Teaching has changed completely since March 2020. In my district, due to covid regulations put in place, we aren’t allowed to pull small groups or allow students to work together. Students sit in their desks, socially distanced, all day long and it has definitely had an impact on not only the way I teach but how students behave in my classroom. And like a domino effect, when my teaching changed, so did my classroom management. Here are 5 classroom management strategies for teaching during a pandemic that have helped my classroom community grow stronger during this challenging time.
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Classroom Management Strategy #1:
The desk fairy!!
Since we now sit in rows, I see student supplies all over the floor #nonstop. I feel happiest in a clean classroom with student caddies on tables and everything in its place. It’s always been one of my classroom management strategies. With students now seated six feet apart, I see so much chaos on the floor every day. It took a few months, but I finally figured out how to manage the clutter.
I set an alarm on my phone to go off during a quiet independent work part of our day. When the alarm goes off (it’s a quiet, soothing alarm that doesn’t distract students working), the “desk fairy” goes around and gives everyone who has a clean desk an eraser from my eraser collection!
We do morning meetings every day in my classroom. The kids are always so excited to see who will be the desk fairy each day and think it’s SO fun. That student gets to choose a “drawer” of erasers to hand out to the students with neat desks that day. They can choose any eraser box from my collection and they LOVE IT. When my alarm goes off daily, I see all students taking 30 seconds to assess how clean their desks and tidy up anything around them so they can earn that eraser.
My classroom is MUCH cleaner now and I don’t have to remind kids 3920392 times to clean their area up. They are self-motivated by the desk fairy!
I never knew how handy solo cups were till this year!
Students sitting in rows has been challenging in many different ways. But not having caddies for students to put their supplies into has been a GREAT challenge in my classroom. A few months ago, I decided to try something that has worked out incredibly well for storing pencils, glue sticks, and other “quick grab” items.
I attached a solo cup to the side of their desk with a piece of ribbon! I simply cut a hole on 2 sides of the cup, slipped ribbon through it, and tied it to their desk. Students can store pencils, glue sticks, bookmarks, erasers, and whatever else they access repeatedly throughout the day.
You may be wondering—Why not use a pencil pouch? I’ve found that my students like to access things immediately. They don’t put items back in their pencil pouch like they are supposed to. They keep things clean only if I make it easy to do. With a cup attached to their desk, they can take things in and out of it very easily. A pencil pouch stuffed in the back of their desk isn’t something they’re willing to take out and put back in over and over again throughout the day. Classroom management strategies don’t have to be complicated. Keeping expectations simple is KEY with keeping kids on track!
What is a teacher helper?? Every day at our morning meeting, I choose 3 kids that did a great job listening and following directions the day before. These kids place a giant clothespin on their desk so everyone can see who they are that day with a quick glance around the room. Those 3 kids get to be the teacher helpers for the day. Those students deliver notes to the office, lead the line, and answer all questions that students may have.
My teacher helpers assist students who may be unsure what to do or just need help on one problem. WIth social distancing requirements in place, it can be tricky for me to be in 20 places at once. If a student has a simple question like, “can we sharpen pencils right now?” or “what page are we supposed to be on?”, they don’t have to wait for me to be available. They can ask one of our teacher helpers and get the feedback they need immediately.
It has helped things run SO smoothly in our classroom and the kids adore earning this job in our classroom.
Before covid, I was a huge fan of Class Dojo. I don’t use the negative points but students do earn points in class that they can redeem for rewards on a consistent basis. In past years, I’ve always let my students go up to our class iPad and award themselves their own points. That takes the responsibility off of me and allows them to be accountable for themselves (with some modeling and expectations put in place before we start this each year!).
Now, we cannot share supplies or touch the same items. I have a new classroom job called “Dojo Master”. I give our class iPad to one student each day and anytime a student earns a dojo point, they go let the “Dojo Master” know to give them the points earned! Then, at the end of the day, I wipe down the iPad so it’s ready for a new student to use the following day.
This lets me not have to worry about constantly giving out dojo points and my students have done a fabulous job both giving dojos and telling the Dojo Master when they’ve earned points.
Classroom Management Strategy #5:
The prize box!!
Students sitting in their desk all day and not being able to work in groups or partners has been incredibly difficult for getting wiggles out. Student focus has declined and the chatter has increased tenfold. I haven’t had a prize box in my room for a while but I brought it back this year. I’m glad I did! It has really helped students to stay motivated and on task.
During the week, I give out tickets that they can put in our Classroom Lottery Box. They earn these tickets ONLY by staying focused and on task. Students working hard are given tickets. Students talking are not. Anytime students see me pull out my roll of tickets, I see the entire class quiet down and focus on whatever assignment that need to complete individually.
On Fridays, I pull out 5 names from the Classroom Lottery Box. Those 5 names get to go to the prize box.
I hope these classroom management strategies helped give you some ideas for your own classroom! Let me know which one helped you the most! As you can see, classroom management doesn’t have to look fancy or take lots of time. Make those classroom management techniques work for YOU and don’t let them control you!
You can find my classroom management resources right here.
Want to learn about how to set up a teacher toolbox for all of your erasers? Check out this blog post!
Find out what sorts of items I keep in my prize box in this blog post!