Problem:  My students aren’t acting the way I tell them to act!

Solution:  As with all things related to behavior, there isn’t necessarily one solution but successful classroom management starts with setting clear expectations. 

I specifically remember an instance during my student teaching when I was trying to get kids on task by standing at the front of the room and saying “uh oh, Johnny’s not doing his job, Sarah’s not doing her job….” etc.  The teacher observing me pointed out that it would be more clear for the students if I specifically told them what they needed to be doing rather than saying they “weren’t doing their job.” 

I have thought back to that constructive criticism many times as I redirect students.  Here are some ways you can state your expectations so that they are more clear for students:

Instead of saying “be patient”…
          Say, “I need to see boys and girls who are waiting with a good attitude.”

Instead of saying “work as a team”…
          Say, “Let me tell you how to be a good partner…”

Instead of saying “I can tell the class isn’t ready to start yet”…
          Say, “I’ll know you’re ready to start when I see…”

Instead of saying “Do your best work”…
          Say, “Remember that great 2nd grade work always looks like/has/is…”

Instead of saying “be respectful”…
          Say, “I will gladly call on a student who is sitting in their chair raising their hand.”
          or, “Polite audience members in an assembly always remember to…”
          or, “When an adult asks you to do something, you show respect by…”

Here’s a fun visual reminder for you Pinterest board:

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Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun
Hannah Braun is a former teacher with 8 years of experience in the classroom and a master's degree in early childhood education. She designs engaging, organized classroom resources for 1st-3rd grade teachers.