Before the start of class, write and underline the word CLASS on the chalkboard. Explain to the students first thing in the morning that they will be working together as a class to try and collect 15 points by the end of the day. They receive points for good behaviour, attentive listening, hard work, acts of kindness etc. However, they can also lose points for bad behaviour, distracting others, talking out of turn, etc. If they manage to collect 15 points (or more) by the ends of the day, the receive a reward. This can be a treat, a small prize, free time, play time outside, a game etc. Remind them throughout the day that you are looking for opportunities to add to their points. Use tally marks to record the points so they can be easily added and taken away. This works great for primary and junior grade levels.
*"Game" and "Stay"*
Write the words "Game" and "Stay" with 4 dashes beside them on the board. Ex. GAME _ _ _ _ and STAY _ _ _ _. Let the students know that good behaviour throughout the day will earn "Game" letters, or erase "Stay" letters. Poor behaviour will earn "Stay" letters, or erase "Game" letters. At the end of the day, if they have a full "GAME", then they get to play a game for the last 10-20 minutes of class. If they have a full "STAY", they receive a 10 minute detention. This technique requires a supportive and cooperative teacher who will enforce detention at lunch the next day for students who need to catch the bus.
To keep those students who always finish their work early on task, make sure to have a selection of fun and challenging work sheets available for them to try. Good options are word searches, crossword puzzles, hidden picture puzzles, math sheets that lead to a hidden message, etc.
*Riddles and Puzzles*
Posting riddles and word puzzles on the board, or somewhere else in the classroom that is easy to access and see, is a good way to provide students with something to keep the occupied if they finish their word early. Offer a reward or prize for the first one to figure out the riddles. Here are a couple examples:
"You throw away the outside, and then cook the inside. Then, you eat the outside, and throw away the inside. What is it?" Answer: Corn on the cob.
"The maker doesn't want it. The buyer doesn't use it. The user doesn't see it. What is it?" Answer: A coffin.
A great place to find riddles is in the game MindTrap.
*Use your talents!*
If you have special kid friendly talents, sometimes these can be used as great classroom management techniques! If you can play the guitar, bring that in with you and play for them when they are working quietly. Or, you can use it as a reward if they get their work done or at the end of the day. Take requests from the kids! This works extremely well with all age groups! Other instruments work too. If you know some magic tricks, that works well in the same way. Show them one at the beginning of class, and then offer to show them more as rewards. Juggling can be used in the same way, if this is something you are capable of doing.
Have a sheet that outlines 4 or 5 classroom rules that you put up at the front of the class before school starts. Go over these rules with the class immediately. It is a good idea to have different sheets already made up for different grade levels. Some possible rules: Don't talk out of turn - put up your hand. Please do not speak when I am speaking. Please do not leave your chair during lessons without permission. Respect each other. Respect me and be truthful about classroom procedures.
*Use Physical Proximity*
Making sure to circulate around the classroom will help to keep students on task. Students are less likely to act up when the teacher is right over their shoulder!
*Magic Piece of Garbage - Classroom Clean up Technique*
Tell the class that you have scanned the ground and have dubbed a specific piece of garbage the "magic" piece of garbage. Whoever picks up the magic piece of garbage gets a prize. You stand by the garbage pail and each student shows you their garbage as they toss it into to bin. Let them know you won't tell them who has won until the floor is clean. Give them a specific start time (ex. they can't start until you say "go!"). This works with all age groups, and really gets the room clean in a hurry!
*Class in Teams*
Split the class into teams first thing in the morning. This works best if you draw imaginary lines or somehow separate the class without actually moving their desks. Let them know that they are competing with the other groups for the ability to chose any desired activity or game for the end of the day. Keep score on the board where they can see, in the form of points. Once the points have been given, they cannot be taken away, so they are simply being rewarded for good behaviour. This method works best with junior and intermediate grade levels.
*Establishing an action or noise that means "Stop, Look and Listen!"*
At the beginning of class, show them that when you want them to stop, look and listen in a hurry, you will do a certain action or make a certain noise. For example, every time they see you put a finger on your lip and a hand in the air, they will know to immediately do the same. You can also do a clapping rhythm with them that they are expected to repeat every time they hear it (as well as stop, look and listen). This is easier and usually more effective than raising your voice or trying to talk over the crowd when they are busy or off-task. You can also bring in a rain stick or a small instrument like a harmonica that can be used in this way.
*The whisper technique*
When the classroom noise level is getting out of control, whisper something along the lines of "If you can hear my voice, raise your hand, because you will be getting 5 minutes of free time at the end of the day". That way, anyone who is listening will hear and will get the reward, but those who were not listening and did not raise their hands will not.
Tell the students at the beginning of class that every time they are listening attentively, staying on task etc. they will get one letter of GREAT JOB written on the board. If they get all of the letters by the end of the day, they get a reward.
Let the students know first thing in the morning that you will be recording both positive and negative behaviour from each student in the classroom that you will be reporting back to their regular teacher. Keep a clipboard with you to record behaviour, and make sure to point out good behaviour as you are recording. This technique works especially well with a class that you tend to see fairly regularly, and with a teacher who is supportive of the technique and who follows up on the behaviour report with discipline and rewards.