Sunday, September 9, 2012

Learning the Ropes

5th grade is proving to be quite different than 2nd grade!  While the basic principles of classroom management remain the same, I'm quickly reminded of how different kids can be.  My new district is far more diverse than my former district and that also creates different issues.

The first thing that is taking time to get used to is teaching the same thing 4 times a day.  I can switch things up somewhat because we do ability grouping so each class is a slightly different level so that helps break up the monotony of the day.  I have my homeroom for about 2 and a half hours in the morning so I have had a chance to really let them know what I expect and what the consequences are for not doing what they're supposed to do.  On the other hand, I have each of the other 3 classes for only 40 minutes a day.  I'm having a hard time remembering their names and (for the most part) they're not as well behaved as my homeroom.  It makes it more challenging to get through everything we need to do in that short period.  I've been taking time daily to remind them of what I expect in my classroom and I've been quick to discipline when there is a problem; I want them to know that I'm serious.

What are your favorite classroom management strategies for this age group?


  1. This is my first year teaching 5th after coming from K. I have adopted a few of the "Whole Brain Teaching" techniques. Google it and you will find tons of stuff about it. My husband is also trying it this year in his 7th and 8th grade social studies classes.

  2. We award tickets (like you can buy at an office store) to students showing desired behaviors. Then we tell them why they earned it, ie. "Thank you for coming into class quietly." It's especially effective if you award one to someone near someone else who is not demonstrating the behavior. Students write their names on the ticket and put them into a container for a weekly (or daily) drawing. Prizes can range anywhere from cool pens to candy to lunch with the teacher to getting to use a rolling office-type chair that day instead of their hard chair. This year, we are letting students collect the tickets to "buy" things, since some students hoarded their tickets and entered them all in one day and other well-deserving students never got picked. And instead of tickets, we are writing mock checks worth one "buck."

    I don't know what your school/district policy is, but I also have a bucket of Dum-Dum suckers that I randomly reward when I need to refocus the class. It's amazing what students will do for a 3¢ sucker...

    You can also pick students to do fun chores, like "Thank you for making a good choice after you finish your assignment. Since I can tell that you're responsible, would you take this note to the office for me?" or "Would you take this money and buy me a water from the machine near the gym?"

    I just have to keep reminding myself to stay positive and reward those students who always do the right thing. The rest will eventually come around if they can see that it's to their benefit to behave.

    What subject do you teach? Do you have some sort of problem of the day that they do everyday when they come in? If they know what's expected of them work-wise when they walk in the door, your transitions might be smoother with the shorter class times. Also, take brain breaks about halfway through if you feel you're losing them. Their attention spans aren't much different from second graders.

    This is my fourteenth year in fifth grade (maybe I'll pass someday...), so I've tried just about everything. If none of these ideas work, I have others... :)

    Good luck!
    Fifth in the Middle