Are you looking for ways on how to manage challenging student behavior this year in your classroom? Difficult behaviors can turn an otherwise calm environment into chaos, as it can feed other students.
Below are five strategies that have drastically improved my classroom management and improved my class atmosphere!
Class Dojo as a Currency
I use the website Class Dojo to help with classroom management. I use the points students earned as a currency.
With this currency, students can buy items or privileges at our Class Dojo store we have every Friday.
Some of these items are:
- A choice of flexibility seating chairs for the week (here’s some ideas for flexible seating for your classroom)
- Using Chromebooks on the classroom couches for the day
- Reading in our reading nook for 20 minutes any time of the day
- Indoor recess
- Changing student Class Dojo monster avatar
- A piece of candy
- A book from Scholastic Book Club (I have tons of extras from extra points I had)
It’s good to have a mix of items that cost you nothing, while also having candy, as much as I hate it, because some students are highly motivated by it.
I also put a high ticket item like the book option for students that love to save points.
This system has given greater meaning to Class Dojo points for students while saving me from having to print and cut a physical classroom currency for my store.
If a student breaks our classroom rules, they can have Class Dojo points taken away. This curbs behaviors and allows those that follow our guidelines to be rewarded.
Another way on how to manage challenging student behavior in your classroom is to have a designated day in the week to reward students for working hard and following the classroom rules.
This fun day for us is on Friday since it’s a short day and it’s a good day to reflect about the week.
On this fun day, I will have games and educational toys out in the class and allow them to play for 20 minutes with whichever they want. I also allow students to go on our classroom couches and read if they like.
Those that did not earn the privilege to do Friday Fun Day have to sit at their desk and either do a worksheet or nothing if they choose.
It seems harsh, but these students learn QUICK that they want to follow our classroom rules so they can participate each week.
I make this transparent throughout the week with my students. I track all negative points from Class Dojo and it strongly dictates if a student can go or not.
When I have to tell a student that they cannot participate, I pull them back once the fun has begun for the others. We discuss what behaviors and actions that week prevented them from joining in and what they can do next week to fix it.
This has been a big success in managing difficult behaviors. Students cannot wait each week for these 20 minutes of fun!
Here’s a YouTube video where I discuss how to manage challenging student behavior.
Positive praise has been good in my classroom in building a healthy classroom atmosphere while also curbing behaviors.
Instead of telling a student they need to stop doing something and shaming them in front of their peers, I point out students that are exhibiting the behavior I am looking for.
For example, let’s say a student is talking to her friend and is spread out on the carpet. I want students to be silent and facing forward crisscross for my lesson.
I will point to another student that is exhibiting the wanted behavior and say, “Thank you, Becky for sitting on your pockets, facing forward, and being ready to learn!”
You’ll see students snap into the behavior you want almost instantly!
It’s also a great reinforcement to curb behaviors by rewarding that student with a Class Dojo point.
I will then shortly after check the student that was not doing what I had wanted and see if they’re now showing it. If so, I will praise them and award them a Class Dojo point.
If a student doesn’t get the clue, I would stop the whole class and reinforce why we need to do the behavior and practice it.
Give Students Their Voice
Some students may act out because they just want to be heard. Especially in K-2, you have students dying for your attention.
We all want to feel heard and validated by the people we care about and our peers without being interrupted.
1-5 times a week, I will have the class sit in a circle on the carpet and give them each 30 seconds to share anything that they want with the classroom that is school appropriate (we discuss what that means the first week we do this and do a quick reminder before every session).
I also give clear expectations on how it looks and sounds when someone is using their time to talk.
No one may interrupt the speaker, we raise our hands if we have a question, and we are respectful and kind for being vulnerable with each other.
This has made my classroom a lot kinder and I believe allows students to feel comfortable to take risks in their learning. They feel they won’t be made fun of for having a wrong answer, as empathy has been built and established.
Inevitably, we need to discipline our students for not following our classroom rules and expectations. I make it a point to have our consequences for both negative and positive behaviors listed for students to see and refer to.
This makes it so students know what will happen and won’t be surprised or feel it’s unfair. Being clear and concise on what happens is something I personally want if I am having a consequence given to me.
I make it a point to be matter of fact when giving out a negative consequence. I involve my students in creating consequences early in the school year. When I need to correct a disruptive behavior, I give the appropriate consequence.
If the students asks why, I will point to our classroom rules and the consequences associated with the behavior. I don’t put any of my own emotion in it, as this can create more conflict.
Having my classroom rules and the positive and negative consequences listed have been helpful for students knowing what’s expected of them and what will happen when they do and don’t meet them.
When I was a new teacher, I was struggling on how to manage challenging student behavior. I needed assistance from anyone that would offer help.
With my years of experience, I have learned the strategies above are a great foundation to building a good classroom atmosphere and for dealing with difficult behaviors.
If you do have a student that is having even more issues, I highly recommend asking your school social worker, psychologist, counselor, or behavior specialist for help. They can help do interventions and provide a lot more support.
Are there any strategies that have worked for you in your classroom? Comment below, as I would love to hear them!