Classroom Management Strategies for Elementary School

Instructor: Frank Clint

Frank has been an educator for over 10 years. He has a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction.

What can make or break an elementary school teacher? The answer is classroom management. The most successful elementary school teachers have exemplary classroom management skills that have developed over time through building a tool box of strategies.

Judy's Toolbox

When Judy accepted her teaching position, she knew an elementary teacher's life was no walk in the park. Lesson planning, making copies, grading papers, and talking to parents are a few things teachers do before students arrive or after they leave. The instructional day with students is busy and often filled with questions from inquiring minds. Can I sharpen my pencil? Can I go to the bathroom? I'm done here, what do I do now? I don't feel well; Can I go to the nurse? Why doesn't he share? You are probably thinking these are not the questions you had envisioned. Judy didn't realize she would be dealing with them either. That's why she made a decision to tighten up her classroom management with a few strategies.

Organization and Preparedness

When working with elementary school students, being prepared and organized is key. To be effective, Judy learned that she needs to keep a safe environment to promote learning by reducing distractions. She reduced clutter throughout her room, including the walls, and put all community materials that students use in labeled plastic bins. She works a week ahead to run her copies and have all instructional materials needed for the following week by end of day Friday. When students need sharpened pencils, there is a place where they can find them and deposit those that are broken.

Reducing clutter helps reduce student distraction.
organized classroom

Student Expectations, Consequences, and Rewards

Judy also got smart about setting her rules or expectations. When she started teaching she developed a long list of rules and consequences for those who broke those rules. She learned that she should have no more than five student expectations in her classroom. Now she has developed a set of three expectations based on the three school-wide expectations or norms used by the entire campus. She also has clear consequences such as a warning, removal of privileges, detention, phone calls home and rewards to balance such as verbal praise, tickets for students who are caught following the expectations, prizes each Friday, positive notes home, and others to boost student buy-in. Parent communication is very important for elementary school children, and she found that the majority of the time parents will support her, but she must constantly communicate with them.


When it comes to parent communication, Judy uses a daily procedure. It is a homework and parent communication log that students fill out and parents sign each night. Procedures are extremely important when working with elementary students. Procedures are what you expect students to do when certain things come up. They eventually become routines that students learn and repeat many times. For example, if you want students to wait until you are not giving instructions to use the bathroom, you need to establish that expectation early on in the school year. It will take a few weeks to get students familiar with your procedures as they will vary from teacher to teacher.

Judy wants students at each of her group tables to keep a fresh set of sharpened pencils in a container. When a pencil breaks, students do not need to waste time sharpening their pencil, or worse make noise with the electric sharpener while she is teaching. All they need to do is simply trade their pencil out. This is a procedure that eventually became a routine in her classroom, and all her students follow it now. She created procedures for sharpening pencils, gathering materials, what to do when finished with work, turning in work, lining up, starting the morning and ending the day, bathroom breaks, passing out lunch cards, visiting the nurse, and many other needs during the school day.

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