the classroom rules, they flip their card on the behavior chart. There are 4 different colored cards in their numbered pouch. They start on green every day and if they flip to yellow it's a warning, blue they miss 10 minutes of recess, Red they have to fill out a behavior report which is sent home to be signed. This is an incentive based system though. If students do not flip a card throughout the week, they earn a smiley (which are laminated smiley face stickers). Students can earn smileys throughout the week and smileys can be used in the Smiley Store, which is held every Friday during silent reading time. The store is made up of trinkets, candy, lunch with teacher passes, etc. All items in the store are priced. I have been teaching 7 years and this behavior management system works every year. Kids love the Smiley Store and therefore will do everything it takes to earn smileys and behave well.
I recommend reading books in the series put out by the Northeast Foundation for Children (Responsive Classroom) such as: The First Six Weeks of School, The Morning Meeting Book, Teaching Children to Care, and Rules in School. I also recommended reading How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk and How to Talk so Kids Can Learn at Home and in School. Essentially, I find that the keys to classroom management are structure, organization, and consistency. Students respect you more when the rules aren't constantly changing for different situations. They listen to you when they see that you genuinely care about them and about what they have to say.
I agree that the best tools for behavior management are structure, organization, and consistency. The classroom needs to be structured with a specific schedule that the children know for each day. This way, they know what to expect as far as routines, as well as when it is appropriate to socialize, change seats, take out a book to read independently, etc. Sometimes we try to "make exceptions" to our rules but this is, in fact, confusing for the children. If these principles are a high priority for the teacher, the behavior will be managed well, and there won't need to be much, "If you..., then I'll have to..." because students will be more on task. Furthermore, a great idea is to give students roles to play in the classroom. This way, they feel part of the classroom community and can visibly see the important contributions they are making to the well-being and flow of the class.

While looking for classroom management solutions recently, I came across Insight http://faronics.com/products/insight which is by far the best classroom management software. It has a central console which helps teachers not just monitor student activities but also control the devices of each student. It can restrict access to browsers and several applications that eliminate distractions. We first tested it in the 30 day trial period, and then took the decision of buying it.

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