No matter how engaging your lessons are, there is always the chance the some sort of disruption might occur. I can’t tell you how many times my “perfect” lesson has been blown to smithereens because of some sort of problem brewing between kids or by a student who may have been
having a bad day or week. My fellow “specials” teachers have complained endlessly about behavior issues and we’ve all felt badly for that one classroom teacher who got “that class from you-know-where!” This is especially true if you work in a small school or a year round multi-track school where the kids can be in the same class for several years.
While we can’t control what goes on at home, we can certainly control what happens in our classrooms and labs in a positive manner. Effective classroom management will be a sanity saver for you and create a respectful culture in your class. After you’ve analyzed your lesson engagement, behavior expectations and routines, you can also add some of these free web based tools to your toolbox to help make life run smoothly.
- Try a new room arrangement. Sometimes a change can help you “reboot” your class. Instead of dragging around heavy furniture, make some virtual arrangements first. Scholastic’s Class Set-Up Tool is a great way to get your inner “interior designer” on! Once it’s arranged, you have the option of plugging in student names, saving you the time of making a hand made chart for substitutes.
- Classroom Architect is another alternative to dragging your furniture around only to find that it doesn’t fit. You can input the room dimensions and drag scaled furniture pieces around a diagram
to design the best learning environment for your class.
- There are several random name generators online. These are great because they take the whole idea of favoritism out of the equation and keep everyone on their toes because no one will know when their name might pop up during a class discussion. The Random Name Selector is one where your kids will see their name in big and bold letters.
- Grouping students can always be a chore when trying to match personalities or keep kids from picking their friends when they get a collaborative assignment. The Random Student Generator. You can arrange your class groups into multiple configurations using the random generator or manually select which kids will work together.
- ClassTools.net is an oldie but goodie! A Wheel of Fortune name selector, customizable calendars and vocabulary arcade games are just a few of the easy to use features of this site. You’ll benefit from the management tools and your students will love many of the activities that you can incorporate.
- The Calmness Counter is one of many noise meters available. It uses the microphone on your computer to measure noise displayed on a large meter. I find it a little less distracting than Bouncy Balls but remember to turn your volume down or your class will think it’s being invaded by aliens!
- Of course, no list would be complete without ClassDojo! Dojo is an excellent way to motivate elementary students by giving them automatic feedback on their behavior. In addition to having a point system, ClassDojo has free monster clipart that kids love and great lessons called “Big Ideas.” You’ll find lesson plans and entertaining videos on Growth Mindset, Perseverance, Empathy, and Gratitude. Even if you don’t use the Dojo point system, the videos are an excellent addition to any character ed lesson. A big plus is the open channel of communication with parents. Just plug in their email address and you can message them immediately and they can monitor their children’s behavior.
These are just a few free online tools available. If you have an iPad or iPhone, check out the App Store for classroom management apps. There are also several commercial products available for a fee, that can help you make life in the classroom or lab peaceful and productive.
What sites do you like? I’d love to hear your recommendations!