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Classroom Management Ideas for the First Grade

No teacher wants to be the one who stands at the front of the classroom barking out orders to a class of rambunctious six- and seven-year-olds. Yet, without an organized plan for classroom management, this is exactly what happens in the first grade classroom. A solid collection of first grade classroom management ideas can help prevent this problem for teachers, helping them and their young students enjoy their time together.

Use Attention-Getting Signals

Sometimes, first-graders get out of hand, and they don’t even realize it is happening. Attention getting signals, like those recommended by the Teaching Channel, can be verbal cues, body cues and even sounds, like a bell, to get the children’s attention when needed.

These signals make the children stop what they are doing and think long enough to realize what they need to do or change. For example, a teacher may sing a little song that indicates it is time to put materials away and line up at the door. That simple action is far more effective than barking out an order. Teachers can use attention getting signals most effectively by changing them routinely so students do not get bored with them.

Maximize Proximity Control

The teacher’s body is a powerful tool in the classroom, especially in first grade when many students still have a strong desire to please their teacher. Proximity control can be highly effective, when used carefully. This, as Kean University points out, should be part of an effective classroom management strategy.

When a teacher notices a child or group of students starting to get wiggly or talking out of turn, simply walking to the area where that student or group is working can stop the unwanted behavior. If the teacher’s presence does not stop the behavior, a hand on the child’s desk or back can get the student’s attention and stop the actions. No negative consequence is required with proper use of proximity control.

Visual Display of Behavior

Children in first grade need a visual, even tactile way to show how they are behaving. One classroom management technique that works quite well is a color-coded chart with clothespins. Each child has a clothespin clipped to the chart. All children start the day on green, which means a good day. If the teacher sees a student do something particularly good, that student can move the clip up to blue, which means excellent.

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If the student is caught doing something against a posted classroom rule, they move the clip down to yellow, which is a warning. Further infractions move down to orange, which brings a small consequence, then red, which causes a note sent home. Finally, if the student continues to break the classroom rules, they move to black, which involves a conference with the principal. Because the students always have the ability to move back up on the chart, they remain motivated to behave well, even if they have to move down at some point.

This is just one example of a tactile and visual behavior monitoring system to use in the classroom. To make them effective, these systems need to be connected to clearly stated and posted classroom rules. This prevents the teacher from handing out consequences on a whim and ensures the students know what is expected.

Classroom management makes the first grade classroom run smoothly, and these classroom management ideas for first grade help the teacher maintain a positive, supportive environment in his or her classroom. This will help all students grow to their full potential in this vital year of school.

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