Today’ KISS – Keep It Simple Strategies – Classroom Management for 5th Grade Teachers
When talking about classroom management for any grade, we can sometimes boil things down to a few words about what not to do.
What NOT to do:
- Continuing in a lesson that isn’t working – it’s alright to have a Plan B (and C) ready for times when a lesson is just not being effective.
- Changing classroom routines in a willy-nilly fashion – the routines you make in the beginning of the school year are the ones that have worked, don’t shift from them now.
- Yelling – it gets tempting to do sometimes, but never works to quiet a noisy classroom.
- Singling out a student who is choosing to behave badly – much better to reward a child who is behaving well, and having a standard “points” system for something like free minutes on Friday afternoon.
- Sending students to the Principal’s office for reprimand – it completely sidesteps the very great need you have to develop structure and respect in your own classroom.
- Isolating yourself and not taking advantage of the wonderful work other teachers are doing – the single most effective thing I did in my classroom was to mimic the teacher across the hall and install a sound system in my room (more below).
Poor Acoustics Can Affect Learning
The school building where I teach is old, so the sound echoes off plaster walls and ceilings and it’s often very hard to distinguish what a child is saying. It may be loud enough, but the diction is fuzzy and not distinct. Rather than repeating yourself all day, many teachers are investing in classroom sound systems that take care of the problem. It’s fine to buy computers for your room to upgrade technology. But something this simple and relatively inexpensive may be all you need to bring your instruction into focus.
Many factors can contribute to poor acoustics in a classroom. It’s sometimes overlooked that many children have suffered either temporary or permanent hearing loss from repeated ear infections. A professional installation of a classroom amplification system can level the playing field for all children and make your life so much easier. The goal is not necessarily to make your voice louder, although soft-spoken teachers may not be aware of how children are straining to hear what they have to say. A good system, and there are some that are not, will use a wireless infrared technology. The teacher wears a small microphone clipped to her blouse. The sound transmits to a strategically placed receiver that transfers the signals to carefully placed speakers throughout the room. Children in every corner will now hear what’s going on. There are no “good seats” in the house; they are all in working order.
The primary modality for classroom learning is hearing. Children spend 75% of their day listening to a teacher, computer speakers, or other students. Ambient noise (anything other than what’s being said) works to confuse the environment. Good speaker systems help a child sort out what’s important in any part of the classroom.
Technology in the Classroom
Another overlooked classroom management tool is to upgrade your technology skills. It’s great to have a Smartboard – but do you really know how to use it? Smartboard software is being upgraded all the time; make sure you are on the IT department’s list for all technology upgrades being installed in the district. There are also several applications now that can help in the classroom, like Dropbox and Edmodo.
Be Aware of Signs of Bullying
The 5th grade is a time when students are entering adolescence. Their bodies are starting to change. By the end of the year, you will have very small children, and very tall children. Teasing and bullying, and the “mean girl” phenomenon are skills being finely honed by children who are so inclined. Keep alert for signs of it, your carefully crafted peaceful universe can be ruined by one mean girl (or boy). Check out some of our resources for how to prevent bullying here.
More resources for the 5th Grade Teacher:
- All About Sound Systems
- Research Study on Classroom Amplification Systems
- 27 Best Smartboard Tips
- Bullying Laws and Statistics (it can happen to grown-ups too)
- StopBullying.gov (very complete resources site)
- PBS Teacherline – PD for Technology (and other things) for teachers
Add your tips and suggestions to our growing lists, teachers helping teachers is a great way to go. Check out the rest of our KISS Series here.
Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.